State of the University Address 2016 - Bend

Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Riverhouse on the Deschutes, Bend, Oregon

Edward J. Ray
President, Oregon State University

Tonight’s state of the university address will highlight examples of the incredible momentum, excellence, innovation and leadership occurring within OSU, especially here at OSU-Cascades.

We continue to make phenomenal progress in advancing the vision – and the reality – of OSU-Cascades serving as Central Oregon’s four-year branch campus of Oregon State University.

Tonight’s address is also a call to action.

Quite frankly, none of us should ever be satisfied with what we have achieved to date.

As Oregon State University’s President, I have pledged that “good” will never be good enough. We will be excellent in all that we do.

OSU was created in 1868 to bring higher education and economic opportunity to the great people of this state.

148 years later … we remain intently focused on excelling in how we serve as Oregon’s statewide university.

We do this through many efforts and with the support of many people, including:

-- Oregon State faculty, staff, students and administrators;

-- Alumni and donors;

-- Industry and community partners;

-- Governor Kate Brown and Oregon legislators;

-- Oregon’s Congressional delegation;

-- Higher education colleagues;

-- And our Central Oregon communities.

We know that OSU-Cascades was created as the result of a 30-year grassroots community effort to bring higher education to Central Oregon.

The commitment of individuals -- such as Patty Moss, Loren Irving, John Costa and others -- who have tirelessly sought a university for the region’s families and to bolster local businesses, has been incredible.  I can see that same spirit in Central Oregon today – and I thank you for it.

In the past few years, hundreds of community members have rolled up their sleeves and joined in public discussions and workshops to help plan the best possible university for this region. 

Count on this: your leadership efforts to create a world-class university here are being heard and producing results.

Two such incredible leaders are with us today: Becky Johnson and Amy Tykeson.

As vice president of OSU-Cascades, Becky tirelessly oversees the planning of your new campus, including its critically important engagement with the community. She collaborates with faculty and other partners to shape academic and research programs for today and the future. This work is not just Becky’s job. It is her passion. She understands what a four-year university will mean for this community.

Amy has provided invaluable resolve and philanthropy to ensure that we achieved Central Oregon’s 30-year vision of having its own four-year university.

Thanks to the leadership of many, we have crossed the threshold: a four-year university in Central Oregon is no longer a dream. It is a reality.

I thank each and every one of you.

We will celebrate this achievement with the opening of the new OSU-Cascades’ campus with a festive public community gathering and dedication in September.

The first building to be opened for fall term 2016 will be OSU-Cascades new academic building – a legacy to the educational mission of Oregon State University in Central Oregon.

Tonight, it is my pleasure to announce that this building will be named Tykeson Hall – in honor of the philanthropy and phenomenal leadership support that the Tykeson family has provided OSU-Cascades and Oregon State University.

2015 was a year of notable achievements at OSU.

  • For the second year in a row, our enrollment exceeded 30,000 students with 1,150 of those students being educated here in Central Oregon.
  • Last fall, we welcomed our first class of OSU-Cascades’ freshmen and began construction on the state’s first brand new college campus in more than a half century.
  •  This past year, Oregon State faculty generated a record $309 million in research funding– almost double the combined research of Oregon’s six other public universities.
  • Oregon State’s Colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry are leading efforts to feed and shelter a fast-growing world population.

Here are two close-to-home examples:

Agricultural Sciences faculty members are working with Central Oregon farmers, ranchers and irrigation districts to develop innovative high-value conservation practices. One such research project has led to the widespread adoption of drip irrigation in carrot seed production – and as you may know, most of the world’s carrot seed production is located right here in Central Oregon.

OSU forestry faculty colleagues are working to develop accepted engineered uses for Western juniper – a species that has spread throughout the region consuming precious water supplies. OSU colleagues are testing the use of juniper in the construction of log homes, sign posts and safety systems used on highways. Such efforts hopefully will lead to increased value and the expanded management of juniper, thereby reducing its negative impact on the environment.

Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon legislators, OSU and other public universities saw the first increase in state funding in nearly a decade. This investment will improve access to college for more students.

Additional state support provided a $14 million increase in funding for the OSU Extension Service, our Experiment Stations and Forest Research Laboratories. Central Oregon is already seeing benefits through the hiring of a 4-H youth development extension agent in Deschutes County and Extension faculty to serve small farms and community systems in Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson and Klamath counties.

Looking ahead, we must define Oregon State University’s future here in Central Oregon and elsewhere.

As you visit Oregon State, you will witness excellence in the quality of students who attend the university.

We have many accomplished OSU-Cascades students here this evening. Would all Oregon State students, please stand and be recognized.

And also, a number of Central Oregon’s high school seniors, who are planning to attend OSU-Cascades, are with us tonight.

One of these students is Evan Gibson, a Sisters resident, who is the recipient of an OSU Presidential Scholarship. This $10,000 annual award is Oregon State’s most prestigious scholarship and is provided to only a handful of Oregon’s top high school seniors each year.  Evan attends the Redmond Proficiency Academy and is here tonight with his family, including his twin brother, Grant, who also will attend OSU-Cascades this fall.

Thank you all for joining us.

I look forward to your becoming part of Beaver Nation.

Why does such excellence and service matter?

  • It’s about our students.
  • It’s about their success while in college.
  • And it’s about their impact on the future.

Consider the story of Gertrude Villaverde. Gertrude is a junior majoring in energy systems engineering at OSU-Cascades.

She considers herself a problem solver and would like to put her degree to work serving the environmental good of society. In her own life, she exemplifies her commitment to sustainability by making her own soap and lotions, and doing without a television to reduce her own carbon footprint.

In the future, Gertrude hopes to apply for a prestigious paid internship in Oregon State’s MECOP program and enjoy a six-month work-study program that will give her hands-on experience with an engineering company.  She believes her generation can help solve the environmental problems facing the world. I am absolutely certain that Gertrude is right.

Please join me in recognizing Gertrude, who is with us tonight.

Oregon State University is also defined by innovation.

OSU’s College of Forestry soon will start construction on a forest science complex in Corvallis to accelerate the use of advanced, cross-laminated wood products in the construction of high-rise buildings in Oregon and around the world.

Already, OSU researchers are working to demonstrate that small diameter logs from trees grown in Central and Eastern Oregon can be used within the core of these massive cross-laminated timber structures.

This wood science initiative will help restore high-paying jobs to rural Oregon and increase the use -- and value -- of Oregon’s natural resources.

At OSU-Cascades, leaders and faculty are planning a 10-year road map of academic programming to serve learner needs for success in life and career. These programs also will serve and sustain the economic needs and momentum of Central Oregon and Bend-Redmond – the nation’s 8th best performing small metro area, according to the Milken Institute. Last year, this region was ranked only 46th.-

What a recovery and accomplishment.

Academic programming strategies are being considered in new and expanded areas. Among the first of the new programs to launch will be a bachelor’s in education, which will address teaching needs in our K-12 schools.  A bachelor’s degree in nursing is also being discussed that would leverage and build on the two-year nursing program at COCC.

All the while we will continue to foster the expansion and excellence of existing OSU-Cascades academic programs.

In describing our course going forward, let me briefly focus on four areas:

  • Community engagement;
  • State support for the development of OSU-Cascades as a four-year branch campus;
  • Inclusivity;
  • And student success.

A year ago, I pledged that Oregon State University would work with the Central Oregon community to appropriately integrate our new campus with nearby neighborhoods and make OSU-Cascades a showcase for higher education.

That work is underway – 185 community members have assisted in volunteer planning committees. Most recently, 80 community members and OSU partners are working to plan the campus and its community presence; and help guide how OSU-Cascades will serve the culture, health, sustainability and prosperity of Central Oregon. Thank you for your outstanding contributions.

In the coming months, we also must work together to ensure that Oregon’s higher education and elected leaders support the expansion of OSU-Cascades as a priority for all of Oregon.

When state leaders established the branch campus in 1999, their intention was that OSU-Cascades would grow and prosper.  It has, and now the state needs to invest in the facilities needed for future growth.

At the margin, there is no question in my mind that the state receives the greatest return on investments it makes in Central Oregon. It is right here where we face the greatest mismatch between demand and supply in higher education in the state.

The incredible growth in population and economic development in Central Oregon has meant that OSU-Cascades must serve a population of more than 200,000 people. Central Oregon will continue to grow and diversify, becoming increasingly important to the well-being of the entire state.

The development and success of OSU-Cascades cannot be just a mandate for Central Oregon and Oregon State University. It must be a statewide priority, and I intend to make that point clear as we move toward the 2017 legislative session.

We cannot build a four-year university from the ground up from the allocations that Oregon State University has traditionally received from the state as one of Oregon’s existing seven universities. And it should not come from funds that historically sustain the seven public universities in the state. There must be an infusion of new investment in OSU Cascades facilities and infrastructure.

For the 2017 legislative session, we are requesting state bonding for $9.5 million in reclamation work and $11 million in infrastructure improvements on the recently purchased 46-acre expansion site; $39 million for a second academic building; and $10 million for a student success center.

OSU will contribute financial support, as well, and work with the OSU Foundation to raise additional funds to help pay for these projects. But we need sufficient state support and a commitment that does not deter from Oregon State University’s capital needs in Corvallis and elsewhere in Oregon.

Just this week, some of these capital improvements were included in a recommendation brought forth by all seven public universities to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, which is empowered to make a recommendation to the Governor in the coming months.

While all seven institutions supported including some of these Bend campus funds for the 2017-19 biennium, my hope is that the full $69 million that we are seeking for OSU-Cascades will ultimately be included in the Governor’s capital budget, which we may see sometime in December.

Meeting our enrollment goals of serving 3,000 to 5,000 students within the next 10 years will require $150 to $250 million in new capital investments here. 

But investing in this university campus is about more than just bricks and mortar.

Making these educational investments will be a difference maker for Central Oregon. And I guarantee that these investments will provide OSU-Cascades’ students a future where they can contribute significantly to the success of their communities and compete successfully in their careers with anyone, anywhere and at any time.

Looking forward, we also must be committed to address the inequality in higher education.

Serving all people, regardless of their personal economic or family circumstances, gender or race, has been central to Oregon State’s mission since 1868.

But it is well past the time for OSU – and frankly, other universities – to improve how we serve all students of diverse backgrounds.

At Oregon State, we continue to underperform with respect to providing underrepresented students with a transformative educational experience. While our first-year retention rate for underrepresented minorities is at its highest level in the past decade, it is still 8.3 percent lower than it is for all students. And OSU’s six-year graduation rate for underrepresented minority students – while much improved – is still 10.8 percent lower than for the general student body.

Our graduates are our most important contribution to the future, and yet, we are not graduating enough of the students who come to us.

We must eliminate the gaps in graduation rates among students, and we must raise the six-year graduation rate of all of our undergraduate students well above the current level.

Some of these students are first generation students who are the first member of their family to enter college. That was my own case many years ago. Here at OSU-Cascades, 35 percent of our students are the first in their family to attend college. And 17 percent identify themselves as being a member of an under-represented minority.

I am 100 percent committed to get these student success issues right. And the time to do that is now. This is personal.

I will not walk away from this job without one more all-out effort to significantly – and successfully – increase student success at every level – here in Central Oregon and throughout OSU.

I call upon you to join me in getting this right for every student at Oregon State University.

Through a Student Success Initiative that I announced in February, we intend by the end of this decade to raise Oregon State’s first-year retention rate for all undergraduate students from 83.8 percent to 90 percent and OSU’s six-year graduation rate for all undergraduate students from 63.1 percent to 70 percent -- without any achievement gaps for underrepresented, first generation or Pell-eligible students.

We will find ways to make sure that an OSU degree is an affordable reality for every qualified Oregonian.

In turn, every Oregon State University student will have at least one experiential learning opportunity. These internships, undergraduate research appointments, service learning courses, study abroad programs, club and leadership activities will help prepare every student for success in school and in a highly competitive global economy.

We will provide every member of our university community a culture of equity, inclusion and social justice … within which everyone can flourish. And I mean everyone.

We will do this not because it is easy, but because we dare not fail.

This is the right thing to do and what the state of Oregon and this nation needs. But we cannot do this alone. I need your engagement.

We need the leadership and support of the Central Oregon community, business leaders, alumni, donors, the governor and the Oregon Legislature.

You can join me in this Student Success Initiative by reaching out to me personally tonight or in the near future. Or learn more about this initiative by reaching out to Jane Reynolds, who leads OSU-Cascades’ student affairs and student success programs. Jane is here with us tonight. Or call her at 541-322-3100.

Join me … and help achieve by 2020 this new horizon of inclusive student success and excellence, including here at OSU-Cascades.

In closing, let me assure you that while we know that we are not done, we can be confident that working together, the best is yet to come for Oregon State University and OSU-Cascades.