NORMAN — University of Oklahoma officials received the go-ahead Thursday to explore options for a water research center.
The OU Board of Regents voted to authorize university officials to begin contract discussions with architecture firms for the construction of a new Water Innovative Research Center on the university's Research Campus.
OU President David Boren said the center would allow the university to bring together a variety of water-related research that's already being done on campus.
In that regard, he said, the building would be similar to OU's National Weather Center, which houses the university's weather-related research, and the Radar Innovations Lab, a $15 million facility that is being built near the south end of the Research Campus.
Once complete, that facility will house the university's radar-related research.
Nick Hathaway, OU's vice president of executive and administrative affairs, said university officials would be discussing the project with architects to determine how much the building might cost. At that point, officials would decide if the university could afford to proceed with the project.
A timeline for the project hasn't been determined, Hathaway said, but it could be up to a year before officials are able to break ground.
“We're excited about it, and we hope it comes to fruition relatively quickly,” he said.
Along with the National Weather Center and the Radar Innovations Lab, the Water Innovative Research Center would be the third building on the Research Campus dedicated to a particular area of strength for the university, Hathaway said.
Having a dedicated facility for research not only attracts researchers to the university, he said, it also attracts interest from public agencies and private companies who are looking to partner with university researchers.
Several water-related programs already exist at OU. Among them is the WaTER Center, a part of the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science that works on water security issues in developing regions.
Also during the meeting, the board voted to authorize board Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes to appoint a search committee for a president at Cameron University.
Regents policy requires that the committee include Cameron students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the board.
The new president will replace current President Cindy Ross, who last week announced plans to retire this summer. Ross has headed up the university since 2002.