Monday, May 7, 2018
Riverhouse Convention Center

My address highlights examples of how OSU is transforming Oregon, the nation and the world. I also will share important news about OSU’s 150th anniversary, update our expanded programming and service in Central Oregon and describe challenges that lie ahead.

OSU is Oregon’s statewide university. Our faculty and students are out there exploring new frontiers, working to solve today’s most pressing issues, and enriching the lives of all people.

We transform learners into leaders at OSU-Cascades, on our Corvallis campus, in Newport, within OSU Extension programs locally and across the state, and through online degree programs that are top-ranked nationally. Beginning this fall, we will expand our educational programs in Portland to meet unmet learner needs.

We advance society … by providing equal opportunity and success for all people regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation or identity, religion, nation of origin, disability or economic circumstances.

Since its founding on October 27, 1868, Oregon State University’s mission has been clear:

  • Provide Oregonians with access to an affordable, high-quality college education;
  • Provide prosperity for all people; and
  • Contribute to the economy of our state and nation.

This remains our mission as we celebrate OSU150 – Oregon State’s 150th anniversary. And this will remain our university’s mission for the next 150 years.

I guarantee it.

We do not do this work alone, but in collaboration with many others:

  • The university’s board of trustees;
  • Our faculty, employees and students;
  • Alumni and donors;
  • Industry, education and community partners;
  • Governor Kate Brown and Oregon legislators; and
  • Oregon’s Congressional delegation

This type of collaboration and commitment was evident on March 3 when the Oregon Legislature approved $39 million in state-backed bonds for OSU-Cascades’ second academic building.

I am very grateful for the support and leadership of Governor Brown, Speaker Kotek and Central Oregon’s legislators.

I am also grateful for the incredible ongoing support provided by Amy Tykeson, Janie Teater, other members of the Now 4 OSU-Cascades, Katy Brooks, president of the Bend Chamber of Commerce, and OSU-Cascades students Gabby Bangert, Melanie Widmer, and Lynnea Fredrickson.

Thanks also to the many generous donors whose gifts of over $9 million helped match this state funding.

Another remarkable contributor to OSU-Cascades’ on-going success is Becky Johnson.

As campus vice president, Becky literally lives the mission of Oregon State University here in Central Oregon. She truly is helping bring higher education to every qualified student and leads our efforts to bring the transformative benefits of excellence in higher education teaching and research to Oregon’s fastest growing region.

Becky: thanks for all you do.

OSU continues to realize outstanding achievements:

  • In June, we graduated our largest class ever: 6,807 students. 334 of those graduates were from OSU-Cascades
  • In fall, our overall enrollment totaled 31,904 students, making us Oregon’s largest university for the fourth straight year.
  • OSU-Cascades’ fall enrollment totaled 1,204 students – an increase of seven percent from 2016.
  • Ninety-two percent of those OSU-Cascades students were Oregonians, and 67 percent were from Central Oregon.

Of OSU’s overall enrollment this year:

  • 142 entering freshmen were ranked No. 1 in their graduating class, and 11 were National Merit winners;
  • 1,122 students were U.S. veterans; and
  • 6,247 were first-generation students.

Some of our best, brightest and most accomplished students are with us tonight.

We are also pleased to have with us tonight a number of prospective students and their families who are considering enrolling at OSU-Cascades.

More than ever, Oregon State has become a destination of choice – not just within Oregon – but also nationally for students wanting to transform their futures.

One of those individuals is fifth-generation Bend resident David Haines.

David graduated from OSU-Cascades in 2016 with a degree in business administration. As a college student, he gained valuable experience working as an intern at EDCO, where he worked on projects that helped enhance the region’s economy.

A year ago, David started work at the Bend Chamber of Commerce, where he connects high school, community college and OSU-Cascades students to internship opportunities throughout Central Oregon.

Thanks to David, students receive work experience that enhances their education and employment prospects.  Moreover, David continues to contribute to a community that he and his family have long called home.

OSU faculty researchers are also making a difference worldwide. In 2017, grant-funded research at Oregon State totaled a record $441 million – a 31 percent increase over 2016.

Research activities involve hundreds of OSU faculty, thousands of graduate students and nearly 10 percent of our undergraduate students.

OSU researchers are “all in” to provide for a better world.

And occasionally for a bit of fun.

Imagine the discovery in 2009 by OSU chemist Mas Subramanian and his team that resulted in a new blue pigment for use in industrial coatings and plastics to help buildings cool and reflect infrared sunlight.

Who could have known that this discovery would spark worldwide interest and prompt Crayola in 2017 to launch a new crayon-color. Simply, it is called “Bluetiful.” By the way, each of you have a gift from Crayola and OSU at your table tonight.

Last year, our College of Forestry was ranked No. 2 in the world; our ocean studies program, No. 3 in the world; our College of Agricultural Sciences, No. 10 nationally; and our online liberal arts degree offerings, No. 1 nationally. Oh, and by the way, we began building our robotics program 6 years ago and it was recently rated No. 4 in the country.

U.S. News & World Report for the fourth year in a row has judged OSU’s Ecampus online undergraduate programs among the nation’s best – with a No. 6 ranking.

OSU faculty are on the forefront in efforts to understand and address climate change. They are working to enhance the natural environment, feed and shelter the world; and when disaster strikes, to help others.

Oregon State’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences is launching a new initiative to address the mental and behavioral health of youth and their families in Oregon, particularly in small and rural communities.

This is a significant and growing problem as our state ranks 44th – 50th nationally on measures addressing mental health.

In our Outreach and Engagement programs, we are reaching 2.3 million Oregonians with the help of 13,000 community volunteers, and investments by the state and counties.

These efforts are difference makers in the lives of people and for communities. For example, OSU’s Juntos program serves more than 3,000 Latino families in 23 Oregon communities.

Juntos is located in nine Central Oregon high schools and middle schools and serves more than 800 families in Bend, Redmond, Jefferson County and Crook County.

Of those students participating in Juntos, 100 percent earn their high school degree and 92 percent go on to a community college or four-year university or college.

Meanwhile, OSU’s College of Forestry and Natural Resources extension professors have developed a Citizen Fire Academy to teach homeowners and community members how to protect properties and homes from the ravages of wildfire.

This work to transform students and the world is advanced by the remarkable generosity of thousands of donors and the leadership of the OSU Foundation.

This past year, an anonymous donor contributed $25 million to help build a $60 million arts and education complex on OSU’s Corvallis campus and bring together music, theater, and digital communications as a centerpiece for culture.

In January, our College of Veterinary Medicine received a $50 million gift … the largest gift in the university’s history.

This commitment by a 1974 OSU alumnus is a game changer. It will dramatically increase the college’s ability to provide life-saving clinical care, expand professional education for more veterinarians and enable research critical to animal and human health.

As a result, the college is now named the Gary R. Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine – the first named college at Oregon State.

2017 and 2018 have witnessed the continued success of the OSU women’s basketball team reaching the elite 8 in the NCAA tournament this year and handing Tennessee its first tournament loss ever on its home court. The Beaver baseball team finished last year with a trip to NCAA College World Series with a record of 56 wins and only 6 losses. This year, the Beavers have a 35-7-1 record and are in second place in the PAC-12 baseball standings.

Our student-athletes also are winners in the classroom and everyday champions in the community. Last term, the overall GPA of Beaver student-athletes was 3.16 – the highest ever overall GPA in OSU Athletics – and 25 student-athletes earned a perfect 4.0. Last quarter 16 of our 17 teams, including football, had team GPAs over 3.0.

For all you would-be economists in the room, let me report that OSU’s economic impact on the Oregon economy continues to grow. According to a study completed by ECONorthwest, Oregon State’s gross economic and societal impact in 2017 totaled $2.71 billion – up $343 million from just three years ago.

OSU operations were responsible for supporting 30,451 jobs statewide.

That number will only grow as we expand our facilities and programs. For example, OSU-Cascades is expected to contribute $134.4 million and 2,083 jobs in 2025 more than a threefold increase since 2015.

Despite such achievements, we are not done.

In November, I announced Oregon State would build on its long-standing service to the Portland region from a new location – the entire second floor of the historic Meier & Frank Building in downtown Portland.

Serving the region is part of our mission as Oregon’s statewide university and complements the work we do in Corvallis and Bend, as well as major OSU initiatives.

This fall in Portland, we plan to unveil hybrid online graduate and undergraduate offerings in the fields of business, cybersecurity, psychology, and human development and family sciences.

Meanwhile, faculty from OSU’s Engineering for Health Initiative and OHSU’s Early Detection Advanced Research Center are teaming up to take on cancer.

Closer to home, I ask each of you to engage with OSU faculty, staff and students to help foster success throughout Central Oregon and at OSU-Cascades.

Faculty such as Yong Bakos and Ann Petersen.

Yong leads the computer science program at OSU-Cascades and partners with local companies and organizations so that students gain real-life work experience starting as early as their first year in college.

His efforts are working. Last year, every computer science student graduating from OSU-Cascades was hired in their field of study by a company located here.

Meanwhile, biology instructor and researcher, Ann Petersen, is studying the health effects of pollution in the Deschutes, John Day and Crooked rivers. She is doing this research with the help of many OSU-Cascades students, including two who received fellowships from donors Doug and Daisy Layman. In all, 20 OSU-Cascades students have been able to pursue research work thanks to Layman fellowships.

The pursuit of scientific research will grow at OSU-Cascades thanks to the support of donors such as Chuck McGrath, founder of Grace Bio-Labs. Chuck provided $1 million to help construct the campus’ second academic building, which will focus on student learning and research in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Looking ahead, Oregon State University is taking note of where we have been. When we launched OSU150, we sought to commemorate the contributions of OSU to Oregon, the nation and the world.

We are making a difference in many ways … and with a bit of good fortune along the way. For example, we launched our 150th anniversary on Aug. 21, the day of a total eclipse of the sun. More than 7,000 visitors from across the U.S. and the world joined us in Central Oregon in Culver and in Corvallis.

Charting and changing the future is also part of OSU150.

Across the world, a documentary film produced by OSU called “Saving Atlantis” is being shown.

Narrated by Emmy award-winning star Peter Coyote, this documentary tells the story of how Associate Professor Rebecca Vega-Thurber and other OSU researchers are working to save the world’s coral reefs and our oceans from the destruction of climate change and other human impacts.

Oregon State continues to double down on another essential commitment: student success.

Trust me, it is not enough for students simply to attend college. They must succeed while in school, and more students must graduate in a timely manner.

Two years ago, we launched OSU’s Student Success Initiative to:

  • Raise first-year retention rates for all undergraduate students to 90 percent; and
  • Raise six-year graduation rates for all undergraduate students to 70 percent.

Progress is being made. Last June, for example, we graduated 400 more students with financial need than we did four years ago. And 43 percent of our graduates had no debt when they earned their degrees. The national average is 32 percent. Meanwhile, students who graduated with debt averaged just under $25,000 in debt compared to the national average of $30,100.

We have much to do at Oregon State – and even more nationally – to enable success for all students.

Since 1970, the likelihood of graduating from college nationally for those who come from families in the highest income bracket, increased from 44 percent to 85 percent. Yet, for students from families in the lowest income bracket, the likelihood of graduating increased from 6 percent to only 9 percent. The achievement gap has doubled.

By doubling the educational attainment gap, higher educational institutions are complicit in worsening income inequality across America.

Oregon should care about this achievement gap. I ask each of you to join me – and Oregon State University – in addressing this crisis of inequity.

As we begin Oregon State’s next 150 years, we must join with others to address how higher education nationally will better contribute to society.

Let us all agree on a few things: a college degree is the surest factor for substantially increasing a person’s career earnings in a globally competitive economy compared to those without a degree.

At the same time, our nation – and until recently our state’s – declining investment in higher education must not continue.

Its impact is landing on the backs of students as tuition now pays 67.3 percent of the cost of Oregon State’s educational operations, and the state only 21.6 percent. This represents more than a 50 percent decline in the state’s relative contribution from 15 years ago. And nearly a 43 percent increase in the share students and their families pay.

We must work with state leaders to make college students and their future a priority once again.

Such an opportunity continues as we work to advance state support for higher education, in general, and OSU-Cascades, specifically, during the 2019 legislative session.

We will work hard to gain greater support for OSU-Cascades’ educational operations and bonding authority for a $17 million student success center and $17.5 million in land development expenditures to continue expansion of the Bend campus.

Help us advocate for these needed funds and initiatives.

As president of Oregon’s statewide university, I look forward to celebrating OSU150 with each you and all Oregonians. And to help provide a future for our state that is even brighter than our past.

We must make this a future of equal opportunity.

In closing, let me assure you: we are not done.

I guarantee you that the best is yet to come at Oregon State University … at OSU-Cascades … and for all Oregonians.