Ohio State Marion about $2.2 million away from new science building

News Release Date: 

Published 12-27-2011 edition of The Marion Star
Written by Kurt Moore

MARION -- Planning continues for a new science building at The Ohio State University at Marion as campus officials thank donors.

Ohio State is making plans to build a science building on the Marion campus to replace current facilities in Morrill Hall, built in 1968. Ohio State Marion Dean Greg Rose said labs must be updated and expanded in order to maintain a high quality of instruction.

With about $6.8 million, including $6 million in reserves, commited to the project, about another $2.2 million in local funds need to be raised.

"Our hope is that as area companies and residents begin to realize the importance of Ohio State Marion and this science facility to the future of the community, they will be encouraged to play a role in bringing this project to fruition," said Dave Claborn, director of development and community relations at Ohio State Marion, in an email.

Ohio State Marion hired a consulting firm to complete a feasibility study in 2007. The price tag is estimated at about $15 million, part of which will be covered by borrowing $6 million through Ohio State's bonding authority.

"The building will provide students with state-of-the-art learning facilities and allow the campus to increase the diversity of our science curriculum," Rose said in the email. Plans include a second biology lab, space for a lab to support the nature prairie, replacement of a greenhouse and the use of energy-saving technologies.

"This will help students remain on the Marion campus further into their Ohio State careers," Rose said.

Improved and enhanced science labs will help expand Ohio State Marion's science curriculum possibly to include full-degree programs, he said. Improved prairie facilities would also benefit K-12th grade students from area schools.

Claborn referred to the need for expanded science facilities as he talked about the nation's need for more scientists and engineers to keep pace with other countries.

"In order to turn out those graduates, we need the right kind of facilities in which to teach those disciplines and attract top-notch faculty," he stated. "Boiled down to the local level, if Marion is to progress into the 21st century, we will need to focus on the kinds of education and workforce that will be relevant in today's and tomorrow's marketplace."

Morrill's biology and chemistry labs went through a partial renovation over the summer and minor modifications have been made to the physics and engineering lab. Rose said they were stop-gap improvements.

The anticipated start of the building project has not yet been announced as efforts continue to focus on fundraising.

Among top donors so far are Morral Companies, Gary Sims, Sims Brothers, Ted Graham, Dr. Jay and Janice Moodley, Keith and Joan Wanner of RobotWorx and an anonymous donor. Each contributed $50,000. Other top donors include Nucor Marion, which gave $25,000; Gary and Karrin Risch, who donated $12,500; Louis Conkle, who gave $7,500; and Trella Romine, who donated $5,000.

Sims, who gave a donation on his own behalf and another on behalf of Sims Bros. Recycling and Scrap Processing, is a 1979 Ohio State graduate who said he feels the community has been good to both his famliy and their family-owned business.

His support of education includes sitting on the Pleasant Local and Tri-Rivers Career Center boards of education and previously on the Ohio State Marion board of trustees.

Like many students, he started college attending classes on the Marion campus before transferring to the Columbus campus.

"I'm really familiar with and impressed how it's grown," he said.

"I really value education," he said. "Anything we can do to help our community is really important."

Reporter Kurt Moore: 740-375-5151 or kdmoore@marionstar.com