CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Board of Trustees approved a revised fiscal year 2021 budget on Friday that forecasts a $173.1 million revenue shortfall, a $44 million improvement compared to earlier estimates of the financial impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating within the university.
The board heard reports on OSU’s COVID-19 public health responses, including virus testing and resumption planning, and accomplishments and goals related to advancing equity, inclusion and social justice within the university. The board approved a reduction in fall term 2020 student fees; the annual goals of OSU President F. King Alexander; and the board’s 2021 work plan and 2020 assessment.
The $173.1 million budget shortfall is an improvement over the $217.2 million estimate issued in August. The budget figures include all operations of the university, including OSU’s campuses in Corvallis and at OSU-Cascades; OSU’s statewide public services; restricted funds; and all of the university auxiliary enterprise and other self-support units, including OSU Athletics; University Housing & Dining Services; Transportation Services; Printing and Mailing Services; and others.
The decreased budget shortfall stems from stronger than expected fall enrollment, plans to resume Pac-12 football and women’s and men’s basketball in November, a stabilization of the number of students living on campus in Corvallis and Bend, and lower reductions in state funding related to COVID-19 than anticipated.
“Many budget uncertainties remain,” said President Alexander. “Changes in the COVID-19 public health situation could impact winter term enrollment, how many students live on campus and whether athletic events resume. We continue to believe that additional federal stimulus funding will be approved, but the timing and extent of such federal support is unclear.”
The board heard a report from Vice President Charlene Alexander, OSU’s chief diversity officer, that outlined achievements related to equity, inclusion and social justice from the past academic year and goals for the current year.
Charlene Alexander said some students are doing well – and some are not – in the environment of COVID-19, protests following the killing of George Floyd and others across America, and calls to address racism in higher education and nationally.
She said President Alexander has launched a university-wide effort called “Moving Forward Together,” an initiative that outlines actions and commitments underway – and others that are planned – to advance OSU’s commitment to opposing systemic racism and supporting the success of Black, Indigenous and other students, faculty and staff of color.
The report to trustees highlighted enrollment increases for students of color on the Corvallis and Bend campuses, as well as in Newport and Portland, and online through Ecampus. Students of color made up more than 26.3% of the Corvallis student body last fall, a 6% increase over the prior year.
Goals for the current year include assessing and addressing policies and practices that may create barriers to retaining students and employees from underrepresented communities; surveying employees to determine why they leave OSU and adopting recommendations to improve retention and advancement of employees from underrepresented communities; and increasing support for faculty fellows to engage in diversity research, grant writing and development of inclusive teaching programs.
In other action Friday, the board:
On Thursday, the board’s Executive and Audit Committee heard about the recent launch of the Community Wellness, Education & Safety Network on the Corvallis campus to better coordinate and provide support services related to crisis prevention, mental health and public safety.
The network is being launched as OSU transitions Corvallis campus law enforcement from a contract with the Oregon State Police to a university-delivered program on Jan. 1.
Development of the new public safety program has included input from many community stakeholders, students, faculty and staff members who have stated the university needs to improve how it serves student wellness and safety.
The Executive and Audit Committee also heard a progress report from the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance; a needs assessment report about an anticipated board vacancy; and annual reports from the Office of the General Counsel and the university compliance and ethics program.
Board members and university administrators also held a work session Thursday to discuss opportunities to address racism in higher education and within OSU and improve equity in educational opportunity throughout Oregon’s Pre-K-12 educational institutions and Oregon’s public universities and community colleges.
On Wednesday, the Finance and Administrative Committee heard a report on the capital projects in progress at OSU and a report from the OSU Foundation.
Also on Wednesday, the Academic Strategies Committee heard reports on new academic programs under review and workplace safety and discussed briefings on faculty affairs and global affairs.
Board members received public comment from six students and two faculty members on issues including public safety, racial issues and COVID-19 safety within the university.
About Oregon State University: As one of only two 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.