Lessons outside the classroom
Some of the most compelling learning experiences of these collegiate years are not those garnered from the brick-walled lecture halls or Ph.D.-inspired professors. Instead, the lessons that shape us into the people whom we are now becoming are those lessons that are a result of our interactions with our peers, and a result of out constant exposure to different communities, personalities, belief systems and backgrounds.
An increase in students (on the OSU campus) means an inevitable increase in diversity among this student population. Sadly, this word has been so overused in recent years that it seems its value has decreased and its meaning lost. The bottom line is that diversity entails difference in any form, whether in reference to sex, race, sexual orientation, size, politics, or religious beliefs. These differences are where the true value lies, for an increase in diversity means an increase in the enrichment of our educational experience at Oregon State University.
After all, what can you really learn from someone who believes everything you believe, and is everything you are?
excerpt from an editorial written by Katie Pesznecker
editor of the Daily Barometer
Gayle Gill of Reedsport is pursuing a natural resources degree from OSU, taking video and Web-based classes through OSU Statewide.
One of Oregon State University's underlying principles is to provide a compelling learning environment for students of all kinds. Now add, "in all places."
During the past year, OSU has hired a full-time adviser to work out of Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay and another for Chemeketa Community College in Salem, and established new partnerships with higher education institutions all over the state.
It is in central Oregon, however, where the change has been most profound.
OSU Central Oregon
Oregon State opened a new educational facility
in Bend, expanded its degree offerings, and made a commitment to host more workshops, faculty lectures, cultural events and applied research projects in the area.
OSU has been offering liberal arts courses in Bend through its distance education program since 1981. Now the university offers bachelor's degrees in liberal studies, environmental sciences, general agriculture, and natural resources. Program offerings include more than 140 courses via the Internet, through individualized courses with professors, by video, and on-site at the
A Distance Learning Partnership
The real value of OSU's central Oregon initiative is its impact on people. Kevin Kraly, a 26-year-old resident of Redmond, received his degree in June through OSU's distance learning program. When he picked up his diploma in Gill Coliseum, it was only the fourth time he had been on the campus.
Distance learning, he said, fit his needs perfectly. He was able to take his OSU courses through a partnership with Central Oregon Community College. Some courses were over the Internet, others were taught by visiting OSU faculty.
Kraly, by the way, is blind. "I used all the available technology and worked with OSU (faculty) a lot through e-mail, on the phone, or in classes," Kraly said. "For my situation, the use of computers made some of the work easier. And I didn't have to go to the campus -- that saved a lot of money."
Another goal of the university is to make the state of Oregon its campus. For Cliff Williams, Bend already seems like the OSU campus. Williams, 43, decided to make a career change. So he turned to OSU Statewide.
"For what I needed," Williams said, "the program at OSU was fantastic -- a tremendous experience. My wife works as a teacher in a Bend high school, and we have a mortgage, car payments, and other obligations. There was no way I could just pull up and leave in order to get a degree."
Williams didn't need to. He graduated summa cum laude in June with a degree from Oregon State University.
Student government leaders: the 1999 Associated Students of OSU Executive Committee.
Embracing diversity in a year of change
We value diversity because it enhances our education and because it provides tools to be culturally respectful, professionally competent, and civically responsible.
(from the OSU Mission, Goals, and Values Statement, 1999)
During the past year, Oregon State University increased the number of scholarships it offers to incoming students of color fourfold, and elected the first all-African American student body ticket in the schoolıs history.
And during the past year, the university community struggled to cope with racial tensions after a late night verbal confrontation between two white students and an African American student.
In a sense, those contrasting events serve as a microcosm for Oregon State's efforts to achieve and embrace diversity. Two steps forward, one step back.
Colleges and universities nationwide are struggling to diversify their curriculum, their student body, and their faculty and staff. Few institutions have worked as hard as Oregon State University.
During the last three years, the university created the Asian/Pacific American Education Office, Casa Educacional, and the Ujima Education Office. Combined with the existing Indian Education Office, these new units form the Minority Education Offices
, providing support to students, faculty and staff interested in creating a more welcoming environment for diverse people,
cultures, colors and views.
The university also reached out to different communities, holding college information fairs for prospective African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and Hispanic/Latino students and their families. Last year, more than 500 people attended the events, held in diverse communities in Oregon.
There were other signs of progress. OSU renovated the Asian Cultural Center
, the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, Centro Cultural Cesar Chavez
, and the Native American Longhouse. The student staffs of each cultural center received comprehensive training to enhance their effectiveness.
OSU also sponsored a nine-part, year-long series, "Conversations on Race," to initiate and encourage dialogue among students, faculty, staff and the community. And the university significantly boosted the number of scholarship offerings to students of color.
There are signs that such efforts are paying off. In the fall of 1999, 1,156 students of color applied to Oregon State University, a 33 percent increase over last year and the highest number in the history of the university.
Last Update: Thursday, 17-Feb-2000 17:00:49 PST
Please report any transmission problems
to the Office of Publications