Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray
State of the University Address

January 31, 2014
Portland Hilton, Portland, Oregon

Today’s update on the state of the university will focus on the phenomenal changes and achievements at Oregon State that are transforming OSU and the state of Oregon. Created nearly 146 years ago, Oregon State University is Oregon’s statewide university.

The accomplishments and examples of service excellence that I am sharing with you today are, without question, the result of many people working together:

  • Oregon State faculty, staff, students and administrators;
  • alumni and donors;
  • industry and community partners;
  • university friends;
  • Governor John Kitzhaber, Oregon legislators
  • and higher education supporters … all working together.

Last summer, as I completed my 10th year as president of Oregon State, I reflected on the past decade. I am blessed to be part of an incredibly authentic community whose collaborative spirit and commitment to inclusive excellence, leadership and innovation defines and distinguishes Oregon State University.

There is no ‘me, me, me’ mantra in Beaver Nation. We understand that the more extraordinarily capable we are at everything we do, the more profound and positive our impact will be on those we serve.

Today, I will cover four topics:

  • A snapshot of what has been happening at Oregon State during  the past decade;
  • A sense of where we are today in an increasingly  integrated global economy and community;
  • A look at Oregon State’s future as a leader and innovator in teaching, discovery and service -- and as an internationally recognized public research university;
  • And a call to action toward a future that is so essential for the Portland region, our state, the nation and the world.

Over the past decade:

  • OSU’s enrollment has become the largest of any Oregon university – and has increased by 53 percent to more than 29,000 students. Of these: 24,600 students attend classes in Corvallis; 3,800 degree-seeking students attend Oregon State entirely on-line; and nearly 1,000 students attend OSU-Cascades in Bend.
  • The students attending Oregon State are remarkable. This past year, the average high school GPA of incoming students was 3.57 – with nearly 40 percent of all freshmen entering with a GPA of 3.75 or higher. More of Oregon’s best and brightest students have chosen OSU over the past five years than any other school. This year, 149 Oregon high school valedictorians and nine National Merit Finalists selected Oregon State.
  • OSU is achieving excellence through diversity: 21 percent of the university’s enrollment is made up of U.S. minorities – an increase of 50 percent from 10 years ago. And the number of international students attending Oregon State has tripled over the past five years to nearly 3,000 students. Oregon State’s faculty and staff are increasingly diverse, and we are committed to make OSU an even more inclusive community.
  • Research funding has increased during the past decade by almost 70 percent to $263 million in 2013 – a research total that is more than all other Oregon public universities combined.
  • In the past 10 years, OSU’s Corvallis campus has grown substantially with major new world-class teaching and research facilities, including the Linus Pauling Science Center, Kelley Engineering Center, the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families and the INTO OSU International Living Learning Center.
  • The Corvallis campus has seen the renovation of iconic buildings such as the College of Education’s Joyce Collin Furman Hall and Kearney Hall within the College of Engineering; the world class expansion of Reser Stadium; the creation of the Whyte Track and Field Center and the opening of the new basketball practice facility;
  • And, on a note of personal pride and appreciation – the Beth Ray Center for Academic Support.
  • Emerging facilities include Austin Hall for the College of Business, Johnson Hall for Engineering, a state of the art classroom building and much, much more.
  • The Campaign for OSU has created a nationwide community of philanthropy that believes in and invests in Oregon State. These donors; the OSU Foundation board of trustees and Foundation leaders -- especially Mike Goodwin and Shawn Scoville -- truly believe in this Amazing Place called Oregon State. And working together with all of us, they have helped make The Campaign for OSU an historic moment.

 The quiet phase of The Campaign for OSU began in July 2004 with a goal of $625 million announced in 2007. By the end of 2013 -- with still a year to go to its conclusion -- the campaign stood at $990 million thanks to the contributions of more than 102,000 individuals and organizations – 44 percent of whom are not OSU alumni – but who believe in the promise and contribution of this university to the future.

The fruits of the Campaign have been profound for Oregon State. More than 600 new scholarships have been created. Last year alone, approximately 4,000 students received donor-funded scholarships. And the Campaign has invested in educational excellence by endowing 77 new faculty positions. A special thanks to the Campaign Steering Committee. Our three co-chairs are here today, Pat Reser, Jim Rudd, and Patrick Stone.  And thanks also to the Harris Society – more than 30 members are with us today. Your individual commitments of $1M and more to Oregon State inspire all of Beaver Nation. Would our Campaign co-chairs and Harris Society members please stand and be recognized for your service.

Current and future Oregon State students are the major beneficiaries of these accomplishments.

Students like Kelsey Marie Drewry.

Kelsey is a pre-med senior in Oregon State’s Honors College majoring in biochemistry and biophysics. Beginning as a freshman, she has worked alongside internationally renowned researchers. Her own research focuses on bio-remediation using bacteria to clean up spilled crude oil. But Kelsey is not simply about her own pursuit of science and discovery. Kelsey works with other OSU undergraduate students as an ambassador spreading the awareness of research and scholarship opportunities to students across campus– who are not engaged in test-tube laden laboratories – but in libraries, theaters, dance studios and music centers. If that is not enough, Kelsey is also a student-athlete on OSU's Equestrian Hunter/Jumper team. Upon graduating, Kelsey plans to apply to medical school.

A resident of Hillsboro, Kelsey is here with us today.  Please join me in recognizing Kelsey Drewry.

Never forget that our graduates are Oregon State’s most important contribution to society and the future.

Today, I am pleased to welcome 50 of our exceptional students. Keep an eye on these folks. I am confident that they will help change the world upon graduation. Would those OSU students with us today please stand and be recognized? We are also joined today by some of Portland’s top high school seniors, who are considering attending Oregon State. Would these students -- and their parents -- please stand and be recognized?

As we look ahead and begin to draw Oregon State University’s first 150 years to a close, it is time for all of us—as members of Beaver Nation—to move beyond proudly wearing our modesty on our sleeve.

Yet … what we should be proud of -- and share with others -- are not tales of how many or how much. But powerful narratives and proof of how this university is making a difference for others. And why that difference matters.

Let me offer a few examples:

  • Oregon State is making this state and the nation healthier. OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences is on course in June to be named the state’s only accredited college of public health. Oregonians understand that the future of good health resides in good nutrition, exercise and strong, healthy communities. And OSU is delivering on that mission throughout the state and in Portland – thanks, in part, to Bob’s Red Mill founders Bob and Charlee Moore, who endowed an outreach coordinator position to implement healthy foods education in grade schools throughout the region.
  • During the past year, the Oregon State University Advantage program has become a one-stop shop for linking businesses throughout the state – and the nation – with OSU’s high-achieving students, world-class researchers and cutting edge research facilities. Why are we doing this? To help drive economic success and bottom-line results. At the annual Oregon Economic Summit held in Portland in December, the OSU Advantage was front and center in discussions of strategies to accelerate additional success in Oregon’s high-tech industry. OSU Advantage partners include Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Portland General Electric, Daimler Trucks and Blount International – to name but a few.
  • Beginning this year, OSU’s College of Forestry will lead a new national effort to advance the science and the technology necessary to utilize wood in the construction of much taller multi-story -- and environmentally friendly -- buildings. This public-private partnership will change how buildings are engineered and built. It will create new markets for high-value wood products that can be manufactured here in Oregon and reclaim high-paying jobs for our rural communities.
  • Innovations in material science and nuclear energy engineering developed within Oregon State’s colleges of science and engineering are at the heart of emerging technology to develop small, modular nuclear reactors to safely produce power without greenhouse gas emissions. In December, the federal government awarded NuScale Power of Corvallis and Portland, a $226 million grant to carry this work forward. NuScale itself will match that grant … bringing a total of nearly half a billion dollars—that’s billion with a “B”—into play with a great deal of that money to be spent right here at home in Oregon.
  • Oregon State continues to be a sought-after partner in leading discoveries for the nation and the world. Last year, OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences was selected by the National Science Foundation to lead the design and construction of the next generation of ocean-going research vessels for America. The college is also leading the design and deployment of ocean buoys and marine gliders that will provide the world’s scientists an essential real-time research window into the Pacific Ocean.
  • In late December, the Federal Aviation Administration selected OSU, along with partners in Alaska and Hawaii, to operate one of six national sites for unmanned aircraft systems. The Pan-Pacific Test Site will develop unmanned aerial vehicles for civilian uses, including agricultural crop monitoring, search and rescue, forest fire fighting and marine and coast research and engage partners near Pendleton, Tillamook, Bend and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
  • Oregon State is a leader in LEAP – the Liberal Education and America’s Promise initiative. This advocacy effort among national universities promotes a strong liberal arts education as an essential component of learning among all college and university students. In the 21st century, graduates must be able to communicate well, work creatively in teams, and engage as informed citizens in their communities.

Already a state and West Coast leader in STEM education – science, technology, engineering and math -- Oregon State is committed to add the arts to this important effort and help make “STEAM” education a national watchword going forward.

Closer to home, Oregon State’s colleges of Liberal Arts and Engineering, Pharmacy and Business, Agricultural Sciences and Public Health and the OSU Extension Service, are collaborating. They are expanding the footprint of the performing arts across Oregon; fostering greater human wellness in urban and rural communities; advancing business success; fostering a national resurgence among young farmers and building strong local food production in communities around Portland and across the state.

Our women’s choir, Bella Voce, has been selected to perform this July at the next International Society for Music Education in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  This is the first time one of our music ensembles has been selected for an international performance through an audition process to represent the United States at this prestigious event.

The College of Pharmacy is changing the future of health care in partnership with others, such as OHSU, in the soon-to-open Collaborative Life Sciences Building being constructed in Portland’s South Waterfront. Meanwhile, our College of Veterinary Medicine and the Oregon Humane Society are national leaders in providing cooperative experiential learning.

In Bend, we are changing the face of Central Oregon by expanding OSU-Cascades to a full four-year branch campus of Oregon State University. We will offer four-year undergraduate classes in Bend by 2015 … and grow the campus to an enrollment of 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025. This campus expansion is led extraordinarily well by Vice President Becky Johnson and is a partnership with the community, donors, the governor and legislature and will serve the only region in Oregon without a four-year university.

These initiatives -- and the impacts that they are having and will continue to achieve are the result of hard work, strategic planning and unrelenting focus in key signature areas where Oregon State University excels and can help make the world a better place.

During the past decade, OSU engaged in two very productive rounds of strategic planning. These plans, the growth that has occurred at the university; a commitment to inclusive excellence; the Campaign for OSU and many other achievements, have defined and supported our success.

The next 10 years at Oregon State will be about accelerating that success in service to others. If we are up to the challenge, the best is yet to come for OSU and those we serve.

So let’s look ahead at the work to be done.

Oregon State has now established its own independent institutional board of trustees to guide the university’s ongoing mission to excel at serving the state and the needs of its citizens in a growing global economy.

Each of our trustees are remarkable people and extraordinary leaders. Several of them -- including Board Chair Pat Reser -- are with us today. Would you all please stand and be recognized.

Thank you for your service to the state of Oregon and Oregon State University.

The future will also be about educating more Oregonians to succeed.

We are committed to help achieve the state’s 40-40-20 educational attainment goals that by 2025 -- 40 percent or more of all Oregonians in the work force have a bachelor’s degree or higher; 40 percent have certificates or an associate’s degree and 20 percent have a high school diploma.

Ongoing efforts to create a seamless Pre-K-20 educational system in Oregon are intended to place Oregonians in the leading role in the 40-40-20 educational attainment goal. Success in a global economy and prosperity in life, community and career for all Oregonians requires nothing less.

This year, Oregon State’s total enrollment in Corvallis and on-line increased by 1,532 students. And increased at OSU-Cascades by another 135 students. While OIT’s enrollment increased 413 students, the net increase in enrollment among all Oregon public universities other than Oregon State totaled 14 students.  The Higher Education Coordinating Commission needs a strategic plan and a business plan for 40-40-20.  Right now, there is no state blueprint for success.

Oregon State already has a plan to support 40-40-20. We expect to:

  • educate 28,000 students in Corvallis;
  • 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025 at OSU-Cascades;
  • more than 7,000 students through our top-ranked Ecampus online learning program;
  • and 500 students being educated by 2025 at a Marine Studies Campus that is being planned for Newport and along the coast.

And while 40-40-20 is about dramatically increasing the number of well-educated Oregonians, we will not simply push more students through the system. The essential objectives of 40-40-20, require us to invest in access, affordability and excellence at Oregon State. And we pledge to work with state leaders, others in higher education and across the pre-K-20 continuum to do the same.

To do so, Oregon must address the financial needs of the state’s regional universities. Oregon State is committed to be a partner in their success in any way we can.

Looking ahead, as Oregon State prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018, we will expand our service excellence within Oregon, across the nation and as an internationally recognized research university.

An update of the university’s strategic plan -- SP 3.0 -- will be finalized this year and provide a roadmap for achieving these goals and accelerating OSU’s success.

This strategic planning process is ably led by Oregon State’s Provost and Executive Vice President Sabah Randhawa.  He guided the hiring of 180 new tenure track professors in the last two years and plans to hire up to 50 new faculty members and 24 academic support staff in each of the next several years. Thank you, Sabah.

The challenges of the future will require continued and strengthened partnerships and it is within Oregon State’s recent research efforts that the results of collaboration and future promise are apparent and increasing remarkably.

At a time when federal and state agencies are cutting back on research funding, OSU has re-invented its research enterprise under the leadership of Vice President Rick Spinrad. Industry-sponsored research is up 60 percent in five years and licensing agreements with industry have increased 83 percent.

Since 2006, OSU has helped launch 20 startup companies, which have raised $190 million in venture capital and created hundreds of Oregon jobs. At OSU economic development is part of our DNA.

In the future, this effort and its results will grow through the work of the OSU Advantage Accelerator and RAIN -- the South Willamette Valley Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network. RAIN was provided initial funding this past summer by the Oregon Legislature and is a partnership with the University of Oregon, along with the cities of Corvallis, Albany, Eugene and Springfield. RAIN will launch 135 new businesses; create 1,800 needed local jobs; and teach hundreds of student innovators and entrepreneurs.

The OSU Alumni Association, our more than 170,000 alumni and the OSU Foundation are key partners in all we will achieve going forward.

I recall the nervousness of publicly launching the university’s first-ever comprehensive campaign with an announced goal of $625 million in 2007.

We exceeded that goal and the next goal of $850 million and increased the campaign goal to $1 billion to be reached by Dec. 31, 2014.

Who could have imagined any of this in 2004?

This philanthropic success and the vision of the Campaign for OSU fueled the rise of Oregon State as a premier public university. The Campaign has profoundly benefitted students, faculty, the university and the state of Oregon.

What remarkable achievements you are making possible: thank you so very much.

I would like you to be the first to know –that as of today … with 11 month’s still to go before its conclusion … the Campaign for OSU has exceeded its $1 billion goal.

Your generosity and the investment by those who contribute to the Campaign for OSU adds momentum to our effort to ensure that the best is yet to come.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

I challenge each of us to reach higher and further for others in the future.

That is Oregon State University’s mission.

A mission that I know all of Beaver Nation will embrace.


Thank you.