CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Oregon State University Board of Trustees yesterday approved tuition and mandatory fees for the 2016-17 academic year and summer term 2017, along with several other actions.
The board also approved operational and capital funding requests to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for the 2017-19 biennium; two new academic degrees; and an educator equity plan. Additionally, the trustees heard a report from a panel on siting of the Marine Studies Initiative building in Newport, as the university reviews multiple building site locations, as well as earthquake and tsunami considerations.
The trustees voted on a tuition and fees proposal that had been advanced by a budget committee, made up of OSU faculty, students and administrators and student fee committees at the Corvallis and Cascades campuses. The vote was preceded by testimony from six students, two faculty members, and a Corvallis community member, who expressed concern about tuition increases.
The board voted 11-1 to:
"This is the smallest increase that we have had in 10 years," said Oregon State President Ed Ray. "We understand that any increase is hard on students."
Ray said the university has worked hard to increase student financial aid and to lobby state leaders to take steps - as was done in recent legislative sessions - to reverse a decade of disinvestment in public higher education.
Ray noted that the recently completed Campaign for OSU raised $189 million for student scholarships.
"OSU fundraising efforts continue to focus on scholarships for attracting high achieving Oregon students to the university, and to provide support to students with financial need," he said. "We don't want to put the burden of achieving the educational excellence and service aspirations of this university on the backs of students and their families."
OSU officials told the board that, in the 2015-16 academic year, OSU's resident undergraduate tuition and fees were lower than all five of the peer universities in the West that are used for comparison, including the University of Oregon.
OSU's 2016-17 resident undergraduate tuition and fee rate will be approximately $400 less than the University of Oregon, and its nonresident undergraduate tuition $4,600 less. The University of Oregon recently raised its undergraduate resident tuition 4.8 percent.
In other business, the trustees approved a $208.5 million capital funding request to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for the 2017-19 biennium.
Included in the proposal are plans to renovate Cordley Hall, Fairbanks Hall and Gilkey Hall on the OSU campus; an expansion of Magruder Hall Teaching Hospital; building and infrastructure improvements, including for the university's numerous Experiment Stations; and construction of a new Oregon Quality Food and Beverage Center. The proposal includes $84.5 million for the new OSU-Cascades campus, including site reclamation, infrastructure, an academic building and a student success center. As part of its overall capital proposal, OSU is seeking $164.5 million in state paid bonds.
Following trustees' approval, the proposed capital funding request and a request for operational budget funding will now be advanced to the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission for consideration.
Two new graduate-level academic programs were approved, including master's and doctoral degrees in bioengineering, and a master's degree and graduate certificate in data analytics.
"The nation faces a critical shortage of people with 'deep analytic' skills that the new degree will help address," said Sastry Pantula, dean of the OSU College of Science.
Educators say that the bioengineering degrees will also help respond to a major level of anticipated growth in Oregon's booming bioscience industry. The proposed programs will be sent to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for final approval.
The board approved the issuance of general revenue bonds for up to $52.5 million, to finance construction of a residence hall and a dining/academic center at OSU-Cascades, and $10 million for information technology systems infrastructure improvement projects.
The board also approved the OSU Educator Equity Plan for 2016-18, which follows adoption of a mandate passed in 2015 by the Oregon Legislature to create a more diverse educator work force. As part of the OSU plan, the university is working to increase the number and completion rates of underrepresented minority students in its professional teacher education programs. This initiative has already benefited from the Provost's Hiring Initiative to increase the diversity of OSU faculty.
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Steve Clark, 541-737-4875