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Higher Ed Board endorses tuition equity, reviews Governor’s Recommended Budget

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

PORTLAND, March 4, 2011 – The State Board of Higher Education met today to, among other items, review the Governor’s Recommended Budget for 2011-13, consider endorsement of tuition equity, review a policy on use of investment earnings from tuition, passed a resolution to recognize the 10th anniversary of OSU-Cascades, and heard about the PSU/OHSU alliance, among other items they considered.

Tuition Equity   

Board vice-president Jim Francesconi led the Board in a discussion about tuition equity, which is currently before the Oregon legislature as Senate Bill 742. He noted that the business community has endorsed the bill because they understand that it is about serving the residents of Oregon and ensuring a strong workforce. Tuition equity is a term used to describe the provision of in-state tuition to students who are technically “undocumented” based on their parents’ legal residency status. Many of these students have attended some or all of their K-12 education in the U.S., but due to the status of their parents, must pay out-of-state tuition at OUS campuses. Senate Bill 742 states that undocumented students will be eligible for in-state tuition at an OUS institution if the student attended an elementary or secondary school in Oregon for at least three years before getting a diploma, or equivalent, and intends to become a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States. A student would continue to qualify for in-state tuition for a maximum of five years after initial enrollment.

The chancellor said that no one campus is expected to serve more than 15 students in the next 4 years. OUS presidents and board members noted that the state has already invested in these students, and they have the potential to succeed at college. There is talent that is being unrealized that this bill will help Oregon achieve. These students are a key part of the state’s communities and culture and this is an important bill for Oregon that should be passed. The Board unanimously passed a Resolution supporting SB 742 on tuition equity.

Update on GRB    

OUS vice chancellor for finance and administration, Jay Kenton, presented an update on the Governor’s Recommended Budget for OUS. The GRB for State General Fund is $714.7 million compared to the 2009-11 budget (as of May 2010) of $751.9 million, a decrease of 5%, which includes debt service. Some of the key components of the GRB include: an emphasis on undergraduate programs and key economic development programs; prioritization of certain programs related to statewide workforce goals, such as healthcare, engineering, and teacher education over other programs; a redirection of funding from rewarding enrollment growth to promoting progress toward and completion of degrees and certificates; and a review of campus and statewide public services and other targeted programs to determine their contribution to core outcomes. Kenton said that the direction above may require modifications to the Resource Allocation Model (RAM). There may be issues related to tuition and fees, such as possible increasing reliance on differential tuition to replace redirected State General Fund to different priorities as noted above.

The OUS capital budget totals $406.9 million for 27 capital projects, most of which are related to capital repair and deferred maintenance; no General Fund-backed debt is included in this budget, and any state-backed debt will be funded with Lottery bonds. Kenton said that the release of the GRB is just the first step in many steps to get to a final OUS budget. The next step is the release of the Co-Chair’s budget later in March. Legislative deliberations will continue until after the May 2011 forecast is received, and by law, the Legislatively Approved Budget must balance to the May forecast.

Central Oregon Report     Board member Kirk Schueler, who is the chair of the Higher Education Assessment Team (HEAT) of Central Oregon, presented two revised components of the Central Oregon Higher Education Report to the Board, previously approved by the Academic Strategies Committee in February. The changes included revisions to the long term goals and actions, and to the objective related to research. After brief discussion, the Board accepted the proposed changes to the 2010 HEAT report. In another agenda item, the Board passed a resolution to recognize the 10th anniversary of OSU-Cascades, which has expanded access and opportunity to 4 year degrees in Central Oregon.

Tuition Investment Earnings     OUS chancellor George Pernsteiner provided a summary of the proposed policy for tuition investment earnings which is part of the overall OUS governance proposal.  He noted that the Board adopted the recommendation of the Governance and Policy Committee on use of investment earnings from tuition revenue and directed that each university use the net proceeds from investment earnings on tuition revenue to provide need-based grant aid to Oregon resident undergraduate students. This would become effective at the passage of Senate Bill 242 and is conditioned upon that passage and the changes in OUS governance within that bill. OUS does not currently retain interest earnings on tuition; these revert to the State.

PSU/OHSU Alliance     PSU provost Roy Koch and OHSU provost David Robinson provided an overview of the Portland State University and Oregon Health and Science University alliance. The alliance is the outcome of their Strategic Partnership Task Force, formed by both presidents to make recommendations on how the two universities can best work together to leverage state resources and meet educational needs in the Portland region and Oregon as a whole. After nearly a year of study, the Task Force recommends that OHSU and PSU formally link the two universities and encourage future collaboration with a new strategic alliance.

In other action and discussion at this and recent meetings, the Board and/or its Committees:

  • Accepted the Investment Report as of December 31, 2010 (at 2-4-11 Finance and Administrative Committee).
  • Accepted the Quarterly Management Report for December 31, 2010 (at 2-4-11 Finance and Administrative Committee)
  • Accepted the 2010 OUS Annual Report (at 2-4-11 Finance and Administrative Committee).
  • Approved the Internal Audit 2010 Final Progress Report and 2011 Annual Audit Plan (at 2-4-11 Finance and Administrative Committee).
  • Approved new academic programs (at the 2-24-11 Academic Strategies Committee meeting): Southern Oregon University, M.A. in French Language Teaching, effective Summer 2011; Western Oregon University, B.A./B.S. in Gerontology, effective fall 2011, and, M.A. in Interpreting Studies, effective Summer 2011; approved a process for Oregon University System institutions to develop and offer Professional Science Master’s programs, effective immediately.
  • The Board adopted the following resolution, (1) estimating that the Board will have sufficient revenues to pay the XI-F(1) bonds and operate the projects financed with the XI-F(1) bonds, without considering any amounts appropriated by the legislative assembly from the State’s General Fund; (2) authorizing the sale of Article XI-F(1) bonds; and (3) authorizing the sale of Article XI-G bonds.
  • Authorized OSU to award honorary doctorates to Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Mr. Jon DeVaan; and PSU to award honorary doctorates to Dr. Betty Roberts and Mr. Scott Davis, at their June 2011 Commencement ceremonies.
  • The board approved a change in policy that OUS institutions can now confer honorary degrees without having to get approval from the State Board of Higher Education. Each institution shall adopt criteria for the awarding of these degrees.
  • Heard updates from Board committees including Academic Strategies, Finance and Administration, and Governance and Policy. The ASC noted that they are working on a process for addressing all aspects of diversity within the OUS.
  • Heard reports/statements from the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate, and the Oregon Student Association.

The Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities and one branch campus, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of twelve members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu; and for today’s Board Docket materials go to: http://www.ous.edu/state_board/meeting/dockets