Oregon State University: Oregon State Board of Trustees approves operating budget for next fiscal year, building projects

The Oregon State University Board of Trustees on Friday approved a $1.53 billion budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year and approved constructing, renovating and advancing the design of more than $100 million in projects on 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 levels of pre-pandemic activity. The budget incorporates additional revenues from tuition increases approved in April, an increase in state funding over the current fiscal year and projected enrollment growth.

The board heard that while the pandemic’s financial impact is waning on the university’s self-support units, such as housing and dining services, athletics and other departments, those departments are still facing lagging revenues and changing dynamics going forward.

The board approved:

A $13.75 million project to renovate Gilkey Hall. This includes work within the building’s second and third floors to serve OSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services; replacement of the building’s roof; seismic improvements; and updates to the building’s accessibility, fire and life safety features, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.
A $7.3 million project to construct a 1,200-seat, partially covered, grandstand with a press box and restrooms at the Whyte Track and Field Center. The project will include upgrades to the site, and the relocation of an existing city sewer line near the track facility. Philanthropic contributions and athletics revenue will fund $5.2 million of the project’s cost, with the costs of relocating the sewer line to be paid 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 OSU’s Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses, and through Ecampus. The plan is a state requirement for public universities with education programs to help in diversifying and supporting K-12 educators and school districts throughout Oregon. The plan will next be considered for approval by the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

In other items, the board approved a modification to Honors College tuition rates for students enrolled on OSU’s Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses and enabled students enrolled in OSU through Ecampus to participate in the university’s Honors College. Trustees also approved amendments to the university’s investment policy; a new 15-year lease agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service for the National Clonal Germplasm Repository. The center is located on four acres of university land in Linn County that has been leased from OSU since 1978. In consideration of the many benefits provided OSU by the USDA, including research grants and collaboration, and contributions to university facilities, the board agreed to continue the land lease at no cost.

The board also approved an amendment to board policies related to the review and tracking of capital projects that may see cost increases or scope changes after being approved by the board.

Trustees heard reports from student leaders on the university’s Corvallis and Bend campuses, and updates from leaders within the OSU Faculty Senate, the OSU Foundation, and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

Trustee Julie Manning, chair of the presidential search advisory committee, gave an update on the search to select OSU’s next president. Finalist candidates were on the university’s Corvallis campus this week for forums with community members and interviews with trustees. Manning said the board will meet virtually on May 31 at 2 p.m. in executive session to consider community feedback and additional due diligence findings regarding candidates, and rank the candidates. The board will then meet virtually at 3:30 p.m. in a public session to delegate authority to the board chair to conduct negotiations with ranked candidates. The board anticipates naming the next president in a public meeting on June 3 or 7. The board also heard a report on the work of a transition committee that is helping plan for engagement and other activities for the new president in their first year of service.

The board heard an update on current and future federal government relations matters affecting higher education across the nation and also OSU. Over the past year, OSU has received more than $50 million in federal funds designated for continuing projects such as the construction of the PacWave wave energy testing facility off the Oregon coast and new investments in research involving hemp, shellfish, wheat, wine grapes, tree fruits, marine robotics, wildfire prevention and water resources.

Three board committees met Thursday:

The Finance & Administration Committee approved advancing two construction projects to the design phase:
A $51 million project to renovate Withycombe Hall on the Corvallis campus, including building a new dairy processing pilot plant and new wine processing pilot plant, and adding retail space for Beaver Classic cheese, ice cream and meat sales. A theater and educational program space in Withycombe Hall presently used by the College of Liberal Arts will be relocated as part of the development of the Arts and Education Complex now 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 being planned to include university academic and innovation space, performing arts spaces, housing and outdoor gathering areas and space to be used by private sector industry and office, restaurant and retail business partners. The first phase of the project is to transform approximately eight acres of land within the OSU-Cascades campus that previously was used as a former Deschutes County construction and demolition landfill. Some of the initial land development costs would be paid by $10 million in state funding approved in the 2022 Oregon legislative session.
The committee also heard reports on research infrastructure needs and OSU’s investment strategy.

The Executive & 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 in collegiate athletics regarding student-athlete name, image and likeness.
The Academic Strategies Committee approved a report on new and existing academic program reviews and professional accreditations. The committee also heard briefings 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 at OSU-Cascades. The program will be effective in fall 2022, pending the support of the Statewide Provosts Council and the approval of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
The OSU Board of Trustees also met jointly with the Oregon State University Foundation Board of Trustees on Wednesday. The boards heard presentations on how other university and foundation boards nationally collaborate and about the OSU Foundation’s next fundraising campaign.