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Governor's budget blueprint omits funding for long-term plans at OSU-Cascades

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BEND, Oregon — Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed budget includes money for two big projects at Oregon State University, but what's missing is long-term funding for its branch campus in central Oregon.

Oregon State requested $30 million for the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend, which is expanding to a four-year institution.

Becky Johnson, the top administrator at the Cascades campus, told the Bulletin newspaper (http://is.gd/oz3ufe ) she was not surprised by the omission. For every legislative session, the state's public universities put together a prioritized list of capital projects. Because the needs outstrip the available public money, the list offers the Legislature and governor an idea of what projects are most important.

Funding for OSU-Cascades wasn't seen as the top need for Oregon State University's overall operations, as two other projects were ranked higher on its list. The governor's proposed budget includes those projects, a $30 million forest science complex and a $25 million expansion of the Marine Studies Center.

"Right now we have to spend the money we do have," Johnson said.

Steve Clark, OSU's vice president of university relations and marketing, said the university administration in Corvallis considers funding OSU-Cascades a top priority, but "overall is pleased with the budget."

OSU-Cascades already received $16 million in state bonds, backed by $4 million in university funds and just less than $5 million in philanthropic support.

That money has been targeted for developing the first phase of the campus, a 10-acre parcel with dorms and academic buildings on the west side of Bend.

The $30 million request could be used to construct additional buildings in a 46-acre former pumice mine adjacent to the 10 acres the university already purchased. OSU-Cascades hasn't closed on the larger property and halted its evaluation of whether reclaiming the mine would be feasible, though an initial geotechnical review found no major obstacles.

The branch campus opened in 2001 with a "two-plus-two" model in which students take freshman and sophomore classes at Central Oregon Community College and upper-division courses at OSU-Cascades, earning a bachelor's degree. The model makes it difficult to attract the out-of-state and international students who pay the much higher tuition rates needed to subsidize those who pay in-state rates.

The first freshman class is scheduled to start in the fall of 2015.


Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com

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