CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Weyerhaeuser Co. Foundation will give $500,000 to the College of Forestry at Oregon State University beginning in early January to help initiate private fund raising for a new $24 million forest research laboratory.
Construction of the sophisticated building is scheduled to begin in early summer. Congress already has appropriated $10 million toward the project, which will be called the Forestry and Forest Products Manufacturing Research Laboratory.
The new laboratory will be an important asset to the wood products industry and to the university, said OSU President Paul G. Risser.
"For many years, the College of Forestry research has contributed to the sound and effective management practices in Oregon's forests and forest-based economy," Risser said. "Now, after almost a century of service, it's become apparent that we've outgrown and outstripped our current research facilities."
The gift is one of the largest in Weyerhaeuser history, company officials say.
"The size of this gift says something about how we view the importance of the project," said Elizabeth Crossman, vice president of the Weyerhaeuser Foundation. "The laboratory is something the university and the region urgently need - up-to-date facilities and equipment to continue OSU's leadership in forestry research."
OSU's current Forest Research Laboratory is a deteriorating, 40-year-old complex with cramped laboratory space and outdated equipment, according to George Brown, dean of the College of Forestry. The new three-story building, some 97,000 square feet in all, will be located adjacent to Peavy Hall, headquarters for the College of Forestry.
Among the features of the new laboratory will be:
- A centralized Geographic Information Systems (GIS) laboratory to process detailed, multi-layer information about landscapes, including satellite data;
- A quarantine facility to study insects and diseased plants;
- A secure rooftop greenhouse for a variety of studies, including the genetic engineering of trees;
- Better testing facilities for large wood-composite products, such as laminated beams;
- Expanded and centralized computing power to handle the sophisticated and complex data sets required by large-scale research projects;
- Electronically equipped classrooms to serve students both on and off the campus.
"We are very grateful to Weyerhaeuser for making an investment in a forestry future that, more and more, depends on sophisticated and complex science," Brown said. "We're at a place where our current facilities just won't allow us to do the kinds of computer-intensive, large-scale, long-term research that the region needs."
Weyerhaeuser officials will present half of the money to OSU in a ceremony on Jan. 3. The remaining $250,000 is contingent upon the university raising an additional $500,000 from another wood products corporation.
Brown said OSU's efforts to raise the remaining $13.5 million for the laboratory will focus on corporations, foundations, OSU alumni and boosters. He said he hopes the construction of the new building will be completed by the end of 1998.