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Hundreds attend dedication for new $43 million Ag College building

March 18th, 2012 Posted in Opinion

Story & Photos by Allie Jeppson

LOGAN—Utah State University President Stan Albrecht put on his best boots for the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the new $43 million Agricultural Sciences Building on the USU Quad.

An overflow audience gathered inside the new, four-story classroom and office building, filling the first floor of the atrium and overflowing to the second and third floors to hear Agriculture Dean Noelle Cockett, Utah Commissioner of Agriculture Leonard Blackham, and Albrecht speak before to dedicate USU’s newest building.

“The impact in reach of this building on the Quad extends far beyond students, staff and faculty who will move in the next few months,” Cockett said. “This building represents the essence of Utah State University.”

As Utah’s land grant university, USU has agriculture and science at its core. This building will house research and agricultural extension services based on the agricultural foundation on which USU was built, Cockett said.

Features such as the limestone floors, fine wood cabinetry, natural fabrics, leather furniture and earth-tone color schemes reflect the building’s agricultural roots and purpose, Cockett said.

With an overall 127,000 square feet, the new building will not only host students who will study and learn there, but will also be a home to the Utah Agriculture Experiment station, USU Extension, and faculty and staff of four departments: plants, soils and climatology; animal, dairy and veterinary sciences; applied economics, and the journalism and communication department, she added.

“Its space will create new memories through classroom experience,” Cockett said. “But most importantly, its spirit will be a lasting part of USU.”

Utah Commissioner of Agriculture added that the building and the agricultural effort it represents will also be a lasting part of Utah.

“What you are doing for agriculture is so important,” Blackham said. “Agriculture sometimes gets forgotten … but this institution putting agriculture back on top will be a major factor in making sure that doesn’t happen.”

Utah jobs today are very dependent upon agriculture, he said, with 14 percent to 19 percent of the state’s economy tied to agriculture in some form or another. USU]s new ag building will make sure that smart and talented students are prepared to fill those jobs and keep agriculture alive, he said.

“I’m firmly convinced that man and nature can be in balance,” Blackham said. “It’s great to be an Aggie, isn’t it?”

Albrecht added that the need for agriculture is now more pressing than ever.

“Now is not the time for us to abandon research of food production, research on nutrition and human health,” Albrecht said. “And this building will make sure that our faculty and students will be in the forefront of these critical areas in the work that has to be done.”

Albrecht closed the ribbon-cutting ceremonies by quoting a favorite author, Pat Conroy.

“‘Everything of virtue springs from the soil … you can always find truth if it comes from the earth,’” Albrecht said. “We affirm today our commitment to that truth as we celebrate this wonderful building.”

Following these remarks all three speakers cut the blue ribbon together to open the building, and released the audience for refreshments and tours. The atrium features open space soaring four floors to a huge skylight, and an open staircase to the third floor, past some of the many student study rooms and conference rooms scattered throughout the building—including all-glass student study rooms hanging from the second floor into the atrium.

Many attending the dedication ceremonies, like sophomore Kaitlin Meline, were able to see the building for the first time.

“It seems like they really outdid themselves on this building,” Meline said. “It’s really nice and I hope that they’ll offer some classes, other than just agriculture, here.”

Senior agriculture communication major Rachel Fry liked the features so much she didn’t want to share them with others.

“I almost don’t want people to know that it’s really cool,” Fry said. “There’s a lot of things for students.”

But other students expressed some concerns about the new building.

“I feel like there’s way too many offices and not enough classrooms for students,” junior Brianna Dickerson said.

Much of the 4-story building is made up of research labs for students and faculty, although there are only three classrooms and two university computer labs in the new facility. The entire glass-front, south-facing wing of the building is faculty and staff offices.

“I don’t know why there aren’t more classrooms,” Fry said.

However, the benefit of students was the number one priority in this project, Cockett said.

Faculty members agree and are excited about the new space and the unity that it brings. “It’s nice that we’ll all be under the same roof,” said applied economics professor Kynda Curtis.

The JCOM department seems to some a bit out of place in the new agriculture building. JCOM, a part of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, is moving from its longtime home in the Animal Science Building to offices on the third floor of the new building, with computer labs and TV/video studios, the new home of Aggie TV News, on the ground floor.

Broadcasting and multimedia professor Brian Champagne of the JCOM department is looking forward to the move.

“It means a lot,” Champagne said. “Even if [JCOM] is just a guest in here, I’m happy to be here. It’s legit.”

TP

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