May 31, 2019, KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The Oregon Institute of Technology (“Oregon Tech”) Board of Trustees met May 30 at the university’s Klamath Falls campus, discussing among other items tuition levels for academic year 2019-20, and recommendations for two new degree programs.
Tuition Approval: Vice president for Finance and Administration for Oregon Tech, Brian Fox, summarized the process of reviewing and recommending tuition rates at the university, which involves strong student leadership on the Tuition Recommendation Committee, as well as faculty and staff engagement. Out of the 12 members on the committee, half are students. The Committee develops the proposed rate based on student and university needs, focusing on programs, quality, affordability, supporting at-risk students and budget dynamics; and forwards a recommendation to the student government for their review prior to recommendation to the university president. The president then brings the recommendation to the Board of Trustees for final approval.
The Board heard from the presidents of the student government, Associated Students of Oregon Institute of Technology, who described their roles and the significant student engagement in the process over the last seven months. Along with the recommended tuition increases to maintain high quality programs and enhance student support services, there will also be increased investments in targeted scholarships and remissions; and significant investments in laboratory infrastructure for better student learning experiences.
Fox noted that limited investments in state funding and mandated cost increases including PERS are major factors in tuition setting. The tuition recommendation is based on the assumption of the current funding proposal from the Co-Chairs of Ways and Means Committee, which is $40M above the Governor’s Recommended budget, for funding of public higher education in Oregon. Should the legislature provide funding above this amount, Oregon Tech will reduce its base tuition by 1 percent from its proposed level for every additional $20 million above the Co-chair’s budget, to a floor of 2 percent. Importantly, Oregon Tech will protect program quality and students, with a nearly 15% increase to the pool of scholarship dollars to help low-income students and those who are close to completion. Tuition increases will be balanced with spending out of reserves as well as targeted cost reductions across the university.
After significant discussion, including questions to the student members of the Tuition Recommendation Committee, the Board unanimously approved the joint student and presidential tuition recommendation. This follows unanimous support from the Finance and Facilities Committee to increase resident base tuition rates for the 2019-20 academic year by 9 percent, with reductions in the rate should legislative funding increase. Nonresident undergraduate tuition will also increase by 9 percent, and graduate tuition by 6 percent. Oregon Tech representatives are tentatively scheduled to present our tuition rates to the Higher Education Coordinating Committee on June 13 in Salem, Oregon.
New Degree Programs The Academic Quality and Student Success Committee and the full Board heard information about new proposed degree programs: B.S. in Data Science; and Doctorate in Physical Therapy, in collaboration with Oregon Health and Science University.
- BS Data Science: The field of data science recently emerged in response to this deluge of “big data”. With information being produced and collected at an overwhelming pace, much faster than people are currently capable of analyzing it, the state and nation need qualified professionals to support big data needs. The proposed B.S. in Data Science degree combines coursework from five departments: Applied Mathematics (the program host), Computer Systems Engineering Technology, Communication, Management and Geomatics. A key element of the program is extensive hands-on experience and an individual capstone project to develop a data driven solution for an outside group. After graduation, students will be ready for immediate employment as data scientists or for advanced coursework.
- DPT: The development of the Doctorate in Physical Therapy program stems from the strategic partnership established in 2017 between Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), and Sky Lakes Medical Center (SLMC), to accelerate the development of the Rural Health Care Initiative that is a core mission of these three partner institutions. This Program will help broaden the rural healthcare workforce to provide access to critical physical therapy care for underserved areas of the state. The three organizations have a shared vision and mission related to applied degrees and innovative education strategies that lead to providing high quality patient care. Oregon currently has two PT doctoral programs, both offered at private institutions near the Portland-Metro area, with none currently serving a rural community. For quite some time there has been the need for a public university PT doctoral program (DPT), both to expand the available “seats” for students who want to stay in Oregon for their education, and for a program that is more affordable than current options. Only 4% of DPT programs nationally are located in the Northwest.
After some discussion, the board approved the new degree programs to move forward to other state and accreditor approval processes.