Media Room

REMARKS AS PREPARED
University of Oregon Board of Trustees Meeting
Sept. 11, 2015

Members of the Board of Trustees and President Schill:

Thank you for the invitation to be here.  I have been looking forward to this conversation.
 Working together for student success
We are here today as partners in opening the doors of opportunity to every Oregonian.

As a state, we have set clear expectations for student success from birth to career.  While my job description has changed, my principles have not – my priorities remain – affordability and accessibility/equity – with a focus on completion.

As Oregon’s education leader, I will work to ensure every student has a clear pathway to high school and postsecondary completion.

Your leadership to support students on this path is critical. One great example is through PathwayOregon, a program that ensures eligible Oregonians who are academically qualified for Federal Pell Grants will have their University of Oregon tuition and fees paid with a combination of federal, state, and university funds.

One beneficiary is Naivasha Smith, a fourth-year student majoring in psychology. She is from Eugene and graduated from Churchill High School.

She says the program was easy because it was a regular part of the application process. She said, “I didn’t have to worry about finding a bunch of different loans. Without the program’s financial assistance and support, I would not have been able to make college possible.”

She is on track to graduate this fall, two terms ahead of schedule, and hopes to become a police officer. She’s well on her way as she passed the physical examination and begins interviews in October.

I commend the University’s ongoing commitment to raise the level of educational attainment of Oregonians, first generation college students, students of color, and those experiencing poverty.

State Support for Public Universities
I am proud to say we have reversed a long period of disinvestment in higher education.
With your efforts, we have achieved nearly 700 million dollars in state funding – fought with you to achieve this amount – will continue to stand with you.

The 19 percent year-over-year increase in state funding for the University of Oregon is a great start. 

We have expanded the Oregon Opportunity Grant, making college more accessible and affordable for 16,000 Oregon students and their families over the next two years.

I am invested in your emerging leadership as a premier public research university.  Innovation and entrepreneurship are at the heart of Oregon – Oregon’s best.

We can and will do more to provide stable and adequate resources for higher education in Oregon.  

Coordination Across Higher Education in Oregon
Here are some ways I hope we can work together going forward to achieve our state wide goals for student success:
Continued collaboration among all of Oregon’s public universities.

Expanded connections between higher education and K-12 schools.

Open and productive engagement with my office and with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

I encourage you to help inform and shape the HECC’s goals, and partner with them to meet the outcomes we set forth as a state.

I believe in the University of Oregon. I am committed to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you.

Next, I’d like to hear about your perspective, and would like to begin with a few questions:

o What are your goals and aspirations for students who attend the University of Oregon?

o What are the greatest opportunities and challenges you face as university trustees?  

o How can the state best support the university and the Board in your governance role at the university?