University Day, 9/18/17; LaSells Stewart Center

Thank you, Bob, and good morning Beaver Nation. Welcome to a new academic year.

Today is a time of anticipation and high hopes.It is a day to celebrate the achievements of our colleagues and to be proud to be part of Oregon State University.

After 14 years, I am honored to serve as your president and to work on behalf of our students and the people of Oregon.

Each day, I am inspired by the wonderful work that our faculty, staff and students pursue.

We all are part of this remarkable community, working together on behalf of students and OSU’s mission of service to others.

It was wonderful to hear from Harry Boyte today.

His remarks about higher education—particularly public universities—were insightful and provide guidance on our evolving role as a land grant institution.

Dr. Boyte’s work and commitment to civic engagement and democracy prompt me to reflect on the process that our OSU community will undergo this fall to evaluate the names of four buildings on campus. 

Over the past two years, a number of OSU community members have raised concerns regarding the names of several buildings.

In discussions about these buildings – Arnold Dining Center, Avery Lodge, Benton Hall and Gill Coliseum – the community will be asked to consider whether the context of the lives and legacies of the buildings' namesakes are consistent with OSU's mission and values and should be retained.

Throughout this process, there is no doubt that there will be different opinions. And I know some will disagree on the eventual outcomes.

But the process will work best if we are respectful of one another. Listen to each other. And engage in civil conversations.

As a community committed to our values of inclusivity and social justice, I believe we can achieve this.

Just as we have achieved so many wonderful accomplishments by working together.

We have much to be proud of in Beaver Nation.

Last year, Oregon State generated $441 million in research funding, which totals more than Oregon’s six other public universities combined.

This marked the third straight year of record-breaking research funding and included the university’s largest grant ever--$122 million from the National Science Foundation—for a regional research vessel.

OSU research impacts are visible in Oregon and around the world, from the food we eat to the screens on our cell phones.

In addition, OSU is committed to undergraduate student research; we spent more than $1 million on stipends to support this work last year.

Student success continues to be at the heart of all we do.

We have joined the OSU Foundation to raise $150 million in support of the Student Success Initiative. So far, we have raised $66 million toward this goal.

This initiative intends to raise first-year retention rates for all undergraduates to 90 percent; raise six-year graduation rates for all undergraduates to 70 percent; and to ensure that every OSU student has one experiential learning opportunity such as an internship or study abroad experience.

Last year’s record of 6,758 bachelor’s degrees awarded exceeded our strategic plan goal of 6,000.

Our graduates represent our greatest contribution to the future.

And for generations, we have been sending our graduates out into the world to make significant contributions.

All of us, faculty and staff alike, play an important role in our graduates’ success.

Oregon State was created nearly 150 years ago to provide access to higher education for all Oregonians and to serve the economy.

To celebrate that mission and our history as Oregon’s statewide university, we kicked off OSU150 last month with the Space Grant Festival during the eclipse. Arranging the eclipse took a lot of work.

The 15-month celebration continues through fall 2018, and I look forward to celebrating with you.

I can assure you that as we approach this major milestone, the best is yet to come for Oregon State University.

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

Go Beavs!