In responsione: OSU and state support for higher education

After I wrote about Oregon’s abandonment of higher education, focusing on the situation at the University of Oregon, Steve Clark, Vice President for University Relations at OSU, responded to me with some informative comments.

Steve Clark, Oregon State University

Steve Clark, Oregon State University

Mr. Clark agreed to let me share them:

Like you, at Oregon State, we worry about the cost of higher education for Oregonians. I would like to share with you a number of steps we have taken to minimize the impacts of this change in state funding, but we do realize that there is more work to do in this regard. And while our efforts are many and have had a positive impact, we continue to urge Oregon legislators to restore higher education funding at least to levels provided in 2007.

Weatherford Hall at Oregon State University

Here is some information that I hope aids you and shows how Oregon State remains a public university for Oregonians.

I realize that while your column largely shared statistics about the University of Oregon, your point was that all of Oregon’s public universities are public in name only.

While OSU’s out-of-state and international enrollment has grown over the past decade, OSU’s undergraduate enrollment is still 74% made up of Oregonians. That percentage has declined over the past decade, but we have pledged to not let it fall below 66%. That’s our land grant mission.

Meanwhile, we have launched OSU Open Campus to bring educational programs directly to Oregon communities in partnership with local school districts, ESDs and community colleges. And we have dual degree partnerships with all of our Oregon’s 17 community colleges … so students can simultaneously enroll at OSU and the community college near their home and then transfer after a year or two of community college to attend Oregon State without losing credits. In some cases – such as in an agricultural sciences program with Klamath Community College – a student can graduate in four years without ever having to come to Corvallis, but instead take community college courses for two years or so and then complete their degree taking OSU on-line distance learning classes.

We do recognize tuition and fees are expensive. OSU’s in-state tuition and fees are $9,123 per year compared to the $9,918 you pointed out about UO. Still that is a lot more than students paid 7 to 10 years ago. Out-of-state tuition at OSU is $26,295 per year compared with $30,888 at UO.

With such a heavy tuition load in mind, we launched many years ago our Bridge to Success program. It enables 2,600 to 3,000 Oregonians per year to attend OSU without paying any tuition and fees. The program combines Oregon Opportunity Grants, federal Pell funds and university funds. And then there is our OSU Foundation philanthropy – The Campaign for OSU has raised more than $183 million for student scholarships.

Yes, there is a significant issue with how the state funds higher education in Oregon and we are working with the legislature to change that. Time will tell about such efforts. Meanwhile, as Oregon’s statewide university, we will not abandon Oregonians. And we will work hard to moderate costs, bring higher education to many Oregon communities, and grow funding for financial aid for students.

Steve Clark