Frequently Asked Questions: Board of Trustees

1. Why is Oregon State electing to set up a Board of Trustees?

Oregon State University will establish an independent Board of Trustees to govern Oregon’s only university with a statewide presence and help guide OSU’s mission to serve the state and the needs of its citizens in a growing global economy.

This effort will harness the talent and energy of education, civic and business leaders throughout the state to help guide OSU’s future as a leader and innovator in teaching, discovery and service.

2. Why did President Ray decide to pursue the board opportunity ?

Advancing Oregon State’s future as a 21st century land grant university and attaining the state’s 40-40-20 educational achievement goals are central to OSU’s mission.  Given the passage of SB 270, Ray determined those goals can best be accomplished going forward through the creation of a university governing board that represents all of Oregon.

Ray’s decision followed an extensive outreach effort conducted this spring in which he met with hundreds of OSU students, faculty, staff and alumni, industry leaders and members of the OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association.

In doing so, he heard two clear messages:

  1. Given the adoption of SB 270, stakeholders said OSU should have a Board of Trustees on the same timeline as the University of Oregon and Portland State University.
  2. Stakeholders also thought OSU should step up and do all it can to maintain a sense of a system in higher education by promoting collaboration and affiliation among institutions.  OSU should not let down the people of Oregon just to make the university better off, but should maintain its strong commitment to advancing Oregon’s future and attaining Oregon’s 40-40-20 education achievement goals.

3. Who was engaged in making this decision?

President Ray’s decision followed an extensive outreach effort this spring in which he met with hundreds of OSU students, faculty, staff and alumni, industry leaders and members of the OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association.

4. What is President Ray’s vision of how the Board will serve Oregon State’s mission as a 21st century land grant institution?

OSU’s Board of Trustees will help to support the achievement of the university’s strategic plan and the advancement of excellence, leadership and innovation in all of the university’s undertakings.

In collaboration with the Board, OSU will continue to sharpen its focus even more intently on enhancing OSU’s ability to produce strategies and solutions for the most important – and intractable – issues facing Oregon, our region, the nation, and the world.

As reflected in the strategic plan, OSU’s focus is on three signature areas of distinction:

  • Advancing the Science of Sustainable Earth Ecosystems
  • Improving Human Health and Wellness
  • Promoting Economic Growth and Social Progress.

All three build upon the University’s strong foundation in the arts and sciences, its core teaching and research strengths, the skill and capacities of its faculty, and OSU’s many established national and international partnerships and collaborations.

5. What benefit will having a Board of Trustees bring to OSU?

The new board will harness the talent and energy of education, civic and business leaders throughout the state and nation to help guide OSU’s future as a leader and innovator in teaching, discovery and service as an internationally recognized public research university.

Guided by OSU’s mission and values, members of the board will represent the diversity of Oregon and will understand the needs of its residents and regional concerns. Each board member will bring a unique perspective and valuable experience that will be vital to this work on behalf of OSU.

6. Have there been independent Board of Trustees for Oregon’s public universities in the past?

The only public educational institution in Oregon with an independent Board of Trustees is Oregon Health & Science University.  However, many other states have independent boards governing their public universities, including peer institutions such as Michigan State University, Washington State University and Ohio State University. President Ray has the benefit of direct experience working successfully under this type of governance model during his many years of leadership at Ohio State. 

7. Does OSU anticipate some type of collaboration with the UO and PSU boards?

OSU is committed to engaging with Governor Kitzhaber to help attain Oregon’s 40-40-20 educational achievement goals, in a partnership with the state’s entire education continuum – from pre-kindergarten through all of Oregon’s universities. President Ray has indicated that “We will work enthusiastically and collaboratively with university colleagues at all seven public universities to address the statewide higher education needs of all Oregonians, while retaining the benefits of a university system.”

8. What will the Board’s role really be? What can the board actually DO?

Under the new law, the board’s responsibilities include:

  • Establishing policies for all aspects of the university’s business;
  • Establishing tuition and fees;
  • Controlling academic programs;
  • Approving the university’s budget for submission to the state; and
  • Appointing and employing OSU’s president in consultation with the governor.

9. Who will serve on the board?

Oregon State’s Board of Trustees will be made up of 11 to 15 members appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber and confirmed by the Oregon Senate.

Members will include civic, business and educational leaders; one student; one faculty member; and one university employee who is not from the faculty. As president, Ray will serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member.

10. Who will lead the board? How will the board leaders be selected?

The board members will select a chairperson and vice chairperson once the board is established.

11. What’s the relationship with the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees?

Oregon State University and the OSU Foundation are separate organizations with separate governance structures.  The Foundation’s role is to support the mission of the university through philanthropic fundraising.

The OSU Foundation is a non-profit organization, was incorporated in 1947 and is dedicated to enhancing the mission of Oregon State University. The Foundation has its own independent governing board made up of 42 trustees, who provide leadership for the Foundation’s work to:

  • Raise funds in excess of $100 million per year to support the university’s priorities;
  • Cultivate and steward a culture of philanthropy for the Oregon State community; and
  • Manage an endowment of more than $400 million

Oregon State University’s Board of Trustees has sole responsibility for governance of the university as provided by law.  Specifically the board will:

  • Establish policies for all aspects of the university’s business;
  • Establish tuition and fees;
  • Provide oversight of academic programs;
  • Approve the university’s budget for submission to the state; and
  • Appoint and employ OSU’s president in consultation with the governor.

12. How will the board work with the university’s leadership?

As president of Oregon State, Ed Ray will serve as an ex officio, non-voting member of the governing board. The board and the university’s leadership will work collaboratively and cooperatively to fulfill Oregon State’s mission in serving the people of Oregon, the nation and the world.

13. When will the board begin its work?

Under Senate Bill 270, Oregon State’s Board of Trustees will be responsible for developing a budget proposal for the 2015-17 biennium by April, 2014. The remainder of the board’s authorities and responsibilities will become effective in July 2014.

14. Will the Board have authority to making hiring decisions?

As part of its duties, the board will be responsible for appointing and employing OSU’s president in consultation with the Governor.

15. What were the criteria used to choose candidates for consideration by the Governor?

At the governor’s request, President Ray has submitted candidates for the Governor’s consideration for appointment. The Governor said those candidates should:

  • Understand the broad role public higher education plays in our society;
  • Have the knowledge base to craft effective policy in a rapidly evolving environment;
  • Demonstrate the leadership -- and listening skills -- to acknowledge and work with a diverse array of internal and external stakeholders;
  • Recognize the importance and value of faculty and students within the practice of shared governance;
  • Make the necessary time commitment to board service associated with preparing and participating in quarterly meetings and the activities of committees affiliated with the board;
  • Bring a broad perspective on the issues at hand; and
  • Have the mix of skills, ethical grounding, good judgment, institutional memory, and gender, geographic and ethnic diversity required to oversee today’s increasingly complex and diverse higher education institutions and systems.

16. What costs or resources will OSU need to support this board?

Board members will serve on a voluntary basis and will not earn a salary. There will be costs associated with supporting the work of the board.  The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges – a national organization that helps guide institutions with boards – estimates the costs to support a governing board to be approximately $400,000 annually.  Oregon State will need to determine those costs and identify funds to be used for this purpose. In keeping with OSU’s policies of budget transparency and accountability, all expenditures associated with the board will be posted on the OSU website.  The legislature did not appropriate specific funds to be used to support local boards, but a fiscal analysis accompanying SB 270 identified that boards would require additional resources.

17. Who has oversight for the Board’s performance?

The board serves at the pleasure and review of the governor.  The Higher Education Coordinating Commission will also review the performance of the university.

18. Who will staff the board?

The OSU President’s Office will determine the needed staffing for the board. Those details will be addressed in the coming months.

19. What are the governance policies for the board?

SB 270 established governance policies. The Board of Trustees is directed to adopt bylaws, including the duties and powers of its leadership; how a quorum is constituted; and when a quorum is necessary.

20. What interaction will faculty leadership have with the board?

Board membership includes a representative from the faculty, who is appointed by the governor to serve a two-year term.  The governor has sought recommendations from the faculty regarding appointment of a faculty member to the board. Faculty leadership meets regularly with OSU’s president, provost, and other key university administrators. All meetings of the board will be open to the OSU campus community and the public.