CORVALLIS - Linda Johnson, an executive with extensive experience in health care administration and a former Washington state legislator, has been named the new director of OSU Central Oregon, which is one of the leading educational outreach efforts of Oregon State University.

With new administrative offices in Bend, alumni activities, expanded educational offerings and a number of degree options to pick from, OSU Central Oregon is enlarging its student base and working to address the higher education needs of one of Oregon's most rapidly growing regions, educators say.

"OSU is committed to being a university that provides higher education to the entire state of Oregon, when, where and how people need it," said OSU President Paul Risser. "Within that effort, OSU Central Oregon is one of our most exciting programs, and we believe Linda Johnson has the vision, drive and experience to take this initiative to the next level."

That will include working closely with OSU's educational partners in the region, getting input from an advisory board set up to guide Central Oregon educational policies, and becoming closely tuned to the real needs of both traditional and non-traditional students in the area, Risser said - such as working adults who need to continue their education, regional businesses who want to help their employees take advantage of new opportunities, or needed research that could stimulate new jobs or industries.

Johnson, with degrees in nursing and a master's degree in health services administration, has spent much of her career coordinating the complex world of the health care industry, learned to deal with political realities as a state representative in Washington, and is intimately familiar with Central Oregon through her most recent position as an administrator at Central Oregon District Hospital.

"Education has been a key factor in my personal success, and I'm committed to providing the access to the type of high quality higher education that can really change lives and a community for the better," Johnson said. "I'm excited to work with the Central Oregon community to better identify their real educational and research needs, and work collaboratively with COCC, the University Center and other institutions to provide high quality educational services close to home."

As a legislator, Johnson sponsored and passed legislation to create a new community college co-located with the University of Washington in her district. She also served as a community college trustee for nearly seven years, oversaw the inclusion of vocational and technical colleges into the community college system, and has experience in corrections, environmental issues, higher education and health care.

"The breadth and quality of experience that Linda Johnson brings to this position should serve OSU Central Oregon well as we begin the next century," said OSU Provost Roy Arnold. "She was recommended highly by our advisory board, whose members represent a cross section of this three-county region. Working closely with that group and their ideas, she will help OSU develop educational programs that are responsive to needs of the region.



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Paul Risser, 541-737-4133