Anthrax-laced letters killed five people and rattled the nation shortly after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The project was to be conducted in a multimillion dollar lab at OSU designed for research on bioterrorism agents. Davis said administrators have known for years that primates would be used in research in the new lab.
Veterinary scientist Richard Eberle said the faculty believes Hargis’ ruling was influenced by an animal rights advocate or other organization.
He fears the decision will jeopardize future projects as well.
"OSU is now seen by researchers at other institutions as an unreliable research partner and afraid of animal rights demonstrators,” Eberle said. "It is sad that such a golden opportunity for OSU and the state of Oklahoma to attain national recognition has been missed as the result of a single individual’s decision.”
Davis also fears the change in policy might lead to more bans on research into other animals. Davis’s research into the metabolism of sled-dogs in Alaska has long been touted by OSU leaders. He does not euthanize the dogs he works with.
"I don’t know if I’m going to be out of business tomorrow,” he said. "This can shut down careers.”
Veterinary doctor and OSU professor Kenneth Bartels said Hargis failed to consult faculty before changing policy.
"The president certainly has the prerogative to make this decision arbitrarily,” Bartels said. "But we have a standing committee that is approved by U.S. Department of Agriculture and works under auspices of Animal Welfare Act. That expertise shouldn’t really be ignored.”
In April, OSU announced that animals will no longer be euthanized in teaching labs at the veterinary school.
Controversy about euthanizing animals after students performed surgeries on them arose after Madeleine Pickens, the wife of billionaire benefactor and OSU alumnus T. Boone Pickens, threatened to redirect a $5 million donation to the vet school because she did not agree with such practices.