A view of the landfill property, adjacent to the OSU-Cascades campus.

Oct 20, 2017

The Oregon State University Board of Trustees Friday authorized OSU President Ed Ray to complete negotiations with Deschutes County to purchase 72 acres of land that will expand the footprint of the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend.

The land is a Deschutes County landfill and is located adjacent to the university campus. The landfill site, when combined with the current 10-acre campus and an adjacent 46-acre site owned by OSU will create a 128-acre campus. The 46-acre parcel was a former pumice mine.

“Being able to acquire this contiguous land is tremendously valuable to the future of OSU-Cascades and the mission of Oregon State University in Central Oregon,” Ray said following the meeting. “I assure you our negotiations with the county and our remediation and development of this site will serve the public’s trust, advance our delivery of teaching and research, and enhance the environment, the Bend community and the Central Oregon economy.”

OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson told OSU trustees that acquiring the landfill will enable students to learn “in a natural living laboratory” in subjects such as natural resources and energy systems engineering. She said reclaimed and remediated soil from the landfill will be used to help fill the adjoining pumice mine that OSU purchased to expand the OSU-Cascades’ campus. She said utilizing remediated landfill material will eliminate an estimated 30,000 truckloads of material from being transported on local streets to fill the pumice mine.

“The landfill will enable public-private research and partnerships between OSU-Cascades and industry to occur within a planned innovation district that ECONorthwest estimates at buildout will produce $282 million annually in economic impact,” Johnson said.

“Acquiring the landfill will enable us to have expanded partnerships with local schools, provide sports and recreational fields on campus, offer surface parking versus building a more expensive parking garage, and accommodate student- and faculty-related uses, such as workforce housing and retail service amenities.

“This will benefit Central Oregon, the community, the economy and students thanks to the collaboration of Deschutes County commissioners and staff.”

The 128-acre campus will allow OSU-Cascades to grow to an enrollment of 3,000 to 5,000 students.

Trustee Kirk Schueler of Bend said: “If OSU does not buy this land, someone else will, and they will develop it. I am very excited about what it will mean for our campus. It will put OSU-Cascades on the forefront of what is happening in all of Oregon.”

In other business, the board reviewed OSU President Ed Ray’s performance for the last academic year. Board Chair Rani Borkar said Ray provides a steady, thoughtful moral compass and strong vision for the university that inspires others.

Ray also provided his goals for the coming year and noted his major areas of focus:

  • Draft the university’s next strategic plan, which will guide OSU through 2023.
  • Win support from state legislators during the February session to expand the OSU-Cascades campus and construct a second academic building.
  • Begin construction in spring of 2018 for a $50 million marine studies building in Newport that will serve as a center for global marine studies research and education.
  • Establish new programs to reach new groups of online students.
  • Build a safe and inclusive university community aided by the work of the offices of Institutional Diversity and Equal Opportunity and Access.

The board voted to approve its 2018 work plan and adopted an amendment of the charter for the board’s executive and audit committee.

OSU Provost and Executive Vice President Edward Feser and Senior Vice Provost Susan Capalbo briefed trustees on “Vision 2030: Distinction, Access and Excellence,” a document that articulates OSU’s promise, focus and distinction among premier research institutions. The long-range vision document is intended to shape the development of OSU’s next five-year strategic plan.

Vision 2030 focuses on four key areas: academic excellence, access and collaboration; earth systems sciences; health and wellness; and economic growth and social progress.

Additionally, the meeting included reports or updates on the following topics: advancing equity, inclusion and social justice; OSU 150, the university’s celebration of its 150th anniversary; and legislative priorities.

On Wednesday, the trustees met in a daylong retreat session, focusing discussion on considerations on advancing the excellence and quality of the university, while providing for student access and affordability.

About OSU-Cascades: Oregon State University's campus in Bend, Ore., features outstanding faculty in degree programs that reflect Central Oregon’s vibrant economy and abundant natural resources. Nearly 20 undergraduate majors, 30 minors and options, and four graduate programs include computer science, energy systems engineering, kinesiology, hospitality management, and tourism, recreation and adventure leadership. The campus expanded to a four-year university in 2015; its new campus opened in 2016.