Oregon State Board of Trustees Approves Construction Projects, President’s Goals

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Board of Trustees on Friday approved OSU President Jayathi Murthy’s goals for fiscal 2023 and advanced construction on several projects at the Corvallis campus and Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

The Board heard a report on OSU’s efforts to promote equity, inclusion and social justice; received updates related to discussions with stakeholders and heads of state regarding OSU’s management of the Elliott State Research Forest and Oregon State legislative priorities; and heard a presentation on best practices in board governance.

Murthy’s presidential goals call for deepening ties with OSU stakeholders, including industry partners, elected officials, community leaders, and K-12 and college leaders; evaluating OSU strategies and progress in key areas such as student success, research, equity, and statewide engagement and service; and advocating government support for higher education and priority OSU initiatives, including work to advance the semiconductor industry.

Other goals for the President include participating in the development of OSU’s next strategic plan; deepening ties with the OSU Foundation; Evaluate the effectiveness of university-wide marketing and communications to increase OSU’s impact within Oregon and beyond; and working with the leaders of OSU Athletics and the PAC-12 conference to contribute strategies in the changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics.

“I am very committed to these goals and very excited for the work ahead,” said Murthy. “I am committed to significantly improving student access and supporting student success, including higher graduation rates.”

Murthy said she is keen to increase Oregon state’s already large research footprint, which totaled more than $471 million in grant-funded research last year.

“OSU is well positioned to address and solve some of the most complex issues facing Oregon and the world in areas such as climate, sustainability, community economic resilience and water resources,” Murthy said. “This work is vital to humanity and requires collaboration across OSU and with other universities, as well as support and partnership with state and federal leaders and business stakeholders.”

The Trustees approved an Order of Recognition recognizing Becky Johnson as a University Faculty Member, Academic Director and Vice President of OSU-Cascades for her service as interim President of the State of Oregon from May 2021 to early September 2022 and for her service beginning in 1984.

The Trustees heard from Scott Vignos, interim vice president and chief diversity officer, that OSU is making significant progress in advancing the university’s diversity strategic plan. Efforts include adoption of an employee’s color preservation and success strategy; expanded educational partnerships; Formation of a share management consortium within OSU; expanded support for local and indigenous students, employees and communities; and expanded diversity community relationships throughout Oregon.

According to Vignos, future priorities include expanding programs to improve faculty and staff recruitment and retention committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and expanding the engagement and services offered in the Portland area by OSU Extension, OSU departments including Student Affairs and the Office of Institutional Diversity are offered by the OSU Alumni Association and the OSU Foundation.

A panel discussion followed with university faculty and staff working on diversity, equal opportunity and inclusion programs.

Trustees approved several building and construction projects on Friday, including:

  • A $71 million project to refurbish Withycombe Hall on the Corvallis campus, which will include additional student meeting space, laboratory improvements, a dairy and winery renovation, and the addition of retail space to sell Beaver Classic cheese, ice cream and will include meat. The renovated dairy and winery will offer students new learning opportunities to prepare them for career opportunities. The renovation will also create expanded opportunities for Oregon State researchers and provide the opportunity to develop best practices for sustainably producing dairy and wine using less water, energy and packaging, while controlling the carbon footprint for those products.

  • A $13 million project to improve the university research vessel dock at Hatfield Marine Science Center. The original dock was built in the early 1960s and expanded in the 1990s. The project is necessary to accommodate the new regional-class research vessel, the RV Taani, due to arrive in Newport in 2023, as well as vessels that the university may operate in the future. The 1960’s portion of the dock will be replaced and a new support system will be installed to accommodate cranes, tankers and large forklifts. The dock will also be widened and utilities will be replaced.

  • A $5 million budget increase for improvements to the Washington Way project on the Corvallis campus. The project is now expected to cost $29 million, up from $24 million when the board originally approved it in 2019. The project will reconstruct the Washington Way corridor, including several intersections, and will include pedestrian safety works , bicycles, roads and railways. A portion of the increase will be paid by the City of Corvallis to help replace an aging city water main.

The board also approved a board work plan for 2023 and the results of the board review for 2022.

They also heard reports from student leaders on the university’s Corvallis and Bend campuses and updates from executives from the OSU Faculty Senate, the OSU Foundation, the Presidential Transitional Committee of Trustees, and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

Three board committees met Thursday:

  • The Executive & Audit Committee approved its annual work plan, an external audit report and a report from the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance. The committee also discussed a report from the Office of General Counsel, the Annual Compliance & Ethics Program Report and a presentation on Board of Trustees vacancies.

  • The Finance and Administration Committee approved its annual work plan and heard an update to the university’s fiscal year 2023 operating budget and a report from the Department of Finance and Administration on the department’s efforts to drive a framework for success that supports informed and transparent decision-making throughout the division. Committee members heard a report on a proposed $213 million 150,000-square-foot Jen-Hsun and Lori Huang Collaborative Innovation Complex to be built on OSU’s Corvallis campus in 2026. The committee approved the project to move to the next phase of design development.

  • The Academic Strategies Committee approved its annual work plan and an occupational safety report, and heard briefings on faculty matters and expansion and engagement programs offered by OSU. The committee approved the offer of a bachelor’s degree in teaching to be offered on OSU’s Corvallis campus beginning in the spring of 2023, a program designed to help address the state’s teacher shortage. The degree is currently only offered at OSU-Cascades in Bend. The degree program being offered at Corvallis is pending approval by the Statewide Provosts Council and the State Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

During the board meeting, the trustees heard public testimonies from eight community members on the College of Forestry’s research forest planning; three community members on university student housing plans; and a graduate student on OSU Assistant Compensation.

The board meeting ended with an executive session permitted by Oregon law.

The board held a retreat Wednesday at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in the Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building to discuss the development of the university’s next strategic plan.

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