Nearly $70 million is at stake between Oregon State University-Cascades and the federal government, caused by differences in funding plans between OSU-Cascades and our state legislators.
OSU-Cascades’ new 10 year plan involves four fundamental goals.
The first is to, “Envision, design and build a 5,000 student campus serving Central Oregon and beyond,” as stated in the official document version of the plan. This includes launching new programs based on regional need but that will build on programs Central Oregon Community College is offering, as well as attracting students. Creating a residential building that puts emphasis on sustainability and resilience, health and wellness, and innovation and creativity, which are called the “three signature areas of distinction.” Other goals that OSU-Cascades hopes to achieve with their 5,000 student campus range from “knitting the campus into the fabric of the community,” and, “creating a collaborative and inclusive culture that values diversity.”
However, according to Christine Coffin, Director of Communications and Outreach for OSU-Cascades, the construction of a 5,000 student campus is expensive, and Governor Kate Brown planned on allotting only $20 million for the construction of two new OSU-Cascades buildings.
“That won’t get us where we need to be,” stated Coffin.
However, the university has put in a request for $69.5 million to increase infrastructure. An Oregon House bill has been proposed to make this a reality, and is currently sitting with the Joint Ways and Means Committee. Legislators Tim Knopp and Knute Buehler have sponsored the bill in full, proposing that OSU-Cascades get the full $69.5 million.
“We have two funding sources through the state, operating dollars and capital dollars. Oregon state funding of operating dollars has been declining over the last 20 years,” stated Coffin. Funding uncertainty has been an ongoing issue for most public colleges and universities in Oregon, including COCC, since the start of the year. This will not only cause a roadblock within construction of OSU-Cascades, but for tuition and fees, as well as tuition for the next academic year is at a four percent increase over previous years according to Coffin.
“We have a group of community members who are extremely supportive of the funding in full,” said Coffin. This group is called Now 4 OSU-Cascades.
Now 4 OSU-Cascades is a group focused on testifying on OSU-Cascades’ behalf, writing letters to legislators and working with students to increase awareness about the bill and the funding for a public university in Bend. If you are interested in working with Now 4 OSU-Cascades, or learning more about their work to fully fund the construction of two new OSU-Cascades buildings, visit: http://osucascades.edu/4 .
At the State of the University Address, Wednesday, May 3, President Edward J. Ray explained the goals for funding and student success to community members, faculty, and current OSU – Cascades students.
“Not meeting the demand for higher education in the fastest growing region in the state is not good public policy and makes no business sense,” he explained. Ray explained that they would be prepared to face for the possible tuition gap, but this is not a first resort for the university.
Ray as well as Vice President Becky Johnson expanded on the accomplishments the university and Cascades campus have had over the year, which included the opening of OSU – Cascades Tykeson Hall, Residence Hall and Dining Hall in Bend.
“The new campus is amazing. You can feel the vibrancy on campus,” said Johnson when explaining the accomplishments of the new campus.Johnson also expanded on how Central Oregon Community College has helped in the success of OSU – Cascades.
“[We have] a strong connection with COCC, which I believe is the best community college in the state of Oregon,” she stated. Johnson explained how COCC has been able to serve across the community in campus’ located in Bend, Redmond and Madras.
“I wish we were able to sever across the entire region, but give us time and we will get there,” she added.
Though they have high hopes to continue to expand the campus, they have to take into account that in order to add more majors they have to have more students, but in order to bring a larger group of students to the campus they need to offer a variety of majors too. They also discussed and explained their goals for the area surrounding the campus, which includes the former landfield that they want to turn into a “very productive space” for students.