CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's new strategic plan focuses on five key themes that include the university's strengths and the state's needs, but don't necessarily align directly with OSU's organizational structure.

That is by design, says Oregon State President Ed Ray, who added that breaking down barriers is critical to preparing graduates, programs and partnerships to meet future needs.

"One of our themes is helping the state manage its natural resources so they contribute to Oregonians' quality of life, and to the state's natural resource-based industries," Ray said. "We have marine biologists, grassland ecologists, marine pharmaceutical scientists, forest engineers, community sociology specialists and a range of other specialists on this campus. Trying to fit everyone into a single unit may not work.

"But I promise what you will see is greater collaboration among people in different colleges, whether that is in partnering to teach new student classes or creating an interdisciplinary research or service projects," he said.

OSU's natural resource theme includes forestry, agriculture, tourism, streams, and marine systems and the university's focus will include resource management and environmental enhancement.

A second theme centers on understanding the origin, dynamics and sustainability of the Earth. Global climate change is one focus of this area and OSU has one of the world's largest, most sophisticated supercomputing facilities for marine sciences. In addition to climate evaluation, OSU also seeks to become more involved in the region's economic, political, social and ecological systems.

Technology is the focus of a third theme, which aims at optimizing enterprise, innovation and economic development. The university's rapidly growing engineering program is the most visible example, Ray said, but it isn't the only example.

"We can and will develop world-class, work-ready engineers, new technologies, and opportunities for tomorrow's entrepreneurs," Ray said. "But we need to apply those same best practices in terms of technology to all sectors of the Oregon economy, including natural resources and health care. At OSU, we are in a position to help make that happen."

OSU's life sciences and health theme is an area of increasing importance to Oregonians and the university is recognized for its leadership in biosciences research, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and nutrition and food safety. One of its more visible programs is the Linus Pauling Institute, which has become a national leader in the study of micronutrients.

Advancing the arts and sciences is a theme that includes providing the foundation for basic scientific, social and cultural enhancement and discovery. The theme isn't restricted to curriculum, however, and includes community partnerships and faculty research and scholarship.

"One of our goals is to have more of our faculty throughout the university become involved in public policy by providing their expertise as part of the decision-making process," Ray said. "Since I've been on this campus, I have marveled at the breadth and excellence of the faculty. It is a resource that Oregon should use more often."

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Ed Ray, 541-737-4133