Accolades were flowing at Oregon Tech, as college officials and members of the Hyde family cut the ribbon Thursday on campus, naming a newly remodeled hydrology classroom, the Gerda Hyde Watershed Science and Technology Lab.
“This is one of the best equipped laboratories in the nation,” lab director Michael Hughes told a crowd of about 80 who came to celebrate the accomplishment. “We often get requests from other schools both in state and out of state to visit and use our equipment.”
The lab was named after Yamsi Ranch matriarch Gerda Hyde who was on the Oregon Tech Foundation board for 23 years. She often opened her ranch to OIT hydrology students who came to study water quality, flow ratios and river restoration. Hyde died in August 2017. Stephen Hyde will take her seat on the board.
Some 80 donors also contributed to the new, 3,000-square-foot laboratory, housed in the newly remodeled Cornett Hall which opened to the electrical, mechanical and civil engineering students this fall. About 25 members of the Hyde family attended the ceremony, too.
“When Foundation members Bob Kingzett and Tracy Ricketts came to me about naming the lab after Gerda, it was a no brainer,” said OIT President Nagi Naganathan. “We are deeply grateful to the Hyde family for their support. I only met Gerda once, but when she spoke, it was with an unambiguous direction.”
Son, John Hyde, told Naganathan that one of his mother’s last few wishes was that the family take care of OIT. “So, it is appropriate that we are naming the lab for Gerda,” Naganathan said.
“One of the most important things in life is to have access to clean water,” he said. “When you understand that every two of three miles of Oregon rivers are impaired, you understand the need for this (discipline).”
The center will have three professors, Hughes, Erin Cox who specializes in environmental engineering sciences and a third, soon to be recruited. About 50 to 100 students will use the lab over the course of a term, Hughes said. It will do contract work for the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies as well as the regular classroom sessions, Hughes said.
Dayton Hyde remarked that opening such a lab is like planting an apple tree. One won’t reap the fruit in one planting season.
“This is for the future,” Hyde said, “And Gerda would definitely approve.”