The full Board unanimously approves Dr. Kenton as Interim President, votes to move forward with university-industry partnership in Scappoose, Ore, and received a project update on the Cornett Engineering Building and the planned Center for Excellence in Engineering and Technology
The Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) Board of Trustees, as well as its Executive and Finance Committees, met between May 4-6 to consider the nomination for interim president, review an opportunity for Oregon Tech with a proposed innovation center, and approve several of the process steps in its search for the next president of Oregon Tech, among several other items.
Interim President Appointment Chair of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Lisa Graham, noted that Dr. Jay Kenton, who is currently serving as Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration at Oregon Tech, was nominated by the Executive Committee in April to serve as Interim President of Oregon Tech, beginning on July 1, 2016 and through the selection of the permanent president, expected to be completed by early 2017. The full Board unanimously approved Dr. Kenton as Interim President and authorized Chair Graham to complete the employment contract.
Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center At both the committee and full board meetings, Oregon Tech Trustee Steve Sliwa summarized a recent opportunity for the university to be an early and key investor and participant in the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) proposed to be located in Scappoose, Oregon. He noted that this matches Oregon Tech’s strategic direction, may help to address an effective way to augment program offerings in Wilsonville, help pursue remote technical education in the region, and partner with industry in new ways. An ideal facility has been identified, but would require some preliminary, quick action by the Board to approve some investment in this existing building. Vice President of the Wilsonville campus, Laura McKinney, described the Innovation Center model, in which industry pools research and development dollars, shares equipment and labs, and partners with universities and the state on applied research projects that tie into education. The precursor to this in Oregon is the NW Collaboratory for Sustainable Manufacturing (NWCSM), through which Oregon Tech received funding to hire two faculty, who will join a new program director in Mechanical Engineering in Wilsonville. Boeing, which has started 17 innovation centers worldwide, would be the anchor tenant and has committed funds already. This would be the first site in the U.S., modeled after existing sites like the center in Sheffield, England, which President Maples, and other university and state leaders visited earlier this year. Portland State University and Oregon State University have made initial commitments to be involved in the OMIC project; and Portland Community College has bond funding to build an apprentice training center in Scappoose as part of their engagement in the OMIC.
Senator Betsy Johnson also spoke at the Committee meeting about the potential of the Center, noting her support of the NWCSM and the Oregon Metals initiative, which is a similar partnership model, but at a much smaller scale. She also was on the Sheffield trip and described the impressive Center there, which has involvement by many global and European based industries, including Boeing and Rolls Royce, as well as higher education partners. She believes that the acquisition of the building, including an investment by Oregon Tech, will be the catalytic act to get the Center going. Sen. Johnson said that she appreciates the leadership of Oregon Tech to be the galvanizing force in this collaborative education and applied research partnership.
Chris Harder, Director of Business Oregon, said that Oregon Tech has played a critical role in this project so far. Business Oregon would be the fiscal agent for the R&D capital side for the legislatively authorized $7.5M in lottery bonds; of which $5M is for the PCC training facility, and $2.5M for a university to help fund a facility to house the R&D functions of OMIC. Harder said that the partners are creating a business plan and will be presenting Phase 1 to the legislature on May 23. The purchase of the Scappoose property being considered is about $4.2M plus approximately $1.5M in infrastructure costs. The legislature would provide $2.5M, Oregon Tech would contribute a share, and potentially other partners as well. Business Oregon needs to see a minimum operating commitment by the partners, including commitments from industry; another Tier 1 industry partner besides Boeing, which would bring $300k in fees a year from each business for R&D; and commitments from Oregon Tech and other university partners.
Dr. Kenton described the property to the Board in detail and the due diligence completed to date and what would need to be done over the coming months. McKinney noted that this is not just an opportunity for the Wilsonville campus. Research projects could be done from anywhere in the state if equipment is available. Currently, there is no floor space at the Wilsonville campus for equipment to use for applied research. Besides all of the opportunities to partner with industry and engage our faculty and students in applied research, this type of effort provides Oregon Tech with the ability to bring in different revenue other than state funds to pay for faculty in mechanical and manufacturing engineering. It also falls into Oregon Tech’s hub-and-spoke model of delivering education to students “where they are at”. In order to deliver Oregon Tech educational opportunities across the city, it needs to offer classes at remote delivery sites, like community colleges. The Scappoose site, which despite being 22 miles from Portland is a rural location, provides north and south of the city access for current and potential students. Oregon Tech is investing in distance delivery technology for online programs, which will help support the OMIC initiative.
Bill Gerry, Boeing’s Program Manager for Global Technology, said that Boeing is very committed to working with academic, state and industry partners to develop the OMIC in Scappoose. He noted that an important aspect from industry is knowledge transfer into manufacturing, which is where the academic and R&D components come in. Students need to be working on the same equipment that they will be using in industry so they are ready for the workforce when they graduate. He noted his appreciation for Oregon Tech stepping up in a leadership role in this effort.
Trustees discussed the proposal at length at both the Committee and full Board meetings, asking questions related to risk exposure, alternatives to this location, benefits for Oregon Tech’s stakeholders, and other areas. They noted that sites like this are very hard to come by in Oregon and that this is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in university-industry partnering in the state. The Board unanimously approved the project moving forward, with a cap of $1.75 million for the purchase and assessment of the site, and authorized staff to begin working on legal and other documents to move the project forward. Chair Graham thanked Sen. Johnson, the Governor, Business Oregon, Boeing and all of the other partners who are engaged in this very exciting and groundbreaking effort for Oregon.
President Search Committee Trustee Kelley Minty Morris presented the proposed members of the search committee for the next president of Oregon Tech. After some discussion and revisions, Trustee Minty Morris noted that she would finalize the list and send it out to members shortly. The members of the committee represent faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. The Board unanimously accepted the proposed list.
Engineering Building Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration Jay Kenton provided a project update on the Cornett Engineering Building and the planned Center for Excellence in Engineering and Technology (CEET). Interim Vice President Kenton has worked with architects to revise the original plans based on only receiving $10.8M from the Legislature last biennium; and is working with state officials to see if those funds can be used to renovate Cornett, and then Oregon Tech will seek an additional $42M to build the new engineering building. The Oregon Tech Foundation will assist in raising $2M to match some of the bonds within the package of funding for the new building. CEET is on the top tier list of the universities’ 2017-19 capital request that was submitted to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. A new Student Services Center and the remodel of Boivin Hall are ranked in the second and third tiers, so are less likely to be approved in the 2017 legislative session, but will be ready to gain support in future years.
In other actions and discussions at the Board and Committee meetings, Trustees:
- Approved the recommendation to engage CliftonLarsonAllen LLP to serve as Oregon Tech’s external auditor. Discussed internal audit function to determine the best approach for Oregon Tech based on needs and resources, and determined that a retainer agreement for internal audit was the best approach for Oregon Tech at this time.
- Approved retroactive mandatory 2015-16 student fee schedule correction for students enrolled at the Wilsonville campus.
- Heard an update on Rural Health Care Collaboration with OHSU and Sky Lakes Medical Center, and the opportunities for Oregon Tech such as shared space in a new building at Sky Lakes, internships and externships for students, and new academic programs. Members said it was a good match for Oregon Tech’s mission and role; and will have another discussion at the June 2016 meeting of the board.
- Heard a budget update, financial projection and model information, and a general finance and administration update from Dr. Kenton.
About Oregon Tech
Founded in Klamath Falls in 1947, Oregon Institute of Technology is the premier public polytechnic institution in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Tech provides degree programs in engineering and health technologies, management, technology, communication, and applied sciences that prepare students to be effective participants in their professional, public, and international communities through hands-on, applied and relevant learning. Oregon Tech has a full-service, residential campus in Klamath Falls and an urban, industry-focused campus in Wilsonville. Visit www.oit.edu to learn more about Oregon Institute of Technology.