State of the University Address

May 13, 2013

Bend Riverhouse Convention Center

Bend, Oregon


Tonight, as I share with you an update on the state of the university, I want to emphasize my certainty that the achievements of Oregon State – and the university’s incredible promise for the future – are the direct result of faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni, donors, OSU friends and higher education supporters working together – here in Central Oregon and across this great state and nation.


Together, we have made Oregon State University an authentic community, whose accomplishments and inclusive excellence, innovation and leadership promote a healthy planet, wellness and economic progress.


That is who we are, and it uniquely defines this great university.


Oregon State’s commitment to excellence is not based on some abstract principle.


The university was established in 1868 – 145 years ago – to serve others. And 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.


This commitment to excellence, innovation and leadership has never been more essential than it is today – a time of continued economic uncertainty, where prosperity is beyond the reach of many among us, where competing social needs and political divisions mount and where the future wellbeing and success for young people are difficult to predict. Looking ahead, it has never been more evident that, as a land-grant university, OSU must not only serve the state of Oregon, and do so exceptionally well, it must also be a national and international leader and a contributor for the 21st Century.


I know that our graduates are Oregon State’s most important contribution to society and the future. Therefore, at OSU, we are not simply preparing people for the workforce – we are leaders in re-inventing the workforce.


In the spirit of looking ahead at how Oregon State University is prepared to address the future, I will focus on five key points:


  • the financial state of the university;
  • OSU’s decisions regarding future student enrollment;
  • the exponential growth of the university’s research and Oregon State’s impact on innovation and discovery across the world;
  • the remarkable accomplishments we are realizing through the Campaign for OSU; and
  • a progress report on transforming  OSU-Cascades into a four-year campus of Oregon State.


Let me begin by reviewing a few important achievements since I met with you last April here in Bend:


  • This past fall, more than 40 percent of our incoming freshmen qualified as high-achieving students, with a high school GPA of 3.75 or higher. In fact, each year OSU enrolls more valedictorians and salutatorians than any other university in the state. A number of Central Oregon’s brightest and most accomplished high school students are with us today. Would you and your parents please stand and be welcomed. I hope that each of these remarkable students will enroll at OSU.
  • Oregon State is an increasingly diverse and inclusive community. This year, almost 23 percent of OSU students are members of a U.S. minority. We continue to build a global student body. Almost nine percent of our students are international students. Increasing the cultural diversity of Oregon State enriches our lives and helps to prepare OSU students to excel in a global economy and community.
  • In the past two years, we have hired 180 tenure-track faculty from prestigious universities across the world. I know of no other university in the nation that has hired this many new faculty.
  • The Campaign for OSU continues to be an amazing success. The campaign raised $106 million last year. I am pleased to announce that, with commitments in hand and pledges to be booked, the campaign total now stands at more than $927 million – well on the way to achieving our goal of $1 billion by the end of 2014. And, we have raised almost $160 million for scholarships and fellowships.
  • Despite cutbacks in federal and state funding, overall research funding at OSU last year increased to $281 million. This included strong gains in industry-funded research – a priority and growing success story for Oregon State. Research grants and contracts awarded to the university have more than doubled over the past decade and provide for innovation and discovery that touch countless aspects of the economy, wellness and our environment.
  • Here in Central Oregon, the effort to expand OSU-Cascades by 2015 to a robust four-year campus of Oregon State is being strongly aided by an incredible outpouring of community support and financial investment. Since last spring, more than $3.3 million of a $4 million goal has been raised in private contributions to help fund the campus expansion. This total includes a $1 million award from the Tykeson Family Charitable Trust. Our goal to grow OSU-Cascades to an enrollment of 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025 has strong leadership support from Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, key state legislators, the state Board of Higher Education and the people of Central Oregon. And, Becky Johnson is leading this effort with exceptional skill.
  • For those of you who follow sports, Beaver athletics have enjoyed significant recent success, led by last year’s OSU football team’s 9-3 season record and our Beaver baseball team’s current 41-8 season record and Number 6 national ranking.


Make no mistake, Oregon State is special.


The university offers more than 200 undergraduate and 100 graduate degree programs in Corvallis and a fast-growing portfolio of nearly 20 degree programs here in Bend.


Our students learn and work with world-class faculty in curriculums ranging from forestry to energy systems, crop science, tourism and outdoor leadership, public health and human sciences, engineering, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, business entrepreneurship and much more.


But what you might not realize is that OSU also offers an acclaimed writing program that is developing some of the nation’s finest young writers and operates 4-H programs that bridge the gap between K-12 education and life skills. Here in Bend, OSU faculty are conducting world-class research on projects as diverse as the development of a self-contained natural gas vehicle to a study on how Head Start gives foster children an improved chance for success in school.


You might not know how broadly OSU Extension agents work in collaboration with diverse partners to restore federal forests in Central and Eastern Oregon, improve crop yields, reduce agriculture costs and manage limited water resources more effectively.


Or how OSU Extension and our Oregon Open Campus programs in Jefferson and Crook counties are working with community leaders, local school districts and Central Oregon Community College to improve community prosperity and increase educational opportunity. These efforts include workforce development programs, assistance for children whose families cannot afford after school programs and the JUNTOS program in Jefferson County that links middle and high school Latino students and their parents with the resources to graduate from high school and gain access to college.


But Oregon State University is not about “how many or how big.”


It’s about value, benefit and impact.


This past fall, the Fiske Guide to Colleges named OSU one of the nation’s 41 “best buy schools” based on the university’s strong academics and modest cost of education. In fact, only 20 public universities were so ranked by Fiske. And Oregon State was one of only two Pacific Northwest universities so honored. Given that 71 percent of OSU graduates at mid-career work in the degree area from which they graduated and earn 50 percent more than their peers nationally, we think an Oregon State degree provides phenomenal financial and career value for our graduates.

OSU also enjoys a strong sense of place.


At Oregon State, students, faculty, staff and community members thrive together throughout Central Oregon, in Corvallis and across the state.


As I noted last year, Oregon State generates more than $2 billion in annual economic impact and its teaching, research, outreach and engagement activities reach throughout the state in the form of university facilities and programs in each of Oregon’s 36 counties. In Central Oregon alone, OSU activities contribute more than $22 million to the local economy and are responsible for the creation of more than 240 jobs.


As you leave today, each of you will receive our IMPACT 2013 report, which includes important facts and rich localized narratives about OSU’s faculty, staff, students and alumni. 

Today, let me share with you a brief view of Oregon State’s future.


First, through multiple initiatives – including very effective financial management and strategic planning, increased research funding, support from the Campaign for OSU and meeting targeted increases in enrollment growth – Oregon State University is in a sound financial position.


The financial state of the university remains strong for the foreseeable future despite unrelenting challenges in state funding for higher education and federal funding for research, student financial aid and statewide public services. Furthermore, important governance issues within public higher education and across the pre-K-20 continuum are being addressed. Oregon State University is committed to be part of the solution in this change effort that is so essential to achieving the state’s 40-40-20 academic goal. In fact, we have established a clear direction for ourselves and in our partnership with the state on behalf of the people of Oregon.


Second, we have developed great clarity regarding the academic and service excellence we seek. We have reinvented academic programs and elevated an already strong culture of collaboration at Oregon State. We have streamlined OSU’s academic administrative structure from 63 colleges, schools, departments and programs to 42 and sharpened our focus on three signature areas built on a strong foundation in the arts and sciences.


And we are investing in the recruitment and retention of world-class faculty, staff and administrators. Faculty members are the heart and soul of Oregon State. And we cannot achieve the excellence we seek without outstanding and diverse faculty.


Third, we are successfully managing our enrollment goals to serve our responsibility as Oregon’s statewide university and to recruit and retain the best, brightest and most diverse students. We will maintain a manageable campus size and community balance in Corvallis, expand our academic programming on-line, grow OSU-Cascades to 3,000 to 5,000 students and create limited academic offerings in Newport.


By doing so, Oregon State can attain top 10 national standing among land-grant universities with 28,000 students enrolled at our Corvallis campus, rather than the 35,000 to 40,000 students at peer universities. And, we will meet our targets in support of the 40-40-20 initiative.


Fourth, we will continue to increase the amount and impact of grant-funded research, including increased university-industry partnerships.


Many strategic industry partnerships are well under way.


Last year, we signed a record 108 licensing agreements, and since 2006, we have spun off 17 companies that have attracted more than $180 million in capital investment. In January, we launched a new initiative – the Oregon State University Advantage – which will serve business partners in the university’s signature areas of distinction.  We commit to work with business partners to improve their bottom-line performance – and the national and global economy – by providing access to world-class faculty and top students as well as an open door to the world-class research and problem-solving capabilities found at OSU.


For example, Oregon State is leading the challenge to establish Oregon – and specifically Central Oregon – as a national test site for unmanned aerial vehicles. OSU faculty and administrators here in Bend, Hermiston and Corvallis are working with industry partners and our agriculture community to learn how to effectively employ these unmanned aerial vehicles in a broad range of uses, including farming, forestry, wildfire control and environmental management – all with a steadfast commitment to safety and personal privacy.


Oregon State is also working with local business leaders to raise the visibility and the success of the technology, web and mobile software industry clusters in Central Oregon.


Fifth, I am pleased to report that we will successfully complete our Campaign for OSU fundraising in the next two years, while maintaining forward momentum.


Donors to the Campaign for OSU continue to provide incredible leadership, inspiration and financial investment.


In late January, I announced that Oregon State University would undertake a reinvention of the arts and humanities thanks to a $5 million commitment from an anonymous donor.


This is the largest gift that Oregon State has ever received for the arts. And it is dedicated to endowments, which will provide a permanent source of funding for four faculty and staff positions, including a director of the performing arts, who will lead arts offerings at Oregon State and connect with community-based arts programs.


I am so grateful to the many donors to the Campaign for OSU – including the inspired generosity of individuals such as Don and Amy Tykeson and many others.


Still, none of this would be possible without the outstanding campaign stewardship provided by Foundation President Mike Goodwin and his sidekick Shawn Scoville and colleagues like Julie Hotchkiss.


As noted earlier, contributions to the Campaign for OSU for scholarships and fellowships now total close to $160 million. The Campaign also is providing capital resources for state-of-the-art classrooms and research facilities.


A year ago, we opened the OSU-Cascades Graduate and Research Center. In Corvallis last year, we opened the Linus Pauling Science Center, the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families and a renovated Furman Hall for the College of Education. This year, we opened the OSU Student Success Center, the Native American Cultural Center, our new track facility and a practice facility for our basketball programs.


In the next few years, we will build Austin Hall for our College of Business, three new cultural centers, the Student Experience Center and, hopefully, with state support, a new chemical, biological and environmental  engineering building, an all-purpose classroom building and an expanded OSU-Cascades Campus.


Oregon State, the OSU Foundation and the Alumni Association are growing broader connections among our more than 5,200 alumni living here in Central Oregon. And we are fostering important international connections in partnerships with OSU alumni and universities throughout the world – particularly in the Pacific Rim in places such as Korea, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Thailand.


As we update the university’s strategic plan within the next 12 months, we will continue to serve as Oregon’s exceptional statewide university and to provide a roadmap for the future that builds on our strengths and secures OSU’s commitment to serve the nation and the world.


In that role, Oregon State University will continue to grow its engagement in world-class academics, ground-breaking research and community outreach and service.


In closing, let me provide an update on transforming OSU-Cascades into a four-year campus of Oregon State.


As many of you know, this effort has benefitted from unprecedented community engagement.


Last summer, the Central Oregon community stood tall in support of expanding higher education here by contributing $1.5 million in less than two months. This strong showing solidified state Board of Higher Education support. Nine months later, 75 businesses and individuals have contributed a total of $3.3 million toward the $4 million philanthropic match required for State of Oregon capital funding. 


As I said earlier, donors include business and community leaders.  They also include organizations such as the Bend Chamber of Commerce, which created a 50/50 member match program. Meanwhile, chambers of commerce in LaPine, Madras, Prineville, Redmond, Sisters and Sunriver and more than 60 businesses have signed on to serve as “4 Central Oregon” ambassadors and to advocate for OSU-Cascades’ expansion. 


Governor John Kitzhaber’s support is well known, and he issued a proposed capital budget that included $16 million in bonds for facility expansion of OSU-Cascades. Last week, the legislative Joint Ways and Means Capital Construction Subcommittee considered the campus expansion – along with many other Oregon University System projects – in an informational hearing.


Since the capital budget is one of the last bills the legislature approves, we may not be certain about the expansion of OSU-Cascades until late June or early July.

In the meantime, planning is under way to consider classroom and teaching facilities and other requirements needed to accommodate 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025. This work will take careful planning to ensure that campus growth is overwhelmingly positive.


Today, I am very pleased to announce that last week the Oregon Community Foundation Board of Directors unanimously voted to help support OSU-Cascades’ expansion to a four-year branch university by awarding a $250,000 challenge grant.


This grant will help leverage matching contributions by December 31 of this year from other potential donors, who will be inspired and motivated by the Oregon Community Foundation’s investment. What’s more, if we are successful by year end in attracting $250,000 in matched gifts, OCF has committed to donate in 2014 another $250,000 directly to the campus’ expansion.


This commitment by the Oregon Community Foundation is one more indication that all Oregonians clearly understand the transformative effect that a four-year university will have in Central Oregon – and throughout our state – in fostering educational attainment, economic vitality and cultural enrichment.


Thank you to the Oregon Community Foundation and to Kathleen Cornett, OCF vice president for grants and programs, who joins us here today. Kathleen, would you please stand and be recognized?


You can see by today’s news that the pathway forward for OSU-Cascades is very dynamic and very positive. So please remain engaged and supportive of this extensive and essential effort to expand higher education in Central Oregon.


Looking ahead, Oregon State faculty, students and alumni here in Central Oregon and beyond will continue to teach the nation’s and the world’s youth. Hundreds of OSU graduates and current students will serve in our nation’s military and in the Oregon National Guard. Thousands will volunteer in communities locally, across the state and nation and around the world.


Thank you for helping make Oregon State University an authentic community, whose accomplishments and inclusive excellence, innovation and leadership shape a healthy planet, wellness and economic progress.