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Learning in the ARC

Visitors to the ARC witness a steady stream of Russ College and OU-HCOM students, faculty and staff passing through the facility every day.

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Photography

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Learning in the ARC

Education in the newest classroom and research building

Part two of a two-part series featuring the influence of The Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and Charles R. and Marilyn Y. Stuckey Academic & Research Center (ARC) on Ohio University’s faculty and students.

"I must be the only person here," thought Chad Stroud the first time he worked into the early morning hours in the ARC. Stroud, a 2012 graduate of the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, headed for the exit around three in the morning. He quickly realized he was not alone. The building was filled with students studying at tables strewn with books, notes and calculators. Some students lounged with closed eyes, catching quick naps. "It's apparent that everyone is working really hard … you see someone sleeping on the benches and you feel for them," he says.

The Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and Charles R. and Marilyn Y. Stuckey Academic & Research Center (ARC) was built to bring medicine and engineering together in one location. Before the ARC officially opened, faculty and students (like Stroud) collaborated in places like the Konneker Research Labs located in the Ridges. They would coordinate meetings and walk as much as a mile across campus to meet in windowless, basement rooms. Now in the ARC, they have everything they need in one state-of-the-art building.

Dr. Frank Schwartz, a professor of endocrinology for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM), teaches and conducts research in the ARC. "We do anatomical stuff here, and we do molecular biology here, and we do cell culture here. It's unique how it's set up for the interdisciplinary collaboration instead of each person having their own little silo. I think that's the major advantage," he says. "I think the students enjoy it. I think they feel at home here. They completely take over the place."

During the semester, you can't avoid the multitude of students, researchers, and faculty who actively occupy the three-story building at all hours. Many spread out in the atrium – a large, open space furnished with chrome tables and chairs. Cushioned benches line the walls, and a café waits at the far end.

Inside this building students find a library, laboratories, classrooms, meeting spaces, the café, and a home away from home. They find modern labs and teaching equipment. They also find themselves shoulder-to-shoulder with leading researchers and instructors in the medical and engineering fields. "You're not isolated out in some far corner of campus in windowless rooms," says John O'Brien, a biomedical engineering master's student in the Russ College. "The ability to accidentally meet in the ARC is common. It promotes spontaneous collaboration."

Doug Goetz, director of the biomedical master's program, teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in the ARC. He sees the ARC facilitating interaction that helps students and staff stay connected – in the café and atrium especially. Other than teaching in the classrooms, he also uses the conference rooms, and appreciates the access his classes have to the labs and modern equipment. "This puts us closer to investigators in chemical and biomedical," he says. "It really helps getting students involved in research."

It took $34.5 million in contributions to build the state-of-the-art teaching and research center. Among this support was a $10 million gift from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations and a $5 million gift from Russ College alumnus Charles R. Stuckey and his wife Marilyn.

"The donors may not even be able to conceive or appreciate the large impact they have on student's lives," explains Goetz. "For example, we (have a student) that has gone through our program and now she's working on her Ph.D. in an ivy league school with an NSF (National Science Foundation) award based on how well she was trained."

The list of more than 550 donors includes alumni of OU-HCOM's first graduating class. "I look across this and it's like a written history of our college," says Karoline Lane, director of communication for OU-HCOM and a project coordinator for the ARC development and construction.

According to Lane, alumni have been very involved. "We saw our alumni come out and support in ways we never expected," she says of the successful grand opening in May 2010. Some alumni even offer training to students. And the largest one-time donation ever made by an OHIO alumni society was the OU-HCOM's Society of Alumni and Friends' donation for the café.

The difference the ARC has made in the lives of students and faculty has not gone unnoticed.

"I remember saying to myself, the building couldn't have been built for a more worth while purpose," says Stroud.