Oregon State University President Ed Ray delivered his annual State of the University Address on Wednesday at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland to a crowd of over 750 people.
“As we prepare to celebrate our 150th anniversary as Oregon’s statewide university, you can count on this: Oregon State will continue to serve others while having a meaningful impact throughout Oregon, the nation and the world,” Ray said.
As part of that commitment to impacting all Oregonians, Ray discussed Oregon State’s new satellite campus in Bend, an upcoming marine research center in Newport and OSU’s many online degree programs.
Students already part of the university were mentioned as well, especially those currently conducting groundbreaking research.
“Grant-funded research at Oregon State last year totaled a record $336 million – a nine percent increase over 2015, which also was a record year. As a result, the economic and societal impact of OSU research, in Oregon and globally, exceeded three quarters of a billion dollars last year,” Ray said.
Despite his positive overall message, President Ray recognized that OSU is not without its concerns, especially regarding student retention and graduation rates. He explained his key proposal to address this problem, the Student Success Initiative. By 2020, OSU intends to raise first-year retention rates for all undergraduate students to 90 percent and six-year graduation rates to 70 percent.
President Ray also touched on the economic inequalities that can affect a student’s ability to complete their degree.
Ray also stressed the importance of increased state funding to Oregon’s public universities. Gov. Kate Brown’s proposed budget for the 2017-2019 biennium keeps funding levels the same as the last biennium.
“Undaunted, Oregon’s seven public university presidents are seeking a $100 million increase in state operating funds for the 2017-19 biennium to maintain educational quality, student programming and to contend with the cost of state-mandated employee benefits,” Ray said.