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University of Oklahoma's Research Campus sees booming growth

OU's Research Campus is home to seven buildings devoted to research, with two more facilities planned. But before those buildings opened, the area had sat unused for decades.
by Silas Allen Published: November 11, 2012

The original plan didn't provide for much overlap between sectors, he said, so the campus' private tenants wouldn't have many opportunities to interact with researchers from OU or any government agencies that were located on campus, including the National Weather Service.

As the plan progressed, though, university officials began to recognize the value of encouraging interaction among the public, private and academic sectors represented on campus, he said. That interaction tends to build collaboration and intellectual energy, he said.

Sharing floors

Today, the plan allows representatives from all three areas to work in the same spaces. In some cases, he said, organizations from all three sectors may share the same floor, “creating the random encounters that are characteristic of a thriving, intellectually diverse ecosystem.”

As the university continues to develop the area, leaders will look for ways to make the entire campus, including outdoor areas, one large, cohesive research center, said Kelvin Droegemeier, OU's vice president for research.

Researchers could place video cameras outdoors to study how people move through the campus, he said, or use outdoor equipment to study carbon. That idea is part of a larger vision to make the entire research campus a center of innovation — not just laboratories inside buildings. But the university isn't to that point yet, he said.

“We have a lot of wonderful buildings separated by a lot of asphalt,” he said.

Major selling point

Having an area on campus dedicated to research is good for the university for a number of reasons, Droegemeier said. Among them, he said, is the fact that top-notch research facilities can be a major selling point for potential faculty members.

Droegemeier said he thinks the dynamic nature of the Research Campus will make students want to stay in Norman after they graduate and potentially go to work either for OU or one of the university's research partners that are located on campus.

“It's very obviously a place where a lot of exciting things are happening,” he said.