Monday, October 4, 2021

Dear Members of the OSU Community,

Welcome to the start of an energetic and engaging academic year that contributes to wellness throughout Oregon State University.

Thanks to each of you and the continued planning, dedication and commitment to public health, we have reopened OSU to on-site learning, teaching, research, Extension and engagement programs throughout Oregon.  We’re especially excited to welcome students back to our residence halls in Corvallis and Bend. Being together and engaged in a community of care – and being in service to all Oregonians – is foundational to the mission of OSU as Oregon’s statewide university. We are proud too that our teaching, research and outreach extend beyond our state, including Ecampus online learners in all 50 states and 21 other countries this fall. This global engagement attests to OSU’s increasing impact and recognition as an international public research university.

This fall, we welcomed OSU’s largest student enrollment ever. Preliminary counts indicate a fall term enrollment of approximately 33,700 students – a 3% increase over last fall’s record enrollment. Our new first-year class is also our largest ever, growing by 12.8% from a year ago, and the number of first-year students of color grew by 5% over a year ago and 14% from 2018. It is very meaningful that so many first-year students – and more than 2,240 new transfer students – have enrolled at Oregon State after a year and a half of learning challenged by the pandemic. Preliminary total enrollment on our campuses in Corvallis and Bend are up from 1% to 5%, respectively, and up approximately 9% in Ecampus.

It sends a very strong message throughout Oregon and our nation that so many students are committed to advancing to their undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees at Oregon State University. It is clear that the pursuit of higher education makes a significant difference in life and career, and that an OSU degree is valued greatly.

At the same time, OSU faculty scholarship, research, and outreach and engagement are taking place at a remarkable pace. We have learned much over the past 18 months and have greatly expanded the use of hybrid and remote technology to further high-quality and transformative learning experiences, research and service.

As we move forward through fall term, I ask us to remain vigilant. We remain in a very serious time in the pandemic, and this will require our continued commitment to contributing to wellness and safety. I also am aware that some employees, students and community members remain apprehensive as we return to on-site university activities. I understand these concerns, which I hope for some will diminish over time as conditions improve and the opportunities of being on-site become more frequent and comfortable.

Our efforts to provide learning, working and living environments that contribute to wellness are rigorous. As of today, more than 98% of Corvallis and OSU-Cascades students have complied with the university’s vaccination program and, of those, 93% are fully vaccinated. Among OSU employees, 92.7% are compliant as of today and, of those, 95% are fully vaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated due to an approved exemption will be required to be tested weekly for the time being. Meanwhile, we will offer COVID-19 testing for all university community members in Corvallis and Bend until further notice. Face coverings remain a state health requirement in indoor public places and in outdoor public settings, where physical distancing is not possible.

Over the past year and a half, OSU students and employees have greatly advanced the university’s culture of care by following university and local health guidelines regarding vaccinations, masking and testing. I ask that you join me in furthering this culture of care in other ways, such as being mindful of others’ stress and mental health, offering support and regularly sharing appreciation of others.

We have much to achieve and celebrate this year. We will do so by collaboratively creating healthy, inclusive and welcoming communities at all of our locations.   Together, we can advance OSU’s impact on the world’s most pressing issues.

Thank you for all you do for each other and Oregon State University. I look forward to seeing you in person and supporting your success.

Becky Johnson
Interim President