The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is making a long-term commitment to its future, and to Ohio’s future, by investing more than $100 million to refresh its infrastructure. Eighteen capital projects—in Columbus, Wooster, and other college locations throughout the state—have been started in the past year.
“Food, agricultural, and environmental sciences are high-tech and evolving areas,” said CFAES Dean Cathann A. Kress. “We had gotten behind in some of our facilities, so it’s imperative that we make infrastructure a priority.”
It’s a big responsibility: CFAES owns, operates, and leases nearly 11,000 acres and 800 facilities across Ohio.
Please support these initiatives by visiting go.osu.edu/faesfacilities or calling Emily Winnenberg Kruse in the CFAES Office of Advancement, 614-292-0473.
In Columbus, for example, new projects include the Controlled Environment Food Production Research Complex ($35 million), the Kunz-Brundige Franklin County Extension Building ($5.5 million), and the Multispecies Animal Learning Center ($5.4 million, design work only), all at the Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory.
In Wooster, construction has started on the Science Building ($33.5 million) and the Farm Operations Building and Beef Facility ($4.3 million), while the Secrest Arboretum Welcome and Education Center ($2 million) opened in May.
On Lake Erie at The Ohio State University Stone Laboratory, the home of long-standing efforts to improve the lake’s water quality, a new research building and monitoring equipment ($2.65 million, total) will bolster the lab’s work even more.
CFAES’ overall investment “signals our momentum moving forward and our intent to be a thriving and dynamic college of the future,” Kress said.
“To successfully recruit and retain top talent in faculty, staff, and students, as well as engage industry partners, we need to offer high-quality, modern facilities to conduct their work,” she said.
Graham Cochran, CFAES associate dean for operations, said that for CFAES, “‘facilities’ can mean many things”—from traditional classrooms within the walls of a building to learning labs, farm shops, barns, and greenhouses located outside of those walls.
Kunz-Brundige Franklin County Extension Building, Waterman, Columbus, $5.5M. Designed to enhance the presence of Ohio State University Extension at Waterman, this building, which opened this fall, allows Extension staff to engage Franklin County citizens in the areas of food, health, agricultural production, and sustainability. The facility features multifunctional meeting spaces, a teaching kitchen, offices, and demonstration gardens, all made possible by a transformational gift from Pat Brundige, who’s had a lifelong commitment to OSU Extension and Ohio 4-H. For more information, visit go.osu.edu/Kunz-Brundige.
Controlled Environment Food Production Research Complex. Waterman, Columbus. $35M. A state-of-the-art greenhouse will support research and teaching on controlled environment agriculture, which can produce food year-round and can do so closer to population centers, increasing freshness and cutting transportation costs. A lead gift from the Nationwide Foundation funded a feasibility study and is supporting a portion of the complex’s construction.
Multispecies Animal Learning Center. Waterman, Columbus. $5.4M (design work only). This new facility will provide space to focus on the full spectrum of animal-human interactions, from agricultural production to companion animals; to bring people and animals together for hands-on learning, public events, and Extension programming; to work with school, 4-H, and FFA groups; and to house horses, swine, poultry, cattle, sheep, and goats on a short- and long-term basis.
Science Building. Wooster. $33.5M. This new stand-alone building will serve a number of functions. It will provide a gathering space with food service for the Wooster campus; will have multipurpose and classroom space; will offer chemistry labs; and will house faculty, researchers, staff, and students in CFAES’ Department of Entomology.
Secrest Arboretum Welcome and Education Center. Wooster. $2M. This first-ever visitor center in the arboretum’s 110-year history was created by refurbishing the Wooster campus’s Research Operations farm shop. It features a large orientation space for visitors, an even larger multi-purpose classroom, public restrooms, gallery space, and offices for arboretum staff. Interpretive exhibits, including for children, are planned. For more information, visit go.osu.edu/SecrestCenter.
Additional, current projects, Cochran said, include heating, ventilation, and air conditioning renovations in Williams Hall in Wooster ($3.6 million); recovery work from the 2017 tornado in Wooster ($1.2 million); improvements to the auditorium and restrooms in the Agricultural Administration Building in Columbus ($1.6 million); and a Chemical Storage and Handling Facility at Waterman ($1 million).
A complete list of projects started since fall 2018 is available at go.osu.edu/FacilitiesUpdate.
Kress said such projects are essential. Cutting-edge infrastructure produces “the talented workforce that businesses and industry need,” she said, and supports innovation and discovery.
“Often, infrastructure within our college supports work critical to the future but without immediate commercial results. These efforts, especially in teaching and research, likely won’t yield short-term, high dividends, but they’re key to long-term, consistent economic growth and stability,” Kress said.
“Understanding the importance of these long-term investments, and the benefits within a state, is part of what led to the creation of the land-grant universities as public institutions rather than relying solely on private investors.”Cathann A. Kress
“Understanding the importance of these long-term investments, and the benefits within a state, is part of what led to the creation of the land-grant universities as public institutions rather than relying solely on private investors,” she said.
Funding for the projects has come from state sources, private donors, redistribution of college funds, and grants and contracts. The college has committed $100 million to these projects and is looking to its philanthropic partners to fill $40 million of that commitment, Kress said. She added, “We’re grateful for the support and confidence that is making it happen.”
Regardless of size or location, she said, the projects all share the same goal: “They help create conditions for our faculty, staff, and students to continue to advance science, industry, and sustainability—and that means we can come closer to our mission: We sustain life.”