Wilsonville Mayor Knapp, Sen. Thatcher, and Commission Nesbitt extend their support of Oregon Tech at the meeting
WILSONVILLE, OR: The Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) Board of Trustees, met July 9 and 10 in their first meeting as a governing board with full powers and authorities. The Board has convened since January of this year under limited authorities to begin the transition process from a centralized university system to a decentralized network of seven public universities on July 1.
Trustees Welcome Special Guests The Board welcomed special guests, including Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp, State Senator Kim Thatcher, and Commissioner Tim Nesbitt who chairs the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC). Mayor Knapp noted the City’s excitement about having Oregon Tech in Wilsonville, and the prospects and potential, such as a strong local workforce, has brought to the citizens and local companies located here. Senator Thatcher expressed the important role Oregon Tech plays in the state in producing STEM graduates and how we need even more students studying in these fields and supporting the state’s workforce. Commissioner Nesbitt discussed the challenge and the opportunities of supporting a new generation of Oregonians to achieve their higher education goals. He noted the importance of colleges having close connections with high schools to help prepare students academically and otherwise for success in higher education, especially helping them earn college credits, thereby lowering college costs and improving academic outcomes. Trustees thanked special guests and the HECC for all of their work, which has moved Oregon higher education forward in many positive ways.
Strategic Discussion Oregon Tech President Chris Maples led the Board in a strategic discussion, including the university’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges moving forward. Maples reviewed national and state trends in higher education, including student movement within and across campuses, state funding over time, college costs and debt, meeting the needs of Oregon’s changing demographics in the student population, and retention and time-to-degree issues. Oregon Tech’s strengths include its growing reputation for student return on investment; unique niche as a polytechnic university; student- and teaching-centric applied approaches to learning; diverse and talented Board of Trustees; diverse locations and styles of course delivery, including rural Klamath Falls, urban Wilsonville, online and hybrid delivery and our extension centers in Salem, La Grande and at Boeing; focus on partnerships with other colleges, including dual enrollment and college credits in high school; and community connections in Klamath Falls.
President Maples noted that there may be more opportunities in areas such as faculty research that engages students and attracts outside grants; options for faculty tracts outside of the focus on teaching; and for creating new prospects for students who do not qualify for limited-enrollment majors such as medical imaging. Oregon Tech has the opportunity to turn around student support staff reductions that occurred over the past several years made to balance declining budgets. Finding new ways to support the high percentage of low-income and first-generation students is critical, as well as being able to support their success holistically once they get on campus. Another issue is that a large percentage of costs are outside of the university’s control, such as tuition levels, capital bonding, and faculty and staff compensation; and overall there is too much reliance on state support.
Maples summarized the key areas of Oregon Tech’s 2020 Strategic Action Plan, which includes student success; faculty and staff success; economic and workforce connections; student access and diversity; and university financial success. Within each of these areas, Oregon Tech will build on strengths, address the weaknesses, and be innovative in seeking new opportunities amid the larger market and student trends. The Board will continue the strategic discussion at their Board retreat later this year.
In other actions and discussions at both Committee and Full Board meetings, the Board:
- Heard a report on current integrated Marketing and Communications Strategies from AVP of Marketing/Communications Di Saunders, that support enrollment at Oregon Tech, with Trustees proposing a working group of the Board on strategic enrollment management.
- Heard from Provost Brad Burda about the HECC’s university evaluation process, Oregon Tech’s mission alignment, and changes that might want to be made.
Finance and Facilities Committee (FFC):
- Approved a recommendation to authorize the investment of university funds in the Oregon Public University Fund after a presentation by Acting Vice President of Finance and Administration, Michelle Meyer.
- Heard an investment report on the University Shared Services Enterprise from Penny Burgess, Executive Director.
- Heard reports from Acting VP Meyer on the 2015-17 Biennium Education and General Operating Summary of Funding levels; the 2015-17 Education and General Preliminary Operating Budgets; University space inventory, capital construction/renovation, and deferred maintenance; the Facility Master Planning update; and a discussion on Institutional Risk led by Chair Sliwa.
- Discussed new or expanded functions transferred to Oregon Tech with the dissolution of the Oregon University System, such as internal audit, legal services, and risk management.
Academic Quality and Student Success Committee (AQSSC):
- Reviewed the components of academic quality and the accreditation process presented by Provost Burda.
- Reviewed the university’s compliance with Title IX and Violence Against Women Act., led by VP of Student Affairs/Dean of Students, Erin Foley.
- Reviewed an Enrollment, Retention and Graduation handout for discussion at future meeting VP of Student Affairs/Dean of Students Foley
- Recommended to the Provost’s Council, made up of all of the Provosts for Oregon’s Public Universities, approval of a new program at Oregon Tech, a Master of Science in Allied Heath. Provost Burda described the purpose of the degree program, which is to prepare allied health professionals for positions in management, education and administration in their respective healthcare disciplines. This degree will allow graduates to advance in their professional careers by providing them with advanced skills to conduct research, teach and implement. Once the Provosts’ Council approves the program it then goes to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for final review and approval.
Heard an update on the outcomes of the Legislative Session from Lita Colligan, AVP for Strategic Partnerships and Government Relations.
Heard a report from Terri Torres, Vice President of the Oregon Tech Faculty Senate, including salary increase recommendations, and overload pay rate for faculty.
Approved the charters of the Committees of the Board of Trustees.
Heard a report from Bill Goloski, Chair of the Oregon Tech Administrative Council, including building an unclassified staff handbook, an acronym guide, and improving Spirit Week on both campuses.
Approved Oregon Tech’s mission statement and core themes.
Amended Resolution 15-3 Authorizing the President to Repeal Administrative Rules and Adopt Certain Rules as University Policies.
Approved a Resolution Authorizing the Investment of University Funds in the Oregon Public University Fund.
Approved a Resolution Authorizing the Sale of an Interest in Real Property and Improvements of Oregon Tech’s ownership of its former Harmony Road campus.
Directed staff to make a recommendation of an auditor and Board would enter into contract and manage.