CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Board of Trustees Friday approved plans for returning to on-site learning and employment this fall and the renovation of Reser Stadium.

The board unanimously affirmed its intention to hold an open search for OSU’s next president. It is the board’s intention that this would entail announcing finalists, providing an opportunity for broad community engagement with finalists and soliciting feedback on finalists before the board makes its final decision.

Trustees also approved a $1.44 billion university revenue budget for the 2022 fiscal year. The budget expects significantly increased revenues over a year ago from increased activity in housing and dining, anticipated growth in research grant funding, attendance at athletics events and enrollment at OSU-Cascades and in Ecampus, OSU’s online degree programs.

“The budget conservatively supports OSU’s plans to sustainably provide high-quality and high-impact on-site learning, research and service programs on our campuses and operations throughout the state,” said interim OSU President Becky Johnson. “These remain to be challenging times due to the pandemic. We still face uncertainty in predicting enrollments for the next academic year among resident Oregon students and non-resident students, including international students affected by visa and travel uncertainties.”

Johnson noted that the university also anticipates some continued financial shortfalls due to reduced occupancy in residence halls and attendance at athletic events involving fewer fans given ongoing public health measures. 

With the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines, the university plans for a return to on-site activity this fall while continuing to maintain required public health measures.

The university’s Pathway to Fall plan, which the board approved Friday, outlines how the university will deliver classroom instruction, conduct research, offer residential services, and provide OSU Extension programs and engagement and outreach through the coming year. The plan provides for some flexibility in setting levels of on-site activities in response to the status of COVID-19 in communities where OSU operates and guidance from local and state health authorities.

“We are committed to serve students’ desire to return to our campuses in Corvallis and Bend and enjoy the benefits of a residential campus university experience,” Johnson said. “We will remain flexible in our resumption plans and programs in the months ahead. And we will employ what we learned over these past 15 months of the pandemic as it regards remote learning technology and other services in advancing the teaching and services that we provide students.”

The board voted 13-0 with one trustee abstaining to approve a $153 million plan to fully renovate the west side of Reser Stadium. It includes construction of a welcome center within the southwest side of the stadium for prospective new students and a wellness clinic, which will be located on the stadium’s southeast corner and operated in a proposed partnership with Samaritan Health Services. Student Health Services will continue to provide wellness services for OSU students, while Samaritan will provide primary and walk-in/same-day care for OSU employees and Benton County community members. Trustee Julie Manning abstained from discussion and voting on the Reser Stadium proposal citing a potential conflict of interest as she is employed by Samaritan Health Services.

The board also discussed initial feedback received this month from a retrospective review of the 2019 presidential search process. Based on initial feedback, the board agreed that its intention is for the next presidential search to include public forums for community members to meet and hear from finalists being considered. The board expects to make final decisions on the next search process this fall. The search process is anticipated to officially begin in fall to enable students and faculty to participate.

“While the board will not set details for the next search until the fall, trustees believe it is important at this time to provide understanding of how the search will enable community engagement with finalists,” said Rani Borkar, chair of the OSU Board of Trustees. “We hope this announcement provides an immediate sense of the board’s intentions with respect to naming finalists and increased opportunity for community involvement.”

On Friday, the board also:

  • Approved moving the $5 million remediation of Owen Hall to the construction phase. The building, which is home to College of Engineering facilities, sustained significant damage due to flooding from a broken a broken pipe in June 2020. Insurance will cover the $2 million in damage caused by the flooding. The remainder of the money will be used to renovate classrooms.
  • Heard an update on the 2021 Oregon legislative session.
  • Made several amendments to board policies.
  • Heard reports from the president of the Faculty Senate; the OSU Foundation; the Higher Education Coordinating Commission; and from officers of the Associated Students of OSU and Associated Students of Cascades Campus.

On Thursday, three board committees met:

  • The Finance and Administration Committee heard a report on the 2022 fiscal year operating budget; quarterly financial reports; and a report on university research facility infrastructure and equipment needs to support researchers throughout the university and help retain and recruit researchers to OSU. The committee also approved advancing four projects to the design phase:
    • A $18.8 million OSU-Cascades Student Success Center in Bend. The center will be a 22,500-square-foot building with classrooms, areas for studying and tutoring, advising and counseling, arts presentations, a small student wellness center, informal gatherings, as well as a maker space.
    • A $6 million project to replace the 24-year-old, 56,000-square-foot roof on the Valley Library on the Corvallis campus. The roof is showing wear and experiencing leaking in places as it approaches its 25-year expected lifespan.
    • A $5 million project to renovate the seawater distribution system at the Hatfield Marine Science in Newport. The system provides reliable access to high-quality seawater needed for experiments, research, outreach and education.
  • The Academic Strategies Committee heard briefings on new and existing academic programs and professional accreditations; student life programs supporting student care and success; and success within OSU Athletics programs and student-athletes academic success and engagement in many initiatives. The committee approved two new Bachelor of Science degrees in climate science and geology in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. Both new academic programs would be effective in fall 2021, pending the support of the statewide provost’s council and the approval of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.  
  • The Executive and Audit Committee approved an Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance progress report and amendments to board policies. The committee also heard an update on public safety and the formation of the Corvallis campus police department.

Trustees received public comment from 13 people, including faculty members, graduate assistants and alumni in support of the ethnic studies department, the Survivor Advocacy Resource Center and improved faculty salaries.

In accordance with Oregon public meeting laws, trustees held an executive session with university officials designated by the board to negotiate real property transactions. Following the executive session, trustees returned to public session and discussed and approved a motion authorizing Johnson, as university president, to sign a letter of intent between OSU and College Housing Northwest to proceed to terminate College Housing Northwest’s lease of The GEM student housing, owned by the university at the corner of Monroe and Kings. In reaching an agreement, the university would take back full ownership and management of The GEM.

General OSU

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 33,000 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 and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.

Story By: 

Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787, [email protected]

Source: 

Steve Clark, 541-737-3808, [email protected]

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