August 10, 2009
It has now been a week since I arrived in Corvallis, and I am settling in to my new role as dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. It has been my privilege already to meet many people on and off campus. Each person I have met has generously sought to help me make sense of what the College and the University are all about. There is also an intense interest among our faculty, staff, students, and external stakeholders in the welfare of the College and its future. To a person, they wish only the best for our College and for our State.
Whether from conversations or electronic mail messages, it has become clear that almost everyone is interested in–and concerned about–the next steps in relation to how we will deal with the significant budget constraints we face. Reductions in the State’s appropriations for the Statewide Public Service Programs (Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station, OSU Extension, and OSU Forest Research Laboratory) may be as high as 20 percent or more. This is of great significance because the Experiment Station and the Extension Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources programs constitute a predominant portion of our College’s budget.
Beyond our directing unit leaders to propose budget reductions in their units for this fiscal year, no decisions have been made about program or staff reductions or about a longer-range transformation of the College. Such important decisions cannot be made in a hurry, or without a deliberate and purposeful approach that involves and seeks counsel from internal and external stakeholders. Unit leaders and College administration initiated conversations earlier this year and I expect to expand them. Underpinning such conversations is the reality that our College will have a State-supported “footprint” that is significantly smaller than in the past.
As stewards of the taxpayers’ investment and trust, we will be mindful of how we approach and deal with the budget situation, while ensuring that we deliver on our research, Extension, and teaching missions.
As we move forward, there will be opportunities for faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders to share their best thinking. That is a promise.
Dean and Reub Long Professor
College of Agricultural Sciences
Oregon State University