Sept. 13, 2016
Thank you, Becky.
I’m thrilled to be here with President Ray and all of you to celebrate the opening of the first four-year public university campus to be built in Oregon in 50 years.
This has been a long time coming for Central Oregon. Many people over several decades have had a part in setting this plan in motion. Today, we see their tireless efforts come to fruition.
This vision would not be possible without the leadership and generous support of community members, and partnerships from Oregon State University, the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the Oregon Legislature, Central Oregon’s economic development community, the K-12 system, and human services groups.
I also want to thank to my Regional Solutions team, which has contributed technical expertise and funding to support campus planning and design.
As many of you can see and feel, there is a freshness to this campus and Tykeson Hall that invoke new beginnings and hope for the future. This is a new chapter for higher education in Central Oregon that should make all of us proud.
Perhaps the group I am most excited for are the students. You will call this campus home for the next several years and figure out which café in town will let you study latest into the night. But above all, you will explore your passions as you pursue understanding and knowledge of the world around you.
As Becky noted in her Bend Bulletin column Sunday, when she arrived in 2009, 751 Central Oregon students chose to attend OSU in Corvallis, and many others left for other four-year universities elsewhere. Now, I know for the students here who love to race down Mt. Bachelor, fly fish on the Deschutes, or hike at Smith Rock, the outdoors, your families, and your communities all make it a little tougher to say goodbye to Central Oregon to pursue a college degree.
That’s why I’m so thrilled about this campus. Students who love this place will now be able to stay here and invest in this region’s future.
You being here is a boon to businesses and industries in Central Oregon who want to retain highly-trained, qualified workers to keep the economy here humming. The vitality of Central Oregon very much depends on students who are prepared for the workforce of the future.
Students will also have access to wonderful professors and staff who are invested in this region.
One is Mike Giamellaro, an assistant professor and researcher in OSU-Cascades’ graduate teaching program. A former fish and wildlife biologist, Mike switched careers after working with young people and realizing the far-reaching potential of the knowledge and concepts he was sharing.
“Teachers are the mechanism,” he says, “but I’m always thinking about the kids.”
Mike was the principal investigator on two grants to transform how teachers in the small, agricultural community of Culver – about 35 miles north of here – teach STEM. Mike and his team worked tirelessly with Culver School District leadership and teaching faculty to bring to life STEM subjects, in the classroom and on community-based projects.
He is also working to help K-12 teachers develop professionally through a “numbers in nature” project, in which teachers work with Oregon State University scientists to develop curriculum and a deeper understanding about data literacy. He has also created STEM camps for middle school students in Bend-LaPine Schools. The STEM camp staff includes Mike’s graduate teaching students who put classroom knowledge to work and gain first-hand teaching experience.
Mike, please stand. Thank you for your work to prepare our students and future teachers for their next steps.
My goal is that when each Oregon student graduates high school he or she has a plan for their future. For those who choose to attend college, such as the students of OSU-Cascades, I’m equally invested in seeing them complete college. Along with the Legislature, state education leaders, and our college and university system, we are all looking for ways in which students can be better supported while having access to high-quality instruction and educators.
Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s goals for OSU-Cascades, and other institutions across our state, are to prepare more Oregonians with the degrees and certificates they need to pursue their careers and goals.
A huge piece of that is just being able to get students in the door. I’ve made it a priority to address access and affordability to ensure our students, particularly students of color, first-generation students, and those from low-income families, have fewer barriers to attending college.
Last year, I’m proud to say Oregon expanded the Oregon Opportunity Grant to 16,000 more students. We are also helping students attend community college before a four-year institution with the Oregon Promise. But there’s also more we can do, and I’m committed to improving access and affordability for our students.
As we near the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, I wanted you to know that campus safety is at the forefront of my mind. Our students and college employees deserve safe and welcoming environments where they can learn and thrive. I convened a campus safety work group last year to provide recommendations, and am looking forward to receiving their recommendations later this month.
Completion. Access and affordability. Safety. I am grateful for the partnership of Oregon’s colleges and universities for helping to achieve better outcomes in each of these areas.
Today I want to especially thank OSU administrators, faculty, staff, and students. Congratulations on ushering in a new era of higher education for our state. OSU-Cascades is poised to be a vital asset to Central Oregon for generations to come.
Together, let’s move Oregon forward and make ours a home where all Oregonians can thrive.