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Co-Chairs' budget increases a good start, but more must be done

Contact: Di Saunders – Office, 503-725-5714; Cell, 503-219-6869

Statement from George Pernsteiner, Chancellor, Oregon University System

The Oregon University System is encouraged by the Co-chairs’ revised budget, particularly the increases in the capital budget. This is a step in the right direction, toward the Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB) for higher education. Yet more must be done before the close of the 2007 Legislative Session.

The GRB is the minimum the State Board of Higher Education feels is necessary to begin a multi-biennial reinvestment in its students and universities. Several biennia of disinvestment have had an impact on Oregon students and families in: college access and affordability; academic and support services for students; students’ ability to graduate in a reasonable period of time due to course, class and program cuts; the condition of classrooms and labs not meeting students learning and work-readiness needs; the ability to keep Oregon’s top achieving students in the state; and our ability to attract and retain enough high quality faculty to both enrich student learning and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars each year through grants and other academic funding.

As the State Board of Higher Education has frequently noted, Oregon cannot make up for decades of disinvestment in a single biennium. However, the Board has developed a 10 year plan to reach greater investment levels that will pay big dividends for Oregon and Oregonians.  We urge the Legislature to keep working to make the first of several investments needed to fully leverage the strengths of Oregon’s higher education system, and to begin to rebuild areas weakened during the years of recession and low state revenues.

The Governor’s Recommended Budget is the watermark Oregon must reach to begin a true reinvestment that serves our students and the needs of our workforce and economy.

The State Board of Higher Education, the university Presidents, and the Chancellor’s Office look forward to productive discussions with the Legislature over the next six weeks regarding investments in both operations and facilities. Such investments would signal a positive step forward for Oregon, and a positive message of hope and opportunity for a quality higher education for all Oregonians.

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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