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Oregon Tech Board approves new soccer field, reviews report on University’s $107 million economic impact in Klamath Falls and Wilsonville-Metro Area

Feb 24, 2016
Board of Trustees cover agenda items from approval of a new soccer field to discussing issues related to the university finances, online and high school programs, a new report on Oregon Tech’s economic footprint in its two major communities, and other items.

WILSONVILLE, OR: February 24, 2016 – The Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) Board of Trustees, met February 22 and 23 at its Wilsonville Campus, covering agenda items from approval of a new soccer field to discussing issues related to the university finances, online and high school programs, a new report on Oregon Tech’s economic footprint in its two major communities, and other items. The Board welcomed its special guest Rep. John Davis, who represents Wilsonville among his other constituent areas. Rep. Davis noted that he makes sure that his legislative colleagues know about Oregon Tech’s Wilsonville campus and its unique niche as the state’s only polytechnic institution, meeting workforce needs in the state.

Soccer Field     Oregon Tech’s Athletic Director, Michael Schell, provided background and financial information to the Board on the proposed soccer field project, and summarized the on-campus forums process, as follow up to the Board’s request to complete additional due diligence and campus outreach. The Board discussed the project at length in the Finance and Facilities Committee, including a close review of the financial impact on the campus. The full Board then deliberated on the pros and cons of the project to assess the overall impact on the campus prior to their making a final decision. Issues raised by stakeholders in support of moving forward with the project included the benefits to student recruitment, engagement and student life on campus; safety considerations for having a field on the campus rather than students traveling off-site; the loss of the bond funding if not utilized by summer 2017; the low interest rates currently available; the entrepreneurial approach by Athletics in completing an RFP for the funding and wanting to support this type of creativity and initiative; and the fact that an earlier iteration of the project was approved by the State Board of Higher Education in 2014. On the downside, issues raised by stakeholders included the campus’ continuing work on managing through financial deficits and potential future challenges; the projects inconsistency with some of the university’s investment priorities; whether excess funding capacity would be better used to close future deficits; the polarization around support for the project; and how communicating about the project was done. After a lengthy deliberation, the Board voted unanimously to approve the $2.01 million soccer field capital project.

Economic Impact Report     Oregon Tech’s Associate Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, Lita Colligan, and Joel Ainsworth, a consultant from ECONorthwest, provided a summary to the Board of a new report commissioned by the university on Oregon Tech’s economic impact in its two primary communities of Klamath Falls and Wilsonville. Colligan said that Oregon Tech has not assessed its economic impact in almost 10 years, and that the new results show high returns for the state. Ainsworth noted that the report tracked economic activity attributable to Oregon Tech. This includes jobs supported region-wide for every direct job at Oregon Tech, which total almost 700 in Klamath County and about 280 in the Wilsonville-Portland region; the amount of income in the county supported by the university, which totals more than $28 million in Klamath Falls and about $13 million in the Wilsonville area; and the total output in the county by Oregon Tech, totaling $75 million in Klamath County and $32.4 in Wilsonville area (Clackamas County). The report compared the average price of attending Oregon Tech compared to the graduates’ earnings ten years after enrollment and noted that it is the lowest in the state, with students paying 28 cents for every dollar of annual earnings.

Online Education     Erika Veth, Oregon Tech’s Director of Online Education provided an overview of the program, in which 97 faculty at Oregon Tech currently teach at least one class. Online programs have grown to 549 students who are exclusively taking online programs, with a goal to reach 750 by 2020; and almost 1,250 students who are enrolled in online courses overall. About 42% of enrollment is in Oregon, with most students completing a bachelor’s degree they already started rather than starting as a freshman. Oregon Tech Online now includes 4 BS degrees fully online, 8 BS completion degrees, 1 MS degree, 2 Associate degrees and 2 certificate programs. Future plans include adding new degree offerings and improving support and technology for faculty.

Academic Agreements     Oregon Tech’s Director of Academic Agreements, Marla Edge, provided an overview of the community college and high school academic partnerships at the University: dual credit; international agreements; articulation agreements; and community partnerships. She noted that the university’s dual credit program continues to grow, with 36 partner high schools in 14 subject areas and almost 1,400 students. International agreements are providing the potential for some enrollment increases through Chinese, Indonesian and Finland partnerships and connections. Oregon Tech now has 6 community college dual enrollment partnerships; and uses other programs to improve student transitions to Oregon Tech from community college such as Reverse Transfer, involvement in Transfer Days and new articulation agreements.

STEM Partnership     Melissa Dubois, Director of the South Metro STEM Partnership, described the scope of the organization’s work, approaches, and their many successes in less than two years. She described several innovative programs that focus on three core strategies: connecting educators and students with industry expertise; developing a STEM Leadership Team of teachers and community partners; and expanding STEM Accelerated Credit opportunities. The outcomes include more diverse K-12 students engaged in STEM and proficient in math and science; higher college graduation rates in STEM fields; improving businesses’ access to STEM talent; and the broader goal of strong communities of skilled, flexible citizens with family wage jobs and high engagement levels.

In other actions and discussions at Committee and Full Board meetings, the Board:

  • Discussed holding a special meeting of the Board to review capital requests to be included in the budget development process for the 2017 Legislative Session, as well as review the tuition/fee setting proposal from the Tuition Committee in time to have recommendations ready for the HECC on April 1; and to ensure that the campus community has the opportunity to learn about the capital proposals and weigh in as well on these requests in a transparent process.
  • Discussed with President Maples strategic directions, assets and opportunities for Oregon Tech.
  • Heard from Vice President of the Wilsonville Campus Laura McKinney about the proposed approach to leading indicator dashboards. This included how these can help the university meet its goals through monitoring of indicators that help Oregon Tech adjust or accelerate proactively.
  • Received an update from Provost Brad Burda on the Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s approval of the MS in Allied Health degree, and the BS Mechanical Engineering degree offered at Wilsonville.
  • Accepted the Management Report from Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration, Michelle Meyer.
  • Adopted a One-Time Funding Philosophy; an Investment Policy; an Endowment Policy; and a Debt Policy.
  • Heard a presentation of the June 30, 2015 Annual Financial Report from Diana Barkalew, CPA, and Director or Financial Reporting Services with the USSE.
  • After a presentation from Foundation President, Dee Thompson, the Board authorized the President to enter into an Agreement to Exchange Services and Support with the Oregon Tech Foundation, pending legal review.
  • Approved a recommendation to request the Governor appoint alum Vince Jones to the vacant seat on the Board.
  • Heard an update on sponsored opportunities from Lita Colligan, Associate Vice President for Strategic Programs; and met with faculty who made presentations on their engagement points in these programs.
  • Heard a marketing update from Associate Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs, Di Saunders.
  • Heard a report from Robyn Cole, President of the Oregon Tech Faculty Senate.
  • Heard a report from Alyssa Deardorff, President of Associated Students of Oregon Tech – Wilsonville.
  • Heard a report from Oregon Tech Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, Tracy Ricketts.
  • Heard an overview from AGB Consultant Dr. Carol Cartwright on communication protocols between the Board and the campus; and developing a presidential evaluation process.
  • Heard presentations on textbook costs and open source textbooks from Oregon Tech Bookstore Manager Allison Gromley and Associate Professor of Mathematics Gregg Waterman, respectively. 

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.


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