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Higher Ed Board reviews universities' performance,

Di Saunders, Cell: 971-219-6869 (how to reach me today); Office: 503-725-5714

PORTLAND, May 2, 2008 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met yesterday and today at Portland State University to review performance of the seven Oregon University System campuses, budget modeling and goals, and appoint the next president of PSU, among other items considered by the Board.

Presidential Milestones
The Board voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Wim Wiewel as the new president of PSU (see related press release of 5-2-08 at www.ous.edu). Wiewel is currently the provost and senior vice president at the University of Baltimore, and will begin at PSU in mid-August.

Board president Kirby Dyess congratulated University of Oregon president Dave Frohnmayer on his many successful years as president at UO, as he announced his retirement earlier this week, effective in the summer of 2009. Board members and other OUS presidents recognized the stellar leadership provided by Frohnmayer, and the great extent to which he has made a positive impact on higher education in Oregon, expanding access and affordability, and growing the UO in numerous ways, including academic quality, rankings, and offerings, donor support, and other areas.

Performance Report
Susan Weeks, OUS vice chancellor for strategic programs and planning, and Ruth Keele, OUS director of performance measurement and outcomes, reported on the systemwide performance measurement program which monitors activity for policy development, System and institution self-evaluation, and effective management. Weeks noted that performance of the System is examined in the context of Board-approved goals and priorities in the areas of student access, progress, and success; and workforce development and knowledge creation (research). Keele said that while System-level improvement has occurred on every measure, there is significant slowing in the growth of total credit enrollment, bachelor’s degrees awarded, and sponsored research expenditures. Among highlights of the report she noted that, while enrollment has reached an all time high of 82,249 in fall 2007, the growth rate has slowed in recent years. She said that the Board has made increasing participation a key focus. High school graduates from rural Oregon, some students of color, first-generation students, and low income students are more likely to either enroll in community college or do not attend college at all.

Keele said that the retention rate for first-time freshmen reached a high of 80.5%, though rates have been fairly stable for the last decade. The six-year graduation rate also reached a new high of 59.7%, following several years of slow but steady improvement. A survey of graduates of the Class of 2005 showed that 84% gave high ratings to the quality of their educational experience at an OUS institution, the highest rate ever obtained through these surveys. Over 97% of 2005 graduates were employed when surveyed a year after graduation. In 2006-07, the OUS awarded 17,116 degrees, an increase of less than 1% over the prior year, and the third year of slowed growth after significant increases in several previous years. Sponsored research is a good indicator of national reputation, and OUS research expenditures have increased 33% in the last 5 years to a new high of $318 million in 2006-07. In an additional indicator, the net worth of all OUS foundations reached $1.2 billion, an increase of 15.2% over the previous year. Each of the OUS presidents then gave an overview of performance on their individual campuses.

Financial Modeling Projections
Jay Kenton, OUS vice chancellor for finance and administration, reviewed the goals presented to the 2007 legislature, and what the OUS would need to receive in funding and other support in order to meet these goals as well as even higher goals set by the state. These goals include enhanced access, affordability and student success, enhanced quality, and stewardship of facilities. Currently, 80% of the OUS operating budget goes to salaries, wages and benefits; faculty salaries are 83% of peers, and total compensation is 93% of peers; inflation continues to be higher than base budget increases received from the state. There has been a leveling of enrollment in OUS in the last few years, although it has increased 28% over last 10 years. Oregon had the largest decrease of any state in funding per student between 1991 to 2006, and was 46th in per student funding for postsecondary education in 2006. Also between 1991 and 2006, state support fell from 62% to 37% for OUS; tuition and fees went from 29% of the OUS budget to 53%, with costs shifting to students. OUS did receive more funding for deferred maintenance in the 2007 session, which helped to reduce the backlog of $640 million by about $60 million, although recent inflation has almost eliminated the headway made in the backlog.

In order to reach the state goal, through the “Oregon Shines” report, of 40% of Oregonians with 4-year or higher degrees, 40% with associates degrees, and 20% with high school diplomas, OUS would need to double enrollment within the System to about 6% growth each year, or about 5,000 students per year; doubling the size of every institution over next 10 years. In concluding, Kenton said that OUS would need added state funding in all of the growth scenarios in order to grow enrollments, increase faculty salaries, lower student:faculty ratios, limit tuition increases and increase affordability, and make headway on the deferred maintenance backlog. Board member Don Blair noted that, besides needing increased funding to make gains in student educational attainment, they must also take responsibility to engineer the System to be as efficient and effective as it can be, including different approaches to running the institutions. Only focusing on trying to get increased funding will not solve the significant challenges within the OUS.

WOU Tuition Promise Update
Western Oregon University associate provost David McDonald gave an update on WOU’s guaranteed tuition program, Western Tuition Promise, implemented in fall 2007. Benefits of the program include price certainty for families as there is not a tuition increase over a student’s four years at WOU; increased likelihood of graduation, reduced time to degree, reduced loan debt for students, and increased enrollment and thus revenues. They have seen an increase in enrollment, retention and fiscal stability with use of the Promise program as well as other efforts through recruitment and retention programs. WOU had record enrollment last fall, and focuses intensively on student advising, with nationally recognized advising staff. WOU will provide another report in fall 2009, as being such a new program, the results are too early to fully measure the specific impacts of the Promise.

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

  • Accepted the Investment Report for the third quarter 2008 as presented by OUS controller Michael Green.
  • Accepted the Quarterly Management Report for March 31, 2008 as presented by Michael Green.
  • Heard an OUS internal audit progress report from OUS director of audit, Patricia Snopkowski.
  • Approved the following new academic programs: PSU – Graduate Certificate in Infant/Toddler Mental Health, effective fall 2008; and UO – B.A./B.S./B.Ed. in Educational Foundations, effective fall 2008.
  • Approved OIT’s request for additional Article 11-F bond limitation of $15,499,999 for issuance of Article XI-F(1) bonds to finance construction a new housing facility, and authorized the chancellor or designee to seek authorization for this from the Legislative Emergency Board.
  • Received a briefing on the 2009-2011 Legislative Policy Option Packages, but discussion was deferred to June.
  • Approved four separate requests from the UO for additional Other Funds Limitation for: (1) $20 million for the UO Baseball Park Project; (2) 4.7 million for renovations of the UO College of Education; (3) $7.8 million for an underground parking structure project; and (4) $2.1 million for renovations for the UO School of Music; and for all these projects, authorized the chancellor or designee to seek approval from the Legislative Emergency Board.
  • Approved the OUS Certificates of Participation (COP) budget request of $18.4 million to finance capital costs related to construction or acquisition in 2009-11.
  • Approved Oregon State University’s request to expend the balance of the Edmund Emperuer quasi-endowment fund.
  • Heard a presentation from William Newman of Northwest Technology Ventures on research investments and technology commercialization related to Oregon University System campuses and Oregon Health & Science University.
  • Chancellor Pernsteiner announced that two new presidential searches would begin soon, for the presidents of the UO and of Eastern Oregon Univeristy.
  • Heard reports the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate; and the Oregon Student Association.

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of eleven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu

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