Civil engineering society issues first-ever tsunami-safe building standards

CORVALLIS, Ore. – When the next huge tsunami strikes the western United States, people in and around some newly built coastal structures will be more safe thanks to national construction standards announced today that - for the first time ever in the U.S. - will consider the devastating risks posed by tsunamis.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has developed this edition of the standards, known as ASCE 7-16, and it’s the first to include a chapter on tsunami hazards, in addition to chapters on seismic, wind and flood hazards.

The tsunami standards are only for steel-reinforced concrete buildings in “inundation zones,” which in the future may be stronger and safer with only moderate increases in cost, experts say. They will not apply to wood-frame structures.

The standards were based in part on work done at OSU’s O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, according to Dan Cox of Oregon State University, a professor of civil and construction engineering in the OSU College of Engineering, and one of about 20 engineers on the ASCE subcommittee that developed them.

The subcommittee was a mix of engineering practitioners and researchers from across the nation, Cox said. Led by a practicing engineer in Hawaii, Gary Chock, the committee began its work in late 2010, a few months before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.

“We weren’t reacting,” Cox said. “We were trying to do this in advance. After the 2011 event, interest accelerated regarding how to build things safely in a tsunami zone, and it was important that the subcommittee contained people familiar with how codes work and academic researchers who can bring in the latest advances. Everything was geared toward bringing the best of both into practice.”

The subcommittee used as a starting point a document that had been issued in 2008 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Cox’s OSU College of Engineering colleague Harry Yeh had contributed to that document, which was a guideline for designing structures to allow for vertical evacuation, such as climbing to a higher floor.

“We wanted to pull the state of the practice together, and if there were holes in the way we were doing things, we wanted to fill in those holes,” Cox said. “It’s a very rigorous process; there has to be a lot of vetting.”

The large wave flume at OSU’s Hinsdale lab played a major role in producing the data used in developing the tsunami standards, said Cox, formerly the lab’s director and now the head of the Cascadia Lifelines Program.

That program, a research consortium, is working to mitigate infrastructure damage in the Pacific Northwest from a major earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

OSU and eight partners from both the public and private sectors have begun five research projects with $1.5 million contributed by the partners: the Oregon Department of Transportation, Portland General Electric, Northwest Natural, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Port of Portland, the Portland Water Bureau, the Eugene Water and Electric Board, and the Tualatin Valley Water District.

Cox led some of the studies conducted in the flume, and College of Engineering colleague Solomon Yim was a collaborator on a project led by the University of Hawaii.

“One of the big projects was debris,” Cox said. “What force does debris have, and how can you build a column to keep a building in place if debris were to hit it? Now we have equations to use to size that column to withstand a large piece of debris, like a shipping container.”

Already underway on the new standards, Cox and other subcommittee members went to Japan after the 2011 tragedy to study what had worked and what didn’t.

“We got enough information to estimate hydraulic forces and understand damage patterns, and we used this to validate what we were doing,” Cox said. “It was independent, real-world experience to check on whether our approach was valid. These standards are built on lab work, field observation and engineering practice. We used all of the tools available to come up with these standards.”

The ASCE 7-16 standards are good for six years and will become part of the International Building Code. In the U.S., it’s up to each state to decide whether to adopt new codes in their entirety, partially in a modified format, or not at all. In Oregon, the Building Codes Division is responsible for reviewing the new standards.

“Oregon should look very carefully at it,” Cox said. “A lot of engineering eyes have been looking at this, and the standards are consistent with engineering design practice. If in six years we have better information we can change them.”

University officials say they are committed to meet or exceed all building, engineering and life safety standards, including the new tsunami standards announced today, for the future marine studies facility at Newport.

Cox notes that the tsunami standards will have the most impact on engineers designing and building structures less than about five stories in height. Above five stories, even-stronger building codes will take precedence over codes to protect smaller structures from tsunamis.

While the new standards will add some expense to the cost of a two- or three-story building, the additional amount will be comparatively small.

“The structural cost of a building is less than 10 percent,” Cox said. “It will be more expensive but it doesn’t triple the cost. When you make a building twice as strong, it doesn’t cost twice as much.”

The new tsunami standard can also be used on retrofit projects, he said.

“We can now apply consistent standards across the hazards,” Cox said. “This allows us to use a consistent methodology, a consistent set of standards so you can design for multiple hazards. It gives options if you decide you want to build in that zone or you have to build in that zone.”

Ninety percent of the Oregon town of Seaside, for example, is in an inundation zone.

“Now if you want to build a hotel in Seaside, or an office building, you have standards,” Cox said, while noting standards alone aren’t enough.

“You have 20 minutes to get to safety,” he said. “You still have to have plans and practice them routinely. We put sprinklers in buildings, but that doesn’t mean we stop doing fire drills.”

Media Contact: 

Steve Lundeberg, 541-737-4039


Dan Cox, 541-737-3631


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Simple test may help address $150 billion problem of post-operative delirium

PORTLAND, Ore. – Researchers at VA Portland Health Care System (VAPORHCS), in collaboration with Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University, have identified a simple test that takes about 2-3 minutes and can predict which surgical candidates are most at risk of delirium, a common complication following surgery in older patients.

Delirium, or acute confusion and disorientation, has become a $150 billion national problem.

After surgery, delirium can lead to slower recovery, a long-term worsening of memory and thinking, and even death - while significantly increasing health care costs. Identification of those most at risk could help guide decisions about whether or not to have surgery, and allow prompt, low-cost interventions after surgery to help prevent this problem.

The findings were just published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society by doctors from the Veterans Affairs Research Department in Portland, who led and funded the study, and worked with partnering investigators from OSU and OHSU.

“Before this study, identifying people at risk for delirium following surgery required complicated or time-consuming evaluations,” said Dr. Sarah Goodlin, the lead VAPORHCS investigator for the study.

“We try to avoid delirium whenever possible, but our tools have been limited. Now we believe we can identify people at high risk and help physicians make informed decisions with their patients about the hazards and benefits of pursuing elective surgery.”

Further research will be needed to confirm the findings and broaden them to other groups, Goodlin said. This research, for instance, was done with 76 veterans age 65 or older who were almost exclusively male.

Several tests have been available for some time to test memory and mental function. One test, a brief screening tool called the “Mini-Cog,” was developed by Dr. Soo Borson at the University of Washington to detect dementia.

The current research found that one way of using and scoring the Mini-Cog offered high predictive accuracy of delirium following elective surgery with major anesthesia. Other tests and patient factors did not really improve the predictive risk of delirium.

“We wanted to identify a tool that was simple and accurate, and the Mini-Cog does that,” said Amber An DO, who designed the study with Goodlin during her geriatric medicine fellowship.

The Mini-Cog may help to prevent this problem, said David Lee, an assistant professor in the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy, and co-author on the study.

“This is such a serious issue,” Lee said. “Delirium can cause serious health and cognitive problems, begin a process of decline that can lead to dementia, and can almost double the cost of a hospital stay.”

However, the researchers pointed out in their study that medical care is more effective at preventing delirium, especially in people at moderate risk, than in treating it once it develops. That makes a predictive tool all the more helpful. More research is needed to understand steps that can be taken during or following surgery to decrease post-operative delirium rates.

The Mini-Cog test itself is quick and simple, can be done in any language and has no ethnic, educational or cultural barriers. A person is told three ordinary words and asked to repeat them, such as “apple,” “watch” and “penny.” They are then asked to draw a simple clock face, including the numbers and hands set to a specific time. Finally, they are asked to repeat the three words they were told. That’s all there is to the test.

The authors of the current study scored the Mini-Cog from 0-5. A person gets 2 points for correctly drawing a clock and time; and 1 point each for recalling the three words.

According to this research, a person with a score of 0-1 had a 50 percent or greater probability of post-operative delirium. Those with a score of 3 had a 20 percent probability; a score of 4 a 13 percent probability; and a score of 5 less than 5 percent probability of delirium after surgery.

The incidence of delirium ranges from 7-10 percent in older adults after simple elective surgery, rising to at least half of older adults undergoing emergency, cardiac or orthopedic surgery. Individuals who develop delirium are more likely to be debilitated, require skilled nursing care, and die in the year after surgery.

Factors that have been significantly associated with delirium risk include existing dementia, depression, use of multiple medications, sensory impairment, and the use of alcohol or psychoactive drugs.


Story By: 

Daniel Herrigstad, 503-402-2975


New OSU College of Business program will aid aspiring entrepreneurs

PORTLAND, Ore. – A new program designed to increase entrepreneurial activity and stimulate job creation in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest is now being offered in Portland by Oregon State University’s College of Business. 

The goal of Launch Corps is to provide additional startup support services for select students who are enrolled in the college’s Innovation Management MBA program and are also developing a business idea. Innovation Management is a new track in the college’s MBA program that prepares students to start new companies and advance ideas within existing ones.

“Research shows rates of entrepreneurship are in a state of decline in the U.S.,” said Mitzi Montoya, dean of OSU’s College of Business. “That’s concerning news, especially given reports that indicate entrepreneurs are responsible for nearly all net new job creation. Oregon has unprecedented potential to address our regional and national need for entrepreneurial activity if we can effectively recruit entrepreneurs from the full pool of available talent and accelerate their success.”

As they progress through the Innovation Management MBA, students in Launch Corps will be connected to resources that can help move their startup ideas forward. Those resources include mentors in areas such as marketing, accounting and finance; office space at the college’s new Portland headquarters at WeWork, a co-working community for multiple ventures and startups; services, equipment and related amenities; and access to workshops and entrepreneurial training programs.

Launch Corps is open to all founders, co-founders or teams at the startup stage who have a passion for addressing a problem and an idea that offers market potential. Women, people of color, and others who have historically been underrepresented among entrepreneurs are particularly encouraged to apply for Launch Corps.

“Research shows that women lead about one-third of entrepreneurial activity, even though they make up slightly more than half of the population,” said Audrey Iffert-Saleem, executive director of strategic initiatives for the College of Business. “Our vision is that the population of entrepreneurs will grow to reflect the changing demographics of the United States.”

Supporting these entrepreneurs in their startup journey is about more than getting them in the pipeline, said Iffert-Saleem, who has led the development of several entrepreneurship programs for women and people of color.

“A recent report shows that only a tiny fraction of one percent of venture funding went to black women founders in 2014,” she said. “We need a culture shift, and we need support from the community.”

The fee for the two-year program is $5,000, and fellowships are available for selected students. The J.D. Power Launch Corps fellowships cover the costs of the program as well as a $2,000 business start-up grant and an $8,000 tuition scholarship.

All Launch Corps applicants will be considered for the fellowship, and priority will be given to women applicants. The program will begin in the fall term, and the deadline to apply for the fall MBA program is Aug. 22.

The college also is seeking mentors and startup coaches to support Launch Corps members, especially women and people of color who are entrepreneurs, investors and business professionals.

For more information about Launch Corps or to apply to the program, visit business.oregonstate.edu/launchcorps.

Story By: 

Jessi Hibsman, 541-737-1059


OSU Press to publish book by Floyd McKay on Oregon activists, visionaries

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon has long been recognized throughout the nation as a progressive, “maverick” state, although a generation of citizens growing up in Oregon may not understand the origins of that reputation.

A new book by former journalist Floyd J. McKay, which will be published this April by the Oregon State University Press, helps illuminate why.

“Reporting the Oregon Story: How Activists and Visionaries Transformed a State” recalls a rollicking political atmosphere from 1964 to 1986, when Oregon crafted and passed its landmark beach bill to ensure the protection of ocean beaches for public use. The state also introduced the nation’s first bottle bill after a heated battle, resulting in a deposit on certain beverage containers to encourage recycling.

The development of the Vietnam War also provided volatile material for public discourse and shaped the political views for U.S. Senators Wayne Morse and Mark Hatfield. The 1970s brought forth a new generation of activists in the Portland metro area.

Key figures in “Reporting the Oregon Story” are Tom McCall, elected Secretary of State in 1964, and Bob Straub, elected State Treasurer. Their political rivalry formed the backdrop for two of Oregon’s most transformative decades as they both fought for and lost – and eventually won – the governorship.

McKay had a front row seat, initially as a political reporter for The Oregon Statesman newspaper in Salem, and later as a news analyst for KGW-TV in Portland. For his work as a reporter and producer of documentaries, McKay won the DuPont-Columbia Broadcast Award, which is known informally as the Pulitzer Prize of broadcasting.

The veteran journalist chronicled numerous political battles and emerging issues, including the successful efforts of activists to halt a highway that would be built on sand in Pacific City, and the panic-inducing frenzy of “Vortex,” the nation’s only state-sponsored rock festival. The out-of-town festival was designed to draw anti-war and anti-President Nixon protesters from disrupting the national American Legion Convention being held in Portland.

In his book, McKay recounts the issues, the players and the results of these events in a compelling, personal account.

“‘Reporting the Oregon Story’ will be relished by those who lived the history, and it will serve as a worthy introduction to Oregonians young and old who want a first-hand account of Oregon’s mid-20th-century political and legislative history,” said OSU Press marketing manager Marty Brown.

McKay has a Ph.D. in media history from the University of Washington and was a Nieman Fellow in journalism at Harvard University. He taught journalism at Western Washington University and lives in Bellingham, Washington.

Copies of “Reporting the Oregon Story” are available in bookstores, by calling 1-800-621-2736, or through ordering online at: http://osupress.oregonstate.edu

Floyd McKay will read from his work and sign books at the following appearances:

  • April 14, 7 p.m. – Powell’s Books in Portland (Hawthorne store);
  • April 16, 7 p.m. – Village Books, Bellingham, Washington;
  • May 18, 7:30 p.m. – Linfield College Library (Austin Reading room), McMinnville;
  • June 7, 7 p.m. – Oregon Historical Society, downtown Portland.
Story By: 

Marty Brown, 541-737-3866, marty.brown@oregonstate.edu

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Floyd McKay

New “Student Success Initiative” to lower costs, increase graduation rates

PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray today announced a new “Student Success Initiative” in his annual State of the University address in Portland, calling on the university within four years to make an OSU degree an affordable reality for every qualified Oregonian.

Ray also pledged that by 2020 OSU must better serve students of diverse backgrounds and ensure that all students attending Oregon State achieve success “regardless of their economic status, color of their skin or family background.”

In his presentation, made at the Oregon Convention Center to more than 700 community, business, educational and state leaders, Ray asked attendees, OSU alumni, donors and political leaders to join in this initiative to “help achieve by 2020 this new horizon of inclusive student success and excellence.”

Ray called upon Oregon State by 2020 to raise its first-year retention rate for all students from 83.8 percent to 90 percent, and its six-year graduation rate from 63.1 percent to 70 percent for all students.

Ray said the university must tackle the “near impossible” financial burdens and levels of debt that students and their families now face. The average Oregon resident undergraduate has an unmet annual need at OSU of $7,256, creating a legacy of debt and a serious obstacle to higher education.

Nationally, the pace of progress on this issue has been unacceptably slow and must no longer be tolerated, Ray said.

“Forty years ago, the likelihood of getting a college degree if your family was in the lowest quartile of the income distribution in America was 6 percent,” Ray said. “Today that figure is 9 percent.

“This is shameful. Higher education in America is deepening the divide in our nation between the haves and have nots, and this chasm is tearing at the fabric of society and undermining our democracy.”

In his address, Ray said that 2015 had been another year of notable achievements for Oregon State. Among these were:

  • Enrollment exceeded 30,000 students for the second year in a row, and 6,300 degrees were presented to OSU’s largest-ever graduating class;
  • The first freshman class started at OSU-Cascades in Bend, and construction began on Oregon’s first completely new college campus in the past half century;
  • OSU’s Ecampus online educational program continued to grow and was ranked seventh nationally by U.S. News and World Report, and fourth in the nation for veterans;
  • OSU faculty conducted $309 million in research, nearly double the combined total of the state’s six other public universities;
  • Donor gifts to the university continued with a total of $130.8 million, the OSU Foundation’s best fund-raising year ever, and built on the success of the hugely successful Campaign for OSU that raised $1.14 billion; and
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and state legislators helped provide the first increase in state funding to higher education in nearly a decade.

During the past year, Ray said OSU launched the nation’s first graduate degree program in “environmental humanities,” to prepare students for careers in environmental policy, social justice and the arts. The university helped lead work to prepare the state for a massive subduction zone earthquake that lurks in its future. Additionally, significant biomedical advances were announced on Lou Gehrig’s disease, cancer and other health problems.

Oregon State’s Marine Studies Initiative also continues to move forward to help address some of the world’s most pressing issues such as climate change, ocean acidification, rising sea levels and degraded marine habitat. Ray indicated that over the next decade, the statewide cumulative impact of this initiative should exceed $280 million, helping to produce hundreds of needed graduates in these fields while boosting the economy of struggling coastal communities.

The College of Forestry at OSU is close to launching a new $60-70 million forest science complex that will accelerate the use of sophisticated new wood products in high-rise buildings.

Ray repeatedly praised the accomplishments and caliber of OSU students, many of whom attended the event. Last fall, more than 41 percent of entering freshmen had high school grade point averages of 3.75 or greater. By 2020, Ray said, OSU should become the school of choice for Oregon’s high-achieving and most accomplished students.

Ray also insisted that as part of each student’s future success, they have at least one “experiential” learning opportunity such as an internship, study abroad program, participation in original research or other club and leadership activities.

 “Let me assure you that while we know that we are not done, we can be confident that working together, the best is yet to come,” Ray said in closing.

Story By: 

Steve Clark, 541-737-3808

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OSU President Ed Ray
Ed Ray

New analysis puts OSU’s economic impact at more than $2.37 billion

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An analysis of Oregon State University’s economic impact released today estimates that Oregon’s largest university contributed $2.371 billion to the global economy last year – an economic footprint that has grown by $311 million, or 15 percent, since 2011.

The greatest impact is in Oregon, where OSU was responsible for adding an estimated $2.232 billion to the state’s economy in 2014 – a figure that accounts for 31,660 jobs.

The analysis was conducted by the economic consulting firm ECONorthwest, based on OSU expenditure data, visitor data, student enrollment and a 2013 Oregon Travel Impacts study.

The ECONorthwest analysis looked for the first time at OSU’s contribution in Portland, where OSU contributed $401.9 million to the economy in 2014, along with 2,350 jobs.

The economic impact of OSU in Benton and Linn counties was $1.334 billion, along with 25,110 jobs.

Oregon State’s impacts come in three ways, direct impacts ($973 million), indirect impacts ($424.2 million) and induced impacts ($834.8 million). Direct impacts include spending on operations, goods and services, and capital construction; indirect impacts result from companies purchasing additional supplies or hiring additional employees to support spending by OSU; and induced impacts result from the purchasing power of the university’s employees.

The total does not include other significant OSU influences to the state, regional and national economies, including the contributions by university graduates or the benefits of OSU research, such as improved varieties of wheat and other crops used by Oregon farmers; spinoff companies that have major economic impacts; and scholarship that has improved public health and environmental stewardship.

Story By: 

Steve Clark, 503-502-8217; steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

OSU President challenges state to improve access to higher education

PORTLAND, Ore. – In his annual State of the University address in Portland on Friday, Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray challenged politicians, education and business leaders to help address the growing issue of Oregonians’ access to higher education.

He also said OSU is committed to helping the state meet Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s goal of bringing economic prosperity to more Oregonians, particularly in rural communities still suffering effects of the recession.

Ray told the more than 700 people in attendance that inequality in higher education is creating a society of haves and have-nots, which “tears at the fabric of our society and undermines our democracy.” Nationally, a student from an annual household income of $90,000 or more has a one-in-two chance of graduating from college, Ray pointed out. Conversely, a student from a family with a household income of $30,000 a year has only a 1-in-17 chance to earn a college degree.

“As a first-generation college graduate myself, I know firsthand how important a college education is to one’s future as well as the collective future of our society,” Ray said. “One solution is to take a fresh look at attracting and retaining students” by having colleges and universities partner with others, including national foundations.

Late last year, Oregon State and 10 other major research universities formed the University Innovation Alliance, which seeks to raise admission numbers, retention rates and graduation rates for low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students. Some of the nation’s most prominent foundations have committed millions of dollars to match the investments made by member universities in the alliance, which will create and share new strategies to meet its goals of access and student success.

“We are doubling down,” Ray said. “I intend that Oregon State will be a showcase of access to higher education and programs that significantly improve retention and graduation rates. There is much to learn from other universities and I’m happy to say that the work is under way, as we collaborate with high school and community college partners.”

OSU is addressing the rural economy challenge in different ways, Ray said. In 2017, Oregon State will open a $60 million forest science complex in Corvallis to study and help implement the use of advanced wood products in construction of high-rise buildings in Portland – and around the world.

“This very exciting initiative will help restore high-paying jobs to rural Oregon; it will increase the value of Oregon’s natural resources across the nation; it will showcase how engineered wood products can improve the sustainability of urban cities; and it will connect the quality of Oregon wood products and pioneering know-how to fast-growing nations in Asia,” Ray said.

Also helping the state economy will be the launch of OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative, which will result in 500 students studying at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport by 2025. An anonymous donor already has pledged $20 million for a new building there. Coastal communities will benefit from the research, education and outreach efforts of the initiative, Ray noted.

The OSU president called 2014 a year of “landmark achievement” for his university. Oregon State’s enrollment exceeded 30,000 students for the first time, making OSU the state’s largest university. And in December, the university concluded The Campaign for OSU, which raised $1.14 billion – the most in Oregon history.

“As an economist who likes numbers, I can tell you that the .14 figure makes me chuckle since it represents $140 million,” Ray said.

More than 106,000 donors contributed to the campaign, which achieved many highlights, including:

  • Building or renovating 28 OSU buildings;
  • Endowing 79 new faculty positions;
  • Creating more than 600 new scholarships and fellowships serving 3,200 students.

Ray said OSU continues to lead the state in addressing research needs, garnering $285 million in total grants and contracts, including a record $37 million from industry. Over the past 18 months, the OSU Advantage Accelerator accepted and supported development of 21 business concepts into companies, and 12 grew into viable businesses, which have generated $5 million in revenues and government grants.

U.S. News and World Report ranked OSU’s online Ecampus program as the fifth best undergraduate program in the nation. At the same time, the quality of students entering OSU remains high as more Portland metro area high school valedictorians chose OSU over any other college or university. Last fall, 44 percent of the freshmen entering OSU had high school grade point averages of 3.75 or higher.

And this fall, the first freshmen class will enroll at OSU-Cascades in Bend, the state’s first branch campus.

Ray told the Portland audience that Oregon State engineering graduates have helped to build the city through working at firms including Hoffman Construction, Andersen Construction, PacificCorp, Portland General Electric and Kiewit Construction. OSU is also working to improve the metro region’s community health through the state’s first accredited public health school, as well as partnership programs in pharmacy and veterinary medicine. OSU has also established programs in the region in apparel design, business, forestry and agriculture.

“We don’t do this work alone,” Ray emphasized, “but with partners such as Intel, Nike, IBM and Boeing; with non-profit organizations and education colleagues like OHSU and Portland State.”

“The best,” Ray said, “is yet to come.”

The full text of Ray’s speech is available at: http://oregonstate.edu/leadership/speeches-and-statements/state-u-pdx-2015.

Story By: 

Steve Clark, 503-502-8217; steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

OSU president outlines a decade of accomplishments, new challenges for future

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In an annual address to the Faculty Senate at Oregon State University, OSU President Edward J. Ray reviewed what he called the “extraordinary” successes of the past 10 years, explored a range of financial and student issues, and cited major challenges and opportunities facing both OSU and the future of higher education.

While the United States was recovering from what’s been called the “Great Recession,” OSU boosted enrollment by 37 percent, raised nearly $1.1 billion in the most successful university fund raising campaign in state history, added and modernized an unprecedented number of campus structures and facilities, hit record levels of research funding and significantly expanded both the diversity and high-achieving status of its student body.

“The changes at Oregon State University affected over the last 10 years are nothing short of extraordinary,” Ray said in his address. “Our faculty, staff and students remain the lifeblood of this community, and without their talents and work, we simply would not have realized the positive change we see around us.”

Ray pointed to the expansion of Oregon State’s Ecampus distance education program, the creation of a Marine Studies Campus in Newport, and the planned growth of the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend as the primary future opportunities for student enrollment growth. He retained his commitment to a target of 28,000 students on the Corvallis campus and pledged steady additions of tenure-track faculty to boost both educational and research opportunities.

But he also warned that just celebrating the past will not address the challenges of the future.

“The natural inclination to stick with what has worked in the past, to not mess with success, is very powerful,” Ray said. “History is replete with examples of nations, governments, institutions and businesses that lost dominant positions because they failed to recognize the forces of change around them, that made business as usual a recipe for failure.”

To help deal with those changes, Ray noted that OSU will be managed by its own Board of Trustees for the first time in 80 years.

He suggested that over the next 10 years, OSU should launch its second comprehensive fundraising campaign, with goals of raising twice the total raised in this campaign and double the level of annual giving. And he said that possible slowdowns in federal research funding might be addressed with more funds from private industry partners, as may be possible through the university’s OSU Advantage program which targets university collaboration with industry..

Among other changes, accomplishments and challenges that Ray highlighted:

  • High achieving students from Oregon with a grade point averages of 3.75 or higher this year will make up 44 percent of Oregon State’s entering freshman class. Meanwhile, U.S. minority students will make up 20.6 percent of OSU’s enrollment and international students, 13.1 percent.
  • Key factors, made possible by faculty and staff collaboration, that allowed OSU’s stability and strategic focus during a time of national economic stress included elimination of 26 low-enrollment majors and consolidation of 62 colleges, schools, departments and programs into 42.
  • The Campaign for OSU helped create an additional 77 endowed faculty positions, more than 600 new scholarships and fellowships, and facilitated 30 major construction projects valued at more than $727 million.
  • OSU funding for research reached $285 million in fiscal year 2014, industry investments have grown by 50 percent over the past five years and licensing revenue from OSU inventions grew by 120 percent.
  • With currently anticipated levels of state support, the university will provide 3 percent faculty merit raises and hire 30-40 new faculty members in each of the next several years.
  • New initiatives have been implemented to improve first-year retention and six-year graduation rates for all students, such as a live-on campus policy, better academic advising, small-group peer mentoring, enhanced cultural centers and other activities.

OSU should both recognize its successes and acknowledge that the challenges of the near future will be different from those of the past decade, Ray said.

“Even as we celebrate the success of the Campaign for OSU, we should remember our role as stewards of this great university,” he said. “The extraordinary accomplishments we celebrate are the foundation for future greatness only if we sustain our momentum.”

Story By: 

Steve Clark, 541-737-3808

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Ed Ray


New classroom


New cultural center

OSU surpasses fundraising milestone of $1 billion


A copy of President Ray’s speech is available online: http://bit.ly/1dRiaHx

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray announced today that the university’s first comprehensive campaign has surpassed its $1 billion fund-raising goal – 11 months ahead of schedule.

Ray made the announcement at his annual “State of the University” address in Portland to an audience of more than 600 business, political, civic and education leaders, alumni and friends of the university. He encouraged contributions through the remainder of the year to further deepen the university’s impact on students, the state, nation and world. Gifts to The Campaign for OSU now total $1,012,601,000.

“While this is a remarkable milestone, this campaign has never been about the big number,” Ray said. “Our generous donors are committed, as is the university, to transforming Oregon State into a top-10 land grant research university to significantly advance the health of the Earth, its people and our economy.”

Donors have brought private support for Oregon State to an all-time high, with annual totals exceeding $100 million for the last three years. More than 102,000 donors to the campaign have:

  • Created more than 600 new scholarships and fellowship funds – a 30 percent increase – with gifts for student support exceeding $170 million;
  • Contributed more than $100 million to help attract and retain leading professors and researchers, including funding for 77 of Oregon State’s 124 endowed faculty positions;
  • Supported the construction or renovation of more than two dozen campus facilities, including Austin Hall in the College of Business, the Linus Pauling Science Center, new cultural centers, and the OSU Basketball Center. Bonding support from the state was critical to many of these projects.


Business leaders Pat Reser, a 1960 OSU alumna; Patrick Stone, a 1974 graduate; and Jim Rudd have co-chaired the campaign since its public launch in 2007. All three have been trustees of the OSU Foundation, and Reser, board chair of Reser’s Fine Foods, also serves as chair of Oregon State’s new Board of Trustees that was appointed by Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.

“Our donor community is growing because people are deepening their ties to Oregon State – and that helps make us a better university,” said J. Michael Goodwin, CEO and president of the OSU Foundation, the nonprofit organization charged with raising, administering and stewarding private gifts to the university.  “This broad base of support positions Oregon State well for future philanthropic support and engagement from our alumni, parents and friends.”

Donors from every state and more than 50 countries have invested in OSU as part of the campaign. Almost 40 percent of these campaign donors are first-time donors to the university. More than 1,000 donors have made campaign gifts of more than $100,000, including 177 donors who have made gifts of $1 million or more. Oregon State joins only 34 other public universities in the country to have crossed the billion-dollar mark in a fund-raising campaign.

“The campaign is about developing and energizing a community of dedicated advocates, people who share our vision of what Oregon State can accomplish,” Ray said. “These partners have changed Oregon State forever – and I believe the best is yet to come.”

In his State of the University address, Ray said Oregon needs to quit talking and start planning to meet its goal of a more educated citizenry to achieve economic and social prosperity. He cited the state’s lack of apparent focus on reaching Oregon’s “40-40-20” educational achievement goal, which calls for 40 percent of adult Oregonians to hold a bachelor’s or advanced degree, 40 percent to have an associate’s degree or a meaningful postsecondary certificate, and all adult Oregonians to hold a high school diploma or equivalent by the year 2025.

OSU has developed a plan to do its part and is committed to those goals, already demonstrating success, Ray said. But more is needed.

“Beyond Oregon State University’s own enrollment management and strategic plan, I have no idea how the state will get to 40-40-20, which could require as many as 35,000 more students annually enrolled in our four-year universities and colleges,” Ray said. “There is no statewide blueprint.”

Ray went on to describe how OSU’s enrollment grew by 1,532 students in Corvallis and online and by another 135 students at OSU-Cascades in Bend.

“Despite those gains, the net increase in enrollment among all Oregon public universities outside of Oregon State totaled 14 students,” Ray pointed out. That includes an enrollment increase at the Oregon Institute of Technology of 413 students.

OSU has been following a plan for the past two years to help the state achieve its goals. Ray said the university expects to educate 28,000 students in Corvallis, 3,000 to 5,000 students at OSU-Cascades by 2025; and grow its online enrollment to more than 7,000 students. The university also plans to educate another 500 students annually by 2025 at a new marine studies campus located in Newport.

Ray, who recently completed his 10th year as OSU president, pointed to several Oregon State University initiatives that will help boost the economy:


  • OSU will lead a new national effort through its College of Forestry to advance the science and technology necessary to utilize wood in the construction of taller buildings in a public-private partnership that will advance manufacturing in Oregon and boost rural economies;
  • The university launched the OSU Advantage last year – a one-stop shop for linking businesses with the students and researchers of Oregon State to accelerate new business development and spinoff companies;
  • OSU’s research enterprise continues to grow and reached $263 million in 2013 – a 70 percent increase over the last decade. Two major initiatives include the selection of Oregon State to lead the design and construction of the next generation of ocean-going research vessels for the United States, and the selection of OSU, along with partners in Alaska and Hawaii, to operate one of six national sites for unmanned aircraft systems.

Industry-sponsored research is up 60 percent in five years, Ray pointed out, and licensing agreements with industry have increased 83 percent. Since 2006, OSU has helped launched 20 startup companies, which have raised $190 million in venture capital and created hundreds of jobs.

“Economic development,” Ray said, “is part of our DNA.”

Story By: 

Steve Clark, 503-502-8217

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Kearney Hall

Kearney Hall


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Amber fossil reveals ancient reproduction in flowering plants

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A 100-million-year old piece of amber has been discovered which reveals the oldest evidence of sexual reproduction in a flowering plant – a cluster of 18 tiny flowers from the Cretaceous Period – with one of them in the process of making some new seeds for the next generation.

The perfectly-preserved scene, in a plant now extinct, is part of a portrait created in the mid-Cretaceous when flowering plants were changing the face of the Earth forever, adding beauty, biodiversity and food. It appears identical to the reproduction process that “angiosperms,” or flowering plants still use today.

Researchers from Oregon State University and Germany published their findings on the fossils in the Journal of the Botanical Institute of Texas.

The flowers themselves are in remarkable condition, as are many such plants and insects preserved for all time in amber. The flowing tree sap covered the specimens and then began the long process of turning into a fossilized, semi-precious gem. The flower cluster is one of the most complete ever found in amber and appeared at a time when many of the flowering plants were still quite small.

Even more remarkable is the microscopic image of pollen tubes growing out of two grains of pollen and penetrating the flower’s stigma, the receptive part of the female reproductive system. This sets the stage for fertilization of the egg and would begin the process of seed formation – had the reproductive act been completed.

“In Cretaceous flowers we’ve never before seen a fossil that shows the pollen tube actually entering the stigma,” said George Poinar, Jr., a professor emeritus in the Department of Integrative Biology at the OSU College of Science. “This is the beauty of amber fossils. They are preserved so rapidly after entering the resin that structures such as pollen grains and tubes can be detected with a microscope.”

The pollen of these flowers appeared to be sticky, Poinar said, suggesting it was carried by a pollinating insect, and adding further insights into the biodiversity and biology of life in this distant era. At that time much of the plant life was composed of conifers, ferns, mosses, and cycads.  During the Cretaceous, new lineages of mammals and birds were beginning to appear, along with the flowering plants. But dinosaurs still dominated the Earth.

“The evolution of flowering plants caused an enormous change in the biodiversity of life on Earth, especially in the tropics and subtropics,” Poinar said.

“New associations between these small flowering plants and various types of insects and other animal life resulted in the successful distribution and evolution of these plants through most of the world today,” he said. “It’s interesting that the mechanisms for reproduction that are still with us today had already been established some 100 million years ago.”

The fossils were discovered from amber mines in the Hukawng Valley of Myanmar, previously known as Burma. The newly-described genus and species of flower was named Micropetasos burmensis.

Story By: 

George Poinar, 541-752-0917

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Ancient flowers

Ancient flower

Pollen tubes

Pollen tubes