A new Colorado State University campus on Orchard Mesa will bring most of the university's Grand Valley outposts under one roof, a move officials said will expand outreach and programs in western Colorado.
The new campus, which is being built on the same property as the university's Orchard Mesa Agricultural Research Center, will include two buildings spanning 21,400 square feet at a cost of approximately $8 million.
The campus will bring six local CSU outposts to one central location — the Orchard Mesa Agricultural Research Station, the Regional Extension, facilities for the County Extension, the Colorado State Forest Service field office, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Regional Engagement Center.
The laboratory will be housed in one building and a second building will house offices, a classroom, meeting rooms and a teaching kitchen.
Offices for the County Extension will remain at the Mesa County Fairgrounds, and the Fruita Research Station will remain at its location at 1910 L Road.
Ajay Menon, dean of CSU's College of Agricultural Sciences, said at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday that the new campus is a dream come true.
"I've never seen excitement for a project the way I've seen excitement for this," Menon said. "We belong to the state of Colorado, even though in the past, in the minds of many and in some ways legitimately, we might have come across as neglecting the west. We have to be a campus for the west."
Menon said the new campus will enable more CSU students to be in western Colorado as well as help build partnerships with local organizations.
Bringing the various offices onto one campus will also help employees be more effective, said Supervisory Forester Kamie Long, in that it will be easier to collaborate on projects and solve problems.
The Regional Engagement Center will be a new addition to the campus as well as to western Colorado. The center is meant to be a connecting point for community members to engage with research and education, said Kathay Rennels, associate vice president of engagement.
"It's about being able to take these amazing things happening in communities and scale them and take them to other communities," Rennels said. "I think you're going to see opportunities and initiatives blossom."
Assistant Deputy Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station Troy Bauder said he's grateful that CSU is able to invest in the Grand Valley.
"We really hope it represents a significant upgrade for what we can offer the people in this valley," he said.
Construction is expected to be complete by spring 2019.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Troy Bauder's current title is assistant deputy director of the agricultural experiment station.