Oregon State University – Cascades to seek approval for Bend campus location

4-central oregonLeaders from Oregon State University's branch campus in Bend will present two real estate properties to the Finance and Administration Committee of the State Board of Higher Education on September 20 for consideration as the new home for OSU-Cascades' four-year campus. 

University officials are planning for a campus that will welcome freshmen and sophomores for the first time in fall 2015 and anticipate an enrollment of 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025.  OSU-Cascades has operated within  a "2+2" model since it was founded in 2001, partnering with Central Oregon Community College for lower division courses, and providing upper-division and graduate courses leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees.  While the 2+2 model will continue, the State Board of Higher Education endorsed OSU-Cascades’ expansion to a four-year university in August 2012 and the 2013 Oregon Legislature authorized initial funding for the expansion to a four-year branch campus of OSU.

The properties are located adjacent to each other and consist of a total of 56 acres.  They are located near the intersection of Southwest Century and Southwest Chandler avenues in Bend and are a half-mile from the Graduate & Research Center, 1.9 miles from downtown Bend, 1.3 miles from the Old Mill, and 2.8 miles from COCC.  One parcel is a 10-acre undeveloped site zoned for limited commercial use on Southwest Chandler Avenue. The seller is Cascades Property Holdings, LLC.  The second site, also located on Southwest Chandler, is 46 acres, part of which contains a pumice mine and the balance of which is zoned for residential use.  The seller is 4-R Equipment, LLC.

In spring 2012, Oregon State University President Ed Ray charged OSU-Cascades administrators with proposing a future campus site that would help meet Oregon’s education goals and enroll 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025. Selection of proposed sites for the campus was also informed through a space planning study and a survey of available Bend area real estate. The study considered the site’s appeal to prospective students, parents and faculty, as well as the sites’ ability to attract public-private partnerships that could support the region’s economic development.  Proximity to COCC was also a factor.

Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades said other attributes were also considered important to the campus site selection.  She said the location of the properties -- near hiking and biking trails, athletic and medical facilities, and shopping areas -- allows the university to partner with local businesses while  focusing state resources on the construction of student learning, housing, dining and gathering facilities.  Meanwhile, a nearby 11-acre property on Simpson Avenue owned by Bend Parks & Recreation District is in the master-planning phase and could provide additional recreation partnerships for the campus in the future.

Campus officials considered the City of Bend’s Juniper Ridge property north of the downtown area as a location site, but ruled it out because of the additional state investment required, lack of nearby amenities that a university campus would require, and the timeframe needed to create sewer, water and traffic infrastructure. 

The university will invest approximately half of its $24 million funding -- $16 million in general fund-backed bonds matched with an anticipated $4 million in philanthropic support and $4 million in campus supported bonds -- in the West Bend property transactions.   The remaining funds will be used for site planning, improvements and construction.   “These proposed real estate purchases are for the long term and represent the investment in university education that Central Oregonians have long sought for their region,” said Johnson.

“These purchases would not have been possible without the outpouring of philanthropic support from our community. It is an important catalyst for our expansion and we are grateful to our donors for the inspiration they have given to their community and the campus,” said Johnson.  

Gov. John Kitzhaber included funding for the project in his capital construction budget for the 2013 to 2015 biennium.  With help from many state legislators, including the Central Oregon delegation – Sen. Tim Knopp, and Representatives Jason Conger, John Huffman, Mike McLane, and Gene Whisnant – the legislature approved the funding in the closing days of the 2013 legislative session.

“We are working closely with our partners at the City of Bend on a memorandum of understanding that will help outline the master planning process,” said Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning.   “The first priority will be to provide the academic space needed for our undergraduate students, and to provide housing for our incoming freshman and sophomores.  We anticipate breaking ground in spring 2014.”  Sparks said site planning documents will be submitted to the city in January.

Beginning in October, OSU-Cascades’ Campus Expansion Advisory Committee will assist the campus master planning process by providing feedback and advice to inform site planning.  CEAC members, who have expertise on issues the campus will face as it expands, include community leaders and representatives from the City of Bend, Deschutes County and the Governor’s Regional Solutions Center.

Currently, OSU-Cascades’ administrative offices, undergraduate programs and faculty, are located in Cascades Hall on the COCC campus.  Officials from both campuses are working together with local legislators to re-finance the bonding for Cascades Hall in an effort to enable OSU-Cascades to devote current lease payments to the four-year campus expansion, while enabling COCC to assume use of the building.

Meanwhile, graduate programs and faculty, and some administrative offices will remain at the Graduate & Research Center, located on Southwest Columbia Avenue.

Posted September 13, 2013.