Central Oregon branch campus work underway


CORVALLIS - The next major step in creating a new branch campus for Central Oregon will be legislative approval of the necessary funding, say officials at Oregon State University, but in the interests of a quick start for the new institution a fairly broad range of activities is already underway.

"We're fully aware that the legislative decision making process will take some time and that the branch campus is only one part of the large and complex higher education budget," said Tim White, provost and executive vice president at OSU. "We'll now work closely with the Oregon University System and our other partners to inform legislators about the need and justification for this campus. So far it appears that the legislature generally supports the branch campus initiative."

"While there are limits to how far we can proceed before the funding is finalized," White said, "there are also a lot of things we must begin now to assure a successful launch in September."

Among those initiatives are student recruiting, planning meetings with educational partners, acceptance of applications for admission, hiring some in-state faculty and many other steps, White said. In the past week OSU officials have already met with administrators at Central Oregon Community College and the University of Oregon, who along with Eastern Oregon University and the Oregon Institute of Technology will be key partners in delivering educational services.

Other preliminary steps and activities that are underway include:

  • The web site for the new branch campus will become a central focus for student information, registration, course availability, questions, news updates, campus development and several other topics. At the web site individuals can also submit their own questions for a personalized response. Link to the branch campus web site from the OSU home page.
  • The list of available courses and degrees for fall term, 2001, will be available at the website in early March.
  • For branch campus admission applications and other information, anyone can call (800) 291-4192 or go to the website. Prospective students are encouraged to contact OSU immediately to begin the process, and registration will be available beginning March 1. 
  • An active student recruiting program is already underway, and university officials are confident they will begin fall term, 2001, at the new campus with about 150 FTE students and more than 200 individuals. 
  • OSU has developed a "dual enrollment" plan with Central Oregon Community College to facilitate the smooth transfer of students between institutions, coordinate financial aid, and allow access to the courses and services of both schools. 
  • The search and hiring process for about five new faculty positions at the new campus will begin immediately. At first they will be chosen from within OSU's existing faculty to expedite the process and to assure a successful startup of programs in September, 2001. National searches for other faculty at the growing institution will be initiated over the summer. 
  • A national search will begin immediately for a new chief executive officer. 
  • A detailed campus implementation plan is being developed for submission to the Chancellor of the Oregon University System by April 1. 
  • The OSU Foundation last week announced that it has committed the equivalent of a $3.5 million endowment for scholarships for OSU programs at the new branch campus. This should provide about $150,000 annually, or as many as 60 scholarships of $2,500 each year. Overall, the foundation has committed about $68 million to all university scholarship support. 
  • Staffing plans are being developed and newly created positions will be advertised when they are available. 
  • OSU Distance and Continuing Education courses and degree programs will continue to be fully available to current and prospective students in Central Oregon, in addition to the broad array of courses and degree programs at the new branch campus.

Legislative consideration of the overall higher education budget, which will include the funding for the branch campus in Central Oregon, is scheduled to get underway in the Joint Ways and Means Committee on March 19, White said. A final decision on that budget in the legislature may be made later in the spring, he said, at which point the university will seek approval from the chancellor to begin committing to students who have applied for admission.

"As we try to finalize our funding with the legislature and ramp up activities of the new branch campus, we'd like to thank everyone in Central Oregon and elsewhere who have shown such passion and commitment to this cause," White said. "This is a great step forward for higher education in Oregon and it could never have happened without the tireless devotion of so many people."