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Historic Building Will House OSU Honors College

Friday, July 29, 2005

The greatest capital improvement undertaking in Oklahoma State University’s history will include the return to service of its flagship building.

The OSU/A&M Board of Regents today approved the restoration and renovation of Old Central, the oldest building on OSU’s Stillwater campus, to house the university’s Honors College. A design consultant will now be sought for the $3 million project, one of six endeavors the board set into motion Friday.

Used sparingly for special events in recent years, Old Central since the 1970s has primarily served as headquarters for the Oklahoma Museum of Higher Education. Historic information and exhibits will continue to be housed in the building, but its return to academic use effectively bridges the past and future of higher education at the state’s university, according to OSU System CEO and President David J. Schmidly.

“It’s not by coincidence that we undertake the renovation of Old Central, an OSU hallmark, during this unprecedented endeavor to improve the infrastructure throughout the OSU System,” Schmidly said.

“Old Central’s renovation to house the Honors College will allow our best and brightest students to flourish in a building that, perhaps more than any other on any of our campuses, stands as a symbol of the university’s traditions and excellence,” Schmidly said. “The heritage already embodied in Old Central will be invigorated by their achievements.”

Completed in 1894, Old Central was the first permanent building erected on the Stillwater campus. Initially called the College Building, it has been a multipurpose facility almost since its dedication, providing accommodations for classes, cultural programs, the student newspaper and the college’s first print shop. Classes were last convened in the building in 1921.

Saved from demolition in 1928 and 1955, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Much of the interior has been refurbished to appear as it did at the turn of the century. The initial phases of the pending restoration will involve repair of the foundation and roof and strengthening each floor’s loading capacity. Also, the building will be brought into compliance with ADA accessibility standards.

“Old Central will be a wonderful home for the Honors College as we educate scholars and leaders for the 21st Century,” said Dr. Robert Spurrier, Honors College director. “We anticipate that the design will include classrooms for honors courses and seminars, computer facilities, small group study areas and room for larger gatherings along with our office space.”

The nationally-recognized Honors College serves nearly 900 of the university’s top students from all six undergraduate colleges on the Stillwater campus. Spurrier said they are afforded the opportunity to study with the university’s finest faculty throughout their undergraduate careers as they prepare to undertake the research that leads to their senior honors theses. Special honors seminars and team-taught interdisciplinary honors courses along with honors courses in a wide variety of academic disciplines provide both breadth and depth to these students’ honors experience. And special honors academic counseling is provided through the Honors College from the freshman year through graduation.

“Approval of this project by our Board of Regents is one more indication of the level of support we receive at OSU as we challenge and support these outstanding students through the Honors College,” Spurrier said.

OSU will fund the renovation of Old Central through the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s capital lease program.

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