CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State University’s College of Business will expand into a $50 million state-of-the-art facility, thanks to a $10-million commitment from Joan and Ken Austin, Jr., of Newberg, Ore., and a $6-million commitment from the late Al Reser, his wife Pat Reser, of Beaverton, Ore., and their family. The building project was announced at the college’s annual Alumni and Business Partner Awards dinner in Portland on May 6.
The Austin and Reser lead gifts will be combined with others to construct a five-story, 100,000-square-foot building containing classrooms, offices, student services and collaborative learning spaces for the college’s growing undergraduate and graduate programs. Private gifts of $30 million are sought for the project, to be combined with $25 million in state bonds, subject to approval by the state Legislature.
Work on the new $50-million facility is expected to begin in spring of 2013, with completion slated for fall of 2015. An additional $5 million in private funds is included in the project to help with start-up costs and ongoing building operations. More than half of the $30 million fundraising goal has already been secured.
The new building will be nearly twice the size of the college’s historic Bexell Hall, built in 1922 when OSU’s business school had 900 students. Among the first 12 schools of commerce in the nation, the college today serves 2,400 undergraduate business majors, 90 MBA students and 600 students enrolled in the Business and Entrepreneurship minor. Increased student demand will require continued use of space within Bexell for some Business programs, with the remainder to be used to accommodate growing enrollment in other OSU programs.
“Coming at the dawn of our second century of operation, this new building signifies the beginning of a very exciting new era for the college. We are profoundly grateful to the Austins and Resers for making this advancement possible,” said Ilene Kleinsorge, the Sara Hart Kimball Dean of the College of Business. “Our MBA program is growing, and our emphasis on entrepreneurism, innovation and experiential learning has made our undergraduate programs especially well attuned to today’s business needs, and therefore increasingly in demand.”
Lead donors to the project, the Austins are the co-founders and owners of A-dec, Inc., one of the largest dental equipment manufacturers in the world. In addition, Joan Austin is president of Springbrook Properties, which owns and developed the highly acclaimed The Allison Inn & Spa. The building will be named in the Austins’ honor.
“As business people, Joan and I see very clearly the need for a great business school – one that is focused on the specific needs of Oregon businesses and their leaders,” said Ken Austin. “Our family is glad to help OSU take the next big step forward.”
The couple has generously supported OSU for many years, through their gifts and service on multiple advisory boards. In the College of Business, their gifts launched two signature programs, the Austin Family Business Program and the Austin Entrepreneurship Program. Ken Austin received his undergraduate degree in industrial and manufacturing engineering from OSU in 1954. The Austins’ daughter and son and their spouses are OSU alumni, as well.
The late businessman Al Reser – a college alumnus who was remembered with a special tribute at the May 6 dinner – and his family pledged $6 million to the project, $4 million of which will be used as a challenge grant to match other gifts to the building.
OSU President Ed Ray noted that promoting economic growth and social progress is one of three key areas the university has identified as core strengths and priorities for investment. “By partnering with the Austin and Reser families as well as other private investors on this facility, we will dramatically enhance our ability to prepare future generations of Oregon’s business leaders,” he said.
“The Austins are champions of education throughout the state. In addition to their remarkable support of our College of Business over the years, they have also significantly invested in schools and educational programs in their local community. The building on our campus that will bear their name will be a fitting tribute to their contributions to the core academic programs of the college and an enduring testament to their commitment to future Oregon Staters and indeed to all Oregonians,” Ray continued.
The new building will house distinctive OSU business programs including: the Austin Family Business Program, one of the most recognized university-based family business programs in the nation; the Arthur Stonehill International Business Exchange Program, the largest program of its kind in Oregon; and the Close to the Customer Project, in which students gain industry experience in providing marketing research, project management, and marketing planning services.
The building initiative is part of The Campaign for OSU, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising effort. Guided by OSU’s strategic plan, the campaign seeks $625 million to provide opportunities for students, strengthen the Oregon economy and conduct research that changes the world. Approximately $575 million has been committed to date. This includes gifts early in the campaign that transformed the historic dormitory of Weatherford Hall into a unique living-learning environment for the Austin Entrepreneurship Program, the largest residential program of its kind in the world.