Oregon State University – Cascades will honor OSU Interim President Becky Johnson, who led the Bend campus for 12 years, during its 21st annual commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 12.
Johnson will receive the OSU-Cascades Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals, businesses or organizations that have made exceptional contributions to OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon, the state of Oregon or the world. She will also deliver the commencement address.
“Becky’s steadfast leadership helped launch one of the most innovative university development projects in the country” said Andrew Ketsdever, vice president of OSU-Cascades. “Her dedicated public service has transformed the trajectory of higher education and economic progress in Central Oregon, leaving a legacy of momentum and promise for generations of students and community members to come.”
Johnson led OSU-Cascades from 2009 to 2021 and championed efforts to secure state and philanthropic funding that helped transform it from a degree transfer program located on the Central Oregon Community College campus to a four-year university campus that opened in 2016. During her tenure, enrollment at OSU-Cascades nearly tripled to almost 1,400 students. The campus is planned to serve a projected 3,000 to 5,000 students.
Johnson oversaw the design of the 128-acre campus that is transforming lands once considered unusable, a former pumice mine and landfill. The plan was recognized for its innovative design by the Society for College and University Planning in 2016.
Johnson’s work with state legislators, as well as the support of donors, allowed for the construction of Tykeson, Obsidian and Edward J. Ray halls, as well as a residence hall and the future student success center.
During her tenure, Johnson worked closely with regional economic development and industry leaders to build programs that contribute a talented and skilled workforce in Central Oregon.
Johnson received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she played on the basketball and golf teams. She then received master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics from Michigan State University.
She joined OSU in 1984 as an assistant professor in the College of Forestry and rose in college and university administration to serve as OSU’s vice provost for academic affairs and international programs before arriving at OSU-Cascades.
She served for 13 years on the board of Economic Development for Central Oregon and for a decade on the advisory committee for the Governor’s Regional Solutions Center for Central Oregon. She also served on the board of City Club of Central Oregon and on the regional advisory board for U.S. Bank.
About OSU-Cascades: Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by 2.5 million acres of mountains and high desert, OSU-Cascades offers small classes that accelerate faculty-student mentoring and engages in top tier research as part of Oregon State University. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.