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Higher Ed Board hears report on OSU's successes, challenges and future plans

Contact: Di Saunders – Office, 503-725-5714; Cell, 503-807-5539

PORTLAND, Feb. 2 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today at Oregon State University to hear about Oregon State University’s mission, programs, and plans; a report on OUS student affairs functions and programs; and an update on the Southern Oregon University retrenchment plan, among other items considered by the Board.

OSU Strategic Plan   

Susan Weeks, OUS vice chancellor for strategic programs and planning, introduced the OSU “portfolio conversation.” This is the first in a series of presentations by all campuses related to the Board’s guiding principles and intent to manage the OUS and its institutions as a portfolio. Ed Ray, president of OSU, and Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost, provided an overview of the university’s mission and goals, noting that OSU is one of only two land, sea, space, and sun grant institutions in the nation (along with Cornell University), with the highest research and development expenditures (R&D) of any OUS institution. OSU has degree partnership programs with 16 of the 17 community colleges in Oregon, and has several collaborative education programs with other 4-year institutions, including pharmacy, public health, business, and agricultural sciences and forestry. OSU’s five thematic areas are Arts & Sciences; Earth Dynamics and Sustainability; Enterprise, Innovation, and Economic Development; Life Sciences and Health; and Managing Natural Resources. Emerging areas for OSU include Health Sciences; Materials Science; Mixed-Signal Integration Systems; Nanoscience and MIcrotechnology; Renewable Energy; and Sustainable Rural Communities.

In terms of economic impact, OSU is a $684 million enterprise providing more than 9,500 jobs, and a total economic impact of $1.4 billion with 17,340 jobs, extending to every industrial sector in Oregon. More than $328 million of new money is brought into the state by OSU, or almost 2 ½ times its state appropriation. OSU’s extension programs include the areas of Agriculture, Forestry, Family and Community Development, Marine Issues, and 4-H Youth Development, and are offered in all Oregon counties, serving almost 900,000 Oregonians through the outreach of 200 faculty and more than 23,000 volunteers. The number of youth involved in 4-H programs grew dramatically between 1994 and 2006, from 42,000 to 107,000. The value of agricultural research to Oregon’s economy is about $125 million a year, in areas such as production and use of food products and ocean and estuaries, food processing and packaging, vegetable and fruit production, and rangeland and livestock management.

Ray noted that OSU has made excellent progress on its strategic plan initiated in 2004, including: establishment as a major partner in the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI); opening the Kelley Engineering Building and the Small Animal Clinic in Veterinary Medicine; increasing its 6-year graduation rate; establishment of the Academic Success Center that enhances student learning and retention, the Center for Teaching and Learning which provides resources for faculty development, and the Office of Community and Diversity; and increased its endowment assets from almost $236 million in 2002-03 to $381 million in 2005-06, among many other accomplishments. Ray noted that challenges going forward include keeping the focus on quality in an uncertain fiscal environment; decreasing campus deferred maintenance; enhancing faculty capacity in targeted areas; and maintaining statewide public services in the face of federal budget cuts. The Board thanked President Ray and Provost Randhawa, noting the alignment with the OSU goals and the Board’s overall goals for the system, and the many and varied contributions that OSU makes to the state.

Student Affairs Report

Joe Holliday of Oregon Institute of Technology and Sheldon Nord of Eastern Oregon University described the role of Student Affairs in OUS and OHSU, the work of the OUS Student Affairs Council, and challenges to student success. Student Affairs provides programs and services that integrate student life and learning, and support student success. They noted that some of the typical student affairs services include academic support, admissions, auxiliary, such as housing and food service, career, disability, financial aid, multicultural affairs and other programs. Student challenges include access and affordability, academic preparation, and the needs of diverse students. For example, grant funding does not always cover full financial need so there is an increased reliance on loans and work; this is a concern since the projected college-ready population will increasingly be from first-generation, low income families. Campuses respond to these issues through college prep programs such as ASPIRE, GEAR UP, Upward Bound and many others; by providing college information nights at high schools; and through augmenting financial aid through other scholarships. Regarding college preparation, campuses provide developmental courses and track the success of students in barrier areas such as math. Helping to meet diverse students’ needs include preview days for Spanish-speaking families, global community learning environments, increasing administrative level positions focused on equity and diversity, and collaborating to provide disability accommodations. The Student Affairs Council will be looking at other topics as well, such as workforce development challenges, student stress/depression, student learning and campus environment, and parent participation.

In other action and discussion at the meetings, the Board and/or Committees:

  • Heard about the nomination of James Francesconi by Governor Kulongoski to the State Board of Higher Education. Mr. Francesconi will be replacing Board member Tim Nesbitt who has announced his resignation from the Board, effective once the nomination is confirmed.
  • Heard from Board president Henry Lorenzen about the new structure for Board Committees, which will now include the following: Finance and Administration (chaired by Don Blair); Strategic Initiatives (chaired by Kirby Dyess), which will also have sub-committees to look at various initiatives; Joint Boards and Unified Educational Enterprise Delegation (chaired by Gretchen Schuette); and the Executive Committee (chaired by Henry Lorenzen).
  • Heard an update on the Southern Oregon University retrenchment plan from President Mary Cullinan, including staff and faculty impacts, program eliminations and consolidations, and estimated savings from these actions. The Board thanked President Cullinan and the faculty, staff, students and community at SOU for their hard work and difficult decisions in working towards fiscal stability at SOU.
  • Accepted the Investment Report as of December 31, 2006.
  • Accepted the Quarterly Management Report for December 31, 2006.
  • Heard an Internal Audit Progress Report on audits issued October 2006 through January 2007.
  • Regarding Oregon Institute of Technology Student Housing, approved authorizing the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration or designee to proceed with the Student Housing concept by: enter into a pre-closing agreement with Allen & O’Hara Development Company to develop, finance, construct, and manage a modern apartment style student housing complex at OIT; and if the project be deemed financially viable, to proceed with the project development by entering into a land lease and operating agreement; both approvals contingent upon terms that are satisfactory to both OIT and OUS.
  • Approved updates to the OUS Undergraduate Admission Policy for the 2008-09 academic year, which includes: Southern Oregon University’s addition of the International English Language Testing System exam (IELTS) to meet the English proficiency requirement for international applicants; and changes in current admissions catalog language related to TOEFL requirements and scores of students whose native language is not English (see February 2007 OSBHE Docket for detailed information at www.ous.edu).
  • Authorized the following new programs: (1) Oregon Health & Science University to establish an instructional program leading to the Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree, effective Summer 2007; (2) Portland State University to establish an instructional program leading to the Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Inequity, effective Fall 2007.
  • Approved the grant of an easement and equitable servitudes to the Department of Environmental Quality related to the UO Central Power Station.
  • Heard updates from the Board committee chairs.
  • Heard reports from the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate and the Oregon Student Association.

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of eleven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu

Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu

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