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Higher Ed Board reviews campus diversity efforts and

Di Saunders – Cell: 971-219-6869; Office: 503-725-5714

PORTLAND, October 3, 2008 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today at Southern Oregon University in Ashland to review efforts to support diverse, underserved Oregon students; review university financial ratios against their peers, and approve formation of a tuition policy group, among other items discussed by the Board.

Diversity Report
Yvette Webber-Davis, OUS director of education policy and inclusion, continued a panel discussion on diversity issues within the university system that began at the September board meeting, including student outreach and participation; workforce development; vendor issues; and efforts to enhance campus climate for all students and community members. Dr. Webber-Davis continued the discussion with campus and Chancellor’s Office representatives and university presidents who focused on best and emerging practices in several areas, including student pre-college preparation and in college retention – in connection with the Board’s Student Participation and Completion Committee – campus climate issues, hiring and retention of diverse faculty and staff, and training on campuses related to diverse campus environments. Campus representatives and Board discussion around this issue included the need to institutionalize best practices in campus diversity in every regard, and how to make this systemic; on the need to increase capacity in pre-college preparation and on-campus retention programs for under-served students, as many students with need today currently go un-served, and retention and graduation rates for some student populations are still much lower than average rates overall. University presidents noted the diversity plans that they have in place and monitor very closely; talked about financial aid and support programs for underserved students that improve retention and success rates; and noted that improving diversity also includes more of a focus on rural and first-generation students, gender, and other issues.

Dalton Miller-Jones, chair of the Student Participation and Completion Committee, spoke about making cognitive connections with students so that they feel like they belong in our schools and our campuses, and that their history must be part of inclusive pedagogies offered in our schools. After much discussion, members asked that Dr. Miller-Jones, Dr. Preston Pulliams, president of Portland Community College and a Board member, and Dr. Webber-Davis, develop some initial recommendations for the Board to review and take concrete steps in order to improve the diversity of students, faculty, staff, vendors, and all aspects of campus connections, and provide these at the December Board meeting. These recommendations would tie to performance measures and mark continuous improvement over time; show how the OUS would partner with K-12 and other organizations to meet these goals; and outline what efforts would need financial and other resources, and what can be done within the current structure without a lot of funding.

Tuition Policy Group
Jay Kenton, OUS vice chancellor for finance and administration, described the proposed Tuition Policy Work Group that would be comprised of an equal number of students and administrators. The charge of the group will be exploratory and advisory to the State Board of Higher Education, and their charge is to review OUS tuition policy, with a key focus on resident undergraduate tuition. Part of the review would be examining other higher education systems and public universities’ tuition philosophies, how they determine tuition and fee remissions, and how they make recommendations to their boards regarding guiding principles in these areas. The Board authorized the formation of and charge to this work group as outlined, with the group to start their work this fall, with a preliminary report to the Board in January 2009, with final recommendations by late winter-spring of 2009. Board members agreed that it is important to speak with one voice with students on tuition policy, and to look at other state models to see if policies could be changed for the betterment of students and the system.

OUS Financial Statements
Michael Green, OUS associate vice chancellor and controller, provided an analysis of the OUS financial statements from 2003-04 to 2007-08, including a peer analysis. This is a preliminary analysis and will be finalized after the OUS audit is completed. In an overview, Green said that state funding in FY 2007 rebounded to the FY 2004 level of 24% of revenues; that operating losses have continued at some institutions; OUS institutions have less financial resources than their peers and spend less on Student Services, Administration and Physical Plants/maintenance, but spend more on Core Services (instruction, research and public service) as a percentage of revenues than peers; and faculty bring in more research revenue than their peers despite a challenging environment. OUS institutions funding per student against their peers shows peer rates higher at 5 out of 7 universities, with significant differences at a few OUS campuses. Regarding tuition and fees, 4 out of 7 OUS institutions have rates lower than their peers. The three larger universities have lower instructional costs than their peers, and the smaller universities have close to equal or slightly higher ratios than their peers. Overall, OUS peers have better financial strength as evidenced by higher state funding, a higher primary reserve, and lower debt burden ratios.

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

  • Approved the following new academic programs: Oregon Health & Science University/Portland State University – Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management, effective winter 2009; PSU – Graduate Certificate in Environmental and Resource Economics, effective fall 2008.
  • Discussed review of institutional mission statements and broad goals and considered mission statements of the OUS institutions wishing to bring their missions to the Board for approval in November.
  • Adopted a resolution regarding classified information for U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Approved the substance of the OUS academic program review policy and adopted this as a new Board policy; this involved rescinding the Internal Management Directive 2.015.
  • Introduced the new State Board of Higher Education member, Mr. David Yaden (see related press release at http://www.ous.edu/news_and_information/news/092908.php).
  • Adopted the search process and consideration described at the meeting for the search for the next Eastern Oregon University president.
  • Heard reports from each university president on the successes and positive efforts on their campuses at the opening of the academic year.
  • Heard reports from the Board Committees and Task Groups; OUS Research Council; OUS 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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