The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

Sort Interviews by Affiliation or Theme

Ken Austin Oral History Interview. March 24, 2015

Ken Austin Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna and Chris Petersen.

March 24, 2015

Location:  Austin Industries, Newberg, Oregon.

Ken Austin (b. 1931) attended Oregon State College from 1949-1953, graduating with a degree in Industrial Engineering. While at OSC, Austin became the first Benny Beaver mascot, wearing a costume of his own design and construction, and entertaining fans with antics that often incorporated a starter's pistol that he wore on his hip. Following the completion of his studies and a stint in the Air Force, Austin worked eight jobs in eight years before launching his own business, Austin Dental Equipment Company, or A-dec. Mechanically inclined and a habitual tinkerer, Austin's innovations revolutionized the practice of dentistry and fueled dizzying growth for A-dec. Later on, Ken and his wife Joan became heavily involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors, generously supporting several programs at OSU and providing the lead gift for a new home for the College of Business, Austin Hall. Austin's interview focuses on his life-long interest in machinery, his rich undergraduate experience at OSC, the creation and growth of A-dec, and his family's experiences in philanthropy.