Campus Conversation with President Ed Ray, Feb. 21, 2013

CAMPUS CONVERSATION WITH

PRESIDENT ED RAY

Feb. 21, 2013, 1:30pm

Dearborn Hall 118

Thank you for the opportunity to review my State of the University address in Portland on Jan. 31, and to discuss issues of consequence to all of us. I noted at that event that Oregon State University is an authentic community, whose inclusive excellence, innovation, leadership and accomplishments promote a healthy planet, wellness and economic progress. 

I shared the following points:

  1. Through our shared efforts, the University is financially strong and moving forward.
  2. Oregon State University research is having remarkable impacts on innovation and discovery.
  3. We are committed to invest in excellence at Oregon State.
  4. The Campaign for OSU now stands above $900 million and will reach its $1 billion goal.

Let me also share a few other highlights:

  • More than 40 percent of our incoming freshmen qualified as high achieving.
  • Oregon State is an increasingly diverse and inclusive community and one in five OSU students is a member of a U.S. minority.
  • In the past two years, we have hired 180 tenure track faculty.
  • OSU research awards and contracts exceeded $281 million last year.
  • We are accelerating efforts to expand OSU-Cascades by 2015 to a robust four-year branch campus.
  • Oregon State’s leadership is widely recognized. For example, the National Science Foundation selected OSU to lead a project to design and coordinate over 10 years the $290 million construction of three ocean-going research vessels.
  • And, as you saw in the introductory video, First Lady Michelle Obama gave an inspiring and memorable commencement address in Reser Stadium this past June.

Yet, Oregon State University – and higher education in general – face uncertainty.

  1. Going forward, we anticipate a modest increase in E & G funding from the state.
  2. We also anticipate flat state and uncertain federal funding for Statewides.
  3. Financial erosion is expected due to unfunded, increased employee benefit costs.
  4. Federal research funding will remain flat or decline slightly.
  5. The threat of federal sequestration continues.
  6. The financial pressures that students and their families share regarding the cost of higher education and finding employment upon graduating remain serious.

As a university, we are working hard to manage these matters:

  1. Non-resident enrollment growth has cushioned reductions in state funding.
  2. We continue to emphasize access for all qualified Oregon students.
  3. We are working hard to recruit and retain the best and most diverse faculty and students and to achieve a much higher and common six-year graduation rate for all student groups.
  4. Scholarships and fellowships through the Campaign for OSU exceed $150 million.
  5. We implemented a salary increase of 5.25 percent last year.
  6. We are taking steps to address salary compression this year.
  7. We closed fiscal year 2012 with a fund balance above 11 percent.
  8. With hoped-for legislative approval, we will build new classroom and research facilities in Corvallis and Bend, and address accessibility across campus.

The Governor’s recommended budget allows for a 7% increase in the budget for higher education for the coming biennium and flat funding of the statewide public services. We are working with colleagues and constituents to add 7% to the funding for statewides. While the recent budget forecast raised no additional concerns, the fate of proposals to reform PERS and threatened sequestration could change state and federal funding for OSU.

Nonetheless, Oregon State is about value, benefit and impact. And community.

This past fall, the Fiske Guide to Colleges named OSU one of the nation’s 41 “best buy schools.” We are one of only 2 such schools in the Pacific Northwest.

Last fall, the American Institute for Economic Research named Corvallis as the No. 5 top destination among all college towns in America.

And, our E-campus program was recently ranked number 4 among research universities.

MOVING FORWARD:

ONE: We will update our Strategic Plan

Oregon State’s strategic plan supports our drive for excellence and our efforts to attain top 10 land grant university status.

  1. Over the next year -- with your help -- we will update our plan: Strategic Plan 3.0
  2. We will emphasize investments in excellence.
  3. Excellence is not an abstract concept for us. The more extraordinary we are at all we do the more positive and profound our impact will be on the lives of those we serve.

We remain committed to serve as Oregon’s exceptional statewide university and the strategic plan is our roadmap to serve Oregon, the nation and the world.

TWO: We will establish our enrollment goals and support the 40-40-20 initiative.

As I noted in my October senate speech, we can attain top 10 national standing among land grant universities with 28,000 students enrolled in Corvallis.

We will manage our enrollment goals in Corvallis, Bend, Newport, and through on-line education to meet our 40-40-20 obligations.

THREE: We will manage governance issues to the best of our ability.

There are important governance issues within public higher education and across the pre-K-20 continuum to be addressed.

OSU will be part of the solution and help the state achieve the 40-40-20 academic goal.

I expect legislation to be adopted this session granting the creation of an institutional board for U of O, PSU and for OSU, if we decide we want such a board. We will engage in a broad community discussion before we make a final decision on this matter.

FOUR: We will invest in academic, research and service excellence.

We will continue to invest in the recruitment and retention of world-class faculty, staff and administrators.

Faculty members are the heart and the soul of Oregon State. We cannot achieve the excellence we seek without outstanding and diverse faculty.

FIVE: We will continue to grow grant-funded university research – including in partnership with industry.

Many strategic industry partnerships are well under way. Last year, we signed a record 108 licensing agreements. 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.

SIX: We will successfully complete the Campaign for OSU and celebrate its transformative contributions to Oregon State.

For example, last month in Portland, I was pleased to make two major announcements:

  • The lead gift by alumnus Peter Johnson and his wife, Rosalie, of $7 million to create a new world-class educational and research College of Engineering facility.
  • An anonymous donor gift of $5 million for the reinvention of the arts and humanities at this great research university. This is the largest gift that Oregon State has ever received for the arts.

This donation will launch an unprecedented effort to build support for OSU’s School of Arts and Communication. Excellence in the arts and sciences is at the core of every great university. And Oregon State University will be no different.

None of this fundraising success would be possible without the outstanding campaign stewardship provided by Foundation President Mike Goodwin and his sidekick Shawn Scoville.

Our capital plans include the $40 million engineering building already cited, a $65 million all purpose classroom building and $24 million to establish a footprint for the Cascades Campus. These three projects, calling for $68 million in state funding are among the top priorities of Governor Kitzhaber for capital investment in higher education.

For the longer term, in future biennia we must transition our requests for state capital project support from mostly new facilities on this campus to primarily replacing and renovating the many older buildings we have that are in various stages of disrepair.

SEVEN: We will continue to grow Oregon State’s engagement in community outreach and service to make a difference for others.

OSU faculty, students and alumni will continue to teach the nation and the world’s youth, serve in our nation’s military and Oregon National Guard, and volunteer across the state, nation and around the world in programs, such as Beavers Without Borders, and Engineers Without Borders.

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

And thank you for joining me here today.