June 16, 2000 

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5714

Oregon's First University Branch Endorsed for Central Oregon

PORTLAND - Central Oregon could become the site for Oregon's first branch university campus by fall 2001.

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education Friday endorsed a conceptual plan to establish the state's first branch campus in Bend adjacent to Central Oregon Community College.

The conceptual plan for a branch campus was developed following more than two years of concentrated regional study and discussion on cost-effective options to increase higher educational services in Central Oregon. It proposes to transform the existing Central Oregon University Center (COUC) into a branch from one or more of the state's public universities. 

The board is expected to recommend the concept to Governor John Kitzhaber and consider a request for its $7.2 million in funding as part of the university system's biennial budget request for 2001-2003.

Community leaders attending Friday's meeting here heralded approval of the branch concept as an historic step for the region and the state. 

In his State of the State address last January, Gov. Kitzhaber directed the higher education board to develop a proposal for expanding higher educational opportunity in the region. Various studies have shown the area to be among the fastest growing in Oregon.

COUC currently offers some 28 bachelor's and master's degree programs in the region in a consortium administered by the Oregon University System (OUS). It enrolls about 200 full-time equivalent (FTE) students. The branch would be expected to serve about 460 FTE by 2004-2005. 

A recently completed study has identified the branch campus model as the most cost-effective way to meet the region's increasing higher educational need. The study, directed by OUS staff with help from external consultants, looked at four different organizational models. It concluded that the branch campus offers cost advantages by drawing upon established academic programs; faculty, student and support services; and "brand identity."
(Click here to view full report, excluding appendices.)

Yet to be identified is which OUS campus or consortium of campuses will serve as the host institution for the branch. That decision will come from a request-for-proposal (RFP) process. 

OUS officials expect to develop the requirements for the RFP this summer. They hope to issue it in September and have OUS campuses work on competitive proposals next fall. Following review of the proposals, the state board expects to select a host campus for the Bend branch in January 2001. The timing will allow officials to begin transition work to operate the new branch campus in fall 2001.

In other actions, the Board:

- Approved a plan to build a new graduate student apartment complex at the University of Oregon. The $4.5 million project, to be financed with bonds retired by rental income, will be constructed on 15th Avenue. Designed exclusively for single students, it will feature 70 one-bedroom and studio apartments. Completion is expected by fall 2001.

- Authorized three new academic programs. Approved at the University of Oregon were a new bachelor of fine arts degree in multimedia design and a certificate in film studies, while a bachelor's degree in communication studies was authorized for the Oregon Institute of Technology.

- Named two new Portland State University facilities for major donors. PSU's community recreational field will be named Peter W. Stott Community Field to honor the Portland business executive who gave more than $1 million to build the facility. And the new Urban Center distance learning facility will be named Wilson-DeShane Pavilion for PSU alumni Keren Brown Wilson and Michael DeShane, the largest private donors to the Urban Center project.

- Completed terms for the appointment of Dr. Sara Hopkins-Powell as interim president of Southern Oregon University. She will begin her appointment July 17 at an annual salary of $112,680. She replaces President Stephen Reno, recently named head of the New Hampshire higher education system.

- Adopted new policy guidelines for e-commerce. The guidelines encourage campuses to implement e-commerce solutions and require them to use consistent accounting, security and privacy practices in all business transactions using electronic transactions. 

- Established a new pre-tax parking plan. It will enable eligible regular employees who use payroll deductions for on-campus parking to qualify those deductions on a pre-tax basis. The change helps employees increase net pay and reduce taxable income.

- Approved a two-year pilot plan that will allow the transfer of staff fee privileges to another family member. Historically, staff has paid reduced fees to enroll in classes on all OUS campuses. Beginning next fall, the new plan will permit employees to transfer their benefit to another family member (spouse, child or domestic partner) each term up to an enrollment limit of 10 credit hours. Neither retired employees nor employees of Oregon Health Sciences University will be eligible. The board will review the change after the trial period, and

- Tightened asset allocation investment targets and decreased the distribution rate of its pooled endowment fund. The rate will decline 5 to 4.5 percent for 2000-2001 and to 4 percent for 2001-2002 and beyond. The change is intended to improve the fund's growth over time. The pooled endowment fund is used to support financial aid opportunities for students on Oregon public university campuses.

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