Oregon State Board of Directors Approves Next Year’s Operating Budget and Construction Projects
CORVALLIS, Ore. — The Oregon State University Board of Trustees on Friday approved a $1.53 billion budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year and approved the construction, renovation and design advancement of more than $100 million worth of projects at the Corvallis and Bend campuses.
After two years of significant budget unpredictability due to the pandemic, the new budget provides more certainty as the university returns to pre-pandemic activity levels. The budget incorporates additional revenue from tuition increases approved in April, increased state funding in the current fiscal year, and projected enrollment growth.
The board heard that while the financial impact of the pandemic is diminishing on the university’s self-sufficiency units, such as housing and food services, athletics and other departments, those departments are still facing lagging income and changing dynamics in the future.
The board approved:
A $13.75 million project to renovate Gilkey Hall. This includes work on the building’s second and third floors to service OSU counseling and psychology services; replacement of the roof of the building; seismic upgrades; and updates to accessibility, fire and life safety features, plumbing, building electrical and mechanical systems.
A $7.3 million project to build a 1,200-seat, partially covered grandstand with press box and restrooms at the Whyte Track and Field Center. The project will include site improvements and the relocation of an existing municipal sewer line near the track facility. Philanthropic contributions and athletics revenue will fund $5.2 million of the cost of the project, with sewer line relocation costs to be paid for by the university.
The board heard a report and unanimously approved a College of Education equity plan to increase the recruitment, admission, retention and graduation of diverse student educators enrolled in college programs on the Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses of OSU, and via Ecampus. The plan is a state requirement for public universities with education programs to help diversify and support K-12 educators and school districts throughout Oregon. The plan will then be reviewed for approval by the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
In other items, the board approved a change to Honors College tuition rates for students enrolled at OSU’s Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses and allowed students enrolled at OSU through Ecampus to participate in the Honors College of the university. Trustees also approved changes to the university’s investment policy; a new 15-year lease with the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture for the National Clonal Germplasm Repository. The center is located on four acres of university land in Linn County that has been leased to OSU since 1978. Given the many benefits provided to OSU by the USDA, including research and collaborative grants, and contributions to university facilities, the board agreed to continue the lease of the land at no cost.
The board also approved an amendment to board policies relating to the review and monitoring of capital projects that may see cost increases or changes in scope after being approved by the board.
Trustees heard reports from student leaders at the university’s Corvallis and Bend campuses, as well as updates from leaders in the OSU Faculty Senate, OSU Foundation, and Coordinating Commission of higher education.
Administrator Julie Manning, Chair of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, provided an update on the search to select the next OSU President. The finalist candidates were on the university’s Corvallis campus this week for forums with community members and interviews with administrators. Manning said the board will meet virtually May 31 at 2 p.m. in executive session to consider community feedback and additional due diligence findings regarding the nominees, and rank the nominees. The board will then meet virtually at 3:30 p.m. in open session to delegate authority to the chairman of the board to conduct negotiations with the ranked candidates. The board plans to appoint the next chair at a public meeting on June 3 or 7. The board also heard a report on the work of a transition committee that helps plan engagement and other activities for the new president in his first year of service.
The board heard an update on current and future federal government relations issues affecting higher education across the country and also OSU. Over the past year, OSU has received more than $50 million in federal funds to pursue projects such as the construction of the PacWave wave energy test facility off the coast of Oregon and new investments in research on hemp, shellfish, wheat, wine grapes, fruit trees, marine robotics, forest fire prevention and water resources.
Three board committees met on Thursday:
The Finance and Administration Committee approved the advancement of two construction projects to the design phase:
A $51 million project to renovate Withycombe Hall on the Corvallis campus, including the construction of a new dairy processing pilot plant and a new wine processing pilot plant, and the addition of a retail space for Beaver Classic cheese, ice cream and meat sales. A theater and education program space at Withycombe Hall currently used by the College of Liberal Arts will be moved as part of the development of the arts and education complex currently under construction on the Corvallis campus.
A $34 million project to develop land for a proposed innovation district at OSU-Cascades in Bend. The 24-acre Innovation District is planned to include academic and innovation spaces, performing arts spaces, outdoor housing and gathering areas, and spaces for use by private sector industry and business, restaurant and retail partners. The first phase of the project involves transforming approximately eight acres of land on the OSU-Cascades campus that was previously used as a former Deschutes County construction and demolition landfill. Some of the initial land development costs would be paid for by $10 million in state funding approved in Oregon’s 2022 legislative session.
The committee also heard reports on OSU’s research infrastructure needs and investment strategy.
The Executive and Audit Committee approved a progress report from the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance. The committee also heard updates on OSU’s Department of Public Safety, risk management, and the changing landscape of collegiate athletics regarding the name, image, and likeness of student-athletes. .
The Academic Strategies Committee approved a report on reviews of new and existing academic programs and professional accreditations. The committee also heard presentations on student life, student-athletes and talent management. The committee approved the creation of a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology for delivery to OSU-Cascades. The program will come into effect in the fall of 2022, pending support from the Statewide Provosts Council and approval from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
The OSU Board of Trustees also met on Wednesday with the Oregon State University Foundation Board of Trustees. Boards heard presentations on how other university and foundation boards are collaborating nationally and on the OSU Foundation’s upcoming fundraising campaign.