BEND, Ore. - Oregon State University - Cascades' new campus in Bend opened today, fulfilling a 30-year quest for higher education in what had been the largest region in the state without a four-year university.
"This campus launches a new era for educational attainment, economic growth, community partnerships and cultural enrichment in Central Oregon," said Oregon State President Ed Ray.
Ray, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, state Rep. Knute Buehler, OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson and Elizabeth Woody, Oregon's poet laureate, are planned to participate in the opening celebration. They will be joined by Amy Tykeson, whose family supported funding for the branch campus' first academic building, and after whom Tykeson Hall is named.
"This is a tribute to decades of work by countless individuals who early on saw the need, defined the future they wanted to achieve, and helped to make this day - and this university campus - possible," Ray said. "As important as this campus will be for Central Oregon, OSU-Cascades is an investment that will pay great returns for the entire state of Oregon.
"It has been right here in the Bend area that Oregon faces the greatest mismatch in this state between students' needs, economic demands and the gap in higher education options."
As the first public university to open in Oregon in more than 50 years, OSU-Cascades will serve students in one of the fastest growing regions in the state - yet one that lags in bachelor's degree completion. The new 10-acre campus will provide classrooms and lab space, as well as a dining center and residential housing for 300 students.
As the campus expands over the next decade, OSU-Cascades by 2025 will serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, most of them from Central Oregon. This largely rural area with a population of more than 200,000 has been historically underserved by higher education and includes many first-generation students and others who have been unable to attend college. OSU-Cascades will improve educational access, increase the likelihood of graduates staying in the region and contribute to the local economy.
"OSU-Cascades brings the power of a comprehensive research university to our region," said Johnson. "We will serve the needs of Central Oregon with excellent academic and research faculty who will teach learners of diverse ages and backgrounds, and address the challenges of our unique environment."
Prior to its opening this week, OSU-Cascades has operated for 15 years in a two-plus-two partnership with Central Oregon Community College, using leased and physically-separate facilities. The branch campus has awarded 3,000 bachelor's and master's degrees.
"With this new campus and further planned expansion, students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Central Oregon community will develop campus traditions, spirit and community pride," said Johnson.
The new campus near downtown Bend is integrated into a commercial district, which will help expand OSU's partnerships with industry and community, and enhance student internship programs and workforce development. Public-private partnerships will increase research and innovation and provide amenities for both students and community members. The 10-acre campus will also include a community STEM education provider, the Bend Science Station.
OSU-Cascades now offers 18 undergraduate and graduate degrees. These include computer science with an applied option in web and mobile web software development; energy systems engineering; hospitality management; and tourism and outdoor leadership.
Over the next two to five years, eight to 10 new degree programs are anticipated to meet student, industry, and regional and national employment needs, in areas such as bioscience; mechanical engineering; nursing; outdoor products; and software development.
"The opening of OSU-Cascades' new campus represents a promising economic future for Central Oregon," said Roger Lee, executive director of Economic Development for Central Oregon.
An extensive long-range development planning effort that is underway will expand the campus onto an adjacent property, a 46-acre pumice mine, and potentially onto a second adjacent property, a 76-acre county demolition landfill. The two properties together represent one of the largest under-utilized tracts of land within Bend's urban growth boundary.
A design team of Page and SERA is partnering with Oregon State to deliver a long-range development plan in February 2017. So far, the effort has gathered input from community advisory groups, community members, faculty, staff and students. That input has helped develop visions for the branch campus in strategic areas such as sustainability, health and wellness, innovation and community partnerships.
Studies will assess the possibility for a net-zero energy, water and waste campus, with campus-wide biomass district energy to provide heat. On the initial 10 acres, native plants were harvested and replanted, and transportation options for students include bike share, car share and free bus passes.
Funds need to be secured for future campus growth, officials say, and the next buildings should be ready for students in three to five years.
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Christine Coffin, 541-322-3152