I departed Oregon State University with a deep education, fun memories and well-respected degrees. Yet, moving along in my career and across the continent, I rarely looked back.
After nearly 30 years, I’ve returned, criss-crossing the Quad, delighting in rhododendrons, sporting orange and black, ignoring rain. It’s great to feel the familiarity. It’s invigorating to be surrounded by progress.
Now I lead the research enterprise of the university that, early on, enticed me to inquire into real issues. When I was a New York high-schooler, OSU’s pre-college program invited me west, affording the opportunity to bunk in Sackett Hall and to explore Oregon’s coast, mountains and deserts through the state’s land grant university. I was awed by the role the environment plays in so much of what we do. Inspiration by top-notch teachers drew me back for graduate studies, where I found the focus on the “big picture” even stronger. Now I see more K-20 enrichment programs, and I’m personally committed to bringing youth to campus and to encouraging our undergrads to do real research.
Years ago, I considered the campus and Corvallis community just about complete, with close proximity to everything I needed. I wrote most of my thesis sitting at the Beanery! Yet I’m amazed at how much OSU has expanded. From my office, I’m watching a major renovation of picturesque Education Hall, with its huge rough-hewn stones. A short walk away, I visit the new Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families. The Linus Pauling Science Center, home to a national Center of Excellence for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is almost complete, and ground was just broken for a $10 million animal science teaching and research pavilion. A new building for the College of Business is on the drawing boards.
The O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, which of course did not exist in my student days, has one of the world’s most sophisticated tsunami test facilities. And progress is not just bricks and mortar: programs are growing in stature and impact. Our 12-year-old Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is receiving national accolades, and accreditation of the College of Public Health and Human Sciences will enable us to lead new initiatives in health and wellness.
I studied with a wonderful oceanography professor, Ron Zaneveld, and with such legends as Wayne Burt, June Pattullo and John Byrne. I don’t have room to list our current faculty who are world-respected experts and great mentors. The pace of research was slower back in the ‘70s; students were expected to spend significant time in field work, which I did all over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Today’s students have the advantages of cruising via the Internet, of course, yet they still have fantastic experiences in the wide world.
Our research applications are exciting, and many may be of personal relevance to you, as they are to me. OSU prioritizes the health of people, our environment and our economy: improving the human “healthspan”; smart strategies for earthquake and tsunami preparedness; advances in wave energy and other carbon-free energy sources; innovations in manufacturing technologies.