February 7, 2001

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5714
Source: Joe Cox, 503-346-5700

Chancellor Recommends OSU Manage Central Oregon Branch

EUGENE - Oregon's first branch university campus in Central Oregon should be developed as a part of Oregon State University recommends the chancellor of the Oregon University System.

Chancellor Joe Cox, in an endorsement sent today to the members of the State Board of Higher Education, says OSU's proposal to manage the new Bend branch offers the best solution for enhancing and expanding higher educational opportunity in the region.

The recommendation fulfills a requirement set by the board in a request-for-proposal process to designate a manager for the branch campus. Both OSU and the University of Oregon have submitted proposals to manage the new institution.

"As we analyzed the region's need for academic programs, for workforce development and for educational services, the OSU proposal seemed to be a better fit," Cox said. "The university's presence through Extension and other outreach services offers an established infrastructure to support new initiatives, and OSU's broader and bolder 'new university' model.extends further and more deeply into the Central Oregon region."

"This was an extremely difficult recommendation to make," Cox said. "Both proposals embrace dynamic ideas and extraordinary vision for extending higher education throughout Central Oregon. We are most appreciative of the work done by the U of O and OSU, their administrations and faculty."

Board members will consider the chancellor's recommendation on Friday, Feb. 16 during a scheduled meeting in Corvallis. The board is expected to award the management of the new Central Oregon branch at that meeting.

Today's announcement is one of the final steps in a nearly 50-year effort to bring a complete four-year university program to the state's fastest growing region. Implementation of the new branch still requires start-up funding by the Oregon Legislature. A $7.2 million request for 2001-2003 is now pending before state lawmakers.

Central Oregon Community College (COCC) has been the mainstay of the region's postsecondary education programs since its founding in 1949 as part of the Bend School District. As the oldest community college in Oregon, COCC has offered a variety of two-year programs and has been a partner in the effort to bring upper-division courses and programs into the region.

In recent years, OUS has brokered limited upper-division and graduate programs through its Central Oregon University Center whose enrollments have grown steadily.

In July 1998 leaders from both the state board and the COCC board joined forces to investigate how the region could be better served by higher educational programs and services. The idea of the state's first branch university campuses grew out of those discussions and ensuing local efforts led an advisory group known as Central Oregon Regional Advisory Board (CORAB).

Since December 2000 the Chancellor's staff has been working with CORAB, the COCC board and other COCC representatives to review the two branch campus proposals. The proposals have envisioned developing the new branch in different ways, drawing upon respective campus strengths.

The OSU proposal, recommended by OUS, crafts the concept of "a leading-edge, 21st Century University" that combines strong, traditional face-to-face teaching with high technology educational delivery.

It relies on having lower-division work done by students at COCC, then seamlessly enabling those students to move directly into upper division classes and programs offered by OSU and its partner campuses, Eastern Oregon University in La Grande and the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. The plan promises the delivery of nine undergraduate majors, two graduate majors, four minors and one graduate certificate program during the first two years of operation with classes starting next fall.

The OSU plan earned high marks from OUS officials for its academic design, outreach components, focus on student affairs and historic community relationships.

"The breadth and balance of programs proposed by OSU better serves the interest of greater Central Oregon, has more potential for attracting students, and better matches the regional economy," concludes the OUS recommendation.

"OSU's ubiquity in Central Oregon, through its statewide services, its promising concept of the Regional Learning Network, and its several established outreach programs to K-12 students give it the decided edge in term of broad outreach to constituencies, including prospective students."

And, says the recommendation, the university's extended history of "integral connections to the communities of Central Oregon gave the advantage in building the long-term support necessary to sustain the branch."

The chancellor's recommendation suggests that the working name of the branch be "Oregon State University-Central Oregon." Pending board approval, it also suggests that OSU be directed to work with the Chancellor's Office to develop a complete an implementation plan by April 1 and appoint a new full-time interim chief executive officer for the branch by September.

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