University Day Remarks
Sept. 21, 2015, 10:30
LaSells Stewart Center

 

Thank you, Mike.

Good morning, Beaver Nation, and welcome to a new academic year!

Today marks a time of much anticipation and high hopes for all that will occur in the coming months.

It is a day to celebrate the achievements of our accomplished colleagues and to be proud to be part of Oregon State University, an internationally recognized public research university.

I hope that you join me in being honored and pleased to work at OSU on behalf of our students and the people of Oregon and this nation.

I am awed and inspired by the wonderful work being done by our faculty, staff and students each day.

University Day is a time to take pause from our busy schedules and to express appreciation for the significant impact that each of you make in your important roles throughout campus each and every day.

From our labs and libraries to our dining halls and residence halls, we are all part of this amazing community—a community that is working together on behalf of our students and our collective futures.

Whether you are brand new to Oregon State University or have been here for many years, as you walk around this beautiful campus today, you will see evidence of a remarkable transformation that has occurred here over the past decade or more.

And you will witness our commitment to excellence in everything we do—and all that we do at Oregon State University is about providing exceptional service, impact and leadership.

We have much to be proud of in Beaver Nation, and I thank you and your colleagues for your commitment and contributions to Oregon State’s service to others and the success of our students.

It was wonderful to hear from Brandon Busteed today. His studies and writings about the value of a college degree are insightful—especially for those of us committed to the role of higher education in enriching the quality of life for our students.

His work should prompt us all to think about what we must do here at Oregon State to serve and prepare our students to thrive in their careers and lives—long after they leave OSU.

We know that our graduates are our most important contribution to the future.

And while we work hard and continue to raise the bar for ourselves to graduate all of our students, we must be mindful and intentional about how their experiences here at Oregon State will serve them in their careers and in their lives.

Brandon’s work and the Gallup-Purdue Index provide compelling evidence that students’ college experiences must be about much more than just attaining a degree.

The No. 1 goal of the university’s strategic plan—SP3.0—is to provide a transformative educational experience for all learners.

This plan, which charts our course for the next four years, is the foundation for our work at OSU.

So where do we start? First, I’d like to share some encouraging news with you.

We are on the right track. Each year, we survey our recent graduates. In our July 2014 undergraduate exit survey, 82 percent of our graduates report overall satisfaction with their OSU educational experience.

While encouraging, these results represent only a snapshot in time—soon after our graduates leave OSU.

The Gallup-Purdue Index looks at career and life experience years after college and measures career and life success.

After reading the Gallup-Purdue report and hearing from Brandon today, I am more convinced than ever that there is much more we can do at OSU to improve our students’ college experiences.

The answers may lie in what students are doing in college and how they are experiencing it.

Have they had a professor who’s made them excited about learning or a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals?

Did they work on a long-term project, have an internship or become involved in extracurricular activities?

The evidence is clear: a college degree is not an “automatic ticket” to a better career and life.

One of the first things we can do is to create a stronger sense of community and belonging for our students.

This is something that each of us can contribute to—regardless of our jobs. Sometimes a friendly smile can change someone’s day and make them feel more a part of our campus life.

Other times, pointing a student toward a new resource—such as one of our cultural centers—can help them increase connections and develop a sense of belonging.

Here, there’s more to the story. We must eliminate achievement gaps and increase graduation rates for all groups of students at OSU.

Two major issues for upper level students that often prevent them from achieving success are:

  • Running out of money—lack of funds;
  • And not feeling connected to the university.

 

We must work to help students secure as much grant-based aid as possible during their undergraduate years—as opposed to student loans.

And we need to help students form a lasting sense of community by creating mentoring relationships with faculty advisors and professional staff in student affairs programs through leadership opportunities in student clubs and organizations.

Faculty’s direct interest in students can lead in  helping students secure experiential learning opportunities and to find solutions for students who are at risk financially so they can finish their degrees.

Our graduate school also is working to improve the success of students by developing :

  • Online learning modules for faculty to improve mentoring skills;
  • Analytical tools to identify students at risk of dropping out or leaving OSU;
  • And a new Graduate Student Success Center in the Memorial Union to support students in peer-to-peer mentoring and other collaborative activities.

We all understand that universities will not prosper or serve their students well if they resist change.

So I am hopeful that each of us will continue to work together to develop new ways to support students.

Our vision remains: To be among the Top 10 land grant institutions in America in terms of the quality of our academic programs, the success and happiness of our students and the impact of our service to others.

Surely, we can harness the energy and talent of our faculty and staff to help our students achieve success in their careers and their lives long after they leave OSU.

We must produce the best-prepared graduates we can while serving the people of Oregon, the nation and the world.

Finally, we must continue to build upon the successes of the past 10 years, which are all evidence of a remarkable transformation at OSU.

I can assure you that as we approach our 150th anniversary in 2018, the best is yet to come for Oregon State University.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our students, our community and this incredible university each and every day.

Here’s to a great year for Beaver Nation and those we serve! Thank you.