University Day Address 2005 September 26th, 2005
University Day 2005
Thank you and welcome to University Day.
Each year we have the privilege, and pleasure, of celebrating the achievements of Oregon State University’s faculty and staff on this day.
Many of you will, I am sure, find University Day even more enjoyable this year because the President’s “State of the University” speech has been moved to the first Faculty Senate meeting in October. Some of the issues we must address as a university community are best dealt with in that setting, and I am looking forward to talking with the faculty then.
Consequently, we can devote our full attention this day to recognizing the numerous accomplishments of the faculty, staff, and administrators who make exceptional contributions to this resilient and wonderful educational community.
Shortly we will hear about the individual accomplishments of our colleagues. Let me just touch a few of the highlights that reflect well on our collective efforts, recognizing that any full accounting of OSU achievements and milestones over the past twelve months would consume more than one University Day.
Let’s start with faculty research productivity. Last year OSU faculty were awarded nearly $209 million in outside grants and contracts for research, shattering all past records and our timetables too. This is an extraordinary achievement, not only for this university but for Oregon, because this level of intense inquiry will produce new ideas and new products that will drive economic growth and social progress for Oregon, the nation, and the world.
And whether it’s a new nontoxic glue for wood laminates or disease-resistant hazelnut trees or nanotechnology or the many award-winning books published by the OSU Press, this institution’s contributions are making a significant difference for our state and nation.
We’ve said our graduates are our most important contribution to the future for Oregon, the nation, and the world. Last June we conferred a record 4,416 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, providing all 50 states and 46 countries with career-ready men and women prepared to contribute to their communities, workplaces, and families. They must be succeeding, too, because OSU has another record-setting number of students coming along right behind them this year.
“Highlight” statistics can be hard to understand without context, but there are a few that are self-explanatory: OSU, through its Open Source Lab, is the largest host site for open source applications and community Linux releases in the world, and OSU’s Open Source Lab gets over 20 million hits on its OSU website per day.
Or this one: A group of OSU faculty and staff have been trained, at their own instigation, as performance coaches, and OSU and LBCC staff work together to provide this service to staff here and at Linn-Benton Community College. Performance coaching has already helped many people here, and it’s a great example of OSU’s innovation and initiative.
Our Strategic Plan says that the fundamental reason for our existence – and for all your hard work – is to make our graduates ready to compete with anyone, anywhere.
Well, how about this for results? Last summer OSU sent three students to NASA for summer internships on robotics for the Mission to Mars. There were 200 students invited from across the United States.
At the end of the summer, NASA chose four students for recognition for their excellence.
All three OSU students were selected!
Here is a milestone worth noting. This year the OSU faculty elevated the School of Education to a full college, recognizing the absolute necessity of our involvement in education at every level – and also rewarding the tremendous initiative and commitment we have seen in this academic unit. We have also just announced that Education Hall will be refurbished. Now, Education Hall will become wireless both inside and outside of the building.
We face some very real and substantial challenges, but I hope we can agree that there is cause for optimism symbolized by our establishing a College of Education and removing the cyclone fencing from Education Hall. We are progressing despite the obstacles in our path.
Couple this with the other campus improvements recently completed – Weatherford Hall, Dixon Recreation Center, Small Animal Hospital, Reser Stadium, the completion of Kelley Engineering, and the projects in the works – Education Hall, Apperson Hall, the Animal Pavilion, and the New Energy Center – and it’s clear this campus and university are taking on a new look.
There is also our global involvement. A number of colleagues suggested to me, after a late summer newspaper article about the international travel of some fellow university presidents, that I ought to make a few overseas trips myself, just to catch up.
Well, I will do that in due course. But the truth is I don’t have too. The world is coming to OSU, as highlighted by the recent conference held here on passively safe nuclear power systems, a conference organized by Nuclear Engineering Professor, Jose Reyes, and sponsored by the United Nations that drew participants from 17 countries. This is just one example of many. In fact, last year some 500 international scholars and educators came here to share their ideas with us, and to take advantage of what we offer.
Furthermore, OSU’s graduates are around the globe, occupying significant positions in government, agriculture, natural resources, industry and many other fields. We have been reaching out to them and OSU just issued its first newsletter for international alumni.
When it comes to engaging the rest of the world, OSU isn’t playing catch-up with anybody. We are leading. We intend to stay there, too.
Let me conclude by noting a number of years ago, I am told, the Oregonian published a series of articles that purported that Oregon’s higher education institutions were “Majoring in Mediocrity.”
I don’t know how anyone could look at what OSU faculty, staff, and students accomplish, or at the impact that donors like Martin Kelley and others are having on this institution, or look at the work we do in communities and with families across this state, and draw any other conclusion than that Oregon State University is majoring in overachievement.
That is the final thought I’d like to leave you with today. Your accomplishments and contributions are not unnoticed. Your resilience, and your determination in the face of adversity, is greatly appreciated. It is my fervent hope – and I think it a realistic one – that these over achievements are steadily leading OSU to the resources and recognition this university and the people of Oregon merit – and require – for the future we all aspire to achieve.