Oregon State University recently announced plans for new student housing in Newport. The announcement is the latest sign that Oregon's largest university is continuing to expand, largely away from its main campus in Corvallis.
Phase one of the plans will cost $10 million and house 160 students who use the Hatfield Marine Science Center.
The new housing will help support students in OSU’s Marine Science Initiative, a program that connects oceanography with non-science related fields like public policy and engineering to look at issues related to climate, coastal communities and the ocean.
“It’s an exciting next step in how Oregon State is advancing not only the studies associated with our marine world, but also research and community engagement along our oceans in Oregon and really throughout the world,” said Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for university relations.
Clark said the university has seen growth in the program and among students. A student club, Ocean11, represents students across all of the university’s 11 colleges.
Clark said the university spent two years looking at enrollment data to make sure the new investment was measured and supported.
Currently, students live in temporary housing on the Hatfield site or commute from Corvallis or their homes.
The property in Newport is at an elevation above the tsunami inundation zone, but still close to Hatfield.
“We thought it important to not only provide that safety of housing, but to provide that proximity with where students would actually be engaged with classes and research,” Clark said.
Clark said eventually, between 300 and 500 students are expected to be a part of the marine science program each year.
“We will see students from public policy majors to scientists … biologists, pharmacists, oceanographers, business people, all participating in the marine studies program with an opportunity to help address global issues associated with our oceans,” Clark said.
The five-acre property may end up serving more than students, too.
Clark said he’s been in talks with officials at the city of Newport, Lincoln City, and with a hospital about building employee housing on the site.
“The site has the opportunity to have a partnership with governments, nonprofits and educational institutions in the Lincoln County area to provide for discussions about housing for employees,” Clark said.
But construction hasn’t started yet. The Board of Trustees needs to review and approve the plans. Clark said they could make their final decisions by June, with the first phase opening as soon as summer 2021.