Provost’s Message to Campus

10 December 2015

Dear Colleagues:

As fall term and the calendar year draw to a close, I think that it is important to pause, and to acknowledge and celebrate our accomplishments over the past year. Together, we have achieved a great deal in our focus on excellence in areas of importance outlined in the University’s Strategic Plan.

In his October 8, 2015 speech to the Faculty Senate, President Ray discussed our progress as we continue to focus on success that transforms our learners and the world; leadership that integrates scholarship, creativity and collaboration throughout learning and discovery; and expansion of the University’s diversity, reach and service across Oregon, throughout the nation and around the world. As President Ray described, we made great strides over the past year. I encourage you to review his speech, if you have not already done so, and also to visit the college- and divisional-level 2014-15 annual reports which highlight selected achievements from last academic year.

While Oregon State’s Strategic Plan serves as our roadmap to success, we must ensure that we regard the plan not as a static document, but as a dynamic guide through which we consider how to best respond to current events and address emerging societal issues. The recent “Speak Out” organized by Oregon State students of color – and  other similar campus conversations, as well as events occurring on the national and international stage – led me to contemplate the state of our University community. While some individuals and groups within the University have worked tirelessly to embrace diversity and civility, and enhance inclusion, it is clear to me that there is much more to be done to bring to life these words from our Strategic Plan:

“As a community, we are each committed to uplift the dignity of those with whom we interact in the course of our campus life. We strive to create a nurturing campus community with mindfulness of the awesome responsibility that goes with preparing students to live successfully in a complex world. As leaders and educators, we are charged to listen more openly, respond more sensitively and support more unconditionally on our journey toward a just, inclusive and equitable campus community. Success at building community, like success in any other endeavor, requires disciplined behavior, deep commitment and persistence. Therefore, we assertively declare that true community is our aspiration, and we will hold ourselves accountable for doing what is required – nurture healthy relationships, enhance the condition of our collective space, build networks of care, embrace shared governance and acknowledge and celebrate our humanity.”

It is meaningful to note that December 1 marked the 60th anniversary of the day that Rosa Parks became a symbol of change in the Civil Rights movement by being arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white male passenger. I would like to believe that we have come a long way since 1955. Yet, systemic inequalities, prejudices and biases based on differences in race, sexual orientation, religion and other important dimensions of human diversity continue to exist in our communities. However, I do believe that by working together, we can make a difference in the Oregon State University community.

Recently, President Ray shared some important actions that we will take to make strides in these areas. But these steps require the participation and commitment of all OSU community members, and I urge each of you to reflect upon the inclusiveness of our community and take action to make the University a more safe, civil and equitable place, one which recognizes and celebrates the worth of every individual.

A second challenge of essential urgency that faces our global community is reflected in the climate talks in Paris, where leaders from nearly 150 countries have expressed their commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming. This year will be the hottest on record since 1880, when NASA started tracking this statistic, surpassing the record set in 2014. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in conjunction with the world leaders’ gathering, appears to be on track to produce a draft global climate change agreement. Climate change is one of the most significant challenges we identified in Oregon State’s Strategic Plan 3.0.  We must redouble the University’s commitment to address this challenge through research and research collaborations in all three of our signature areas, as well as through OSU’s education and outreach efforts.

I would like to highlight additional key goals for this year that will support Oregon State’s success in the future. As you may know, we have initiated a process to develop a business plan to advance the goals and priorities of our Strategic Plan. The business plan will help  guide us over the next five to 10 years as we align current and future investments; explore revenue generating opportunities; and continue to pursue efficient use of our resources. Consistent with the business plan, we will revisit the University’s enrollment management plan to ensure that we have the correct enrollment targets and student mix going forward and assess and implement promising revenue generation possibilities that are consistent with the mission of the University.

Additionally, we will continue to prioritize all efforts related to undergraduate student success, particularly related to eliminating achievement gaps and increasing first year retention and six-year graduation rates. Led by the recently established Division of Undergraduate Studies, we will implement a blueprint for undergraduate student success, built upon a framework of partnership with the Divisions of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and International Programs, the academic colleges, and informed by predictive analytics tools and other data-driven approaches.

In order to advance the University’s impact and outreach, as well as provide a transformative educational experience and enhance preeminence in targeted areas, we will focus on the completion of the academic building and expansion of programs at OSU-Cascades; advance the vision for the Marine Studies Initiative, including a new building in Newport; move forward with other infrastructure projects, including Johnson Hall and the Forest Science Complex; increase the quality and capacity of our graduate programs, including targeted new graduate programs in the College of Liberal Arts; and ensure progress on our post-Campaign for OSU fundraising goals.

It is my honor to work with you to advance our goals and continue to strive to make Oregon State University a great place to work, learn and flourish for each person. Best wishes for peaceful and joyful holidays.

Sabah Randhawa

Provost and Executive Vice President


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