Two years ago, Oregon State University president Edward J. Ray brought the “State of the University” address to Bend for the first time. At that time, he presented to a group of a little over 100 community members, and gave OSU’s support of OSU-Cascades’ expansion into a four-year university. Two years later, during his annual address on April 2 in front of a sold-out Tower Theater, Ray commended the leaders in the expansion and promised to create a collaborative town-gown initiative in Central Oregon.
“I know of no better way to serve the future of Central Oregon … than by creating the four-year campus of OSU here through a collaborative, transparent and proactive engagement with our many partners,” Ray said.
It was this spirit of collaboration that established OSU almost 146 years ago, according to Ray.
“You can count on my word and Becky Johnson’s as well that we will work with each of our partners,” Ray said.
Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades, has been an “incredible catalyst for positive change,” according to Ray.
“[Johnson is] a woman whose steady, forward-thinking leadership is a major part of why the OSU community is well on its way to becoming the university’s first four-year branch campus,” said Kathy Bicker, vice president of alumni relations at OSU when introducing Johnson.
Before introducing Ray, Johnson called for continued community support of the expansion.
“I ask you to continue to support and guide the development of our new campus so it is a wonderful asset to the community,” Johnson said.
Johnson recognized the OSU-Cascades faculty and cited Dennis Lynn’s letter to the editor in the Bend Bulletin to show faculty dedication and support.
“Most people know the impact of faculty in the classroom,” Johnson said, “… but less well known are the things faculty do outside of the classroom that impact students, help solve societal problems, advance the state of knowledge and contribute to the community.”
During the presentation, Ray addressed recent community concerns that have come up in the community relating to traffic increases and student housing.
“At no point will there be more than the 3,000 to 5,000 students on the campus site,” Ray said. “We will not let the campus grow faster than we are able to address and accommodate.”
Ray also said the goal of 3,000 to 5,000 students included a commitment to work with OSU-Cascades’ community partners to accommodate for the growth. This will take place largely in part due to “Collaboration Central Oregon,” an initiative to support collaboration with the university and community.
There are many community connections that have supported the expansion, one of which is Central Oregon Community College. Ray recognized Jim Middleton, COCC president, for his support and collaboration regarding the expansion.
“The first day I met [Middleton], I knew this was a great partner to work with,” Ray said. “From day one I don’t know of anyone better to work with who cared more deeply about what is in the interest of the Bend community.”
Expanding OSU-Cascades into a full four-year university shows OSU’s commitment to stand “for education, for prosperity, for partnership and for culture,” according to Ray.
“We should never let the details of figuring out how to make it happen get in the way of the absolute certainty that this is the most powerful contribution to economic development and social and cultural progress in Central Oregon that is possible over the next decade,” Ray said.
Ray addressed recent community concerns such as traffic, housing, and the site location. He assured the audience that at no point will there be more than 3,000 to 5,000 students on the planned 56 acre campus site.
“That’s the carrying capacity. We will not exceed it, we will not let the campus grow any faster than we are able to address and accommodate important matters such as student housing, traffic, quality of life, sustainability and land use,” Ray said. “Our goal includes a commitment to work collaboratively with community partners to accommodate such growth.”
During a discussion session following the event, Ray was asked if the expansion could be moved to the north side.
“The simple answer is no,” Ray said.
Molly Svendsen | The Broadside