CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon Legislature’s 2021 session ended Saturday providing increased funding for student financial aid and Oregon State University programs serving student success, research, OSU Extension and outreach programs statewide, and bonding for key building projects at OSU’s Corvallis and Bend campuses.
The legislature approved $900 million to fund operations and programs at Oregon’s seven public universities over the next two fiscal years, a 7.5% increase from the last legislative session. Oregon State University is expected to receive approximately $140 million for fiscal year 2022, which begins July 1, and approximately $146 million for fiscal year 2023.
“I’m very grateful for the increased support of public higher education by Gov. Kate Brown and Oregon legislators,” said OSU Interim President Becky Johnson. “This support will greatly contribute to student success and graduation, while also advancing the valued statewide work of the OSU Extension Service and OSU research innovation and discovery that serves Oregonians, communities and our state’s economy.”
The legislature made significant new investments in students, including $200 million for the Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon's largest state-funded, need-based financial aid program for college students. That’s an almost $36 million increase in that program. The legislature also designated $6.2 million to create the Strong Start Program, a summer bridge program for incoming college students statewide.
“Increased financial aid and support for programs assisting students is especially needed after more than 15 months of the pandemic, which greatly impacted students attending Oregon’s high schools, colleges and universities,” Johnson said. “This support will help university students progress to graduation and succeed in their careers, life and community.”
OSU’s statewide public service programs – the Agricultural Experiment Stations, Extension Service and the Forest Research Laboratory – received $156 million, an increase of nearly 6%. The legislature also approved $49.4 million for Outdoor School, a statewide program run by the Extension Service that provides all Oregon fifth- or sixth-grade students the opportunity to attend a weeklong outdoor school program.
The legislature approved nearly $48 million for several OSU statewide research initiatives, including the Engineering Technology Sustaining Fund; the Fermentation Science Program; the Marine Vessel Program; the Institute of Natural Resources; the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute; the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Lab; and the TallWood Design Institute, a collaboration engaging OSU and the University of Oregon.
Legislation approved $2.6 million to fund an OSU testing lab to assess the impact of wildfire smoke on wine grapes, orchard fruit and other crops; $370,000 for OSU ocean acidification and hypoxia research; and $1.1 million for OSU wildfire research and mapping.
“Research being conducted at OSU is addressing the most complex and diverse problems and opportunities facing our state, nation and world,” said Johnson. “This support will advance the state’s economy, contribute to personal wellness and community prosperity, and sustain and improve the environment.”
The legislature approved state-backed bonds to help fund three OSU building projects:
The legislature approved $1 million for an early learning and childcare center in Bend to be led by OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College. The center will provide care for infant to pre-kindergarten children in a region where childcare is in short supply. The center will engage with early childhood educators and students who aspire to work in the field.
Legislation was adopted requiring the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission to establish a common course numbering system for all introductory and lower level college courses offered at community colleges, at public universities and through accelerated credit programs offered at high schools.
“OSU believes common course numbering is one of the most impactful actions Oregon can take to support smooth transfer of students among institutions,” said Johnson.
Legislators also established the Oregon Hemp Commission and updated the state’s plan to advance farming and marketing of hemp. These actions were a priority for OSU, which in 2019 launched the Global Hemp Innovation Center, a multi-disciplinary hemp research center.
All these funding measures are awaiting approval by the governor.
About Oregon State University: As one of only three land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 34,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport, OSU Portland Center and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.