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PSU Engineering Department receives three million dollar gift

James F. Miller recently contributed three million dollars to Portland State University for a new engineering building on 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave.

The new building is expected to be five stories in height and have 80,000 square feet of usable space. The current facility is on the north side of the Fourth Avenue Building, on the corner of Harrison and Fourth.

The engineering department expects to double its enrollment from 1500 to 3000 students by 2007. The planned building would allow for this expansion, and offer many new features to the department’s infrastructure.

Construction work on the new building is slated to begin in fall of 2002, and reach completion 18 months from that time.

In discussing why this generosity was focused on the new engineering building at PSU, Robert Dryden, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, said, “This was a situation where he gave to the priority of the university.”

Miller’s representatives spoke with PSU authorities, and were shown around the engineering department and told of its future plans.

Dryden said that these interactions influenced the amount of the contribution. He continued by explaining that this was an investment in the community and the future of Portland, as 80 percent of engineering graduates from PSU stay in Portland to work.

Morgan Pope, the associate dean for outreach in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the director of the massive building project, stated, “It will primarily be a lab building.” Plans call for it to be equipped to deal with the sort of chemical handling, gas air and exhaust capabilities that are not currently available to students in the department. Modern labs, designed to keep pace with the Northwest’s high-tech community, look to be among the new facility’s highlights.

The University’s eventual goal is to raise $26.5 million for the building, to matching the amount pledged by the state. Contributions are coming from alumni, friends of the university (such as Miller), the city and anonymous donors. Already, the city has allowed $5 million for the project and an anonymous donor has given one million dollars to the cause.

Miller has donated liberally to many local universities, including Lewis and Clark, University of Oregon, Linfield and Marylhurst. He has also generously contributed funding to the Portland Art Museum, Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theater and other local organizations.

The current building has undergone one million dollars worth of renovation in the last few months. It is leased in parts from PacifiCorp and the city.