Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray today called on the 2017 Oregon Legislature to provide state bonding to help fund OSU-Cascades campus expansion to meet the demand for higher education in Central Oregon and support the regional economy.
“We remain undaunted in seeking $69.5 million in state bonding for expansion of the OSU-Cascades campus,” Ray said during his annual State of the University Address that drew 300 people to the Riverhouse on the Deschutes convention center.
“Not meeting the demand for higher education in the fastest growing region in the state is not good public policy and makes no business sense,” said Ray. He added that without funding approval, the campus soon will be without sufficient classroom space and will be forced to turn students away.
“If work on the Bend campus occurs as planned, by 2034 -- with the predicted full build-out of the 5,000-student campus -- OSU-Cascades’ continuing operations will contribute $121.9 million in total annual economic output in Deschutes County and 1,925 jobs,” said Ray.
The economic impact findings were the result of a study commissioned by OSU-Cascades and undertaken by ECONorthwest. The study also determined that in 2025 OSU-Cascades will contribute $197.8 million in total annual economic output throughout Oregon.
In his address, Ray also called on the legislature to make state funding for higher education teaching and research a priority. Ray said Oregon’s seven public university presidents are seeking a $100 million increase in state operating funds for the 2017-19 biennium, even while the Governor’s Recommended Budget basically flat funds the four-year universities.
“Our state’s future is at a crossroads, and the path we take will have profound implications for this state’s future and the future of all Oregonians,” Ray said. ”Oregon’s disinvestment in higher education must not continue. After being adjusted for inflation, our state’s support for higher education has declined 21.7 percent since 2008 – 20 percent more than the national average rate of decline.”
Ray called on Governor Kate Brown and Oregon legislators to “make college students and their future a priority for this state.”
In his address, Ray also spoke to a recent decision by the OSU Board of Trustees to adopt a four percent increase in resident undergraduate tuition, the smallest increase by any Oregon public university.
“We cannot realize our aspirations for this great university on the backs of our students and their families. We are prepared to address a possible $20 million funding gap for next year by reducing university expenditures to make it clear that raising tuition on Oregon undergraduate students is a last and not a first resort,” Ray said.
Ray outlined the university’s plans to further the goals of OSU’s Student Success Initiative that aims to grow student access to Oregon State and increase substantially student retention and graduation rates by 2020. Ray reported that the OSU Foundation has already raised more than $50 million of a $150 million goal to help support the Student Success Initiative with scholarships and philanthropic funding for student experiential learning and other programs.
Ray rolled out the Student Success Initiative more than a year ago, calling on the university within four years to make an OSU degree an affordable reality for every qualified Oregonian.
The initiative included by 2020 raising first-year retention rates for all undergraduate students to 90 percent; raising six-year graduation rates for all undergraduate students to 70 percent; achieving higher completion rates for all groups of graduate and doctoral students; and ensuring that every OSU student has at least one experiential learning opportunity such as an internship or study-abroad experience.
“I am all in for the Student Success Initiative,” Ray said. “As a first-generation college student myself, this is personal, and I am committed to double down and deliver.”
In his address, Ray pointed to notable achievements for the university and for OSU-Cascades. Among these:
The State of the University Address in Bend took place the same day that a new university branding campaign and OSU-Cascades logo launched at the Bend campus, as part of OSU’s new institutional logo and rebranding efforts.
About OSU-Cascades: Oregon State University’s branch 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 and outdoor leadership. The branch campus expanded to a four-year university in fall 2015; its new campus opened in fall 2016.