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Higher Ed Board reviews WOU strategic report, biennial budget, EOU budget

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

PORTLAND, July 13, 2007 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today at Portland State University to hear about Western Oregon University’s (WOU) mission, programs, and plans; a biennial budget report; and an update on Eastern Oregon University budget plans, among other items considered by the Board.

WOU Strategic Plan
John Minahan, president of Western Oregon University, presented the university’s “portfolio” of assets, successes, and challenges, the 6th of 8 OUS institutional reviews being completed this year. Minahan noted that WOU’s role as a comprehensive liberal arts and sciences university didn’t start until the mid-1980s. WOU is not a regional institution in a traditional sense: one-third of its students come from Portland, one-third from the mid-valley, and one-third from the rest of the state. WOU has a commitment to first-generation students – over half of its students are in this category – and is committed to access and affordability. Even with a tuition increase and the implementation of the guaranteed tuition program in the fall, WOU still has a tuition level near the bottom of the OUS range.

Enrollment trends are very encouraging at WOU, giving early evidence that the Tuition Promise program is working: up 4.8% in new resident students and also up in new nonresident and international students. WOU cannot rely just on funding from the state or from student tuition to ensure a financially healthy campus, so WOU is diversifying its revenues to keep the university viable. Minahan noted that Western has stayed close to its original mission and strength in teacher education. They have received national recognition for their education programs and research, and also has powerful programs in computer science, biology, and in dance, music and theatre. WOU also produces significant numbers of students who go on to graduate school. WOU will begin a nursing program in the fall of 2008 working with the Oregon Health and Science University, and there are high expectations for this in the mid-valley due to the nursing shortages statewide. Minahan said that Western may consider programs in nursing education and health administration as there is a shortage of nursing teachers in Oregon. But any new programs will have to play to faculty strengths, budget resources, and existing infrastructure at WOU.

Dr. Minahan said that WOU has increased sponsored research and will reach $11 million a year in research grants and contracts this year. WOU is working hard on improving retention rates, which tend to rise and fall with levels of state funding. WOU is up 30% in admission of students of color to WOU. The university has invested in a writing center and in academic advising. 30% of the student body is at or below the poverty line, which does affect the graduation rate, but WOU is committed to admitting and graduating these students. Foundation performance has improved and Western is moving swiftly to find ways to raise scholarship funding, such as expanding foundation board membership and alumni outreach. WOU is about 11th out of 15th of comparator institutions in terms of faculty salaries; the university is working very hard to get faculty salaries in line with peers, and to attract and retain high quality faculty. Board members congratulated President Minahan on the advances made at WOU since his arrival, and his focused mission and targeted approaches to meeting the needs of low-income and first generation students.

OUS Biennial Budget      
Jay Kenton, OUS vice chancellor for finance and administration, reviewed with the Board the OUS 2007-2009 biennial budget. He noted that specific campus allocations would not be ready for approval until the September Board meeting. Kenton said that the budget signals a major commitment by the legislature to begin to meet Governor Kulongoski’s and the Board’s 10-year reinvestment plan to improve student access and affordability, high quality learning, innovative research, programs directed at economic development and state priorities, and initiatives to address workforce shortages in Oregon. The Chancellor, Board Chair, and Dr. Kenton all praised the Governor, his staff, and the members of the Legislature for their tireless efforts to support higher education throughout the session, and for working in close partnership with the OUS to ensure that integrated priorities between K-12, community colleges, OUS, student need-based aid, economic development, and university research.

The legislatively adopted 2007-2009 General Fund budget for OUS is $870.4 million, an increase of 23% over the 2005-2007 budget. A total of $561 million was provided for capital construction, repair, and deferred maintenance, an increase of almost 37% over 2005-2007. This is the largest capital budget seen in decades for OUS, and will reduce the $640 million deferred maintenance backlog by $60 million, will create more than 11,800 jobs in Oregon, will provide a $1.25 billion economic output of goods and services, and will provide almost $400 million in increased earnings for Oregonians. [For OUS budget details, go to page 71 of the Board docket for July 13, 2007: /sites/default/files/state_board/meeting/dockets/ddoc070713.pdf]

EOU Budget Report     
John Miller, provost of Eastern Oregon University, reported on EOU’s operating budget and plans to stabilize the financial situation. He noted that EOU will be challenged as a campus to make some difficult decisions, but that their new shared governance system will facilitate this and will hopefully lead to consensus regarding next steps. The budget plan includes almost $3 million in permanent budget cuts. An aspirational target for enrollment is a 3% increase, and would lead to a fund balance of 3.2% as a low target for 2007-08. By 2009-10, EOU estimates a low-end fund balance of 5.1%, up from a low target of 3.9% in 2008-09. EOU is developing an integrated marketing and recruitment plan for on-campus and distance learning students, and is reaching out to former and nontraditional students. EOU is also contracting with an external enrollment management team to help with enrollment, while also working on its portfolio of programs, on branding, and on a comprehensive enrollment management plan. Rural access initiatives funded in the 2007-2009 budget will help build the student pipeline. In 2007, EOU graduated its largest class ever, but is not replacing those students in the numbers necessary to sustain the size of its student population. Miller closed noting that the EOU faculty and staff are poised to continue its high level of quality education and other services. Director Blair noted that the Board will continue to stay aware of the budget progress at EOU, noting that while these budget situations are difficult, it forces campuses to focus on what is most important to the institution.

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

  • Introduced two new Board members, Dr. Preston Pulliams, regional president of Portland Community Collleges, and Hannah Fisher, student at Portland State University.
  • Announced a new Board committee, the Oversight Committee on Sexual Assault. As a national problem, Board Chair Lorenzen noted that Oregon should also look at this to ensure student safety and improve reporting and treatment procedures. Director Tony Van Vliet will chair this committee.
  • Approved the use of $310,000 of Chancellor’s Office fund balance for the purchase of new 5th Site Banner hardware and to establish a warm site at EOU for disaster recovery purposes for the regional campuses and Chancellor’s Office operations.
  • Approved the forgiveness of a $350,000 loan of Chancellor’s Office funds to Southern Oregon University to assist with SOU’s retrenchment process.
  • Adopted the temporary administrative rules OAR 580-043-0060 through 100 related to establishment of University Venture Development Funds, pursuant to filing requirements with the Oregon Secretary of State.
  • Authorized the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration or designee to complete the University of Oregon’s acquisition of the Kryl property, and authorize the Board President and Secretary to execute such documents as necessary for the acquisition.
  • Approved the proposed Information Security Policies as set forth below in the administrative rule.
  • Approved new academic programs – Portland State University: B.S. in Environmental Engineering, effective fall 2007; Executive Master in Public Administration, effective fall 2007; Graduate Certificate in Urban Design, effective fall 2007; Southern Oregon University: Master of Theatre Studies in Production and Design, effective fall 2007; University of Oregon: B.A./B.S. in Material and Product Studies and B.F.A. in Product Design, effective fall 2008; Western Oregon University: B.A./B.S. in Criminal Justice; Undergraduate Certificate and/or Minor in Homeland Security and Community Preparedness, effective fall 2007.
  • Adopted the restated Optional Retirement Plan Document and Amendment 1 of the Trust Agreement, effective August 1, 2007.
  • Heard an update from the Board Committees on Finance & Administration, and Strategic Initiatives.
  • Heard reports from the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate and the 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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