State of the University Address 2014 - Bend

Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray
State of the University Address

April 2, 2014
Tower Theatre, Bend, Oregon

This evening’s update on the state of the university will focus on the phenomenal changes and achievements that are transforming Oregon State University. I also will provide an update on the process that is underway to expand OSU-Cascades into a four-year university branch campus – a higher education goal for the Bend community that has been sought for more than three decades.

I will talk in detail later about the new campus. But for now, let me note that I know of no better way to serve the future of Central Oregon, its communities and its people than by creating a four year campus of OSU here through a collaborative, transparent and proactive engagement with our many partners. Our partners include the City of Bend, Deschutes County, Central Oregon Community College, the Bend Park and Recreation District, Central Oregon employers and citizens, and our nearby campus neighbors. You can count on my word and Becky Johnson’s as well that we will work collaboratively with each of our partners.

In fact, it was a spirit of collaboration that established Oregon State University as Oregon’s statewide university. Created nearly 146 years ago by the state Legislature and Congress, OSU serves the needs of the great people of this state.

The accomplishments and examples of service excellence that I will share with you tonight are, without question, the result of many people working together:

  • Oregon State faculty, staff, students and administrators;
  • alumni and donors;
  • industry and community partners;
  • elected officials, including those who are with us tonight: State Sen. Tim Knopp; Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone; Bend City Councilor Mark Capell; and Lapine Mayor Ken Mulenex.
  • Governor John Kitzhaber, Oregon legislators
  • and higher education partners … all working together.

Last summer, as I completed my 10th year as president of Oregon State, I reflected on the past decade. I am blessed to be part of an incredibly authentic community. There is no ‘me, me, me’ mantra in Beaver Nation. We understand that the more extraordinarily capable we are at everything we do, the more profound and positive our impact will be on those we serve.

Today, I will discuss four matters:

  • A limited snapshot of what has been happening at Oregon State during the past decade and where we are today;
  • A look at Oregon State’s future as a leader and innovator in teaching, discovery and service -- and as an internationally recognized public research university.
  • An update on the steps being taken to expand OSU-Cascades;
  • And a call to action toward a future that is essential for this community, our state, the nation and the world.

Over the past decade:

  • OSU’s enrollment has become the largest of any Oregon university – and has increased by 53 percent to more than 29,000 students.

Of these: 24,600 students attend classes in Corvallis; 3,800 degree-seeking students attend Oregon State entirely on-line; and nearly 1,000 students attend OSU-Cascades.

  • The students attending Oregon State are remarkable. This past year, the average high school GPA of incoming students was 3.57 – with nearly 40 percent of all freshmen entering with a GPA of 3.75 or higher. More of Oregon’s best and brightest students have chosen OSU over the past five years than any other school in the state.
  • OSU is achieving excellence through diversity: 21 percent of the university’s enrollment is made up of U.S. minorities – an increase of 50 percent from 10 years ago. And the number of international students attending Oregon State has tripled over the past five years to nearly 3,000 students. Oregon State’s faculty and staff are increasingly diverse, and we are committed to make OSU an even more inclusive community.
  • Research funding has increased during the past decade by almost 70 percent to $263 million in 2013 – a research total that is more than all other Oregon public universities combined.
  • In the past 10 years, OSU’s Corvallis campus has opened many major new world-class teaching and research facilities, including the Linus Pauling Science Center, Kelley Engineering Center, the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families and the INTO OSU International Living Learning Center.
  • The Corvallis campus has seen the renovation of many iconic academic buildings and the transformative expansion of Reser Stadium and other athletic facilities.
  • And on a note of personal pride and appreciation – the Beth Ray Center for Academic Support.
  • Here in Central Oregon, the Bend community has been at the forefront of philanthropy. To date, more than $4.6 million in private donations have been raised to help expand OSU-Cascades. Governor Kitzhaber and Oregon legislators have consistently said “yes” to this effort, and have invested very wisely in Central Oregon. Thank you all for your many contributions.
  • In fact, The Campaign for OSU has created a nationwide community of philanthropy that believes in and invests in Oregon State.

The quiet phase of the Campaign for OSU began in July 2004 with a goal of $625 million announced in 2007. By the end of 2013 -- with still a year to go to its conclusion – the campaign stood at $990 million thanks to the contributions of more than 102,000 individuals and organizations – 44 percent of whom are not OSU alumni – but who believe in the promise and contribution of this university to the future.

The fruits of the Campaign have transformed Oregon State. More than 600 new scholarships have been created. Last year alone, approximately 4,000 students received donor-funded scholarships. And the Campaign has invested in educational excellence by endowing 77 new faculty positions.

For OSU-Cascades, the campaign has created:

  • OSU-Cascades’ first endowed chair – The Tykeson Endowed Faculty Scholar for Energy Systems Engineering.
  • A new hospitality program, which will be the only four-year hospitality degree program in the state of Oregon (the hospitality industry from the valley as well as Central Oregon combined forces to make this happen).
  • Several targeted scholarships, critical to attracting a diverse student body as well as enhancing access as the campus grows.

Current and future Oregon State students are the major beneficiaries of these accomplishments.

Students like Ellie Gage.

Ellie is a senior at OSU-Cascades. She will graduate in June with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in chemistry and has been accepted to Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

After graduating from high school in 2000, Ellie attended Central Oregon Community College for two years before taking a job in Colorado. Upon returning to Central Oregon she built her own business, but knew it was not how she wanted to spend the rest of her life. With the support of her husband, Mark, she re-enrolled in college at the age of 29.

As a student at OSU-Cascades, Ellie said she has found the support she needed to succeed from her professors and fellow students. She formed the Pre-Vet Club and actively encouraged students to pursue their dreams. Upon graduating, she plans to work in rural veterinary medicine in Oregon and continue to own and train Quarter Horses.

A resident of Powell Butte, Ellie is here with us tonight.  Please join me in recognizing Ellie.

At Oregon State we never forget that our graduates are our most important contribution to society and the future.

Today, I was pleased to meet on campus with a number of OSU-Cascades’ exceptional students. Keep an eye on these folks. I am confident that they will help change the world upon graduation. Would OSU-Cascades students with us tonight please stand and be recognized? We are also joined today by some of Central Oregon’s top high school students, who are considering attending OSU-Cascades. Would these students – and their parents – please stand and be recognized?

As we look ahead and begin to draw Oregon State University’s first 150 years to a close, what we should be proud of – and share with others – are not tales of how many or how much. Instead, we should share powerful narratives and proof of how this university is making a difference for others. And why that difference matters.

Let me offer a few examples:

  • Oregon State is making this state and the nation healthier. OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences is on course in June to be named the state’s only accredited college of public health.
  • In Central Oregon, OSU Extension staff members reach more than 10,000 youths and their families through the Oregon Family Nutrition Program funded by SNAP-ED. These youngsters learn the important connection between growing healthy foods, maintaining a proper diet and enjoying a healthy life.
  • During the past year, the Oregon State University Advantage has become a one-stop shop for linking businesses throughout the state – and the nation – with OSU’s high-achieving students, world-class researchers and cutting edge research facilities. Why did we create OSU Advantage? To help drive economic success and bottom-line results in businesses and communities, big and small.
  • Beginning this year, OSU’s College of Forestry will lead a new national effort to advance the science and the technology necessary to utilize wood in the construction of much taller multi-story – and environmentally friendly – buildings. This public-private partnership will create new markets for high-value wood products that can be manufactured here in Oregon and reclaim high-paying jobs for our rural communities.
  • In late December, the Federal Aviation Administration selected OSU, along with partners in Alaska and Hawaii, to operate one of six national sites for unmanned aircraft systems. The Pan-Pacific Test Site will develop unmanned aerial vehicles for civilian uses, including agricultural crop monitoring, search and rescue, forest fire-fighting, and marine and coastal research. This effort will engage partners in Bend, the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Hermiston and Tillamook. I congratulate Bend’s Oregon Unmanned Systems Business Enterprise (OR-UAS) for its leadership and joining OSU to help Oregon become a national center in the civilian use of unmanned aerial systems.
  • In response to interest from Central Oregon, MBA degree seekers can enroll in a hybrid MBA degree program offered on-line by our College of Business and attend two class sessions per term in Bend at OSU-Cascades. This MBA program is another way that Oregon State is “for Central Oregon.”

These initiatives are not by accident. They are the result of hard work, strategic planning and unrelenting focus in key signature areas where Oregon State University excels.

The next 10 years at Oregon State will be about accelerating that success in the service of others. If we are up to the challenge, the best is yet to come.

So let’s look ahead and assess the work to be done.

In Bend, we are “for education, for prosperity, for partnerships and for culture” by expanding OSU-Cascades to a full four-year branch campus of Oregon State University.

We will offer four-year undergraduate classes in Bend by 2015 … and grow the campus to an enrollment of 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025.

Tonight, let me be very clear about several things:

  • We recognize that the campus is being expanded to benefit the overall community in many essential ways.
  • At no point, will there be more than 3,000 to 5,000 students on the planned 56-acre campus site.
  • We will not let the campus grow any faster than we are able to address and accommodate important matters such as student housing, traffic, quality of life, sustainability and land use. Our goal of 3,000-5,000 students by 2025 includes a commitment to work collaboratively with our community partners to accommodate such growth.
  • We are committed to do our best to mitigate adverse impacts – particularly in the near campus neighborhoods. If we meet bottlenecks to responsible expansion, we will slow down the growth of campus enrollment.
  • How we achieve desired outcomes is Oregon State University’s responsibility and can best be achieved in collaboration with many partners – including the city of Bend, Deschutes County, COCC, other public and private partners and our campus neighbors. I am very impressed with the incredible work in this regard that has been done over the past year. The OSU-Cascades’ Campus Expansion Advisory Committee and its 10 task forces made up of community members, education and business leaders, neighbors and government partners have done excellent work to evaluate essential considerations and offer Oregon State incredibly thoughtful and valuable recommendations. To those involved in this process, my sincere thanks.
  • But there is more work to do. I recognize that many complex issues must be addressed to implement the expansion of OSU-Cascades and many involve land-use considerations. We will fully engage in and comply with the demands of a collaborative effort at every step.
  • In fact, I pledge that OSU will work with our partners at the appropriate time to launch Collaboration Central Oregon – a process by which the university, neighbors, community and business leaders, and public and private partners can identify and agree upon important outcomes to be achieved and the essential course of actions to achieve success.
  • Frankly, we launched such a process two and a half years ago in Corvallis – almost 143 years after OSU was founded. Just think of the success we all could have enjoyed by collaborating more fully much earlier in our history in Corvallis.

Bend deserves such success. And so, I commit to working with Becky Johnson, you, our campus neighbors and other community leaders to fashion the future together. Let’s begin doing so tonight.

This is what Oregon State is all about: service, innovation and leadership for others – and with others. The future will also be about educating more Oregonians to succeed.

We are committed to help achieve the state’s 40-40-20 educational achievement goals by doing our part to ensure that by 2025 – 40 percent or more of all Oregonians in the work force have a bachelor’s degree or higher; 40 percent have an associate’s degree, and 20 percent have a high school diploma.

I am deeply concerned that beyond Oregon State University’s own enrollment management and strategic plan, I have no idea how the state will get to 40-40-20. There is no statewide blueprint.

And while 40-40-20 is about dramatically increasing the number of well-educated Oregonians, we will not simply push more students through the system to meet a benchmark. The essential impact intended by 40-40-20, requires us to invest in access, affordability and excellence at Oregon State. And we pledge to work with state leaders, others in higher education and across the pre-K-20 continuum to do the same.

Looking ahead, as Oregon State prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2018, we will focus on expanding our service excellence within Oregon, across the nation and as an internationally recognized research university.

The challenges of the future will require continued and strengthened partnerships with federal, state and local leaders; education partners; with industry leaders and employers; with students, faculty and staff – and with alumni and people from diverse communities throughout the world.

The OSU Alumni Association, our alumni and the OSU Foundation are key partners in all we hope to achieve.

I recall the planning for The Campaign for OSU beginning in 2004 and the nervousness of publicly launching the university’s first-ever comprehensive campaign with an announced goal of $625 million in 2007.

And I recall exceeding that goal and the next goal of $850 million … and, once again, we increased the campaign goal to $1 billion to be reached by Dec. 31, 2014. As of today, The Campaign for OSU stands at $1,021,618,093. Who could have imagined any of this in 2004? As I noted earlier, the best is yet to come, if we continue to work together.

So please join me – and join Oregon State University – in a future of collaboration and accomplishment here in Bend, across Oregon, throughout the nation and around the world.

I challenge each of us to excel, lead, innovate and serve with even greater impact.

That is Oregon State University’s mission.

It is a mission that I know all of Beaver Nation—near and far—will embrace.