Signature Areas of Distinction

SP 3.0 reaffirms our commitment to the three signature areas that draw from disciplines across the university and integrate research, engagement and teaching at both graduate and undergraduate levels. The role of land grant universities in the 21st century will evolve from a primary focus of providing information to individual stakeholders for private consumption to include a broader focus of informing society as a whole. This broader focus will inform decisions and policies that will lead to responsible stewardship of environmental and social systems, locally and globally. The university’s long-standing connections with communities and institutions beyond campus borders, with the Statewide Public Services — OSU Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station and the Forest Research Laboratory — and with our national and international partners enhance our ability to communicate our discovery and research.


biology studentsAdvancing the Science of Sustainable Earth Ecosystems

Our economic and social well-being is increasingly dependent on the health of the Earth to provide food, shelter and energy. The challenges we face are at the intersection of our cultures, our economy and our values, and they are characterized by complex linkages between global and local problems, their distributed and changing nature and a high level of uncertainty (e.g., climate change, biodiversity, marine ecology). Building on our strong and comprehensive foundation in earth and environmental sciences, Oregon State will create new and powerful bridges with public health, applied economics, public policy and the humanities. This new framework will rely on discovery-based learning and engagement and will set the stage for broader partnerships with other academic institutions and relevant organizations, both nationally and globally. Our research will further enhance a rigorous approach to prediction and scenario development of human/environmental systems by building from a sound theoretical and observational basis.


student with microscopeImproving Human Health and Wellness

As the population grows, ages and diversifies, pressures on health care and well-being locally and globally continue to mount. This is especially true for chronic diseases, which impact the quality of life of 90 million Americans and are responsible for 70 percent of all deaths. Many chronic diseases result from complex interactions between infectious agents, people, animals and the environment. Identifying these relationships can improve health outcomes across populations and create opportunities to reduce the impact of chronic disease. With strong programs in public health, science, pharmacy and veterinary medicine, along with related health research in the life and environmental sciences, Oregon State scholars address the health impacts of micronutrients, pollutant exposure and exercise, as well as the molecular mechanisms of diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Partnerships with social science and public policy programs address challenging and emerging public health and environmental health issues with significant local and global impact, and programs in the humanities shape individual and collective responses to human disease, disability and social and medical interventions.


vet students with horsePromoting Economic Growth and Social Progress

Great ideas change the world. The daunting challenges we face - from inequalities in health care, education and security of incomes to increasing pressures on our natural resources - call for innovative and relevant discoveries to deliver essential services and result in greater prosperity for all citizens. Sound, science-based technologies are at the core of these innovations; integration of entrepreneurship, industry partnerships and commercialization bring these innovations from discovery to delivery. Oregon State University has established a legacy of innovation, cutting-edge research and engagement with our industry and government partners to promote economic growth and overall social prosperity for all. The university achieves these impacts by nurturing a collaborative culture of discovery and innovation statewide while embracing the requirements for sustaining economic prosperity and educating the leaders and innovators of tomorrow’s world. Leveraging strengths in engineering and business, Oregon State draws upon the diversity of disciplines and skills from all corners of campus and the state to create a strong platform for innovation, prosperity and relevance.

line drawing of tree/wind turbineEssential to the plan

 Enhancing diversity, stewarding our resources and recognizing technology as a strategic asset are all essential to the success of this strategic plan. These initiatives are integral to each of the plan’s three goals and their respective strategies.


Enhancing Diversity

Enhancing the diversity of the Oregon State community is essential to attaining excellence in our educational, research and outreach endeavors and to preparing our students to succeed in a globally connected world. We will:

  • Increase the diversity of faculty, staff and students through new hires and enhanced retention efforts.
  • Develop more comprehensive work-life balance initiatives for all employees.
  • Pursue inclusive excellence - equity in student success and quality learning.


Stewardship of Resources

We must ensure that all budget and finance, physical infrastructure and private philanthropy resources entrusted to the university are used effectively, efficiently, transparently and in a socially responsible manner. We will leverage The Campaign for OSU successes to advance the university’s excellence in signature areas and in service to our students. We will:

  • Continue the momentum created by The Campaign for OSU to enhance resources raised through private philanthropy.
  • Develop an integrated infrastructure recapitalization plan that includes deferred maintenance needs.
  • Promote sustainable stewardship of Oregon State’s campuses, including built and natural environments.
  • Work with city and regional partners to appropriately balance economic and environmental improvements.


Technology as a Strategic Asset

Technology and information occupy a critical role in a 21st century university and are an essential part of developing greater efficiencies in institutional and administrative functions. Greater accountability, enhanced expectations of a current generation and growth in the development, management and delivery of digital resources point to the expanding role that big data, analytics,  and information technologies provide as a strategic and enabling asset. We will:

  • Ensure that relevant information is widely shared and strategically used to make effective decisions and measure progress toward achieving university goals.
  • Invest in information technology to enable educational innovation while enhancing a collaborative and engaged learning environment.
  • Implement highly efficient administrative processes to enhance the quality of service and improve productivity.