Members of the Ohio State community gathered in 90 degree heat Friday for the groundbreaking of a nearly $30 million renovation and expansion to the OSU Veterinary Medical Center.
A crowd of around 50 — including OSU President Michael Drake, College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Lonnie King, and Rita, a K-9 from OSU Police — gathered with shovels in hand under a white tent on the lawn of the Veterinary Medicine Academic Building to mark the beginning of the four-phase project.
The renovation and expansion is set to be completed in three years with funds coming from private donations and loans, said Dr. Rustin Moore, associate executive dean of the college.
The first phase will cost nearly $17 million and will be funded from $9 in donations with the rest coming from a loan, Moore said.
The hospital, which was built in the 1970s, is due for a makeover, he said.
“We have completely outgrown (the building) in terms of its size, but also in terms of its form and function,” he said.
Moore discussed the dramatic evolution of veterinary medicine within the last 40 years, as echoed by some students and alumni who attended the VMC’s ceremony.
Ron Fuller, a 1958 graduate of OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine who donated to the project, said the renovation will help OSU keep ahead given changes in the field.
“Veterinary medicine is not the same anymore,” he said. “It has developed and this renovation enables us to bring new things to the university and allows the university to spread out what they’re doing,” he said.
Project features are set to include the addition of three stories that will move administrative offices out of the main hospital, thus increasing the number of exam rooms from 15 to 26, and an expansion of the intensive care unit, which is slated to triple in size.
The College of Veterinary Medicine is ranked 5th nationwide and Drake said he sees the project as a continuation of this institutional leadership.
“The new facilities that we have will allow us to take the wonderful people that we have, the great work that they’re doing, and advance that a step forward,” he said.
Fourth-year graduate student in veterinary medicine Katie Huter said the expansion is definitely necessary.
“We have staff, and students and faculty tripping over one another, trying to care for our patients… these changes are absolutely necessary for our students and our veterinary institute,” she said.
The VMC has seen immense growth in its caseload, with well over 27,000 patients last year, Moore said.
Third-year veterinary student Rachel Soltys said she is particularly excited about clinical rotations and the new operating theater, which allows for third-year students to learn surgery hands-on.
Gina Porelli, a first-year graduate student in veterinary medicine, said she has high expectations for the project.
“These renovations will be state-of the-art, and I’m so excited,” she said. “I think it will really enhance my education and prepare me for my future career.”
Correction: Sept. 9, 2014
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the total cost of the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medical Center renovation and expansion project was $38 million. In fact, the cost is $30 million. The story also said the four-phase project is expected to be complete within three years, when in fact, that date depends on whether remaining dollars are raised to move forward with phases II through IV.