College Affordability Roundtable at Oregon Tech with Representatives Neron and McIntire

Representative Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), the State House Education Committee Chair, and Representative Emily McIntire (R-Klamath Falls), the State House Higher Education Committee Vice Chair, visited Oregon Tech’s Portland-Metro Campus March 17 to tour labs and discuss college affordability and return on investment.

Oregon ranks 45 out of 50 states in funding per full-time enrolled student in public universities and is 19% below the national average. The level of state investment in recent years has shifted the burden of paying for college from the state to students and their families.

“Oregon Tech is one of Oregon’s seven public universities, and the state’s designated polytechnic university,” Oregon Tech President Nagi Naganathan said. “We offer a unique education that has consistently proven to have a high return on investment for our students and their families. However, continued state investment in our university is crucial to continuing our mission and creating such outstanding value for our graduates. We deeply appreciate our relationship with legislators who represent our campuses. We are grateful for their enthusiastic engagement and support helping us continue to be a valued partner for industry and the state.”

Rep. Neron, Joe Martin, student lab manager for rapid prototyping lab, Rep. McIntire
Rep. Neron, Rapid Prototyping Lab Student Manager Joe Martin, and Rep. McIntire

During the Oregon Tech campus tour in Wilsonville, Neron and McIntire visited the Rapid Prototype Lab, Emergency Medical Service training facilities, Veterans Resource Center, Additive Manufacturing Lab, and Medical Laboratory Science program.

"It was wonderful to spend time with Oregon Tech students, faculty, and leaders, and see their state-of-the-art classrooms and labs where they are preparing to address some of our state’s most pressing issues,” Neron said. “From semiconductor and renewable energy engineering, to paramedic services and medical lab testing, the strong education students get at Oregon Tech is key to economic opportunity and is building the highly skilled workforce that Oregon needs.”

Neron and McIntire were joined at the round-table discussion by President Naganathan, Board of Trustees Chair John Davis, Assistant Director of Financial Aid Suzet Petersen, Portland-Metro Student Body President Billy Kimmel, Portland-Metro Library Director Kristin Whitman, and Student Involvement and Belonging Director Thomas Arce, who serves as the university’s Career Services Interim Director. Discussions focused on college affordability, supports for students, and the return on investment of a college degree.

“Oregon Tech is advocating for policies and investments during the 2023 state legislative session that will make a university degree more affordable and accessible for students, regardless of their background,” Chair Davis said. “The university is asking for investments in the Public University Support Fund; Oregon Opportunity Grant, which is the state’s main need-based student aid program; open educational resources; and the benefits navigator program, which helps students meet their basic needs.

“Our hope is that the legislators will support additional investments in public higher education, student aid, and programs that help students meet their basic needs.”

As the state representative for the Klamath Falls campus, McIntire shared that it was wonderful to learn more about Oregon Tech’s impact across the state.

“With the highest starting salary of any public university in Oregon, Oregon Tech is doing amazing work to educate the next generation of Oregon workers to power small businesses and industry,” McIntire said.