OIT Cornett Hall ribbon cutting

Oregon Tech stakeholders, students, administrators and faculty cut ribbons at the Cornett Hall ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.

Oregon Tech administrators, faculty, students and stakeholders finally got to cut the ribbon on the newly renovated Cornett Hall on Thursday.

The building, which houses modernized learning spaces and multiple hands-on labs key to many engineering courses, has been fully functioning since last year, but a pandemic delay pushed the ribbon cutting to this school year. The 101,000 square-foot space is the largest on campus. 

"COVID has introduced a lot of twists and turns," said OIT President Nagi Naganathan. "The good news is we are here today, enjoying a place that has been lived in. I have personally spoken with students and faculty even when it was half done. I remember going to some of the civil labs and finding how excited students were about being in those labs."

Many of the speakers credited the university's faculty for churning out high-quality graduates inside the aging, less-than-ideal space that was the pre-renovation Cornett Hall. 

"We've always had some just incredible students," said Roger Lindgren, professor and chair of the university's civil engineering department. "And now we have the space, the laboratories, the teaching areas to match the quality of the students."

Naganathan and others also thanked the donors who contributed to the project as well as those who worked on the building. Several speakers also credited Thom Darrah, the university's director of facilities management. 

"Thom's affectionate enthusiasm for the work he's doing is palpable," said Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) who also spoke at the ribbon cutting event.

The building is named for Marshall Cornett, a Klamath Falls businessman and politician who eventually became the Oregon State Senate President in 1947 — the same year the school was founded, noted Vince Jones, the vice chair of the Oregon Tech Board of Trustees. That same year as well, Cornett and Gov. Earl Snell (who also has an OIT building named after him) died in a plane crash in rural Lake County.