CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University officially launched OSU150 – a 15-month-long celebration of its founding – with a solar eclipse watch party on Monday that drew as many as 5,000 visitors to Student Legacy Park, and hundreds more to other locations around campus.
Additionally, close to 1,000 people watched the eclipse in Culver, and nearly 100 more in Bend as part of activities hosted by OSU-Cascades. The Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport also offered eclipse presentations in the days leading up to the event.
Visitors from all over the country, as well as from many nations around the world, came to the OSU campus in Corvallis, which was the first university in the United States in the path of totality for the eclipse. The OSU150 Space Grant Festival: A Total Eclipse Experience on the university’s main campus Aug. 19-21 featured exhibits, talks, activities and entertainment.
“I think most people here would agree that the eclipse lived up to its billing,” said Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for University Relations and Marketing. “It really was a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime event that both awed and humbled people. The crowd cheered when the moon fully blocked the sun, and again when the sun began to emerge.”
Because hotel rooms in Oregon sold out months ago, Oregon State University opened some of its campus lodging for visitors and nearly 2,000 people stayed in 900 residence hall rooms and suites. Those guests came from some two dozen different states as far away as Florida, Hawaii and Texas, as well as several nations, including Australia, Germany and Ireland.
Clark said this was only the second time OSU officials could confirm closing the university for an event that was not weather-related. The university closed and classes were cancelled on Monday, Nov. 25, 1963, as part of a day of mourning over the death of President John F. Kennedy.
OSU also cancelled classes, but did not close the university, on Friday, May 8, 1970, for discussion and reflection over the Kent State University shootings.
Several research groups took advantage of the rare total eclipse to participate in research projects on campus and at the Oregon coast. Students from Linn-Benton Community College and OSU launched balloons from aboard the research vessel Pacific Storm to gather some of the first images of the eclipse reaching the continent.
And on campus, researchers and students from OSU and several other universities launched balloons from Peavy Field on the west end of campus.
The OSU150 celebration will continue over the next several months, culminating with the official 150th anniversary in October of 2018. An exhibit commemorating the university’s achievements during those 150 years will open in February at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.
For more information on OSU150, go online at: oregonstate.edu/150