Oregon State Board of Trustees approve building projects, presidential goals

[Oregon State University] Oregon State Board of Trustees approve building projects, presidential goals

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

The board heard a report on efforts to advance equity, inclusion and social justice within OSU; received updates related to discussions with stakeholders and state leaders regarding OSU managing the Elliott State Research Forest, and Oregon State’s legislative priorities; and heard a presentation on best practices in governance by boards of trustees.

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

Other presidential goals include participating in the development of OSU’s next strategic plan; deepening connections with the OSU Foundation; evaluating the effectiveness of university-wide marketing and communications to amplify OSU’s impact within Oregon and beyond; and engaging with OSU Athletics and PAC-12 Conference leaders to contribute to strategies within the changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics.

“I am very invested in these goals and very excited about the work ahead,” said Murthy. “I am committed to greatly advance student access and support student success, including higher graduation rates.”

Murthy has said she is committed to increasing Oregon State’s already large research footprint that last year totaled more than $471 million in grant-funded research.

“OSU is well-poised to address and help solve some of the most complex problems facing Oregon and the world in areas such climate, sustainability, community economic resilience and water resources,” Murthy said. “This work is essential for humankind and will require collaboration throughout OSU and with other universities, as well as support and partnership with state and federal leaders and stakeholders in business.”

Trustees approved a resolution of appreciation recognizing Becky Johnson for her service as Oregon State interim president from May 2021 through early September 2022, and for service beginning in 1984 as a university faculty member, academic leader and OSU-Cascades vice president.

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 of color retention and success strategy; expanded educational partnerships; launch of an equity leadership consortium within OSU; expanded support for Native and Indigenous students, employees and communities; and expanded diversity community relations throughout Oregon.

Vignos said future priorities include expanding programs to improve recruiting and retaining faculty and staff committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and expanding engagement and services offered in the Portland region by OSU Extension, OSU divisions including Student Affairs and the Office of Institutional Diversity, the OSU Alumni Association and the OSU Foundation.

A panel discussion followed with university faculty and staff engaged in diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

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

A $71 million project to renovate Withycombe Hall on the Corvallis campus that will include additional meeting space for students, lab improvements, creamery and winery renovation, and the addition of retail space to sell Beaver Classic cheese, ice cream and meat. The renovated creamery and winery will provide new learning opportunities for students to prepare them for career opportunities. The renovation will also create expanded opportunities for Oregon State researchers and provide the ability to develop best practices for sustainably producing dairy products and wine using less water, energy and packaging while controlling the carbon footprint for these products. A $13 million project to improve the dock for university research vessels at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The original dock was constructed 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 ships that the university may operate in the future. The 1960s portion of the dock will be replaced, and a new support system will be installed to accommodate cranes, fueling trucks and large forklifts. The dock also will 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 originally approved by the board in 2019. The project will reconstruct the Washington Way corridor, including several intersections and incorporates work addressing pedestrian, bicycle, road and railroad safety. A portion of the increase will be paid by the city of Corvallis for helping to replace an antiquated city water line.

The board also approved a 2023 board work plan and 2022 board assessment results.

They also 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, the trustees’ presidential transition committee 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 Office of General Counsel, the Annual Compliance & Ethics Program Report and a presentation regarding at-large position vacancies on the board of trustees. The Finance & Administration Committee approved its annual work plan and heard an update on the university’s 2023 fiscal year operating budget and a report from the Division of Finance and Administration on the division’s efforts to advance 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 opening in 2026. The committee approved the project to advance to the next phase of design development. The Academic Strategies Committee approved its annual work plan and a workplace safety report and heard briefings on faculty affairs and extension and engagement programs offered by OSU. The committee approved offering a bachelor’s of science degree in teaching to be offered beginning in spring 2023 on OSU’s Corvallis campus, a program that will seek to help address the state’s teacher shortage. The degree is presently only offered at OSU-Cascades in Bend. Approval of the degree program being offered in Corvallis is pending support of the Statewide Provosts Council and approval by the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

During the board meeting, trustees heard public testimony from eight community members regarding College of Forestry research forest planning; three community members about university student housing plans; and one graduate student regarding compensation for OSU graduate assistants.

The board meeting concluded with an executive session enabled by Oregon law.

The board also held a retreat on 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.