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Higher Ed Board reviews proposals to increase access, retention for Oregon students, and Portland-specific research and workforce initiatives

Di Saunders, Cell: 971-219-6869; Office: 503-725-5714

PORTLAND, February 8, 2008 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today at the University of Oregon to review strategic initiative proposals, legislative proposals, and Oregon University System admission requirements, among other items considered by the Board.

OUS chancellor George Pernsteiner commented on the state revenue forecast which was announced this morning as being $183.1 million lower than was projected in December 2007. He noted that the extent of the impact on OUS is not yet known. It is hoped that this will be a shallow and brief recession. Given this, Pernsteiner said that the OUS will proceed with its discussion of legislative budget proposals, which will advance the Board of Higher Education goals of improving student access, affordability and retention to graduation, as well as advancing the academic and research efforts that support workforce and economic development, among other investments that bring high returns to the state. He added that the OUS goals are long-term, and that this revenue forecast should not interrupt the process of developing proposals for 2009-2011 which will lead to greater success for Oregonians and greater competitiveness for the state.

Strategic Initiatives
Board director Jim Francesconi presented an update on the progress of the Portland Higher Education Committee proposals. He said that the overall vision is to create and support a comprehensive system of higher education through program coordination, and system and service integration. This effort will be spearheaded by Portland State University, and will include utilizing the capabilities of the local community colleges, and the special strengths of Oregon Health & Science University and other OUS institutions. Goals for the Committee (by 2025) are: (1) attracting new industries and supporting business development in the Portland-metro area through increasing sponsored research, business start-ups, and graduate programs related to research strengths and goals in the metro region; (2) increasing the number of degrees produced in Portland, focusing on under-represented students, and degrees that serve regional workforce needs; and (3) increasing higher education champions in the Portland region to execute these strategies, provide advocacy, and raise new, diverse resources.

Francesconi noted that the research component will leverage Portland’s reputation through a focus on life sciences and sustainability, with the proposed creation of a life sciences complex in the South Waterfront area. The complex would include drug development and manufacturing labs, clinical trial assistance, the Oregon State University and OHSU pharmacy program, PSU sciences, Oregon Institute of Technology health professions, and LEED facility with demonstration and research capabilities. This center would create the nexus for the next wave of business and a sustainable Oregon economy by attracting industrial partners, such as pharmaceuticals and bio-science firms, that would create clean industry and high paying jobs. Proposals include establishing a national laboratory focused on sustainable energy solutions in the areas of solar, wind, wave, and geo-thermal power; transportation research; demonstration facilities; resource management and smart operations; and green collar company incubation. Other proposed research and collaborations in Portland include UO product design, and Security Analysis Center; PSU materials, metals and manufacturing; OIT sustainable energy systems, and SOU/PSU theater collaboration. Additionally, the proposed plan includes having a central contact point for businesses to connect to higher education resources; improved program coordination; and improved connections between urban and rural communities through an OSU/PSU connections networks. Francesconi noted that next steps for the Committee are to develop and refine the focus areas described above, and to draft legislative policy packages that outline budget requests for the 2009-2011 legislative session.

Board director Dr. Dalton Miller-Jones presented an update on the progress of the Student Participation & Completion Committee proposals, called OpportunityOregon. He said that the overall goal is to increase the number of Oregon students academically prepared for postsecondary education and who enroll in college and persist to graduation, particularly under-represented students such as first-generation, rural, and students of color, among other populations. Miller-Jones described OpportunityOregon:AffordCollege proposal, which would provide advocacy for fully funding the Oregon Opportunity Grant, and create an expanded social marketing and outreach campaign to schools, colleges, families, and communities that would increase understanding of college-going and the financial aid process. Another major component is the OpportunityOregon:PrepareCollege proposal, which will increase capacity and reach and replicate existing pre-college academic enrichment and college preparatory programs in under-served Oregon communities; it is anticipated that this effort will quickly increase the number of students who are prepared for and enroll in postsecondary education institutions in the state.

Miller-Jones said that the OpportunityOregon:ConnectCollege proposal would expand statewide high school visitation programs by OUS and community colleges, providing financial aid counseling, campus visits, information dissemination to students and schools on attending and affording college, mentoring programs, and faculty interactions with K-12 schools. OpportunityOregon:GraduateCollege is another of the larger components of this proposal, with a goal of increasing OUS institutions’ capacity and reach in current retention programs and services, and creating inclusive programming and approaches targeted at students most at-risk of leaving college before graduation. This would include academic and mentoring support, and identifying and addressing campus climate issues that cause students to leave college. Jim Francesconi discussed OpportunityOregon:OptionsCollege, a proposal to expand current and create new PSU university centers at Portland-area community colleges, and ultimately support these types of centers at other OUS institutions. This would also include dual enrollment/credit programs in Portland and statewide; and a renewed focus on teacher education to meet current and future K-12 needs, in collaboration with private colleges. Miller-Jones said that next steps for the Committee include further developing these focus areas and drafting legislative budget proposals for the 2009-2011 legislative session, along with exploring other areas related to access that do not involve developing legislative budget proposals.

In other action and discussion at the meetings, the Board:

  • Accepted the Budget Projections Summary for December 31, 2007.
  • Accepted the Investment Report as of December 31, 2007.
  • Accepted the OUS Internal Audit Division progress report; and approved the 2008 OUS Internal Audit Plan.
  • Approved undergraduate admission requirements for 2009-10 Academic Year.
  • The OUS has worked with the Department of Justice and the Governor’s Advocate for Minority, Women, and Emerging Small Businesses to develop procurement rules that provide increased transparency, accountability, and flexibility for OUS institutions. Related to new OUS procurement rules, the Board repealed OAR Chapter 580 Division 50 in its entirety, OAR Chapter 580-042-0005(1)(f), OSU OAR Chapter 576-008-0200 through 0295, UO OAR Chapter 571-040-0010 through 0460, delete the below Internal Management Directives; and adopted permanent rules titled: Division 60 – Real Property, Facility, and Campus Planning; Division 61 – OUS Procurement and Contracting Code; Division 62 – Purchasing and Contracts for Personal or Professional Services and Goods and Services; and Division 63 – Capital Construction and Contracting.
  • Adopted the Optional Retirement Plan, Amendment 1, to permit non-spouse beneficiary rollover distributions of deceased participants’ accounts, effective August 1, 2007.
  • Approved a new Western Oregon University program, Master of Arts in History, effective fall 2008.
  • Approved the new institutional mission for Southern Oregon University.
  • Reviewed the Board schedule and Work Plan for 2008.
  • Voted to approve Board director Hannah Fischer as a member of the Executive Committee. It was also announced that Howard Sohn is resigning from the Board, but will continue to provide his expertise to the work of the Board Committees as his schedule allows.
  • Heard about new Board appointments by the Governor (not yet confirmed by the Oregon State Senate): Dr. Rosemary Powers, associate professor of Sociology at Eastern Oregon University will fill the new faculty slot; and Brian Fox, a junior at SOU, will fill one of the student slots, replacing Adrianna Mendoza of EOU whom the Board and the Chancellor thanked for her valuable service and commitment since 2004.
  • Discussed Legislative Concept Proposals to be put forth in the 2009 Legislative Session.
  • Rescinded the current administrative rules in Chapter 580, Divison 23, and approved adoption of the proposed rules as temporary rules related to Criminal Background Checks in ORS 181.534.
  • Heard reports from Board Task Teams; the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate; and Oregon Student Association.

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