OREGON METALS INITIATIVE

Executive Summary

Since 1990, the Oregon Metals Initiative (OMI) has exemplified the concept of successful private-public partnerships. The metals industry contributes more than $500,000 annually for cutting edge research, (performed by postgraduate students at Oregon institutions), which is matched 1:1 by state funds. All funds go to the research institution, with none being earmarked for administrative costs. OMI is the model the Chancellor's Office hopes other industries will emulate in the next biennium. Governor Kitzhaber's budget will encourage private/public partnerships.

Context for the Initiative

Full matching funds from the state for this biennium are not available. The Oregon Joint Graduate Schools of Engineering (the Oregon University System) provides $600,000 per biennium. Historically, the Oregon Economic Development Department has provided approximately $450,000 per biennium to complete the match. Dramatic changes at OEDD have eliminated this source of matching funds.

Without $450,000 in gap funding to complete the state's side of the partnership and this biennium's match, OMI industries will most likely redirect their money to other business needs when the OMI board meets in June. The loss of this partnership would dismantle an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in current projects and eliminate a vital catalyst for jobs, competitiveness, and higher education infrastructure. It would also severely set back the partnership model.

The Governor has committed $50,000 in Strategic Reserve funds to help meet this shortfall. He has also asked OMI to seek $50,000 from the Washington-Multnomah Strategic Reserve Board, which has been done through the submission of a proposal, leaving $350,000 needed to fill the gap. OMI staff has already contacted a number of the members of the Emergency Board in advance of making this request and have been very encouraged.

Staff Recommendation to the Board

Staff requests permission from the Board to seek approval for $350,000 from the Emergency Board to fulfill OUS matching funds for the Oregon Metals Initiative.

BOARD ACTION:

PROGRAM REINSTATEMENT:  MASTER OF ACCOUNTING, UO

The University of Oregon proposes to reinstate the Master of Accounting degree, effective fall 2000. The original Master of Accounting at the UO was established to allow graduate business students to specialize in accounting. During the 1980s, the move toward a more generalist approach within the profession, declining student enrollments, and other departmental-level factors prompted the UO to request suspension of the degree program. In spring 1989, the Academic Council and the Chancellor approved UO's request, to be effective in fall 1989, with phase-out to follow.

The impetus for the reinstatement request is recent state legislation, effective in 2000, requiring five years of university-level education before taking the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) examination. Oregon State University and Portland State University are developing new programs to respond to the legislation. The UO degree reinstatement also responds broadly to the increasing complexities of high-level accounting positions. Advances in information technology have caused enormous changes in the accounting profession. Accountants are expected to have better communication, intellectual and interpersonal skills, as well as increased technical competence to better address the needs of clients. The variety of client needs and the changing business environment call for professional accountants who can adapt successfully.

Students entering this program must have completed a bachelor's degree in accounting or the equivalent of specified courses. The expected size of the program is 40 to 45 students per year, most of whom would likely come from the UO's undergraduate program. A conceptual approach to the study of accounting will be emphasized. Students will be prepared to become successful accounting professionals, engaging in financial, tax, and managerial accounting. They will develop skills in auditing and accounting systems, accounting research, and communications. In addition, they will receive further training in general business to improve their qualifications as business consultants.

The UO proposes to generate support for this program from increased graduate tuition. In addition to the considerable strength of the existing UO accounting faculty, one to two additional faculty will be required to offer this program. Slight modifications in the undergraduate major, along with utilizing available student spaces in second-year Master of Business Administration classes, are actions that will contribute to building the resource base needed to sustain the program. Several classes in business and in computer/information science will need to be developed for the Master of Accounting students.

On March 6, 1998, Vice Chancellor Clark and the provosts and faculty representatives from Oregon State University, Portland State University, and the University of Oregon, met with Interim President Johnston, Vice President Hutton, and faculty representatives of Willamette University, at their request, to discuss the impact of the new legislation that raises the bar for CPA eligibility. Information about plans for educational programs, including the master's programs proposed by OSU, PSU, and UO, was shared. Understandings were achieved regarding differentiation among the programs of the OUS universities and Willamette University.

Staff Recommendation to the Board

Staff recommends that the Board authorize the University of Oregon to reinstate the Master of Accounting program, effective fall 2000.

BOARD ACTION:

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OUS PROFICIENCY-BASED ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS AND CIM AND CAM

During the March 20, 1998 meeting of the Board, President Aschkenasy asked Vice Chancellor Clark to prepare a response to the question of what admission alternatives the Oregon University System (OUS) would have if the state's Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM) and Certificate of Advanced Mastery (CAM) requirements were not implemented. Since then, staff has conferred and developed the explanation that follows.

The Proficiency-based Admission Standards System (PASS) Project was initiated as a response to school reform legislation. PASS is predicated on the notion that increasingly more Oregon students will apply for admission with evidence of proficiency generated as they pursue the CIM and/or CAM.

The standards for the CIM and CAM have been established by the State Board of Education (SBE) and represent its definition of a level of expectation high enough to stimulate Oregon schools to improve, but not so high as to prevent the vast majority of students from reaching required levels within 12 years of schooling. The SBE standards are challenging, but early evidence suggests that schools can meet them if given time, an understanding of the assessments, and a focus by the school on the standards. For example, scores of elementary school students in grades 3 and 5 have improved in writing and mathematics over the seven years that assessments have been in place in these areas.

The programs for the CIM and CAM basically require schools to assess student progress in relation to the state's adopted Content Standards, and then to modify the instructional program or provide additional assistance to students who are not making adequate progress toward achieving the standards. These Content Standards have been aligned with the PASS proficiencies and were adopted by the Board of Education on February 20, 1998. This means that once students reach required levels for the CIM, they may continue toward the levels of performance required by PASS. Moreover, PASS is working with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to align the CIM and CAM assessment systems with PASS proficiencies.

Early estimates are that perhaps one-third of Oregon 10th graders will be able to earn a CIM in the first year of the program. More students will receive their CIMs as they re-test in the 11th and 12th grades. The number of 10th graders receiving the CIM can be expected to increase in subsequent years as educators and students become more familiar with the program. Since the CIM per se is not required for entrance into OUS institutions, there is no direct relationship between these numbers and the proportion of students who will be eligible under PASS requirements. However, the number receiving a CIM should be a reasonable indicator of the proportion of students who will be college-ready two years hence. That is, as more students reach CIM levels in 10th grade, more will likely be college-eligible at the end of 12th grade.

If the state abandons the CIM and CAM or if high schools resist and refuse to implement them (an unlikely outcome), OUS would have the option of returning to traditional admissions methods and simply discontinuing PASS or of continuing to offer PASS as an alternative for schools that wish to pursue proficiency-based programs of instruction. It is likely that even if the state were to back away from a performance-based system, many schools would continue to redesign their curricula around standards and performance. Schools that utilized a performance-based design for curricula may not be as able to report student learning in terms that coincide well with traditional entrance requirements based on course titles and Carnegie units. PASS would offer an alternative for those schools and would enable OUS to avoid becoming an obstacle to high school reform.

Since PASS performance levels are being derived from actual examples of student work, it is unlikely that initial PASS requirements will be at a level that excludes significant numbers of applicants who possess the potential to succeed in college. However, the levels being developed will require students to engage in diligent study and produce multiple pieces of evidence to confirm that they do, in fact, have the knowledge and skills required for success in college. The intent is to raise expectations over time as it becomes clearer what Oregon high school students are truly capable of doing as they prepare for college.

In short, if school reform in Oregon were to disappear tomorrow, PASS would still represent a viable and useful alternative method of admitting students from schools that chose to emphasize performance over Carnegie units.

(No Board action required)