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Higher Ed Board hears strategic report on Oregon Institute of Technology

PORTLAND, April 6, 2007 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today at Western Oregon University in Monmouth to hear about Oregon Institute of Technology’s (OIT) campus’ mission, programs, and plans; a proposed budget framework for Oregon’s PreK to 20 education enterprise, and an update on the 2007-2009 biennial budget, among other items considered by the Board.

OIT Strategic Plan
David Woodall, OIT provost, provided an overview of the OIT campus mission and goals, and strategic plan as the third in a series of campus “portfolio” presentations by each of the OUS institutions.  Woodall noted that OIT is the only polytechnic university in Oregon and the Northwest, producing job-ready graduates who have a 97% placement rate, and earn the highest average starting salaries in the state. Main degree programs include engineering and health technologies, management, communications and applied sciences. OIT is unique in that 40-50% of learning occurs in a laboratory setting, with all degree programs including a senior project or externship as a capstone experience, all led by faculty members who are dedicated to teaching. OIT’s Geo-Heat Center was founded in 1975 and is a world leader in low-temperature geothermal knowledge, while also provided heat to parts of the campus. OIT is planning geothermal-based electric power plant to meet Klamath Falls’ campus needs, and even be able to “sell” power to other local entities, such as the hospital.

Despite healthcare workforce shortages in Oregon, OIT did not have the capacity to serve all students who wanted to enroll in its programs due to limited space. Woodall noted that the Legislature sited the Oregon Center for Health Professions of the OIT campus in 2005. An Article XI-G bond was included in the Governor’s Recommended Budget to complete construction of the Center, although this was eliminated in the Ways & Means Co-Chairs budget. To date, the capital campaign associated with the Center has brought in more than $11.9 million in contributions, marking a new era in OIT fundraising and community support. This will mark the first new building at OIT in 20 years. Overall the net assets of the Oregon Tech Foundation have almost doubled since 2002, reaching an all time high of $22.1 million.

Woodall noted that OIT has several important education collaborations, including ones with: Oregon Health & Science University in Clinical Laboratory Science, Emergency Medical Technology and Nursing; ODS Services, Inc. and Eastern Oregon University in Dental Hygiene; Rogue Community College in Respiratory Care; and the Boeing Company in Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Manufacturing Engineering Technology; as well as 15 articulation agreements with community colleges in Oregon, Washington and California. Overall OIT enrollment in fall 2006 was 3,157 students, 82% are residents, and 58% who are full-time. Applied research brought in $4.8 million in grants in 2005-06. A total of 541 degrees were granted in 2005-06. OIT offers much to its local community, contributing more than $70 million each year to the Klamath area economy, attracting new industries to the area such as ESI, Sykes Enterprises and NEW, while also providing public services such as the Dental Hygiene Community Clinic, the Small Business Development Center, sponsored and pre-college programs, and the Klamath Crisis Center, among others.

Key OIT accomplishments include 20 new programs since 1998, 150 courses taught on-line; the student-driven Diversity Center and ad hoc Cultural Forum; OIT’s designation as home to the Oregon Center for Health Professions, and its many statewide partnerships. The campus’ strategic planning process opened in the fall of 2006, with key topical areas including student success, outreach programs, affordability, fiscal viability, alumni engagement, partnerships and applied research, among other areas. OIT will look to build on its geothermal expertise to construct an electric-generation power plant, and also build international and corporate partnerships.

PreK-20 Unified Budget
James Sager, education advisor to the Governor, and Nancy Heiligman, associate vice president for finance and administration and budget director for OSU, presented a progress report to the Board on the Gates Budget Project, which explores a new budget framework for PK-20. Sager noted that this project is developing comparable budget data and tools to support policy decision-making across the education sectors, what the Governor describes as the “Education Enterprise.” An example is how funding for interconnected programs to address healthcare workforce shortages were included for K-12, community colleges, OUS, and OHSU in the Governor’s Recommended Budget. The project recommends changes in budget methods, development, presentation and review processes. Heiligman said that, currently, state budgeting in the education sectors has wide variations in methods, basic assumptions in development (inflation, enrollment, compensation, revenues), and the level of budget aggregation. Important information is also omitted from some budgets, such as incomplete presentation of all revenues and expenses; piecemeal information on performance, demographics, trends, and cost drivers; and lack of consistent pre-student information. Instead, budget presentations should be (1) unified from pre-Kindergarten to graduate school and include all revenue sources; (2) transparent and presented in clear, comparable, and consistent formats across the sectors; (3) student-centered, with a focus on students rather than agencies, and ability to identify leverage points to accelerate student progress; and (4) performance-based, in terms of linking decisions to performance expectations. Tools that will achieve this new type of budgeting include a database of comparable data across the continuum (student enrollment and demographics, performance indicators, spending per student, revenue by source, expenses, history and forecasts). Proposed process changes include introducing a unified budgeting process at the beginning; standardizing disparate budgeting methods; linking student progress and system performance to budget development; increasing budget transparency and communications among stakeholders; and giving unified presentations to joint legislative committees. Achieving this type of unified budgeting process will help Oregonians understand what has been invested in PK-20 education, how the money is spent, what the results are, what the leverage points are for accelerating student progress, how much we spend per student, what has changed over time, what the major cost-drivers are, and how future costs can be predicted.

Biennium Budget Update
Chancellor George Pernsteiner updated the Board on the differences between the Governor’s Recommended Budget and the Ways & Means Co-chairs’ budget. He outlined the various cuts, which hit particularly hard on Oregon’s rural areas including the regional campuses, rural access, and statewide public services such as extension services, forestry and agriculture; on the Engineering and Technology Industry Council programs (ETIC) that help Oregon meet workforce needs; and on the capital construction budget, a cut of 83% in the co-chair’s budget, which affects student access, safety, capacity, research, workforce shortage areas, and many other aspects of campus missions and operations. The Chancellor said that the future of Oregon is dependent on the budget that the Governor proposed, and that the co-chairs’ budget cannot move Oregon higher education forward or support our current and future students.

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

  • Approved Oregon State University’s request to redirect bonding authority to renovate laboratory space for ONAMI-related research from Graf hall to Building 11 on the Hewlett-Packard Corvallis campus.
  • Approved items related to the Portland State University capital construction project, the Academic and Student Recreation Center, including authorizing PSU to seek City Council approval of the funding for their new archives to be located in the facility; approving the revised project scope to include the archive space with an added Other Funds expenditure limitation of $13.5 million; and authorizing the Chancellor of designee to seek expenditure limitation for the legislature, bring the revised project limitation to $64.5 million for Phase I of the project.
  • Heard an update on the actions taken at Southern Oregon University as part of their right-sizing effort.
  • Discussed proposed policies for an OUS umbrella information security policy under which each university will adopt specific policies governing campus operations in compliance with the overarching policy framework.
  • Approved a new degree program at Southern Oregon University for a B.A./B.S. in Elementary Education, effective Fall 2007.
  • Heard updates from the Board committee chairs, including the Strategic Initiatives Committee, and the Delegation to the Joint Boards Unified Education Enterprise.
  • 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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