Oregon State University Cascades
Strategic Directions


This 2008 Oregon State University Cascades strategic plan updates a 2006 version, reflecting changes in the state and local economic climate and progress on campus initiatives.

A business plan complementing this strategic plan provides the business strategies and financial models that support a successful implementation of the plan.


OSU-Cascades opened in the fall of 2001 to provide access to four-year degrees and graduate programs for Central Oregon’s burgeoning population and dynamic, expanding economy. A branch campus of Oregon State University (OSU), the Campus distinctively combines the strengths of the state’s Land Grant, research-intensive institution; the teaching and research programs of the University of Oregon; and the core two-year academic offerings of Central Oregon Community College (COCC). Fifteen undergraduate programs and two graduate programs, all of them fully accredited, are currently offered by OSU-Cascades on the COCC campus.

OSU-Cascades is distinctive in Oregon in its reliance on Central Oregon Community College and Oregon’s other community colleges for the first two years of undergraduate instruction. This transfer university relationship with community colleges reduces costs for students and creates accessibility opportunities to hundreds of Oregon’s most talented students.

Since 2001, OSU-Cascades has awarded more than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate degrees; created 11 accredited majors plus master’s degrees in teaching and counseling; and partnered with 150 schools, businesses and non-profit organizations among its offerings. The Campus offers a nationally distinctive degree program in Tourism & Outdoor Leadership and a fully accredited program in Business.

Vision, Mission and Values

Oregon State University Cascades serves the students and communities of Central Oregon, the northwest and beyond by providing a quality, affordable and accessible university education for junior, senior and graduate level students, enabling them to lead more informed lives, better serve their communities and enhance their careers.

OSU-Cascades will be a major contributor to the intellectual, cultural, ecological, social and economic vitality of Central Oregon and the state.


  • Critical thinking
  • Life-long learning
  • Diversity and respect
  • Collaboration, service and community involvement
  • Excellence in scholarship
  • Sustainability

Environmental Factors

A number of environmental factors will influence the mission and growth of OSU-Cascades in the immediate and intermediate future. Prominent among these issues are:

Educational Aspiration and Expectation — Central Oregon faces a pronounced challenge, similar to the one faced by Oregon generally: college participation and graduation rates lag behind many other states. Additionally, while 30% of the state’s urban population holds a Bachelor’s Degree, this figure is only 16% in rural areas, despite a projection that by 2014 approximately 80% of all high wage jobs will require at least a Bachelor’s Degree.

Demographic Trends — 2005 Census data shows Bend is the fastest growing of Central Oregon’s three counties, with its population rising nearly a third in the first half of this decade. At the same time, a 2007 study by the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education estimates Hispanic/Latino high school graduates will increase by 137% from 2004 to 2014. These students enroll in college at the lowest rate of any group, 12%.

Public Expectations — The citizens of Central Oregon have long had high expectations for access to higher education in their region.

Economic Uncertainty — With OSU-Cascades heavily dependent on state funding, Oregon’s uncertain economy may limit general fund support; it will almost surely make public funding less predictable.

Board of Higher Education Goals — OSU-Cascades is accountable for addressing the statewide higher education goals articulated by the Board:

  • Create an educated citizenry and provide a globally competitive workforce by ensuring qualified Oregonians access to quality postsecondary education;
  • Ensure high quality student learning leading to success;
  • Create original knowledge and advance innovation;
  • Contribute positively to the economic, civic and cultural life of all Oregon communities.

Strategic Areas and Goals

Four strategic issues will drive OSU-Cascades over the next three to five years:

Program Growth
Growth in the availability of academic programs and closely related support services drives and responds to rising enrollment. An important attendant issue will be the need for additional space.

Enrollment Growth
With current enrollment hovering at 500 — up from approximately 200 in 2001 — the most compelling issue for the next three to five years is enrollment growth.

Fiscal Stability
Stable, predictable funding is essential to establishing and maintaining new programs.

Community Connection
With the community’s full engagement, OSU-Cascades has the capacity to evolve over time to become a center of intellectual and cultural energy for the community.

Strategic Area #1: Build Academic Programs

Existing and proposed academic programs are the primary driver of student enrollment. Enrollment is particularly important at OSU-Cascades as it’s a measure of the University’s progress in serving and educating the growing population of central Oregon. Additionally, since nearly 100% of campus resources come from either tuition revenue or state support it helps ensure campus sustainability. Continuous improvement in program excellence is essential to OSU-Cascades future, and parallels a key goal of the OSU Strategic Plan.

Goal: Increase program offerings to support enrollment growth and contribute to regional social and economic vitality


  • Over the next two biennia, the OSU-Cascades will introduce new distinctive, professional-level and academic programs aligned with the needs of the regional economy and designed to increase enrollment.
  • Programs will be designed to ensure seamless transfer from Oregon community colleges, particularly for students in the COCC-OSU-Cascades pipeline.


  • Launch a program in hospitality management (bachelor's degree) in fall 2009
  • Launch a program in graduate secondary teacher education (master's degree) in fall 2009.
  • Launch a program in engineering (bachelor's degree) in fall 2010.
  • Launch a program in sustainability (bachelor's degree) in fall 2011.
  • Strategically invest in academic programs by developing and expanding individual majors during 2009 – 2011.

Goal: Increase excellence in teaching, scholarship, and outreach


  • Enhance library resources to support an expanded OSU-Cascades curriculum.
  • Recruit, support and retain quality full time and adjunct faculty.
  • Partner effectively with the University of Oregon to promote the success of the programs they offer at OSU-Cascades.


  • At least six new full-time faculty hired by 2010.
  • Seven additional faculty secure tenure.

Strategic Area #2: Grow Enrollment

The Campus has an important role, working with COCC, in improving the higher education participation rate in Central Oregon. Substantial institutional benefit will also accrue, because the proportionate costs of administration and operations will be reduced with an increased enrollment.

Goal: Enhance enrollment management strategies to increase overall enrollment at OSU-Cascades


  • Partner with COCC on the coordinated, aggressive recruitment of local community college students into OSU-Cascades.
  • Enhance student recruitment activities across all target populations and other Oregon and regional community colleges.
  • Expand awareness among adults of the three undergraduate programs most attractive to students in their early 30s: Liberal Studies, Business, and Human Development and Family Science and among adults seeking access to graduate programs in the teaching and counseling professions.
  • In collaboration with high schools and COCC, build opportunities for high school students to familiarize themselves with the college experience through targeted programs and regular contact with the Campus.
  • Explore offering academic support programs such as the SMILE program for high school students.
  • Increase and enhance student engagement experiences and student support services.
  • Expand and improve essential student services by strengthening alignment of these services with COCC.


  • Achieve a 5-10% growth in enrollment annually over the next five years.
  • 50-100 first-generation high school students participate in college readiness activities, including a visit to the COCC and OSU-Cascades Campus.
  • Several new student engagement activities made available for students.

Goal: Expand marketing and communications activities that support enrollment growth


  • As part of the OSU’s strategic marketing effort, develop an integrated marketing and communications plan for the campus that includes targeted marketing initiatives for five primary audiences: high school students, community college students, adult degree-completers, graduate students, and non-degree students.
  • In collaboration with COCC and the high schools in the region, identify ways to reach the parents of first-generation college-going students and work with them to help their child gain access higher education.


  • Increase graduate enrollments by 20% by Fall 2010 through targeted marketing in Central Oregon to the 30+ population typically interested in graduate degrees in counseling and education.
  • Contact made with 100 parents of first-generation college students by 2010.

Strategic Area #3: Fiscal Stability

A relatively young institution, OSU-Cascades has made substantial progress. Continued success requires systematically addressing issues of operating support, tuition revenue, gift support and capitalization.

Goal: Maintain and increase state support for OSU-Cascades


  • Support OSU and OUS legislative initiatives as appropriate.
  • Implement a campus legislative relations plan.
  • Increase stakeholder and community awareness of campus programs, successes and needs.


  • Maintain 2007-09 Education and General funding level for the 2009-11 biennium.
  • Remove lease payments from the operational budget, freeing close to $700,000 for non-capital expenditures.
  • Increase 2007-09 Education and General base funding by 20% over the next three biennia.

Goal: Document the need for additional facilities, estimate costs and prepare a plan to secure the infrastructure required to meet 5-year growth predictions.


  • Create a master plan and timetable for facilities and infrastructure to accommodate growth.
  • Secure private and state funding to execute the plan.


  • Complete a feasibility study by June 2009 to assess the community’s readiness to support OSU-Cascades facility priorities.

Goal: Increase private, corporate and grant support through the OSU-Cascades Foundation


  • Build a broad base of financial support from individuals, business and regional foundations to provide scholarships and fund program-specific investments.
  • Leverage the OSU Foundation’s 20-year commitment to the Cascades scholarship program to increase scholarship support for student access and success.
  • Identify and cultivate sources of support for new facilities and prepare a funding package for the required facilities for OUS review.


  • Complete activities necessary, including generating private gift support, to submit a request for facility funding in the 2011-13 legislative session.
  • Secure $250,000-$500,000 in private scholarship support in FY 09.

Strategic Area #4: Connect to the Community

OSU-Cascades has tremendous potential for Central Oregon. This potential will be realized – and the goals listed here achieved – by connecting it tightly to the community and by truly becoming a major contributor to the intellectual, cultural, ecological, social and economic vitality of Central Oregon and the state.

Goal: Connect Central Oregonians to OSU


  • Identify and develop strategic activities that build community understanding and define OSU-Cascades more effectively.
  • Promote activities that draw community members onto the Campus on a regular basis and enhance the community’s intellectual and cultural life and economic competitiveness, increase institutional visibility, and support enrollment growth.
  • Bring leading faculty to OSU-Cascades for speaking events and collaborations with community and business groups.
  • Engage local OSU alumni in campus activities and initiatives.
  • Create professional development opportunities based on community need and the economic drivers that respond to licensure and promotional requirements.


  • Host three alumni events annually that spotlight leading OSU faculty on contemporary issues.
  • Conduct five professional development workshops/classes by Fall 2010 based on an assessment of the community needs and the economic drivers.
  • Draw 500 community people a year to scheduled on-campus events by 2011 that align with the campus’ strategic marketing and outreach plan.
  • Begin to develop a database and management information practices that permit the nurturing and stewardship of these community relationships.

Goal: Connect economic development opportunities and academic program needs.


  • Regularly survey businesses, organizations, and public entities to identify trends and needs.
  • Create a plan for academic program growth that responds to these opportunities and needs.
  • Participate actively with Economic Development for Central Oregon and local Chambers of Commerce and explore other partnerships.


  • Identify two or three additional new programs in conjunction with area businesses, economic development officials and the Campus community for launch during the 2011-13 biennia.


Since its founding, OSU-Cascades has made significant progress in becoming a leading-edge model of a regional community of learning. Through a distinctive partnership with Central Oregon Community College and the creation of several attractive signature programs, it has already provided 1200 students from Central Oregon and elsewhere access to high quality, affordable, and relevant public higher education.

This Strategic Plan — and the business plan that complements it — will assist OSU-Cascades, its partner institutions, and its many stakeholders in making this a sustainable educational community responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people of Central Oregon.