OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

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OSU Ecampus named nation’s best value in online education

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s distance education program has been named the nation’s best online college in terms of value by ValueColleges.com, an organization that provides in-depth analysis and rankings on affordability and quality in higher education.

Oregon State Ecampus ranks first on a list of the Top 50 Best Value Online Colleges for 2017. The rankings assess online bachelor’s programs based on tuition costs, reputability, and return on investment using data from the website Payscale.com.

In its evaluation, the organization noted that Ecampus delivers the most online undergraduate major and minor programs in Oregon, and that OSU is a leader in STEM research and boasts the Carnegie Foundation’s highest research activity classification.

“This ranking speaks to our mission to provide learners with access to a high-quality Oregon State education,” said Ecampus Executive Director Lisa L. Templeton. “The value comes in the form of highly engaging programs that give our students opportunities for career advancement.”

All Ecampus students pay the same tuition rate no matter where they live. Ecampus serves adult learners in all 50 states and more than 40 countries by delivering 21 undergraduate degrees and 27 graduate programs online.

During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 19,000 OSU students took at least one Ecampus class.

Oregon State has developed a reputation as a leader in online education, having been ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report each of the past two years. In 2014, Ecampus won the Online Learning Consortium’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching – one of the industry’s most prestigious awards.

Media Contact: 

Tyler Hansen, 520-312-1276

Source: 

Lisa L. Templeton, 541-737-1279

lisa.l.templeton@oregonstate.edu

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OSU-Cascades opens as Oregon’s first new public university in 50 years

BEND, Ore. - Oregon State University – Cascades’ new campus in Bend opened today, fulfilling a 30-year quest for higher education in what had been the largest region in the state without a four-year university.

“This campus launches a new era for educational attainment, economic growth, community partnerships and cultural enrichment in Central Oregon,” said Oregon State President Ed Ray.

Ray, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, state Rep. Knute Buehler, OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson and Elizabeth Woody, Oregon’s poet laureate, are planned to participate in the opening celebration. They will be joined by Amy Tykeson, whose family supported funding for the branch campus’ first academic building, and after whom Tykeson Hall is named.

“This is a tribute to decades of work by countless individuals who early on saw the need, defined the future they wanted to achieve, and helped to make this day – and this university campus – possible,” Ray said. “As important as this campus will be for Central Oregon, OSU-Cascades is an investment that will pay great returns for the entire state of Oregon.

“It has been right here in the Bend area that Oregon faces the greatest mismatch in this state between students’ needs, economic demands and the gap in higher education options.”

As the first public university to open in Oregon in more than 50 years, OSU-Cascades will serve students in one of the fastest growing regions in the state - yet one that lags in bachelor’s degree completion.  The new 10-acre campus will provide classrooms and lab space, as well as a dining center and residential housing for 300 students. 

 

As the campus expands over the next decade, OSU-Cascades by 2025 will serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, most of them from Central Oregon. This largely rural area with a population of more than 200,000 has been historically underserved by higher education and includes many first-generation students and others who have been unable to attend college. OSU-Cascades will improve educational access, increase the likelihood of graduates staying in the region and contribute to the local economy.

“OSU-Cascades brings the power of a comprehensive research university to our region,” said Johnson. “We will serve the needs of Central Oregon with excellent academic and research faculty who will teach learners of diverse ages and backgrounds, and address the challenges of our unique environment.”

Prior to its opening this week, OSU-Cascades has operated for 15 years in a two-plus-two partnership with Central Oregon Community College, using leased and physically-separate facilities. The branch campus has awarded 3,000 bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“With this new campus and further planned expansion, students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Central Oregon community will develop campus traditions, spirit and community pride,” said Johnson.

The new campus near downtown Bend is integrated into a commercial district, which will help expand OSU’s partnerships with industry and community, and enhance student internship programs and workforce development. Public-private partnerships will increase research and innovation and provide amenities for both students and community members. The 10-acre campus will also include a community STEM education provider, the Bend Science Station.

OSU-Cascades now offers 18 undergraduate and graduate degrees. These include computer science with an applied option in web and mobile web software development; energy systems engineering; hospitality management; and tourism and outdoor leadership.

Over the next two to five years, eight to 10 new degree programs are anticipated to meet student, industry, and regional and national employment needs, in areas such as bioscience; mechanical engineering; nursing; outdoor products; and software development.

“The opening of OSU-Cascades’ new campus represents a promising economic future for Central Oregon,” said Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon.

An extensive long-range development planning effort that is underway will expand the campus onto an adjacent property, a 46-acre pumice mine, and potentially onto a second adjacent property, a 76-acre county demolition landfill.  The two properties together represent one of the largest under-utilized tracts of land within Bend’s urban growth boundary.

A design team of Page and SERA is partnering with Oregon State to deliver a long-range development plan in February 2017. So far, the effort has gathered input from community advisory groups, community members, faculty, staff and students. That input has helped develop visions for the branch campus in strategic areas such as sustainability, health and wellness, innovation and community partnerships.

Studies will assess the possibility for a net-zero energy, water and waste campus, with campus-wide biomass district energy to provide heat. On the initial 10 acres, native plants were harvested and replanted, and transportation options for students include bike share, car share and free bus passes.

Funds need to be secured for future campus growth, officials say, and the next buildings should be ready for students in three to five years.

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Editor’s Note: Video is available.

  • Brief video remarks from OSU President Ed Ray are available online: YouTube, https://youtu.be/DaaxiZFZAJk
  • Ray interview, downloadable high resolution video, http://bit.ly/2clNcjy
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Christine Coffin, 541-322-3152

 


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OSU adaptation of free biology textbook may annually save students $100K

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is increasing its efforts to make college more affordable for its students, particularly through the use of free, open access, online textbooks and other essential course materials.

The initiatives should reduce student costs, enhance graduation rates, increase flexibility and allow the use of innovative and interactive online instruction techniques. 

The latest example was begun this month with an award of $30,000 by the state of Oregon for an open textbook project.

With this support, OSU faculty will collaborate with those from other state institutions to adapt a biology textbook that now will be freely accessible to OSU students and learners worldwide.

It is estimated the textbook, being adapted by Lindsay Biga and Devon Quick, instructors in Oregon State’s Department of Integrative Biology, will eliminate $100,000 in OSU student spending each year. It’s one of 16 open online textbooks already in use by OSU students or in production by OSU faculty.

“Oregon State is proactively developing and adapting open textbooks on students’ behalf because the cost savings are tremendous,” said Dianna Fisher, who coordinated the grant application effort as director of Open Oregon State.

“Research shows that textbook costs are a primary roadblock to degree completion. The more affordable we can make course materials, the more likely students are to graduate.”

The findings of a study released earlier this year by the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups show that America’s 5.2 million undergraduate students spend $3 billion of their financial aid on textbooks every year. In a 2013 study by the same group, 65 percent of students who responded to the survey said they decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.

Oregon State’s attempts to stem the tide include open books that are being used or developed in a variety of subject areas, including business, plant science, oceanography, hydrology and computer science.

The grant for the biology textbook was awarded by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission as part of its Open Educational Resources (OER) Grant Program. Open Oregon State, which works with faculty to create OER, will provide some matching funds.

At OSU, the textbook will be used for a biology course sequence on human anatomy and physiology. Biga, Quick and the other faculty partners will work to illustrate course concepts through interactive animations so students can visualize molecular, cellular and organismal processes and improve their content knowledge and retention.

The textbook to be adapted is “Anatomy and Physiology” by publisher OpenStax College. The modifications to the anatomy and physiology book will be completed by next summer in time for students to use it fall term 2017.

The project is expected to involve faculty from the University of Oregon, Western Oregon University, Portland State University, and Linn-Benton, Lane and Portland community colleges. 

“To me, open textbooks are about flexibility, access and interactivity,” Biga said. “Through this grant program, we have the opportunity to invest time and resources into customizing a resource to fit the schedule and curricular needs of our courses and provide free digital access to every enrolled student.”

Open textbooks are just one facet of OSU’s efforts to make learning opportunities freely accessible to learners. In May, more than 15,800 learners worldwide enrolled in a massive open online course, or MOOC, on permaculture. It was the first MOOC to be developed in-house at OSU, and will be offered again this fall. Due to its far-reaching success, instructor Andrew Millison plans to convert all course materials into an open textbook.

Media Contact: 

Tyler Hansen, 520-312-1276

Source: 

Dianna Fisher, 541-737-8658

dianna.fisher@oregonstate.edu

Personalized learning systems to boost education of college students

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is beginning a new three-year, $515,000 initiative that will use interactive computer software to help improve the learning and knowledge retention of college students, especially to overcome the hurdles of highly complex mathematics and science.

The project is part of a major national program announced today by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. It will offer some alternatives to the traditional classroom concept of lecture, textbook, and “everyone moves along at the same speed” – an approach that in some courses is largely failing across the United States.

New technologies, interactive learning systems and short quizzes can help ensure a student understands the material being studied, as they move ahead. If they are confused or still struggling to learn the subject, the software system will help identify the problem, allow them to back up, go through things again, and provide additional support and knowledge until they do understand.

If a student just needs more basic information, they can get it. If they need a contextual explanation, that will be available as well.

“We’re facing a societal problem in a range of educational approaches, especially where class sizes are large and there’s less individual assistance,” said Julie Greenwood, associate dean for undergraduate studies at OSU and project manager of this new grant.

“For instance, almost all students have to take college algebra, and in some cases the failure rate can approach 50 percent. We believe that modern computer software can help address this problem, especially in math and the sciences, but also in liberal arts, social sciences and almost any field of study. We’re really optimistic this is going to be a success.”

Other collaborators in this program include Arizona State University, Colorado State University, Georgia State University, Northern Arizona University, Portland State University and the University of Mississippi.

OSU educators, Greenwood said, will help students work with existing software systems, find out which seems to work best or fit with the university’s culture and approach to learning, and which approaches are most appropriate for different disciplines.

University officials say this project, called “All Hands on Deck,” is an embrace of a new trend toward “adaptive,” or personalized learning approaches. They believe it can improve both the rate of first-year student retention and the university’s six-year graduation rate. It will initially be used in eight high-enrollment, general education courses, in such fields as mathematics, biology and psychology.

“This national grant will kick-start our efforts to move more aggressively toward personalized learning,” said David King, special assistant to the provost for learning innovation at OSU. “The initiative will also provide our faculty with insight and information on a learner-by-learner basis, and give them the opportunity to develop more individual and unique student-teacher relationships.”

OSU has been a national leader in new educational approaches and innovations, especially through its widely-recognized program of extended online education, or E-campus, and more recently through construction of a $65 million Learning Innovation Center to conduct research on new approaches to collaborative learning and education.

The most promising findings and practices emerging from this initiative will be shared among 200 public university members across the country, officials said, to better meet the general educational needs of today’s undergraduate college students.

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Julie Greenwood, 541-737-1190

Julie.greenwood@oregonstate.edu

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OSU celebrates 147th commencement with record number of graduates

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Class of 2016 will celebrate a record-breaking number of graduates this Saturday when 6,406 of the newest members of Beaver Nation celebrate OSU’s 147th commencement.

The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on June 11 in Reser Stadium on campus. No tickets are required for the event, which also will be shown on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s PLUS channel.

A total of 6,406 graduates will receive 6,723 degrees this year, according to OSU Registrar Rebecca Mathern. They will add to the ranks of Oregon State alumni, which have earned a total of 236,296 degrees over the university’s history.

Juan Felipe Herrera, a social activist and the first Mexican American to hold the position of United States Poet Laureate, will deliver the commencement address.  The son of migrant farmers in California, Herrera is the author of 30 books, including collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels and children’s books.

Some facts and figures about OSU’s Class of 2016: 

  • 295 graduates will be receiving two degrees, while 11 will be receiving three.
  • A total of 692 graduates earned degrees in distance education in 32 different degree programs.
  • OSU’s 2016 graduates come from all 36 Oregon counties, all 50 states, three U.S. territories or commonwealths, and 63 nations around the world.
  • While the average age of the class is 25, the oldest graduate is 73 years of age; the youngest is 19.
  • The graduating class includes 136 veterans of the U.S. military service.

When Magali Sánchez crosses the stage, she will be the first in her family to receive a college degree.

The second oldest of seven siblings, Sánchez spent her teen years picking strawberries alongside her family in Woodburn. While pursuing her degree in ethnic studies with a minor in Spanish, Sánchez also managed to devote much of her time to social justice work. She volunteered in leadership roles, including Greek life, campus-community relations, Latinx organizations, as well as many other cultural and community groups. After some international travel, she hopes to pursue a master’s program in ethnic studies.

Christopher McFarland began life in foster care, and ended up on the streets of Los Angeles as a homeless teen. He found himself addicted to drugs, and eventually landed in prison. But following a rough start, McFarland came to OSU, where he first received a bachelor’s degree in public health in 2013.

Throughout his academic career, he has worked with vulnerable populations in Benton County, and this June, he will receive a master’s degree in public health. He plans on continuing to work with the Benton County Health Department and work with at-risk adolescents.

A tragedy turned Marcia Vasquez’ life upside down, but also led her to pursue a doctorate.

In 1996, Vasquez was a master’s student at OSU with a 10-year-old son, Pablo, when her second son, Rodrigo, was born. After graduation she became a faculty member at the University of Talca in Chile, where she survived a major earthquake in 2010, which temporarily shut down the university. But shortly following the quake, Rodrigo was killed in a bicycle accident. The event spurred her to pursue something positive after his death, so she returned to OSU to pursue a doctorate in wood science, and dedicated the effort to Rodrigo.

As a child from Vadodara, India, Parth Khimsaria spent about 10 to 12 hours a day studying during high school and with academic coaches to get into a good engineering school. His path led him to Oregon State University where he was a part of the International Cultural Service Program with a partial scholarship, where he has spent the last five years working on his two undergraduate degrees – manufacturing engineering and industrial engineering, and a minor in business and entrepreneurship. 

During his undergrad journey, he has done two internships at Blount International and Lam Research Corporation, has participated in a number of student engineer organizations, has been an ambassador for the College of Engineering, and has been an undergraduate research and teaching assistant. He has also helped build the International Peer Mentoring Program. After graduation, he will be joining Lam Research Corporation as a manufacturing engineer.

Mathern said OSU expects about 3,974 students to attend commencement. Oregon State is one of only a few universities of its size to hand out actual diplomas to students as they graduate.

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Steve Clark, 541-737-3808; steve.clark@oregonstate.edu

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New housing option available for students recovering from drug/alcohol addiction

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University students recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction will find even more support this coming school year as the university opens a new housing option specifically for those in recovery in fall, 2016.

Scholarships will also be available for some students to help offset the costs of on-campus living, making the housing accessible to a broader group of students, including older students who might otherwise choose to live off campus.

The Recovery Living and Learning Community, located in the former cooperative Dixon Lodge, will be focused specifically on creating a supportive, close-knit and substance-free environment for students in recovery. It is being offered in conjunction with the Collegiate Recovery Community, which currently serves students in recovery through Student Health Services. The CRC provides private spaces, support and funding for events on and off campus, and gives students a chance to socialize in a sober environment.

This is the first housing community of its kind at a college or university in Oregon, according to Jennifer Viña, director of marketing and communication with University Housing and Dining Services. It will include dual-occupancy rooms, a community kitchen and programming space.

Providing a sense of community and connecting students with others in recovery is a crucial component to staying clean and sober.

“The students in recovery have a tight bond,” a participant of the current CRC said. “We look out for each other, we are available for our friends in recovery 24/7, no matter what.”

The recovery community provides students with the same kind of social and professional activities offered in other residence halls, but with an underlying emphasis on “recovery-first,” according to John Ruyak, alcohol, drug and recovery Specialist for Student Health Services.

“We are committed to creating a recovery supportive home for all students,” Ruyak said. “Through a unified community, we seek to strengthen students’ sobriety and support their success as academics, leaders, and community members within the CRC and at Oregon State University.”

The new Recovery Living and Learning Community has been made possible by the donation of OSU alumnus Tom Skoro and his wife Joan.

Space is still available for fall, 2016. Contact recovery@oregonstate.edu for more information or visit http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu/recovery.

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John Ruyak, 541-737-1184; john.ruyak@oregonstate.edu

Student Health Services, Intercollegiate Athletics partner to reduce high-risk drinking

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University Student Health Services is launching a new program called “OSU Choices” to reduce high-risk drinking among students, using student athletes as peer educators and communicators.

The project, which will span three years, is funded by a $30,000 NCAA Choices grant. It aims to reduce the number of students who engage in high-risk drinking (five or more alcoholic drinks at one sitting) via peer-led education.

Rather than being an abstinence-based program, OSU Choices will focus on harm reduction – teaching students how to reduce their risks if they choose to drink – by providing strategies to encourage safe choices, and highlighting social norms around drinking. The program will also focus on providing socially-engaging educational events.

“Student athletes are well positioned to be leaders on OSU’s campus,” said Sara Caldwell-Kan with Student Health Services, who helped write the grant proposal. “Being well-known and credible members of the OSU community, they have the ability to spread positive messages regarding student behavior and health.”

Rob Reff, director of the Alcohol, Drug and Violence Prevention Center at SHS, said studies show that when educational messages come from someone students identify as being in their group, the message resonates more strongly. Choosing student athletes as peer educators makes it easier to spread those messages to other athletes, Reff said.

Additionally, student athletes are also team-oriented and leadership-driven and typically have a shared set of values that make them good choices to speak to the broader student community. Because much of the messaging will take place in student recreation buildings, having student athletes represented also makes sense.

The staff at SHS is excited to partner with OSU’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for the project, which is the first time the two groups have worked together on an alcohol education campaign.

“Student athletes and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics play a critical role in creating the environment at OSU,” said John Ruyak, another faculty member at Student Health Services and a contributor to the grant proposal. “This partnership signifies their commitment to ensuring that our community has the tools it needs to remain safe and healthy.”

Kimya Massey is senior associate athletic director for student-athlete development at Oregon State. He said athletics is excited to work with Student Health Services on the project.

“It gives student athletes the opportunity to demonstrate leadership both within athletics, but also on a wider scale on campus,” Massey said. “Because student athletes often have a very respected voice, this is a win-win situation for all parties involved.”

Massey said athletes are a good choice for the project.

“They're a great fit because of their ability to understand the impact of making healthy choices and decisions and being able to think within a team mindset and holistically,” he said. “I think it's very positive to combine those attributes with our campus partners to create a strong partnership that will strengthen the education and awareness campus-wide.”

The goals of the Choices program are to increase the number of OSU students who have the knowledge and resources to make positive and safe decisions around alcohol, to decrease the prevalence of negative behaviors including high-risk and underage drinking, and to provide students with better information about alcohol use on campus.

That last piece, providing accurate social norms, is a key part of the project, and is the focus of marketing and messaging by student athletes. Social norming is the practice of clarifying the beliefs among a population regarding the behavior of their peers. In the case of the OSU campaign, students will be made aware that a majority of students do not engage in high-risk drinking.

Athletes will have multiple roles in the program, first by participating in an “up2u” alcohol harm-reduction workshop. By 2019, 90 percent of new student athletes will have participated in the workshop.

Selected athletes will be trained to lead “up2u” workshops for non-athlete populations. Finally, selected athletes will help review and improve the campaign for the OSU Choices program, and athletes also will be chosen to serve as the face for the social norming campaign aimed at those who utilize recreation sports facilities on campus.

In the past, staff members from the Alcohol, Drug and Violence Prevention Center have been primarily responsible for delivering alcohol harm-reduction programs on campus. The OSU Choices approach shifts some of that work to peers.

“Partnering with student athletes in this work is new and will bring new energy to creating a community defined by positive health behaviors related to alcohol consumption,” Ruyak said.

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Rob Reff, 541-737-7564; robert.reff@oregonstate.edu

Kimya Massey, 541-737-2501; kimya.massey@oregonstate.edu

OSU adds new vaccination requirements to keep campus population healthy

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University is launching a new immunization policy to decrease the likelihood that students will contract a serious illness while attending school.

OSU already requires students coming to campus to be immunized against measles, mumps and rubella, and get the meningococcal quadrivalent vaccine. Beginning spring term 2016, incoming students will also be required to be immunized for varicella (chickenpox), Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) and hepatitis B.

Current students who entered the university prior to spring term will not be required to show proof of these immunizations, and Ecampus students who do not physically attend OSU are exempt from the requirement. However, most domestic students have likely already received these common immunizations.

OSU health officials also recommend, but are not requiring, vaccination with the meningococcal type B vaccine, especially for students under age 25 who live in residence halls, fraternities or sororities. This is the strain of bacteria that caused a meningitis outbreak during winter, 2015, at the University of Oregon, and which causes about 38 percent of the cases in Oregon.

Students can get the two-dose meningococcal type B vaccine at Student Health Services at a cost of $145 per dose, and should check with their insurance companies to see whether or not it is covered. The Centers for Disease Control guidance on the meningococcal B vaccine, to date, has not resulted in broad insurance coverage, which is why this is not included as part of the required immunizations.

“There’s been an increasing conversation about how to best care for students through immunizations,” said Student Health Services Executive Director Jenny Haubenreiser.

The conversation was spurred, university officials say, both by recent infectious disease outbreaks on other campuses and requirements for OSU freshmen to live on campus. Health officials say that keeping students healthy also decreases the risk that a serious illness might derail their academic plans.

“When I speak to parents, I say that anything we can do to protect a student from an infectious disease will help keep them in school,” Haubenreiser said. “Catching pertussis, for example, could knock a student out for several weeks and reduce their ability to complete that term of school. We want to keep students on track.”

All of the required immunizations are provided by Student Health Services and covered by insurance, if given by an in-network provider. There are a limited number of international students whose healthcare costs are covered by their sponsoring countries, resulting in out-of-pocket costs for some-on-campus services. However, Student Health Services staff said they are seeking solutions for these students to minimize impacts and ensure they are able to comply with the immunization policy.

As with previous immunization requirements, students can sign a waiver stating that for philosophical or other reasons, they do not want to be immunized.  However, they will have to participate in an educational session at Student Health Services before they can sign the form to waive the immunization requirement. Typically, only a small portion of students opt out of immunization, currently fewer than 250 at OSU.

Connie Hume-Rodman, director of Clinical Services at Student Health Services, said that being a healthy community is part of the university’s strategic plan. However, people often don’t notice when disease prevention is working, because only outbreaks of serious illness capture public attention.

“Public health is the champion we don’t see,” she said.

For more information on immunization requirements: http://studenthealth.oregonstate.edu/general/policies-and-guidelines/immunizations-tb-screening-and-health-history/domestic-student

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Jenny Haubenreiser, 541-737 7576; jenny.haubenreiser@oregonstate.edu

OSU joins center to enhance teaching skills of STEM graduate students

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has become one of 46 members of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, or CIRTL, an initiative to increase the diversity and enhance the teaching skills of graduate students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Eighty percent of the nation’s doctoral degrees in these fields come from only 100 research universities, allowing CIRTL to target those universities to provide better teaching and mentoring techniques for STEM graduate students.

As a new member of this center, OSU will develop programs focused on teaching-as-research, learning communities and learning through diversity. This will include developing new courses, hosting events, offering internship opportunities and collaborating with other CIRTL-affiliated universities.

“OSU already has some great momentum toward graduate student and post-doc teaching development through our campus-wide fall orientation, and our graduate certificate in college and university teaching,” said Jessica White, OSU co-leader for this initiative.

“Being a CIRTL member indicates that OSU is committed to supporting GTAs in their current duties, and in developing future STEM faculty in additional ways that are sustainable and flexible for all of those involved.”

Researchers say that ineffective teaching is often a reason students leave STEM programs. One issue is that graduate students are often focused on research, and have little preparation to be teachers. CIRTL programs work to change that.

Nearly 4,500 graduate students are currently enrolled at OSU. Of those, more than 1,000 are on graduate teaching assistantships each term, and together have about 30,000 undergraduate student contacts each week.

“This is a sizeable number, so our GTAs have a considerable impact on the quality of undergraduate education,” White said. “It’s imperative that we adequately prepare them for their current institutional appointments, and that we prepare them for their future career pursuits.”

Brittany Robertson, a GTA pursuing her Ph.D. at the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering at Oregon State, said the biggest challenge of teaching as a graduate student is fulfilling her other obligations as a student and researcher.

“We often end up teaching freshmen who are very used to high school, and college is a different environment,” Robertson said. “There are often frustrations associated with students coping with and adjusting to the different set of expectations associated with the higher education environment. New programs helping us as GTAs develop our teaching skills and teaching styles to assist students in making this transition would be very helpful.”

CIRTL operates from within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in UW-Madison’s School of Education.  OSU was one of 25 universities to be added this year.

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Jessica White, 541-737-8576; Jessica.white@oregonstate.edu

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Funding increases for innovative program to improve college success, retention

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Initiatives that are under way at Oregon State University and among other members of the University Innovation Alliance to produce more college graduates from low-income and first-generation families will be bolstered by an additional $3.85 million in funding.

The new support comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and USA Funds.

The University Innovation Alliance was founded in 2014 by OSU and 10 other top-tier research institutions, with the intent of sharing data and educational innovations to enhance college student success. Member universities have set a goal to graduate 68,000 more students over the next decade and so far are on track to graduate nearly 100,000 more during that time.

“These recent grant awards provide continued momentum to this important work, and will help strengthen the efforts of all of the partners involved in the University Innovation Alliance,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “At Oregon State University, we are committed to graduating more students of color and who come from low-income and first-generation families.”

With the latest investment, this alliance has received $18.45 million in funds, including support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, the Markle Foundation, USA Funds, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Participants in this national program include OSU, Arizona State University, The Ohio State University, Georgia State University, the University of California/ Riverside, Iowa State University, the University of Central Florida, Michigan State University, the University of Kansas, University of Texas/ Austin, and Purdue University.

On a national level, college enrollment numbers are declining even though it’s estimated that the nation will face a shortage of 5 million college graduates by 2020.

A perceived need is not only to increase the overall number of graduates but to help ensure greater enrollment and academic success among those in lower socioeconomic levels. OSU is one of six participating universities in this initiative that have each increased the number of low-income graduates by at least 19 percent in the past two years.

Ray cited this issue as a critical concern in his recent State of the University Address in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 12.

“Forty years ago, the likelihood of getting a college degree if your family was among the upper quartile of the income distribution in this country was 44 percent,” Ray said in that address. “Today, that figure is 82 percent. 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. Today that figure is only 9 percent.

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

Initiatives made through the University Innovation Alliance will help address these concerns, officials said.

The University of California, Riverside, has redesigned its summer bridge program based on lessons learned from the University of Texas at Austin. A “retention grant” program started at Georgia State is expanding, which provides funds to students who are close to graduating but might otherwise be deterred by outstanding fees. All 11 universities participating in the program are now using predictive analytics, with positive student success and retention results.

OSU is working to share information about some of its more successful programs, such as the College Assistance Migrant Program for children of migrant families; the Educational Opportunities Program, a resource for students of color, students with disabilities, low-income students, veterans and others; and TRiO Student Support Services, a program aimed at boosting student retention.

“OSU expects that the learning from the partner institutions will also help us in our Student Success Initiative,” said Sabah Randhawa, provost and executive vice president. “This is focused on expanding strategies to recruit and retain diverse and high-achieving students, raise and equalize retention and success for all learners, and make high-impact learning the hallmark of OSU undergraduate education."

Oregon State’s Ecampus online education program is also an enormous success, and one key to providing higher education to students who need to control costs, cannot leave home to attend college, or have other constraints on conventional college attendance.

OSU Ecampus now delivers more than 40 degree and certificate programs to students in all 50 states and more than 40 countries, and in January 2016 its online bachelor’s degree programs were ranked in the top 10 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for the second straight year. Its growth has been extraordinary. Just in the academic year 2014-15, the number of true distance students at OSU increased by 39 percent to 6,913.

“Many of our distance learners are first-generation college students who can’t attend classes on campus because of work or family obligations,” said Ecampus Executive Director Lisa L. Templeton. “We’re proud to give students worldwide a path forward by providing access to an Oregon State education at a sustainable cost.”

Officials of the University Innovation Alliance say it’s the first time a group of large, public research universities have proactively organized to identify solutions that could increase retention and graduation rates. Almost 400,000 students attend the 11 universities involved in this program.

“This level of collaboration among universities is unprecedented,” said Susana Rivera-Mills, OSU vice provost and dean for undergraduate studies.

“It is the way of the future. If we are to significantly increase the number of students who achieve a quality college education, and meet the demands of a growing global society, then our future as an institution of higher education will depend on the extent to which we can collaborate, innovate, and quickly move our goals forward in partnership with other institutions.”

 

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Susana Rivera-Mills, 541-737-4586