CORVALLIS - Oregon State University announced today the creation of a new Provost's Scholarship program that will provide an additional $500,000 for the 1999-2000 school year, to continue OSU's recent progress in developing a diverse student body of Oregon's brightest young scholars.

Every freshman applicant to the university will be automatically considered for one of these scholarships, with selections to be made on the basis of academic ability and financial need. Awards will range from $1,000 to $6,000, and students selected for the scholarships will be notified by mid-March.

Students entering OSU already have the highest grade point average of any institution in the Oregon University System.

But Roy Arnold, university provost, said OSU also wants to attract well-rounded students with wide ranging interests in many different fields of study.


"This program will further ensure that Oregon's best students attend an Oregon university," Arnold said. "But we're also creating the type of diversity that can help every student learn from the others, benefit from their varied perspectives and experiences.

"When we identify the type of student we're looking for, we want to do everything possible to prevent finances from becoming an undue barrier."

This new program builds upon recent initiatives, made possible largely by private donations, to increase the number of scholarships offered at OSU.

"OSU has traditionally provided strong scholarship support," said Robert Bontrager, director of admission and orientation. "But in the past two years we've renewed our emphasis in this area through major fund raising campaigns. We suggest to private donors that direct support for our most valued students is one of the best ways to help show their support for the university."

These and other programs aimed at increasing student enrollment and retention, Bontrager said, have resulted in an enrollment increase at OSU of nearly 1,000 students in the past two years. Last fall, OSU had its largest freshmen class in 10 years.

According to Arnold, however, the university's recent successes in boosting enrollment reflects not only the university's commitment to make college affordable and obtainable for any qualified applicant, but also the quality and depth of its programs. OSU now has 12 colleges, two schools and more than 200 undergraduate and graduate degree options, many of them led by internationally-recognized scientists and educators. The programs and OSU's combination of teaching and scholarship have received the highest recognition by the Carnegie Foundation.

Such initiatives as its University Honors College, Alumni College, International Studies degree program and innovative internship programs have also attracted widespread interest and growing support by Oregon business and industry. More than 500 employers are expected to recruit at OSU this year, more than at any other campus in Oregon. And last year, 97 percent of OSU graduates reported being employed or continuing their education within one year of graduation.

"We're very proud of what we've been able to accomplish in recent years boosting support for our students," Arnold said. "They're now receiving almost $18 million a year in total scholarships and grants, in addition to $71 million available through loans and student work programs."

"But last year we also had a 12.3 percent increase in the number of students who chose OSU with no outside financial support at all," he said. "Both they, and the other students who do receive support, are finding that the institution offers the range of programs and world class quality that will help them be successful in their life and careers. That's the most important bottom line."

The newest scholarships, Arnold said, will be offered at OSU's discretion to help attract the type of outstanding people OSU seeks as part of its long-term commitment to being a "top tier" university.

To be considered for one of these awards, students who apply for admission to the university need do nothing more than provide full information on their application, including academic record, high school course work - the type of information usually included on most applications.

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Roy Arnold, 541-737-0733