OSU expands in Bend

OSU expands in Bend

 

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OSU Vice President Rebecca Johnson.

Oregon State University celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Cascades campus this year, but the work there has just begun.

OSU-Cascades has seen enrollment jump by 11% this school year after a 20% increase the year before. But with fewer than 700 students, only 14 majors, no sports teams and just one building in Bend, it will not be easy to meet the administration’s goal of 2,000 students and 20 majors by 2020.

Vice president Rebecca Johnson says she has found a lot of local support for the campus — and a lot of frustration at the slow pace of progress. As the state's only branch campus, it caters to transfer students, mostly from Central Oregon Community College, and has struggled to recruit students who prefer larger, more established campuses with more choices. “There was an unrealistic expectation about how many students would want to come here,” Johnson says.

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OSU-Cascades hopes to nearly triple the number of students at the campus by 2020. // Photos courtesy OSU-Cascades

The extreme bust in the Bend economy hasn’t helped either, making philanthropic money slow to flow. Johnson and her staff have launched a $7.5 million capital campaign and are recruiting business leaders to join Deschutes Brewery, Brooks Resources and Sun River in committing to $5,000 per year over three years.

The school has launched new majors in hospitality management and energy engineering management. It is also developing master’s degrees in business administration and public health.

But further expansions will require new space. OSU-Cascades has room for three new buildings, but no money to construct them.

With state support dwindling, Johnson says the private sector is crucial. She’s hoping community leaders will follow the lead of BendBroadband founder Donald Tykeson, who recently gave $250,000 to establish the campus’s first endowed faculty position, in energy engineering management.

BEN JACKLET