By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (January 27, 2017) – The continual growth and expansion at Tarleton State University, which was founded as an agricultural college, was in the spotlight as state, university and local officials gathered for a grand opening celebration on Friday.
The Agricultural Field Machinery & Fabrication Laboratory, located at the college farm, was built on history, according to President Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio. He spoke to the significance of the location of the facility, calling it the perfect place, and its opening during Tarleton’s centennial celebration – the perfect time.
“Dedicating this new building on the land that the citizens of Stephenville purchased in 1917 to make it possible for Tarleton to join with Texas A&M reflects the university’s substantial growth and development from modest beginnings,” he said. See associated video for Dottavio’s complete speech below:
Dr. Steve Damron, dean of the university’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, spoke to the importance of the new construction, saying the $3.8 million facility satisfies a critical need for high quality classroom and laboratory space dedicated to agricultural mechanization.
“It strengthens our ability to offer hands-on instruction, positions us a leader in agriculture mechanization education in Texas and the region,” Damron said. “In addition, this facility will serve to service the entire industry in this region and in North Texas, and we are extremely happy to have it.”
The 24,000-square foot structure includes metal fabrication, agricultural power and agricultural structure laboratories, as well as classrooms, a computer lab, events kitchen, faculty offices and meeting space.
“This modern, well-equipped laboratory – one of the best in the nation – will allow us to develop new courses and programs to meet the ever-increasing workforce needs of the agricultural industries in Teas and beyond,” Damron said.
The dean recognized a number of people in the standing room only crowd that included Tarleton university’s Purple Poo, current and former students, deans and members of Dottavio’s executive cabinet.
Tarleton supporters in attendance also included State Representative Dr. JD Sheffield; State Representative DeWayne Burns, a Tarleton alumnus; Mary Creighton, district coordinator for State Senator Craig Estes; retired Texas Congressman Charles Stenholm; and Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp. He also recognized special guests Dr. Jimmy Cheek, chancellor of the University of Tennessee, a Tarleton and Texas A&M alumnus; Clay and Silvia Pevehouse, with the Pevehouse Family Foundation; Assistant Commissioner for Water and Rural Affairs Dan Hunter with the Texas Department of Agriculture; as well as university and city leaders.
The facility was designed by local architect Fred Parker and constructed by Brownwood-based Waldrop Construction. Funding for the project was provided by The Texas A&M University System and from private donations – predominantly from the Pevehouse Family Foundation.