BEND, Ore. – Rebecca “Becky” Johnson, the interim leader of the OSU-Cascades Campus in Bend since December, has been appointed vice president in charge of the state’s first branch campus on a full-time basis.
OSU President Ed Ray, in announcing the appointment on Thursday, praised Johnson’s leadership for guiding the campus through difficult economic and political challenges.
“Becky Johnson has provided strong leadership for OSU-Cascades and in a short time has greatly strengthened the ties between the campus and the community,” Ray said. “She has passionately advocated the need for more higher education in Central Oregon and clearly articulated the strengths that OSU-Cascades brings to the region.
“I’m personally delighted that she has agreed to continue that mission,” he added.
Despite the state’s economic downturn, enrollment for OSU-Cascades continues to grow. The campus has about 540 students this spring – all juniors and seniors – which is an 18 percent increase over last year. A high percentage of OSU-Cascades students are from the Central Oregon region and many are first-generation college students.
Prior to assuming her interim leadership role at OSU-Cascades, Johnson was vice provost for academic affairs and international programs on the Corvallis campus. She has been at OSU for 25 years, first as a professor of forestry economics and then as an administrator. As vice provost, she was involved in all aspects of OSU’s academic affairs, including budgeting and strategic planning.
She chaired the OSU 2007 steering committee, which led the development of the university’s strategic plan.
Johnson arrived in Bend last December with goals of boosting student enrollment, expanding academic programs, strengthening ties to the community, and aligning the programs of OSU-Cascades with those of Central Oregon Community College. When Oregon was hit with a major recession, dealing with budget and political issues took precedence.
Yet Johnson said she became enamored with the campus, its talented faculty and staff, and the unique experiences it offers to students. She also recognized the potential for the campus to become an integral part of Central Oregon’s future.
“I came over to do a job and I ended up seeing amazing potential at OSU-Cascades and strong community support for the campus,” Johnson said. “The students here are motivated to use their experiential learning to make their community and the environment better, and the faculty continue to find new and innovative ways to engage the students and use their own expertise to help address the needs of the region.”
OSU-Cascades offers 20 degree options with programs including natural resources, business, tourism and outdoor leadership, and liberal studies. In addition to OSU faculty, the campus partners with the University of Oregon and Central Oregon Community College to provide academic offerings.
Among the new programs OSU-Cascades is exploring are undergraduate majors in sustainability, engineering and hospitality management. A master’s degree in education begins this summer.
Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president, says Johnson’s background as an economist who studies natural resources, recreation and tourism has helped the OSU-Cascades leader work well in the community.
“Her administrative background has helped Becky blend seamlessly into her academic leadership role, and her scholarly background, with its emphasis on areas that are critical to central Oregon, has allowed her to connect quickly with the community,” Randhawa said.
“There is still a lot of work to be done,” he added, “but OSU-Cascades is moving in the right direction and now has the leadership to make it happen.”