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Higher Ed Board reviews U of O strategic report, work of system Research Council

Di Saunders – Office: 503-725-5714; Cell: 971-219-686

PORTLAND, October 5, 2007 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today at Portland State University to hear about the University of Oregon’s (UO) mission, programs, and plans; heard a report from the Oregon University System Research Council, and a report on intercollegiate athletics, among other items considered by the Board.

UO Strategic Plan     University of Oregon president Dave Frohnmayer, presented the university’s “portfolio” of assets, successes, and challenges, the last of OUS institutional reviews being completed this year. UO is the only member of the American Association of Universities (AAU) in Oregon, and one of only 62 in North America. Frohnmayer said that the UO has a strong mission commitment to undergraduate education and student access, awarding over 85,000 degrees since 1975, more than any other OUS institution. UO’s access mission is so important to the university that by next year it hopes to launch a program broadening access to all Oregonians through use of a new $75 million scholarship endowment, and aligning this with the expanded Oregon Opportunity Grant program.

UO has a strong commitment to excellence, illustrated through its Robert D. Clark Honors College, the oldest honors college in the nation. UO’s retention and graduation rates are the highest in System. The university is committed to liberal arts and professional programs in a living-learning residential environment that includes undergraduate involvement in research, and has a nationally ranked core liberal arts program. Based on surveys, UO believes that Oregonians value the capacity of graduates to think critically, problem-solve, and contribute effectively to their communities, and its recent accreditation report commended UO for fostering this on campus. Almost all of UO’s faculty come from AAU institutions, a testament to the quality of faculty, many of whom are involved in new discoveries and research. Technology licensing income at UO is 1.6 times the total of all other Oregon universities combined, with 86 U.S. patents and 195 technology out-license agreements since 1992; startup formation in FY 2007 per research dollar was 2.5 times the U.S. average for FY 2006, making UO’s technology ROI (income per research dollar) greater than the Universities of Washington, Michigan, Caltech, Harvard, and MIT.

A key component of UO’s commitment to excellence is its international efforts, noted Frohnmayer, with more than 20% of UO students having an international experience, and with 11,000 international alumni. International education also involves research collaborations with foreign institutions, both virtual and face-to-face, facilitated by UO’s membership in the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. Regarding UO programs in Portland, Frohnmayer said that these build on the strengths and niches of the university, and enhance public, private, and community partnerships. He referred to the Chinese language immersion program for which UO received a federal grant and is working in partnership with the Portland Public Schools.

Frohnmayer said that despite its many strengths and accomplishments, UO receives less state funding than other states, now receiving only 13% of its budget from the state of Oregon. UO receives 2.5 times more revenue from tuition than from the state; a reversal of 12 years ago. Regarding peer university comparisons, UO’s state funding is $3,232 per student, compared with their peer average of $10,036. Frohnmayer said that the Board has two choices to help UO fulfill its public mission: fund its mission, or create a governance structure that lets the UO succeed through greater independence such as what private institutions have available to them; the status quo is not an option. Even with additional flexibility and changes in governance, these cannot replace state funding but must be provided in addition to these new tools. OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner noted that budget reductions in recent biennia forced campuses to reduce student support services, physical plants, deferred maintenance upkeep, and other infrastructure that it will take many biennia and consistent levels of appropriate funding to regain. The Board thanked President Frohnmayer and asked him to provide them with more information regarding the implications of the choices that he provided so they can better understand the implications for UO and for the OUS as a whole.

Research Council     Rich Linton, chair of the OUS Research Council and Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at UO, reported on the work of the Council and OUS and Oregon Health & Science University research and sponsored programs. Formed in 2006, the Council works on research policy and best practices, collaboration and partnerships between universities and other sectors, technology transfer, infrastructure, compliance, communication and advocacy, and research performance metrics. Linton noted that grants and contracts for research are the largest OUS funding source currently, making up 32% of OUS revenues in FY 2006, with a total of $594 million in research expenditures between OUS and OHSU in FY 2006. Sponsored research for OUS has increased 50% since 2000, with OSU bringing in about ½ of awards, UO 1/3rd, and PSU 1/6th, with the regional campuses the rest. Linton said that OUS ranks 22nd among states for federal R&D funding, and is 6th among all states in per-faculty federal R&D funding, showing the high productivity and quality of OUS faculty. Licensing revenues are up 200% for OUS since 2000, and the number of start-up companies generated out of university research has increased 100% since 2000.

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

  • Recognized with sorrow and a moment of silence the contributions and commitment of Martha Anne Dow, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology, who passed away last week after a 6-month battle with breast cancer.
  • Recognized new Board member Paul Kelly and welcomed him to the Board.
  • Heard an update from Eastern Oregon University interim president Dixie Lund on the budget and enrollment plans for the institution. The Board and Chancellor thanked president Lund for her hard work and commitment to EOU, and that of the campus community, in quickly addressing and improving the budget and enrollment issues.
  • Voted unanimously to approve the Board Nominating Committee’s recommendation to appoint Ms. Kirby Dyess as Board president, replacing Henry Lorenzen whose term on the Board ended on September 30, 2007; to appoint Don Blair and Howard Sohn as vice presidents; and to appoint an executive committee made up of the board president, vice presidents, Tony Van Vliet, and Jim Francesconi; and that at the November meeting to change the Board by-laws so that the executive committee can expand beyond 5 members, and that two additional members be added in November to the Executive Committee, Dalton Miller-Jones and Adriana Mendoza.
  • Accepted the 2007 Annual Report on Investments, year ended June 30, 2007.
  • Concurred with UO’s request to undertake actions intended to result in the sale of the Willamette Block Building in Portland on commercially reasonable terms, with UO returning to the Board to seek approval of the property sale once a buyer is identified and sale terms negotiated.
  • Heard a report on the analysis of 2006-07 OUS financial statements.
  • Adopted a resolution for the sale of bonds ($10.8 million in XI-F(1) bonds and $10.34 million in XI-G bonds) for capital projects currently identified by the campuses as needing bond financing consistent with the overall bond limitation imposed by the Legislature for the period 2007-2009, with the adopted resolution (1) finding that the projects for which Article XI-F(1) bonds are proposed meet the self-liquidating and self-supporting requirements of Article XI-F(1), Section 2, of the Oregon Constitution and authorizing the sale of XI-F(1) bonds; and (2) authorizing the sale of XI-G bonds; and adopted a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of general obligation refunding bonds to achieve debt service savings.
  • Accepted the report on the Fiscal Status of Intercollegiate Athletics as of June 30, 2007. While all campuses except for UO still subsidize their intercollegiate athletics with state funds, there continue to be positive benefits to institutions that assist them in meeting their goals, including the economic impact of athletics on the campus community; the public service aspects of athletics, including involvement in charitable efforts; the marketing value of athletics; revenues which accrue to the institutions; joint use of athletic facilities; the impact of athletics on student retention at the university; gifting to the universities enhanced by athletics; and enhancing OUS student diversity, which enhances the quality and character of the educational enterprise for all students.
  • Approved the lease between Oregon State University and the OSU Foundation to renovate the third base side of Goss Stadium using $1.5 million in donated funds.
  • Heard a report from UO Provost Linda Brady on their strategic housing plan, phase 2, including a financial plan to accomplish housing goals.
  • Postponed action on one consent item regarding a new academic program at PSU, a Baccalaureate in Social Work program, pending receipt of additional information.
  • Heard reports from the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate and the Oregon Student Association.

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

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