Promoting quality higher education as an investment in Oregon's Future through: 1) promotion of AAUP principles as best practices in all Oregon higher education institutions; 2) support for faculty in all Oregon institutions; 3) communications and public relations about higher education issues critical to academic quality and student success; and 4) political action to defend and promote higher education in Salem.
As one of the advocates for creating separate governing
boards for Oregon's universities, I was pleased to note the apparent success
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported about the initial operation of these boards.
The article also noted that the Legislature had allocated a "record $665
million in general state support ... for the 2015-17 biennium."
While Oregonians may take some satisfaction in this
"record" appropriation to higher education, it may also be useful to
put that number into a comparative context. We might ask ourselves: What do
other states with similar populations and state budgets spend on public higher
The answer is disquieting.
The "Distribution of State General Fund Expenditures"
compiled for the most recent year of available data, 2014, by the Henry J.
Kaiser Family Foundation, provides a comparison of state expenditures.
In 2014, Oregon, with a population of 3.9 million, had total
state expenditures of $7.9 billion; it spent $347 million on higher education,
less than half of the $885 million it spent on corrections. Oregon ranked 26th
in total expenditures, but it ranked 41st in expenditures for higher education
and 18th in expenditures for corrections. None of the nine states spending less
than Oregon on higher education had populations of more than 1.6 million, and
the average population of the nine was only 1 million. Even North Dakota, with
a population of about 740,000, spent more on higher education than Oregon. The
17 states that spent more on corrections are all large states, with average
populations of about 13.4 million.
Oregon students share similar difficulties with their
national peers about restricted access to and the rising cost of education
beyond high school, a key congressional Democrat says.
Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, the top-ranking member of his
party on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, made the
observation after a couple of Portland-area meetings arranged by Oregon Rep.
Suzanne Bonamici. She also sits on the committee.
One meeting was at the Rock Creek campus of Portland
Community College, where students, higher education and workforce training
officials discussed not only student finances but also college completion and
The other was at Portland State University, where the
discussion focused on the affordability of child care and the advocacy of
family-friendly policies in a changing workplace.
“I am glad to see him here to hear about some of the things
Oregon is doing,” Bonamici said.
“We have a lot of challenges ahead, but these are critical
issues for us to address.
“I invited Mr. Scott — a congressional leader on education
and workforce issues — to see how the Oregon approach of collaboration and
innovation can help solve complicated problems. We will continue our shared
efforts to craft policies that give children, young people, and working
families the support they need to succeed.”
The committee has brokered bipartisan compromises on the
renewal of federal aid to primary and secondary education in the Student
Success Act and renewal of the Older Americans Act. Both have passed Congress
and been signed by President Barack Obama.