MARION - A campaign to raise funds to build a new science building at The Ohio State University at Marion received a $50,000 gift from a local chief executive officer and OSU (Ohio State) alumnus.
Keith Wanner, CEO of RobotWorx, and his wife Joan recently made the pledge to the Ohio State regional campus' effort to build the estimated $15 million structure, said Dave Claborn, Ohio State Marion director for community relations and development.
"It's a big task to raise our share that we need to raise, which is about $3 million, roughly, for a $15 million building, which in this market, in this economy, there is no question it's a big task," Claborn said.
Wanner will be a member of a committee tasked with raising funds for the project, as are Ted Graham and Dr. Jay Moodley, two other local residents who have each committed $50,000. Nucor Steel Marion Inc. has pledged $25,000 toward the science building.Wanner said he and his wife "really like the Marion area, and most of our employees now are from Marion." Having worked with Claborn, Marion CAN DO! president at the time, as he moved RobotWorx to its Marion site on West Fairground Street, Wanner said he and his wife welcomed the opportunity to assist with Ohio State Marion's project.
"Any way we can help, we're happy to do it," he said. "It's going to really help improve the employee base we have and be good for everybody."The science facility is OSUM's (Ohio State Marion's) focus as the university seeks to raise $2.5 billion by June 30, 2016, Claborn said. He said the Ohio State Marion part of the campaign has raised $300,000 to $400,000.
Regional campuses are discussing development of programs that would distinguish each from the other, he said."It looks like we're going to gravitate toward environmental science, maybe ag food science, things that match the economy here," he said. A first-year engineering program announced recently also will be a part of the science building, which will replace science facilities in Morrill Hall.
Claborn said Ohio State Marion would like to break ground on the project in 2012, "but we've got a ways to go to reach our local share."He said the Marion campus is competing for Ohio State's bonding capacity, which would allow borrowing money under the interest rate made possible by the university's bond rating.
Praising Moodley, Graham, Wanner, Nucor and other donors to the science building enterprise, he said, "These are the forerunners of this project, and they're putting their faith behind this project. And we're hoping to build on that through this committee."The science facility project is an opportunity for Marion to demonstrate its commitment to improving its education infrastructure, Claborn said. He said 9.3 percent of Marion city's population has a bachelor's degree or more, compared to about 24 percent of the state's population.
"If we're going to be a successful community in the century going forward, we need to be an educated community," he said. "... We have big designs, but I think we have a community that understands the necessity. We need to shepherd this resource we have here. We have a piece of Ohio State University here."A 1979 graduate of The Ohio State University, where he received a welding engineering degree, Wanner established a robotics integration business based out of Marion. Currently, three OSU (Ohio State University) engineering graduates hold major management positions at RobotWorx.
Reporter John Jarvis: 740-375-5154 or firstname.lastname@example.org