Multiple capital construction projects underway at EOU

News contact: Laura Hancock | University Advancement
541-962-3585 |
Source contact: David Lageson | Director of Facilities & Planning
541-962-3114 |

Pierce Library front desk

An artist's rendering of Pierce Library shows the new front desk that will greet patrons when the redesigned interior is complete in 2012.

September 2, 2011

LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) - Over the summer, Eastern Oregon University’s historic Ackerman Gymnasium has traded in its basketball hoops for bookcases. Instead of reverberating the bounce of balls against the backboard, the building’s vaulted dome ceiling will provide a home for Pierce Library’s staff, student study spaces, curriculum collection, some reference titles, periodicals and media.

The changes to Ackerman Gym and Pierce Library are just the starting point for a series of major construction projects on EOU’s La Grande campus. Renovations to Zabel Hall and the Hoke Union Building will follow over the next year.

“These updates are tremendous for EOU,” said EOU President Bob Davies. “We want to update and upgrade our existing buildings to better serve our students and improve energy efficiencies and ultimately be better stewards of these state resources.”

To handle the updates, Pierce ­­Library formally closed its doors Aug. 1 and will greet patrons with a completely redesigned interior a year from now when the $8 million project is expected to be complete.

In the mean time, services that will be accessible from Ackerman Gym include the circulation desk, reserves, computers, printers and photocopiers.

On Sept. 21 the library reopens in its interim location. Until then and for the duration of the renovations, students will continue to access the library’s online resources without interruption, but the main physical collections are unavailable. To help with the transition, telephone and e-mail services will be offered with the express intent of assisting users with locating materials.

Ackerman Gymnasium

A Safeguard Security employee installs the fire alarm system in the renovated Ackerman Gymnasium. Pierce Library will open in the temporary location Sept. 21.

The majority of the library’s main collection is headed for storage in Quinn Coliseum, along with reference titles, microfilm and various other materials. These resources will be pageable, meaning patrons will search for and request items to be delivered to Ackerman gym for pick up.

“Our primary goal during the construction process is to continue to provide services to students, faculty, staff and our partners,” said Pierce Library Director Karen Clay. “The reward for the transition is a ‘new’ library we are all very excited about.”

Fortis Construction Inc. is the general contractor on all four projects. Allied Works Architecture completed the planning and design for Pierce Library. Other firms include Hennebery Eddy Architects for Ackerman Gym and Zabel Hall, and SERA Architects for the Hoke Union Building. All are Oregon companies.

EOU has worked with Fortis Construction and SERA Architects before, including the LEED certified remodel of Inlow Hall in 2009-10.

“Working with a familiar team like Fortis builds on our ability to co-manage these projects,” said EOU Director of Facilities and Planning David Lageson. “We elected to collaborate with one general contractor on all four projects to expedite construction and save resources, and it’s working.”

The Oregon Legislature approved bond sales for a total of $15,643,000 for capital construction at EOU during 2009-2011 and $14,679,000 during 2011-2013.

State Rep. Greg Smith and State Sen. David Nelson led the effort in securing funding for the projects, which President Davies said are important not only for EOU, but also the economic benefit of the region. State resources include some deferred maintenance to the original structures approved for renovation.

To help identify priorities for each project, EOU worked with the architecture firms to hold open forums and also conducted surveys with students, staff and community members. In Pierce Library’s case, upgrades to the 1949 art moderne building will enhance the strengths inherent to its particular style. Improvements that emerged include better use of floor plans to create open and inviting common areas with more study space, increased patron access to library staff support and technology, improved building circulation and wayfinding.

Soon construction will be underway simultaneously at Pierce, Zabel and Hoke. The university is also entering the planning and design phase for renovations to Quinn Coliseum set to begin later next year.

“I’m eager to have construction on campus. It shows that EOU is moving forward. This ‘facelift’ means we will match our great programs with equally great facilities,” President Davies said.

For more information on these and other capital construction projects at EOU visit

Additional information on how to access materials from Pierce Library during the renovation is available at

EOU will play role in state’s largest solar power program

News contact: Laura Hancock
University Advancement | Eastern Oregon University
Phone: 541-962-3585 | E-mail:
Source contact: Diane Saunders | Oregon University System
Phone: 503-725-5714 (o); 971-219-6869 (c)
solar panels

Installation of the solar array at EOU is slated to begin later this fall and will cover approximately four acres on campus. It is estimated to produce an annual output of 1,538,074 kilowatt-hours.

August 18, 2011

LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) - The Oregon University System has unveiled what will be the state’s largest solar photovoltaic power program and the largest solar contract in the nation for a public university system on multiple campuses.

Solar arrays will eventually become a fixture on all seven OUS campuses – including EOU – as part of the Solar By Degrees program, one of five renewable energy demonstration projects OUS has developed.

During the first phase, a total of 27 acres of solar panels generating almost 5 megawatts of power will be installed at Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University and EOU. OIT is the first campus to break ground on the project.

Installation of the EOU array is slated to begin later this fall and will cover approximately four acres on campus. It is estimated to produce an annual output of 1,538,074 kilowatt-hours.

“In the past several years we have identified ways to lower energy consumption and reduce our carbon footprint and we’re excited about the potential for hands-on research and study the solar array will provide for our students and faculty,” said Bob Davies, EOU president.

“This is just one more unique aspect of what EOU can offer to Oregon students to enrich their learning opportunities and prepare them for jobs – today and tomorrow – and initiate new ways of doing business,” Davies added.

Oregon was recently ranked number two in the U.S. for green jobs by a 2011 Brookings Institution study, with 3.4 percent of employment in “clean jobs.” Through this project, OUS can further extend its role as the training ground for the state’s current and future green workforce.

OUS also expects the direct energy cost savings to be substantial over the life of the system, approximately $6.6 million combined in utility rates. Savings for EOU are estimated at $1.1 million.

The solar panels carry a 25-year warranty, but frequently produce for more than 40 years at 80 percent efficiency. EOU will share in the net revenue of the power output and retain all of the environmental attributes. The university will also have the option to purchase the system after six years from REDCO, the Utah-based renewable energy development firm providing solar power to each campus.

REDCO’s team includes investors willing to utilize state and federal tax incentives, allowing the power purchase rate to be at or below the current electrical utility rates for the campuses.

Internships with REDCO focusing on renewable energy will afford students the opportunity to gain highly relevant experience within the alternative/clean energy industry. The firm will also assist with developing curricula related to elements of the project at each campus during the initial five years.

An “all-Oregon” project, Solar By Degrees will utilize panels from Hillsboro-based SolarWorld, and solar inverters from PV Powered of Bend. Oregon Electric of Portland is the lead contractor for the project, and other Oregon contractors have been hired to complete installation and related work at OIT, OSU and EOU.

For more information visit

Alumnus shares insight on work at “Recent Graduates” exhibit

August 4, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. – The 16th annual “Recent Graduates” exhibit at Blackfish Gallery included the work of artist Morgan McAuslan, who received his degree from EOU this spring.

Arts & Life: Blackfish Gallery’s “Recent Graduates” Exhibition
Get a peek inside the gallery’s annual show for new artists
McAuslan was one of 30 recent graduates selected to participate in the July exhibition. All 15 degree-granting fine art programs in Oregon were invited to nominate two students each to show their work.

OPB Arts & Life interviewed McAuslan at Blackfish Gallery. Hear some insight on the unique materials used in his mixed media installation “Bumboard” and his progression as an artist.


New vice president for finance and administration joins EOU

News contact: Laura Hancock | University Advancement
541-962-3585 |
August 2, 2011
Lon Whitaker

Lon Whitaker

LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) – Lon Whitaker joined Eastern Oregon University on July 25 as the new vice president for finance and administration. Whitaker’s hire completes a national search process.

“We are excited to have Lon join the EOU family,” said EOU President Bob Davies. “He is a great fit for our university and our community. He brings a number of important strengths to this key position – including a high level of energy and enthusiasm.”

Whitaker’s appointment relieves Darlene Morgan, former EOU vice president for finance and administration, from her role as interim.

“It was truly wonderful to have Darlene step into her previous role and work with us for the past several months, but I know she is looking forward to returning to her much-deserved retirement,” Davies said. “My thanks also go out to the search committee. Their superb and tireless efforts ensured we had a very deep and qualified pool of candidates.”

Prior to Whitaker’s selection, he served as vice president of business affairs at Salish Kootenai College, a tribally controlled college in Pablo, Mont. Whitaker brings to EOU extensive experience in budgeting and planning, information technology, auxiliary service planning, physical plant and equipment resources.

While at Salish Kootenai, Whitaker developed a solid background in grant accounting and working with multiple local, state and federal government agencies. He also oversaw many construction projects and managed the golf course owned by the college.

“Joining EOU and moving to La Grande is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family,” Whitaker said. “This university is doing great things and I’m excited to be part of Eastern’s future.”

Whitaker’s wife Mary, their daughter Elizabeth, who will be a sixth-grader, and their son Zach, who will be a junior in high school, have joined him in La Grande.

Before moving to Salish Kootenai, Whitaker worked for the University of Montana-Helena College of Technology, the Montana Board of Investments and the Montana Legislative Audit Division.

Whitaker received his master’s in business administration from the University of Montana in Missoula and his undergraduate degree from Carroll College in Helena.