(Photo by CBN)
By 2021 Oregon State University-Cascades will be at capacity for academic classroom and faculty office space. That’s only four years away! The expansion of the campus is crucial to meeting the educational and workforce needs of Oregon’s fastest growing region. In order to assure a solid future for higher education in Central Oregon, campus capacity must be increased beyond its current allowance of 1,890 students.
The Central Oregon region has been generating 15-20 percent of the State’s jobs yet only houses 5 percent of Oregon’s population. According to Economic Development for Central Oregon, GDP growth here has been two to three times faster than the nation. Job growth has been as high as four times faster than the U.S. while 2010-15 manufacturing employment growth was more than five times faster.
With this kinds of growth and opportunity happening in our region, the university capacity will continue to be a significant component of economic viability. The local healthcare, advanced manufacturing, high tech and bio science industries say that the hardest thing in growing their businesses is getting quality employees. Which is why developing a future educated workforce is so important to the economic success of the region.
Having a local university allows more youth access to higher education. Research shows that 55 percent of students enroll within 50 miles of their home. The cost to go to college away from home can be at least $40,000 more a year.
OSU-Cascades leadership has been diligently working to plan for the expansion and has identified a capital request of $69.5 million for the capacity increase. Capital projects that will need to be funded include reclamation of the 46-acre pumice mine, campus infrastructure requirements, an academic building, a student success center and a graduate and research center renovation.
A second academic building will be needed to accommodate the significant enrollment growth anticipated at OSU-Cascades. The 55,000 square foot building will include lab space for bio-sciences, kinesiology and engineering along with general classroom, faculty offices and learning support and research spaces.
The current campus has limited space dedicated to the improvement of student success. Substantial research shows that development of a three-story Student Success Center will improve learning outcomes and facilitate student engagement at OSU-Cascades.
The more involved students are in an institution, the more invested they will be, the higher the grades and the more likely they are to be successful.
Showing local support of the expansion effort is important and a $10 million fundraising effort is already underway with some major contributors identified.
The ‘WHY’ Now 4 OSU-Cascades campaign is currently preparing to go to the Oregon legislature for funding request. A budget committee outreach session is set for February 18 in Madras and a hearing on the request is set for February 23 in Salem. Under the leadership of Janie Teater and Amy Tykeson the Central Oregon Coalition & Advisory Council is securing endorsements from local businesses, government entities, nonprofits and key decision makers. Please send your support of the campus expansion funding to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.