State of the University
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 04:02
Yesterday, Oregon State University President Ed Ray gave a brief update on the important issues facing higher education at OSU and a recap of the 2012 commencement ceremony.
In the brief, open conversation with Ray, faculty, staff, students and community members had the opportunity to discuss the advances of OSU and the problems the university anticipates for the upcoming year.
Ray mentioned OSU is one of the most sustainable campuses in the United States. He also said the university is financially strong and moving forward, the research conducted at Oregon State is continually growing, and lastly, “Oregon State has, and has always, been committed to excellence, within its students, research, faculty and staff.”
“The sun rises and the sun sets,” Ray said. He then began to discuss some of the problems facing the university this coming fiscal year.
The major issues addressed by Ray, and later OSU community members, were compensation, university governance and institutional boards, inclusion, diversity and accessibility, along with the coming update of the university’s strategic priorities.
“Of course we are always concerned about the financial burden placed on students and families, and the employment rates of students beyond graduation,” Ray said. “Our goal is to keep tuition low, even with decreased government funding, and still continually expand areas of research and scholarships available to students, while striving to be top.”
The 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges named Oregon State University a “Best Buy School” — one of only 41 colleges and universities nationwide and one of only two in the Pacific Northwest.
OSU’s online degree program was also ranked fourth by SuperScholar Smart Choice and Corvallis was deemed the No. 5 best college town in the nation by the American Institute for Economic Research.
Ray attributed this success to its diverse and well-established faculty.
“Faculty members are the heart and soul of Oregon State University, and it will continue to be that way,” Ray said.
Though the audience was generally content and pleased with the university’s progress moving forward, there were still some general concerns about tuition increases, governance and institutional boards, increasing enrollment rates and residency issues.
Recently, student leaders have called for a freeze in tuition, which, according to five-year budget plans created by the university, would be an unwise decision.
“Some student leaders have called for a freeze in tuition and at this point a zero tuition increase is not helpful,” Ray said. “As a university we want to keep tuition low and manage our cost accordingly. Compared to our public school peers, we have relatively low tuition rates.”
Ray also addressed issues related to increase in enrollment and space for incoming students.
“We want to cap our enrollment at 28,000 students,” Ray said. “We are currently discussing and making a decision this week to decide whether first-year students have to live on campus and what constitutes student housing.”
Ray mentioned the university’s plan to build another dorm behind McNary Residence Hall and expand the Cascade campus in Bend to a four-year institution.
One Corvallis community member expressed her concerns about the increase in traffic and the lack of parking and off-campus living availabilities, and asked how the university was planning on addressing this issue.
“OSU is working very closely with the city of Corvallis to create more parking options for students and community members, and we are very open to the idea of public partners for student housing,” Ray said.
Ray closed by saying every innovative research project Oregon State takes on, and every generous donation or acceptance into a National Science Association research project, creates a positive difference in the lives of students and the people of the world.
“We care about the state of Oregon and every community within it, and we plan to continue to a create a community of thinkers and innovators,” Ray said.
Callie Simmons, news reporter