OSU says it will form a governing board

2013-07-31T07:30:00Z OSU says it will form a governing boardBy BENNETT HALL, CORVALLIS GAZETTE-TIMES Corvallis Gazette Times

As expected, OSU opts to break away from Oregon University System

Oregon State University is going independent.

President Ed Ray announced Tuesday morning that OSU will form an institutional governing board, following the University of Oregon and Portland State in seeking autonomy from the Oregon University System.

Under new authority granted by the 2013 Legislature, the state’s three largest public universities will form boards of 11 to 15 members appointed by the governor. Each board will assume responsibility for setting business policies, establishing tuition and fees, overseeing academic programs, submitting a budget directly to the Legislature and supervising the university’s president.

“I was asked to submit names of people, and we did so,” Ray said.

He declined to identify any of the nominees but said the list provided plenty of options for the governor to pick from.

“We chose people from in state, out of state, from all regions of the state,” Ray said. “It’s a very diverse group because we wanted all voices at the table.”

OSU’s board will begin its work next July and will include one student, one faculty member and one non-faculty employee as well as civic, business and educational leaders. Ray will have an ex-officio spot on the board.

Gov. John Kitzhaber is expected to announce his appointments in mid-August. The Oregon Senate will hold confirmation hearings in September.

Board members will not be paid, but the cost of staffing and supporting the governing body is estimated to run $350,000 to $500,000 a year.

Though Tuesday’s announcement did not come as a surprise, Ray initially opposed the notion pushed by UO and PSU that it would be better to break free of the Oregon University System.

But as the proposal gained steam he changed his stance, warning that OSU might find itself fighting for budget scraps with the state’s smaller regional universities if it chose to remain in the system.

Ray said the move will give OSU far greater control over its own destiny.

“As a practical matter, there was a lot that worked in the direction of having our own institutional board and doing it on the same timeline as UO and PSU,” he said.

But he also pledged to maintain strong ties to what remains of the Oregon University System. Because of OSU’s land grant status and statewide presence through the Extension Service and other programs, he said, the university bears a special responsibility to all Oregonians.

“One of the things an institutional board can do is really focus on what the institution is doing,” Ray said. “The challenge is how do you get them all coordinated and on the same page, and that will be a challenge for the HECC, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.”

The challenge for Oregon State will be recruiting top-flight board members who can advance the university’s interests in the Legislature and elsewhere while providing responsible oversight that doesn’t cross the line into micromanagement.

Ray anticipates that OSU will bring in consultants to help develop policies and procedures to ensure an optimal working relationship between the university and its trustees.

“It’s not a given, if you have an institutional board, that it would work the way you want it to,” he noted. “There’s a lot that has to happen for this to work right, and it’s going to take a lot of work.”

Reporter Bennett Hall can be contacted at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@gazettetimes.com.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. curious one
    Report Abuse
    curious one - July 30, 2013 5:13 pm
    Who picks up the tab when they goof? And I thought the fees were misused when I went there! I hate it when we create kingdoms - the people always pay the price.
  2. captain america
    Report Abuse
    captain america - July 30, 2013 3:58 pm
    What little hope of our young people getting a college education will be out the window. The greed of the state board of higher ed to allow tuition hikes in the past years was criminal, to let OSU set the tuition is like having the fox guard the henhouse.
  3. TruthIs
    Report Abuse
    TruthIs - July 30, 2013 12:09 pm
    Essentially OSU becomes more like an independent business with its own interests, but enormous power that private businesses don't have. One hopes the G-T will do more reporting on the potentially profound implications of this, including implications for city governance.

    What are the long term implications for state and local governance, not to mention civic comity, when an ostensibily "public body" governed by a board solely responsible to the governor and not election by the people, has the ability to request public bonding, but is otherwise free to engage in any business activities to advance its own financial interests? This includes, but is not limited too, the legal right to selectively and preferentially partner in any manner with for-profit businesses. The answers and historical lessons may not be as clear as some might argue for their own reasons.

    From SB 270:

    SECTION 10. { + (1) Except as set forth in this section, the governing board may authorize, establish, eliminate, collect, manage, use in any manner and expend all revenuederived from tuition and mandatory enrollment fees.

    SECTION 11. { + (1) A university with a governing board may:
    (b) Borrow money for the needs of the university in such amounts and for such time and upon such terms as may be determined by the university or the governing board.
    (c) Make any and all contracts and agreements, enter into any partnership, joint venture or other business arrangement and create and participate fully in the operation of any business structure, including but not limited to the development of business structures and networks with any public or private government, nonprofit or for-profit person or entity,that in the judgment of the university or the governing board is necessary or appropriate.
    (e) Purchase, receive, subscribe for or otherwise acquire, own, hold, vote, use, sell, mortgage, lend, pledge, invest in or otherwise dispose of and deal in or with the shares, stock or other equity or interests in or obligations of any other entity. The State of Oregon may not have any proprietary or other interest in investments or funds referenced in this paragraph.
    (f) Acquire, purchase, purchase on a contractual basis, borrow, receive, own, hold, control, convey, sell, manage, operate, lease, lease-purchase, license, lend, invest in, issue, improve, develop, use, expend and dispose of personal property, including
    intellectual property, of any nature, tangible or intangible.
    (h) Take, hold, grant, pledge or dispose of mortgages, liens and other security interests on real and personal property.
    (i) Spend all available moneys without appropriation or expenditure limitation approval from the Legislative Assembly, except for moneys received by a university with a governing board pursuant to a funding request submitted under section 8 (4) of this 2013 Act and the proceeds of state bonds issued for the benefit of a university with a governing board.

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