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Higher Ed Board discusses new Oregon high school diploma requirements

Endi Hartigan - Communications Associate - Office 503-725-5702

PORTLAND, March 7, 2008 –The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today at Portland State University to hear about the implementation of high school graduation requirements from superintendent Susan Castillo, an update on system strategic planning, and to approve 2009-2011 legislative concepts, among other items considered by the Board.

Board president Kirby Dyess acknowledged that this is the last meeting of Board director Howard Sohn, thanking and commending him on behalf of the Board for his extraordinary service and passion for higher education, and attention to alternative ways of providing higher education. Dyess also welcomed two new Board members: Dr. Rosemary Powers, Sociology professor at Eastern Oregon University (EOU), who will be filling the additional faculty position created during the 2007 legislative session, and Brian Fox, student at Southern Oregon University (SOU), who also will be representing regional universities on the Board.  President Dyess also publicly acknowledged and thanked University of Oregon (UO) athletic director Pat Kilkenny and his wife Stephanie for the donation of $1 million and salary to UO academic programs.

Chancellor George Pernsteiner reported on economic forecast implications, and Oregon University System (OUS) consultant Neil Bryant reported for the Chancellor on the 2008 supplemental legislative session. The Oregon Legislature concluded the first supplemental session in their history, and the universities were successful in items proposed, including the $3.5 million bond to allow the completion of the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) Martha Anne Dow Center for Health Professions, and the bonding for the UO arena project. The chancellor commented that while efforts are made to track economic forecasts, the system is working to get the message out to Oregon students that they can now afford college because of significant increases in the state’s Oregon Opportunity Grant financial aid program.

High School Diploma Requirements
Superintendent of public instruction Susan Castillo discussed the new high school diploma requirements adopted by the State Board of Education in January 2007, which are designed to better prepare each student for success in college, work, and citizenship; these will be phased in over the next seven years. She said that to earn a diploma, students will need to successfully complete the increased credit requirements, demonstrate proficiency in essential skills, and meet the personalized learning requirements. Students will also have the option to earn credit for proficiency. Castillo said she appreciated OUS partnership and viewed the new diploma standards as system change work that will impact the entire PK-20 system. She said that the Department of Education is now identifying support needed for implementation of the diploma to address just what it will take to bring students to a higher level of academic achievement. The Board discussed the need for continued K-16 partnerships that will impact this level of student achievement, including teacher preparation, curricular alignment, sharing of research and best practices, academic support of traditionally underserved and first-generation college students, college aspiration outreach, and other collaboration opportunities. Board members commended Castillo for her leadership and commitment in developing the new diploma, and discussed the need for continued reinvestment in the entire public education system in Oregon.

Strategic Initiatives    
Susan Weeks, vice chancellor for Strategic Programs and Planning, reported on progress of four board initiatives: academic program review policy and process, creating OUS excellence in sustainability, building PK-12 education as part of the OUS core mission, and new OUS approaches to learning outcomes and assessment. These four items came out of the 2007 OUS Portfolio subcommittee, under the leadership of Board director Howard Sohn. The academic review policy and process builds on a set of factors from processes that have been part of the OUS program review for decades, and will include processes for reviewing both existing and new programs. The Provosts’ Council is leading efforts in learning assessment; building on the foundation of our current performance measures, the Chancellor’s Office, university provosts, campus assessment staff, and faculty will design a learning outcomes and assessment framework for all OUS institutions that can be implemented in 2010. The PK-12 education efforts are being explored through collaborative efforts among OUS Deans of Education, the Oregon Department of Education, Teachers Standards and Practices Commission, and others. The initiative for excellence in sustainability is being furthered by the creation of “asset maps” of sustainability-related OUS academic programs, among other activities, and will bring together other sustainability efforts in research and institutional business practices. Director Dyess commended those involved in the efforts for bringing their expertise to putting into practice these important Board goals. 

In other action and discussion at the meetings, the Board:

  • Heard and discussed an update on the University of Oregon arena project presented by UO president Dave Frohnmayer on issues arising from and analysis performed during the supplemental session, community engagement, traffic and parking, and timeline; and a report on fiscal analysis of and recommendations on the arena project from the vice president of the UO Faculty Senate, Professor Paul Van Donkelaar.
  • Authorized Oregon State University (OSU) to award an honorary doctorate to Dr. Helen Diggs; and authorized Portland State University (PSU) to award an honorary doctorate to Mr. Richard Pimentel, both at their respective June 2008 Commencement ceremonies.
  • Approved Legislative Concept Proposals presented by Jay Kenton, vice chancellor for Finance and Administration. The Board approved the recommended proposals in the areas of: Legal Services; Delegation of Authority from the Board to the Chancellor/Presidents (placeholder); Investment Earnings; Risk Management; Payroll Deduction Authorization; Non-State Funded Capital Projects; Generation and Sale of Energy; the renaming of the Incidental Fees; and Authorization to Operate Dental Clinics (placeholder). The concepts will be submitted to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) for consideration during the 2009-2011 legislative session, and are intended to give OUS greater flexibility in operations in order to operate in the most efficient and effective manner. The Board also heard an update on Campus Public Safety. At the request of the Chancellor, each campus has completed conversations with faculty, staff, and students regarding campus public safety issues, and the results of those survey instruments and forums were reported by Ryan Hagemann, Deputy Chancellor for Legal Affairs. Separately, recommendations will be issued from the Governor’s Task Force on Public Safety, which will address broad issues of public safety across all 24 public postsecondary institutions.
  • Heard an update from director Jim Francesconi on the PSU presidential search, and from director Paul Kelly on the OIT presidential search. 
  • Heard a report from the Provosts’ Council, including the announcement that Susan Weeks, vice chancellor for Strategic Programs and Planning, will now serve as co-chair of the Council.
  • Heard reports on the Portland Higher Education Committee; the Student Participation and Completion Committee, the Sexual Assault Committee; and governance issues.
  • Heard reports from the Research Council chair (including a framework for a proposed policy package of targeted investments for 2009-2011); Interinstitutional Faculty Senate; and Oregon Student Association.

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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