Dedication ceremonies were held recently for the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center at Iowa State University in Ames.
“The Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center is not only unique to Iowa State, but also to nearly all of the Midwest,” said ISU President Steven Leath. “The modern, state-of-the-art facility creates a nearly unmatched learning environment for all students who are pursuing careers in agriculture and related fields.”
“We’re proud that the Hansen Center will be the jewel of the student experience for hundreds and hundreds of students,” said Wendy Wintersteen, endowed dean of agriculture and life sciences. “I’m also proud that our faculty and staff have this awe-inspiring space to mentor and work with students.”
The facility was named in honor of Jeff and Deb Hansen, third-generation family farmers and pork producers and founders of Iowa Select Farms. The $7.7 million building was made possible by nearly 1,200 donors who contributed private gifts totaling more than $7.3 million. The Hansens committed $2 million to the fundraising total.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association contributed $400,000 to the building project, as well as funds for a mosaic mural to be installed in the atrium in the coming months.
“The commitment of the Iowa Pork Producers Association and executive director Rich Degner to this project is just one of the many ways the pork producers have strengthened Iowa State programs in education, research and extension,” said Wintersteen. “Iowa pork producers believe in helping young people get a good start in agriculture, and their investment in the Hansen Center is a strong statement on the future.”
Other key donors included the Marv and Jan Walter family of Ames, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity, Iowa Cattlemens Foundation, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa State Dairy Association, Farm Credit Services of America and he FarmHouse Fraternity.
The Hansen Center, located south of campus on land used for the Department of Animal Science’s equine program, is a versatile, multipurpose resource accessible to students campus-wide. It includes an indoor 125-foot-by-250-foot arena with seating for 1,000 people, four classrooms and a conference room.
The center is a key part of how the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences trains students. For students in animal science and other agricultural programs, the facility is a valuable resource for sharpening their skills working with, caring for and learning about animals.
“This was a unique project,” said Maynard Hogberg, chair of the Department of Animal Science. “It was personal to so many people, who had connections through their experience as students, as partners with the Animal Science department and college and as supporters who believed this facility was instrumental for raising the bar of excellence in education.
“The Hansen Center fulfills the promise we had envisioned,” said Hogberg. “Every season of the year, this place will be versatile, accessible and a showcase venue for animal agriculture as well as many other disciplines and student activities.”
Construction began in the fall of 2012 and was completed before the start of spring semester in January this year. Even though it’s been open less than a year, the Hansen Center already has hosted many classes, seminars, student activities and public events. It has been the site for an international beef cattle welfare symposium, a statewide gathering of high school FFA students, a centennial celebration for an ISU agricultural fraternity and even the annual Iowa Games.