July 21, 2000

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5714

Higher Ed Requests Full Funding to Support Growth

PORTLAND - Oregon's public universities will request more than $240.9 million in additional state support for the 2001-2003 biennium to maintain college affordability for a growing number of students and to improve their academic quality, research and educational services.

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education approved the request Friday in adopting the Oregon University's System biennial budget plan for 2001-2003. The plan seeks a total operating budget of more than $1.75 billion for the biennium, including slightly more than $1 billion in state general fund support.

The proposed new biennial budget seeks an adjusted OUS current service level budget of $804.2 million and requests $240.9 million in additional appropriations for full-funding of high education's new budget model and a series of expansion and new investment proposals. Part of the funding is expected to come from an assumed 2.5 percent annual tuition increase in both years of the biennium.

Full funding of the Oregon University System's student-drive budget model is the board's top priority. Cell values in the new budget model were funded at only 87.9 percent for 1999-2001. That reduced cell value has squeezed budgets at all of the state's public universities, making it more difficult for campuses to replace obsolete equipment, improve maintenance and to make faculty compensation more competitive with national market averages.

Other high priorities in the request are $8.8 million to help smaller, regional campuses maintain quality programs and services; $5.2 million for support of research; $36.2 million to fund increased compensation for all employees and $8.8 million to fund increased health care costs for all employees; plus an additional $1 million to reward campus performance. The compensation plan targets a 3 percent annual salary increase.

Recommended as important continuing investments are requests for $19.6 million in added funds for undergraduate enrollment growth, $14.7 million to support targeted enrollment growth in teacher education, computer science, engineering and other graduate programs, $12 million for statewide public service expansion and $30 million for enhancement of engineering education.

Proposed as new investments are $7.2 million to develop a branch university campus in Central Oregon; and $12 million to create "spires of excellence" investments in 7 new bioscience initiatives.

The State Board also is proposing a capital fund budget of $722.6 million for 2001-2003. That request seeks $178.2 million in general fund support and authorization to expend the balance in funding from bonds and other revenue sources.

Highest priority in the capital request is for funds to support building modernization, address code and safety issues, reduce deferred maintenance and make repairs on all public university campuses. Other priorities include campus-specific projects for new classrooms, library expansions, student service buildings and land acquisition.

The higher education budget plan now gets submitted to the governor and the 2000 Oregon Legislature for review and consideration.

Both requests will likely be amended later this fall by adding additional information on a further engineering proposal. That proposal - which addresses creating a nationally prominent engineering program in the state - could add another $40 million to the OUS operating request and a like amount for capital improvements to support the program request.

During Friday's meeting, board members said they fully support making further engineering investment a high priority for Oregon. They said they simply want more time to review three different proposals and make the best recommendation for the state.

"It underscores the desire of this board to think this through carefully and.then take decisive action," said Tom Imeson, board president.

OUS staff will review long-term costs and implications of the different proposals and develop a recommendation for State Board action in October.

In other actions Friday, the Board:

  • Approved the purchase of property for Southern Oregon University that will be used in the future for construction of new student housing facilities.

  • Adopted the 2000-2001 annual operating budget for Oregon's public universities. The budget will total $1.48 billion. The budget includes $379.3 million in state general funds; $350.6 million in tuition and fees; $749.4 million in gift, grant, contract and auxiliary funds; and $2.4 million in lottery funds for athletic programs.

  • Authorized new a new M.S. degree program in applied psychology and an endorsement in bilingual English as a Second Language at Southern Oregon University; and a B.A./B.S. degree in general social science at the University of Oregon.

  • Heard a report indicating that more Oregon high school graduates are choosing to attend college and the state's public universities. A study of the state's 1999 high school graduates shows that 70 percent of the graduates went on directly to college, and another 14 percent will likely be enrolled 18 months after their graduation.

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