Oregon University System

Oregon University System Logo



Higher Ed Board reviews universities' annual performance, considers role and impact of campus public services on Oregonians and

Cell: 971-219-6869 (today’s contact number); Office: 503-725-5714

PORTLAND, May 8, 2009 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today at Willamette University to review and hear reports and updates on campus performance, campus public services, and university foundations, among other items discussed by the Board. The Board and the Chancellor thanked Dr. M. Lee Pelton, president of Willamette University, and his colleagues for hosting the Board meeting on their campus.

OUS Performance     OUS vice chancellor for strategic programs and planning, Susan Weeks, summarized the OUS 2009 Performance Report, which covers 13 performance indicators, and reviews overall and campus performance. Oregon ranks 18th nationally in percent of the population with a bachelor’s degree (28.3%), but 31st in enrollment in higher education per 10,000 people. Some of the bachelor’s degree attainment reflects an influx of more highly educated workers coming to Oregon in the 1990s to work in growing industry sectors such as high tech. OUS ranks 20th in its graduation rates (54.2%) which is slightly higher than the national average; 23rd in average tuition and fees, with rates below the U.S. average; but OUS ranks 45th in state funding per student. Federal research dollars per faculty rank 5th nationally, an impressive ranking, but faculty salaries rank 46th. Oregon ranks 17th in the New Economy Index, which is down from a ranking of 11th in 2002, and includes indicators related to knowledge jobs, globalization, economic dynamism, transformation to digital economy, and technology innovation capacity.

Regarding access and participation, Ruth Keele, OUS director of performance measurement and outcomes, said that OUS enrollment increased at about double the national rate in the last 10 years, an increase of 33% and an additional 21,557 students, equivalent to an institution the size of University of Oregon. The 5.2% enrollment increase in fall 2008, to a record of 86,546 students, included the largest ever entering freshman class. She attributed some enrollment increases to 2007-09 biennial investments in OUS which increased academic and other support for students; and the significant increases in Oregon Opportunity Grants (OOG) to students with financial need. Regarding student progress and completion, Keele said that OUS retention rates have hovered around 80% since 2000, while the number of first time freshmen has grown 17% during that same time. System-wide, graduation rates dipped slightly for the 2002 first-time freshmen cohort, or class of 2008, to 59.4%, down from 59.7% for the class of 2007; although most campuses saw increases in graduation rates.

In the areas of educated citizenry and workforce development, OUS awarded almost 16,900 degrees, three-quarters of these bachelor’s degrees. Degree trends reflect enrollment patterns in earlier years; this is seen in the recent flat numbers of degrees awarded and the relationship to drops in first-time freshmen in 2003. An area to watch is the decline in doctoral programs since the late 1990s, as these graduates are critical to the state’s innovation capacity. Regarding knowledge creation and resources, Keele said that the robust research enterprises within OUS institutions energize the teaching and learning, helping to improve educational attainment, and attract and retain a strong faculty. Since 2000, research grants and contracts revenues have increased 48%, to a high of $328 million in 2008. In 2008, 97% of OUS sponsored research were funded by sources other than state funds, with over 65% federally funded; these positive funding trends are a testament to the expertise and entrepreneurialism of OUS faculty. OUS presidents then commented on the specific performance of their campuses and the reasons for increases and decreases in some of these indicators. For details on system and campus level performance, go to: /sites/default/files/factreport/mp/files/2009OUSPerformanceReport.pdf

Campus Public Services     Several faculty and administrative leaders from OUS institutions provided reports on the work of the campus public services, how important these are to Oregonians, how interconnected these services are to the core academic missions and research endeavors of the universities, their relationships with communities, and the quality and depth of students’ learning experiences. Oregon State University, University of Oregon, and Portland State University reported on how The Institute for Natural Resources effectively leverages state funds at a rate of 5 to 1, and has been successful in incubating new interdisciplinary partnerships. The OSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory provides testing services that determine if there are incidences of serious illnesses such as H1N1 influenza. The work of the Lab is integrated into the educational, research, and service missions of the College of Veterinary Medicine, providing hands-on training for students; doing basic and applied biomedical research; and providing animal and public health services. The OSU Climate Change Research Institute tracks changes in climates in Oregon and regionally to determine the impacts on our environment and citizens in the short and long term. PSU spoke to the importance of the Oregon Solutions program, the New Leadership Oregon program, and the Oregon Population Center, each of which provide connections to and solutions for Oregonians and communities. In these programs students learn to be better citizens and learn more effectively, and more resources are brought in to the university.

Out of UO, the Oregon Office for Community Dispute Resolution supports 25 counties through grants, consultation, training, research, technical assistance, and collaborative initiatives, helping almost 14,000 people over the last year, and involves students through research and internship programs. UO’s Labor Education and Research Center provides resources and expertise to workers, unions, policy makers and community partners throughout the state and northwest. The UO Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, along with the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History and the Oregon Bach Festival, provide learning experiences for visitors and students, enhancing public knowledge and appreciation of the arts and natural history. Eastern Oregon University has 3 public service efforts, including the Rural Oregon Institute, Mine Safety Center, and the Small Business Development Center, the latter of which ranks number one in the state in generating capital and generating jobs, and offers an annual entrepreneurial conference to create new businesses and jobs. Southern Oregon University public services include the Small Business Development Center, which provides business counseling services to local business owners, helping to create and retain jobs in southern Oregon, and helping business owners to obtain almost $1.5 million in capital; Jefferson Public Radio reaches over 1 million listeners and provides internship and experiential learning opportunities for students; Rogue Valley Television broadcasts to more than 70,000 cable-tv home in two counties, with SOU students and faculty supporting the production function. After discussion, the Board noted how important public services are to the missions of the universities, the learning of the students, and the engagement with communities across the state. Campus presidents and the board will take the impact and import of these programs into consideration when budget cut decisions have to be made in the coming months.

Foundations Update     Foundation leadership from OSU, PSU, and UO – J. Michael Goodwin, Tony Leineweber, and Gary Livesay, respectively – provided an overview of the university foundations. Foundation endowments encompass hundreds of funds including charitable gifts and bequests, which are usually established by donors for a specific purpose, with portions available each year. Endowments are used for financial aid, undergraduate teaching, to attract and retain talented faculty, to initiate promising research, and other university purposes. Spending averages for foundations nationally are between 4.6% and 5.1% of the endowment fund. Market value of the OUS foundations as of December 31, 2008 was $279 million for OSU; $21 million for PSU; and $307 million for UO, with the largest portion of each of these foundations’ funds being used for student and faculty support. With the impact of recent economic conditions each foundation endowment has declined, with distributions projected to be flat or down in FY2010. University endowments are not subject to mandatory payouts, although Congress is looking at a 5% annual distribution requirement, which may help current students at the expense of future students’ needs. Endowments are not a substitute for other funding sources especially in the current environment, but even during robust economic times as these are long-term resources with intergenerational responsibility.

In other action and discussion at the meetings, the Board and/or its committees:

  • Accepted the Quarterly Internal Audit Progress Report, as presented by Patricia Snopkowski, executive director of internal audit at OUS.
  • Accepted the Quarterly Management Report for March 31, 2009, as presented by Michael Green, OUS controller.
  • Accepted the OUS Investment Report as of March 31, 2009, as presented by Green.
  • Heard reports from the Board committees and subcommittees, including Sustainability, Sexual Assault, and Student Participation and Completion.
  • Heard reports from the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate; Oregon Student Association; and OUS Research Council.

WOU has an enrollment of over 5,000 students plus about 700 faculty and staff members.Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu

- OUS -
Eastern Oregon University | Oregon Institute of Technology | Oregon State University | Portland State University
Southern Oregon University | University of Oregon | Western Oregon University | Oregon Health & Science University - Affiliated