On April 11, UO President Michael Gottfredson testified during a work session of the Oregon Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development on SB 270, a bill that would grant the University of Oregon and Portland State University institutional boards. In his testimony, Gottfredson praised the work of the committee on the bill, and emphasized that an institutional governing board will help the UO keep top students in Oregon, retain valued faculty, and appeal more effectively to donors. The purpose of the work session was to adopt a set of amendments to the bill that would give Oregon State University the authority to establish a board, provide for student and faculty representative on the board, and sort out technical details related to bonding capacity. In a subsequent work session, the committee, chaired by Senator Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), passed the bill out of committee unanimously. It now awaits consideration by the Joint Ways and Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature.
Simultaneously, the House Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, chaired by State Representative Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) completed work on a bill to restructure the broader system of higher education in Oregon, HB 3120. The bill makes the Higher Education Coordinating Commission the overseer of public higher education in Oregon, with authority over the Oregon Student Access Commission, the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development. The HECC with also retain control of a newly envisioned State Board of Higher Education responsible for Oregon’s public universities that do not opt for an institutional governing board. An organizational chart and more details about the proposal are available in an April 14 Oregonian article. The committee adopted a set of final amendments to the bill and passed it out of committee by a vote of 5 to 4 on during an April 17 work session. It also awaits consideration by the Joint Ways and Means committee.
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