State of university looking up
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 20:02
Oregon State University will be the beneficiary of several multi-million dollar gifts, President Ed Ray announced yesterday during his annual state of the university address at the Portland Hilton.
An anonymous donor has pledged $5 million to the School of Arts and Communications in order to support the university’s performing arts program. The money would go toward funding four faculty positions, including a director of performing arts who would coordinate arts efforts at the university with those happening in the community. The gift is the largest the university has received for the arts.
Ray also announced a gift of $7 million from Peter and Rosalie Johnson to fund construction of a new engineering building. The project also received an additional $10 million gift from an anonymous donor (who also donated anonymously to the Student Success Center), and $3 million in other private funds. Ray said, in a phone interview after the speech, that he hopes the legislature will agree to additional matching bonds to construct the estimated $40 million facility.
The new building would house the chemical, biological and environmental engineering departments. Ray said if the bonds are approved, construction could begin on the building in fall of 2015.
Ray said the Campaign for OSU was well on its way toward its goal of $1 billion by 2014. He said the campaign had surpassed $900 million this year. The campaign raised more than $106 million last year.
Ray highlighted the new construction happening around campus and reiterated his intention to cap growth at the Corvallis campus at 28,000 students.
“We can be fine and be a significant player nationally if we stay at 28,000,” Ray said in a telephone interview.
Ray said increased enrollment at the Cascades Campus in Bend, as well as increased online enrollment, will help the university achieve its goals in meeting the states new 40-40-20 mandate by 2025. The mandate said 40 percent of Oregonians should have bachelor’s degrees or higher.
“The financial state of the university remains strong for the foreseeable future despite unrelenting challenges in state funding for higher education,” Ray said in the text of his prepared speech.
Ray said in his speech that governance issues within public higher education are being addressed. OSU has recently asked to be included in proposed legislation to allow Portland State University and University of Oregon to create their own institutional boards.
“If UO and PSU create boards, what happens to OUS?” Ray said in a telephone interview, using the acronym for the Oregon University System.
Ray said he requested to be included on the legislation in order to have the option and flexibility to create a board if that’s what the university community wants.
“We would want to have a dialogue about creating a board as a university before it happened,” Ray said in a telephone interview.
Ray noted the many accomplishments of the university over the last year, including increased international enrollment, the hiring of 180 new faculty members and increased research funding of $281 million last year.
Ray gave the speech to a crowd of about 500 people according to a press release from the university. Ray will give another state of the university speech at the next faculty senate meeting.
Don Iler, editor-in-chief
On Twitter: @doniler