Former Hatfield Marine Center interim Director and perennial member of Newport’s city budget committee Janet Webster formally introduced her successor and new boss, Dr. Robert Cowen who just took over the reigns of the facility a month ago. Webster says Cowen carries on the tradition of excellence at HMSC which also houses marine science researchers from ODFW, USFWS, NOAA and more.
Cowen got straight to the point confessing that he’s never lived in an area that has so much good will among its residents and who are so dedicated to improving the community as he has met in Newport. He said he is also excited about Oregon State University’s plans to add up to 500 marine science college students to HMSC over the next five to ten years. Cowen said there are ongoing discussions with Oregon Coast Community College to join in the effort by providing more courses for high schoolers and college freshmen and sophomores that would dovetail right into OSU’s proposed new campus at HMSC. Cowen said he looks forward to the day when local Lincoln County students can enroll all four years at OCCC and OSU-Newport. Cowen says he’s hoping the college can take advantage of proven fundraising strategies to allow construction of the new $50 million dollar classroom and faculty research facility by 2016.
In addition to 500 new students, Cowen says the plan is to add up to 25 new high level faculty. However, Cowen added that due to the center being at sea level and clearly in a vulnerable tsunami zone, construction would be on some higher ground.
The city council said they were pleased to meet briefly with Cowen and hope all the plans for HMSC come true, not only for OSU but for all of the Oregon Coast.