All you have to do is drive by the Tulsa campuses of the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma to see signs of a national trend of dramatic growth for higher education.
Multimillion dollar construction projects are altering the landscape at all three.
Value of construction under way on those campuses is about $114 million. About 287,000 SF of learning, administrative, research and laboratory space are being built.
Since 1990, institutions of higher learning across the U.S. have been on a spending spree, amassing a total of $107 billion on construction projects. Sixty-three percent, or $67.3 billion, of this money has gone to the construction of new buildings or the enlargement of existing structures, according to statistics compiled by College Planning and Management magazine.
Nationwide, the current calendar year will see $7.2 billion in construction on college campuses, in contrast to the $4.2 billion that was spent in 1980 — a 71 percent increase.
What Drives Growth
The replacement of WWII-era dormitories and the adaptation of older academic buildings for modern uses are not the only issues driving the collegiate construction boom, according to Joan Nesbitt, vice president for institutional advancement at TU.
“Demographics and growth drive construction on the TU campus,” she said. “Some of it is also driven by competitive factors – institutions try to remain competitive and attractive. I think it’s fair to say that we have examples of all those going on right now on this campus.”
The aesthetic qualities of a campus, or lack thereof, could drive construction projects, as it has at the south end of the TU campus, Nesbitt said.
“We realize that first impressions are very important with students as well as parents, and we know that those institutions that we compete with academically, Rice, Southern Methodist University, and Washington University in St. Louis all have very defined and grand entrances.”
The first impression, TU hopes, will be made by two additions to the campus landscape – a $4 million south entrance, which will include a fountain named for Genave King Rogers, the first woman to graduate from the University of Tulsa’s College of Business Administration, and Bayless Plaza, a $5 million, 7,500-SF landscaped park which will be home to the campus landmark Kendall Bell.
The TU campus is between Harvard and Delaware Avenues, just north of 11th Street.
According to Nesbitt, the construction of the campus’ two $9 million projects; Collins Hall and the Case Athletic Complex, are being driven both by the desire to stay competitive among peer institutions and a need for more room.
“We are in dire need of space for football, for everything from coaches’ offices to a student center. Within that facility there will be a dedicated academic center that will benefit all student athletes, not just football players,” Nesbitt said.
“Collins Hall has two factors driving it. One is the dire need for space, two is the competitive factor,” she said. “Previously, if you were a visitor to the University of Tulsa, there wasn’t a place for ‘one stop shopping,’ particularly for the students. You had to go to admissions, which is in one space, and financial aid, which is in another. By consolidating all of those critical visitor functions into one building, we think it will make for a happier clientele.”
The University of Oklahoma-Tulsa is having a construction boom of its own.
OU-Tulsa, which was founded in 1957 as a small library science satellite program with 50 students, didn’t have a permanent, consolidated home in Tulsa until 2000, when its 60-acre campus at 41st Street and Yale Avenue was purchased in part by a $10 million gift from Tulsa’s Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation.
Dr. Gerard Clancy, Dean of the Tulsa College of Medicine, said the vacated oil research building was just what the doctor ordered.
“In 2000, when Amoco was bought by British Petroleum, this building was left empty. When that happened, BP offered the land at a very, very good price, and we were able to purchase the campus. That gave us the ability to anchor a lot of our programs that had been scattered throughout the city.”
In the past two years, OU-Tulsa has grown and its construction projects continue. The campus now houses a 1,300-student medical and graduate school with a $138 million budget.
OU-Tulsa plans to enroll 2,000 students by 2010.
Currently, OU-Tulsa is building a $39 million Research and Medical Clinic, a facility that over the next 15 years will have an estimated economic impact of $1.5 billion and will add 3,100 jobs in Tulsa.
Clancy credits the city’s foresight in bringing the dream of a state-of-the-art medical research facility to the city.
“This is Vision 2025 at work,” he said. “It will be our new medical home. It won’t be everything that we do, but it will be the base for all of our medical programs and will replace our present home at 28th Street and Sheridan Road that we have outgrown.”
“Vision 2025 has been the tipping point for us in that it was the stimulus for first new development for OU-Tulsa in years,” he added. “The investment by the city has been a huge message for our faculty that we have recruited from across the country.”
The 100,000-SF Research and Medical Clinic will open in May of 2007.
The second among the long list of projects on the horizon for the OU-Tulsa campus is a tax-funded addition to the Research and Medical Clinic.
“Our next project will be a combination diabetes and cancer center,” Clancy said. “It will be about 20,000-25,000 SF and will be connected to our current project.”
The Oklahoma Diabetes Center, which will include locations in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, received $15 million in start-up funds from the state legislature. Specific construction costs for the project are not known.
In late March of 2005, Gov. Brad Henry signed into law the largest higher education capital bond issue in the history of the state of Oklahoma.
The $475 million of the bond issue that was earmarked for construction has benefited OU-Tulsa, with $14 million designated for the construction of a Learning Center and Library Complex. The facility, which will include a 300-seat lecture hall and two 94-seat seminar halls, as well as classrooms and commons areas, is also the beneficiary of a $10 million Schusterman Family Foundation donation.
The Learning Center and Library project is expected to cost $29 million.
Once the research and educational facilities are completed, Dr. Clancy said he expects the next round of projects to focus on the students.
“Our next level of development will be around a student union type facility,” Clancy said. “We also plan to work with the Promenade Mall on being a good neighbor, and any programming that they do, we would like it to match up with what we need. We’ve had some good discussions.”
OSU-Tulsa Research Center
Nestled beneath the city skyline and situated at the Detroit Avenue entrance to Oklahoma State University-Tulsa is Tulsa’s most expensive on-going collegiate construction project, the Helmerich Advanced Technology Research Center.
The center, which will contain 123,000 SF of specialized laboratories, advanced technology equipment and faculty offices are being built at a cost of $51.9 million, or just under $422 per SF.
It was funded by $30 million in Vision 2025 dollars, $12.9 million of the state’s higher education bond issue and a $9 million donation from former Helmerich and Payne president Walter Helmerich and his wife Peggy, for whom the center will be named.
The Dewberry Design Group designed the project and Flintco Inc. is the general contractor.
The Helmerich Center will have an annual operational budget of $8 to $10 million, including federal and private research funds.
According to OSU-Tulsa President Gary Trennepohl, the motivation behind the addition of the research center to the Tulsa campus is the desire to give back to the city.
“We felt it was very important for us to focus on technology and engineering, to further the economic development of the area,” he said. “We tried to fit what we do well with what the city tells us they need.”
Trennepohl believes that the research center will lead to the development of patents and the creation of new companies in the strategic research areas on which the Helmerich Center’s researchers will focus.
“We will focus on research that is relevant to the future of Tulsa’s economy.”
Trennepohl praised Walter Helmerich, saying that his generosity is motivated by his love for his hometown.
“He’s actually an OU guy, but he is a Tulsan,” Trennepohl said. “And he sees that what is good for Tulsa will be good for him.”
The Helmerich Center is scheduled for completion in November of 2007.
“At the same time we move into the Helmerich Center, we would certainly like to have some apartment-style housing ready for occupancy,” Trennepohl said.
The proposed site for a 150-to 200-bed apartment complex is west of Delaware Avenue and just north of Highway 412, on land already owned by the university.
Trennepohl believes that the current facilities at OSU-Tulsa were built for growth and that the campus could support almost twice the number students they now enroll.
“We would like to have 5,000 students by 2011,” said Trennepohl. ?