Oregon Senate passes institutional boards bill

The Oregon Senate passed Senate Bill 270 – which would authorize institutional governing boards for the University of Oregon, Portland State University and possibly Oregon State University – on a vote of 23-7 late Wednesday morning. 

The bill is expected to be voted upon Saturday by the House of Representatives.

Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, who chairs the Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee, carried the bill Wednesday morning on the senate floor. Hass, wearing a green tie, spoke about the process that led to the bill's current version and the potential opportunities it will bring to the UO for new construction, student scholarships and support for world-class faculty.

Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, cited the flexibility institutional boards will bring to universities that are dealing with diminished public funding for higher education. He used the Oregon Health Sciences University as an example of an institution that has benefited from having its own board.

Senators Bill Hansell, Alan Bates, Rod Monroe also spoke in support of the bill. 

State senators Floyd Prozanski, Fred Girod, Brian Boquist, Ted Ferrioli, Chip Shields, Betsy Close and Jeff Kruse voted against the governing boards bill. Prozanski, a Eugene Democrat, cited the issues of designated board seats and the governor’s ability to determine the voting status of faculty and non-faculty staff as the reasons for his objection.

The Senate also unanimously passed Senate Bill 241, which facilitates the Willamette Valley's Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN). The network would consist of two business accelerator facilities – one in Eugene and another in Corvallis – to house Willamette Valley startup ventures.