UO President Michael H. Schill sent the following message to the campus community July 11:
Dear University of Oregon community,
This afternoon, the UO Board of Trustees voted to roll back the 2017–18 resident undergraduate tuition increase to 6.56 percent—a reduction of more than a third—providing welcome relief to Oregon students and families. This tuition adjustment was made possible by the advocacy and hard work of Oregon legislators who have taken an important step toward reinvesting in higher education and the prosperity of our state. I am extremely grateful to these lawmakers and to the many students, families, alumni, and faculty and staff members who traveled to Salem or wrote letters on the university’s behalf.
As the gavel fell Friday in Salem on the 2017 session, lawmakers had approved a higher-education budget of $737 million, $70 million more for Oregon’s public universities than what had been proposed at the beginning of the legislative session. While these additional funds will not be sufficient to enable us to keep up with all of the increased costs affecting the university, they are extremely welcome. I am pleased to say that the UO will use our portion to reduce both our tuition increase and the size of the budget cuts we had anticipated to educational services and programs for next year.
During this legislative session, lawmakers also authorized $50 million in bonds for the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Science Impact. This funding is a down payment on what we expect will be two phases of funding totaling $100 million—an important public investment in scientific innovation, discovery, and entrepreneurship for our region. I am grateful for the many people on our campus, in our community, and around the state who stepped forward to share their excitement and support this vision; their enthusiasm and fierce advocacy made a difference. We plan to break ground on this exciting project this fall.
The UO also came away from this legislative session with several key policy bills that will help us operate more nimbly in the future. While the legislature did not approve funding for our much-needed classroom building, we remain committed to expanding our capacity for teaching on campus. We will continue to look for other ways to fund this project.
Compared to where we started this past fall, I am pleased with the progress we achieved during this legislative session, but I am not satisfied. Many of the cost drivers and revenue constraints that affected us this biennium will reappear in the next unless our state finds a way to reduce the costs imposed on us, allocates more funding to higher education, or both. We will continue to fight for the resources necessary to continue providing students with an outstanding public higher education. Providing an excellent, accessible education to all Oregonians is critical to the economy, welfare, and prosperity of the state of Oregon.
I again thank everyone, especially our student leaders and legislators, who worked tirelessly to advocate in Salem for the UO. I am hopeful that this is momentum for a renewed commitment to investing in higher education in Oregon.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law