TAMUG dedicates state-of-the-art Ocean and Coastal Studies Building
In special ceremonies on Nov. 11, TAMUG officially dedicated the largest and most sophisticated marine research facility on the U.S. Gulf Coast – the university’s new Ocean and Coastal Studies Building (OCSB) that is now anchoring the Mitchell Campus on Pelican Island.
Already, the OCSB stands among the finest facilities of its kind in the nation, providing
TAMUG researchers with the platform they need to augment the university’s outstanding reputation for
The facility’s dedication event celebrated a sea change in TAMUG operations. For the first time in the university’s history, all university researchers and their students are on a single campus ―to create an ideal atmosphere for nurturing interdisciplinary collaboration and for collegiality.
The OCSB is providing TAMUG researchers with the platform they need to augment the university’s outstanding reputation for scientific advancement. The facility reflects the university’s tradition of excellence in conducting research to sustain marine and maritime resources.
The formal ceremony, hosted by Dr. William Merrell, TAMUG’s acting vice president and CEO, attracted distinguished visitors from the Galveston area, the coastal region, College Station and throughout Texas.
Guests included Dr. R. Bowen Loften, president of Texas A&M University; Dr. Michael D. McKinney, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System; dignitaries from TAMU and the TAMU System (including Regent Lupe Fraga representing the TAMU System Board of Regents); a number of local, regional and state leaders; and the TAMUG Board of Visitors. Additionally, special guests B. Greg Mitchell and John W. Lyons Jr. were among the many other alumni, friends and TAMUG supporters on hand for the dedication.
Loftin, who became the TAMU president in February 2010, previously served as vice president and CEO at the Galveston campus during the planning and construction phases of the OCSB.
After an April 2008 ground-breaking ― and slight delay due to Hurricane Ike later that year ― TAMUG opened the $53 million, 109,000 square foot, state-of-the-art OCSB – before the start of the current academic year in July.
The OCSB was designed to replace the 1930s era Fort Crockett building that served for more than 50 years as the primary research facility for a faculty whose research allocations (per tenured researcher) have traditionally ranked as the third highest in Texas – behind only Texas A&M and the University of Texas.
It is equipped to support some 40 faculty researchers (and that number includes permanent laboratory space for four visiting researchers) and approximately 100 graduate students.
In addition, the OCSB also offers classroom and laboratories for undergraduate students in ten scientific major areas of study.
Another outstanding feature of the new building that will facilitate faculty and students in their concentration on ocean related studies is its proximity to TAMUG’s small boat basin where they will have ready access to research vessels.
In their new OCSB laboratories, faculty scientists and their students pursue chemical, physical and biological research with special concentrations in wetlands, marine animals, seafood safety, trace metals analysis, benthic biology and coastal processes.
The building houses TAMUG’s Texas Institute of Oceanography, Center for Texas Beaches and Shores, Texas Seafood Safety Laboratory, Laboratory of Oceanographic and Environmental Research, Coastal Zone Laboratory and the university’s Marine Biology and Marine Sciences academic departments.
TAMUG researchers who have relocated their laboratories into the OCSB are working in areas critical to the State of Texas ― addressing issues such as: beach, salt marsh and
wetlands restoration; sea food safety; oil spill remediation; support for fisheries and nurseries; and studies of fish and other sea life and their migration patterns.
Until opening this new facility, a significant number of faculty members and graduate students shuttled back and forth from their laboratories and research projects at Fort Crockett to lectures, meetings and events on the Mitchell campus. Similarly, the many undergraduate students engaged in research continually needed to travel to and from their work at Fort Crockett (4700 Avenue U near Seawall Boulevard).
In addition to the expanding scope of scientific research capabilities and advanced technologies the OCSB provides, the new building already is earning prestigious acclaim for its energy efficiency and environmental impact. The accolades include a recommendation for a GOLD rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design branch of the U.S. Green Building Council ― an honor that signifies that the university’s mission is predicated on environmentally sustainable performance, not ―only for the building but also for all TAMUG research and teaching endeavors.
The final phase of the building to open will be the 5,000 square-foot Sea Life Center. With 10,000 gallons of running sea water, this facility will provide holding tanks for specimens and research.
WHR Architects of Houston designed the new science building, Vaughan Construction of Houston built it and Shah Smith & Associates Inc. provided the design engineering services.
Paving the way to Sea Legacy
Now is the time to buy a brick for the Sea Aggie Walkway — the area surrounding the Bracewell Clock Tower in the center of our Mitchell Campus — and you can preserve a personal message for generations upon generations of Sea Aggies to come.
The 4”x 8” bricks are available for purchase at $100 each. You can have your brick engraved with up to three lines of text with each line holding up to twenty characters.
In addition to supporting a new TAMUG tradition — paving the Sea Aggie Walkway with bricks inscribed with personal messages, tributes, names and class years, everyone purchasing a brick will be perpetuating the William C. Hearn ‘63 Student Development Endowment.
The Sea Aggie Walkway came to life as a student inspired project in 2008 when student leaders were seeking new ways for students and former students to leave a legacy on the campus. TAMUG launched both walkway and the “Hearn Endowment” at Hearn’s 2008 retirement ceremony.
The first brick to be laid in the new walkway was dedicated to William C. “Bill” Hearn in honor of his more than 33 years of service to TAMUG.
William “Bill” C. Hearn ‘63
Hearn’s time at the university — as senior student life officer — was an era of unprecedented growth in all aspects of campus life from student affairs to facilities expansion to the largest enrollment in school history. He helped shape the breadth of student programs including counseling, activities, organizations, leadership programs, career planning, residential services, sports and Aggie traditions.
Many of his greatest contributions came in the area of student leadership development. TAMUG allocates distributions from the “Hearn Endowment” to enrich and enhance programs and activities beyond the normal scope of student services operations. Specifically targeted activities include student development initiatives — such as guest speakers, workshops, student travel, special events, student conference attendance, recreational equipment and requested materials.
Hearn served as interim CEO of the campus on three occasions and, at various times, he had responsibility for the maritime cadet corps, ship operations, new student recruiting and enrollment services. Additionally, he served as senior university representative aboard TAMUG’s former training ship (USTS Texas Clipper) during training cruises.
His official retirement was in January 2008, but Hearn returned to the Galveston campus later that year following Hurricane Ike to help the Texas Maritime Academy during a transitional period. Then, when that job was successfully managed, he
retired again in February 2009. However, once again in November 2009, Texas A&M University President (and former TAMUG CEO) R. Bowen Loftin asked him to return as acting vice president and chief executive officer. He stepped down to deal with urgent family medical issues at the end of October 2010.
Buying a Brick
form and send it with a check or money order and reference the “William C. Hearn ‘63 Student Development Endowment” in the memo line. Checks should be made payable to the Texas A&M Foundation. Mail your check to:
Texas A&M University at Galveston
c/o the Development Office
P.O. Box 1675
Galveston, Texas 77553