University Day Remarks
Sept. 18, 2014, 10:30
LaSells Stewart Center


  • 8-10 mins
  • Dan Edge introduces you.
  • Jeff Selingo will have spoken before you.


Thank you, Dan.

Welcome to a new academic year! I look forward to this day each September—a day of new beginnings, high hopes, much anticipation for all that will occur during the next nine months, and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the achievements of remarkable colleagues.

We should all be very proud that Oregon State is an internationally recognized public research university. And we all have the honor and pleasure of working here on behalf of our students and the people of Oregon and this nation every single day. 

University Day is full of energy and celebration of the many remarkable accomplishments of the faculty and staff that will be honored here today.

It is also a time to express appreciation and gratitude for the remarkable impact that each of you make in our classrooms, dining halls, labs, libraries and throughout campus.

We have a lot to be proud of in Beaver Nation, and I thank you and your colleagues for your commitment and contributions to Oregon State’s success.

It was wonderful to hear from Jeff Selingo today. His observations and writings about our higher education system offer insights that are right on point. His analysis should prompt us all to think about what we must do here at Oregon State to serve and prepare our students in the 21st century and beyond.

If you haven’t read Jeff’s book, “College (Un)bound,”  I would encourage you to do so. It offers great insight into the role that technological changes and innovative learning approaches will have in disrupting business as usual in many institutions and empowering others to more powerfully serve society.

And for those of you who are parents and who will be sending sons and daughters to college in the future, there are valuable lessons drawn about effective learning environments as you support your sons and daughters through the college decision-making process.

I learned a great deal from Jeff’s book about the many innovations that are taking hold in higher education and the challenge to those who would choose to adapt the new tools to their teaching and learning needs. 

Technology can help us invent new and better teaching and learning environments. And we should harness that technology to achieve greater research and attain greater completion outcomes than are now imaginable.

One clear and early example for us is the success of our online Ecampus program.

After only 12 years, Ecampus offers more than 35 degree programs and is already consistently ranked among the country’s top online education providers.

This fall we will launch OSU’s first massive, open online course, or MOOC, partnering with Stanford University and the Oregon Department of Education to deliver free, professional instruction to potentially thousands of K-12 educators in the state and around the world.

This program further positions OSU and the state of Oregon as national leaders in how English language learners are served.

After reading Jeff’s book, I am more convinced than ever that universities will not prosper or serve their students well if they resist change.

Furthermore, we have joined 10 other major public universities Arizona State University, Central Florida University, Georgia State, Iowa State, Kansas, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Texas at Austin and UC Riverside in a collaboration, the University Innovation Alliance, to harness technology, innovation and best practices in higher education. Our goal is to expand degree success, particularly for economically and socially disadvantaged students, even as we improve the quality of our programs and constrain the costs of attendance.

When I spoke to you last year, we were at work on an update of the university’s strategic plan—SP3.0. Today that plan is complete and charts the course for the next five years at Oregon State.

Our vision remains: To be among the top-ten land grant institutions in America.

To help us get there, the plan’s No. 1 goal is to provide a transformative educational experience for all learners. There is no doubt that technology will continue to play a key role in meeting this goal.

In just over three years, Oregon State University will celebrate its 150th anniversary or sesquicentennial. As we move closer to this milestone, there are three things I think that are essential for the future of OSU:

First, we must have a continuing commitment to excellence through diversity.

In fact, we are making progress. Last year, 21 percent of the university’s enrollment was made up of U.S. minorities – an increase of 50 percent from 10 years ago. International students attending Oregon State tripled over the past five years to nearly 3,000 students. Oregon State’s faculty and staff also are increasingly diverse, and we are committed to expanding our diversity.

In May, Provost Sabah Randhawa announced our 2014-15 hiring initiative for 40 new faculty members to diversify our faculty and promote excellence in learning through equity and inclusion. 

Second, we must recognize that our graduates are our greatest contribution to the future.

The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats once said that “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

In addition to filling our graduates pails with the knowledge they need to succeed in their chosen fields, we must launch them into the world with energy, enthusiasm and dedication to improve the lives of others. 

Their passions for lifelong learning, community engagement and selfless service will prepare them to be our future leaders—leaders who stand up, make the hard choices and do the right thing in all facets of their lives.

Our goal is to make sure the university produces the best-prepared graduates it can while serving the people of Oregon, the nation and the world.

Finally, we must be determined to build upon the successes of the past 10 years, which are remarkable and many.

Chief among them are the amazing results of The Campaign for OSU. At last year’s University Day, I told you that the campaign would exceed its $1 billion goal.

And as I’m sure you’ve heard, we did that in January, 11 months before the formal conclusion of the campaign.

We have now raised more than $1.08 billion, with four months to go! This marks the fourth consecutive year gifts to OSU passed the $100 million mark.

To learn more about how the more than $1 billion we’ve raised in the campaign has  transformed our university, please plan to join us on October 31 in this very room at 4:00  p.m. for a one hour, high-energy interactive program.

Even though we have all lived it, I promise you will be amazed at what philanthropy has made possible for our students, the state, the nation and the world.

Many people in the OSU family, at every level, have worked very hard and strategically to make the campaign the resounding and historical success it has become.

Thank you all for your extraordinary efforts.

In closing, I hope we all remember that in life and in work, regardless of the job we do, we only serve for so long and then we must pass the baton to others.

We owe it to current and future generations of Oregonians to “finish strong” and to provide our successors with a strong foundation to build on.

I know we all are trying to do this.  I hope you share my view that the best is yet to come for Oregon State University.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of our students each and every day.

Let’s make it a great year for Beaver Nation and those we serve!