Board committees review construction projects, hear about tuition

The UO sign at the entrance to campus

Three new construction projects and a possible tuition guarantee program were among the issues taken up by committees of the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon as their September meetings got underway Thursday.

The Finance and Facilities Committee heard about three construction projects that will receive state funding: the renovation and expansion of Klamath Hall, renovation of Chapman Hall and construction of a new College and Careers Building. Together, the three projects will significantly improve facilities for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Clark Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Later in the day, trustees plan to tour Chapman and Klamath to get a first-hand look at the buildings before work begins next year.

Also on the agenda were approvals of two projects in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. One is the renovation of Hayward Field, including a major expansion of the west grandstand, and the new Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Complex within the Casanova Center. Both will be completed through gifts, with no university funding.

The Finance and Facilities Committee also focused on the tuition and fee-setting process by requiring earlier student input before tuition and fee recommendations are made to the president, a change supported unanimously by the committee. This requirement will go before the full board as a seconded motion Friday, Sept. 11.

In addition, the committee heard from Vice President for Enrollment Management Roger Thompson on a tuition guarantee concept. The idea would lock in tuition at a set price for four years, providing students, families and the institution with stability in the price of college while also providing more incentive to finish an undergraduate degree within four years. The presentation was meant to introduce the concept to trustees; no formal proposal exists at this time. 

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee learned more about the academic program offerings in Portland, the overall campus academic organizational structure and management relationships, and class size and classroom utilization. 

Vice Provost for Portland Programs Jane Gordon provided more detailed information about the programs offered in Portland and how they relate to the overall mission of the university. She also updated trustees on her work to develop a strategic plan for the UO’s “Portland presence.”

Provost Scott Coltrane dived into academic structures at the university, walking trustees through various roles and responsibilities and focusing on peer review among faculty and overall accountability for management. On class size and classroom utilization, the provost discussed current statistics and potential projects related to space utilization — a topic important to long-term faculty growth and capital planning.