University Day 2012

Thank you. It is a pleasure to welcome so many of you to the opening of the 2012-13 academic year, and to this special day when we honor faculty and staff for their distinctive contributions to the University.


Shortly a panel of OSU faculty members will offer thoughts about how we can work together to inspire each other, our students, and Oregonians to address change, seize opportunities, and achieve goals.


I would like to take a few minutes to consider three items that bear on this discussion, both today and into the future.


First, before the Campaign for OSU began, I asked alumni, including many of our most successful alumni, what qualities they found in the OSU community that the university should never lose, no matter what.


Repeatedly, alumni cited that for no reason apparent to them someone at OSU took an interest in helping them early in their college career, and that this encouragement made all the difference in their success in college and beyond.  I believe we need to preserve this characteristic of supporting each other and build upon it.


Second, let me talk about achievement.  We are not yet where we want to be as a university.  We can pause today to take stock of the incredible success we are enjoying on so many fronts.  Whether this is your first day at OSU or you have been here for decades, I hope you can carry this sense of progress with you throughout this year.


A leading measure of our success – and a testament to the regard our alumni and supporters have for all of you – remains the Campaign for OSU.


Our goal when we started the Campaign, $625 million, looked a little uncertain.  Some thought it unreasonable.  Well, since then we have twice increased the goal, and the OSU Foundation is on track to raise an amazing $1 billion before we conclude the campaign in 2014.


This success is underwriting extensive and enduring improvements in our facilities, and in our ability to attract and retain extraordinary faculty and wonderful students. Expanding access to higher education for talented students regardless of their financial circumstances is at the heart of our land grant mission.


From the Campaign’s beginning our goal was positioning ourselves to attain excellence in all our strategic priorities.  One element of this positioning is to broaden and deepen our base of support.  As I have suggested before, the results here are astounding:



  • To date, the Campaign includes over 61,000 donors.  Thirty-eight percent (38%) of these donors – nearly two in five – have made four or more gifts to the campaign. 

  • One-third of the gifts to this campaign are from donors making their first gift to OSU.

  • Perhaps most encouraging, 43% of the 61,415 households making gifts to the campaign are not alumni households. 

This is a testament to all of you!  People support OSU because of the impact we have on their lives as Oregon’s land grant university, and the difference we make in the things they care about.  When an OSU Master Gardener volunteer, Sherry Sheng, comes forward this summer with a $1.2 million estate gift to underwrite the position of the director of the Master Gardeners program, you know OSU faculty, staff and volunteers are reaching people beyond this campus in a profound way!


Now we must work hard to ensure we stay on track.  Pre-campaign, the OSU Foundation compared our fundraising to a group of peer universities.  The results were disconcerting; during the years 1994 to 2004, OSU had lost considerable fundraising ground on an annual basis.  We were even with our peers at the beginning of the ten years but far behind by the end.  Today we find that our fundraising performance over the most recent ten-year period has grown at an average annual rate of 10.1%, while the same peer universities increased fundraising at an average annual rate of 3.2%.


We see the same pattern in research.  We generated a highly respectable $281 million in research support in FY12 despite cutbacks in state and federal research funding.  Within this total is a $10 million increase in industry-based research, from $25 million to $35 million, and an increase in licensing revenues from $2.7 million in FY10 to $4.3 million in FY12.  OSU also signed 108 new licenses, a 277% annual increase, with businesses in biotechnology, agriculture, forest products, health and manufacturing.


The net result of this kind of performance is that when I speak to the Faculty Senate in October, I will be able to report that the university remains financially sound.


My third and final point concerns the progress seen in reorganizing the academic structure and increasing the number of tenured faculty colleagues and support staff on campus.  One consequence of continuing this effort will be a perceptible reduction in the overwork many of you reported two years ago.  This was a major topic of my 2011 University Day talk. 


Challenged to reinvent our programs and leverage our remarkable culture of academic collaboration, the faculty proposed academic program realignments to reduce the number of OSU colleges, schools, departments and programs from 62 to as few as 38. We expect this process to be completed this year and anticipate it will make the university more efficient, focused and coordinated going forward and provide opportunities to launch new academic programs.


Last year we added 80 tenure track faculty and a sizeable number of student advisors and support staff.  We purchased and implemented software to significantly ease student advising.  Additional faculty and support staff were hired for this year.


All these achievements derive from the skill and dedication of the members of the OSU community, and the incredible commitment of our supporters and volunteers. Achievements in fundraising, research performance and national recognition are not ends in themselves but markers that we are positioning ourselves for what is yet to come. I am absolutely persuaded that collectively we are at the beginning and not the end of the best of times for Oregon State University and all of those we serve.


Thank you.