“A well-educated workforce is essential to the future of our state” - Gov. John Kitzhaber
Since 1980, Oregon has reduced its state higher education investment by 61.5 percent. Extrapolating this trend, state investment in higher education in Oregon could reach zero by 2036, according to the American Council on Education. Public higher education, they conclude, is gradually being privatized. This pattern is being repeated throughout the country, prompting the question: what will be the future role of statewide public service programs, the hallmark of public land-grant universities?
The state of Oregon has responded with two new initiatives for reinvigorating prosperity through investment in education and workforce development. The two initiatives, the Oregon Education Investment Board and the Oregon Workforce Investment Board, are part of a larger system in which the OSU’s Statewide Programs currently serve a critical role.
OSU’s Statewide Public Service Programs build excellence in education and the economy through a continuum of Extension, learning, and research:
- before college: Extension programs prepare young people for learning through programs that foster childhood nutrition, family health, positive youth development and, learning beyond the classroom;
- during college: OSU’s statewide faculty and facilities provide learning opportunities to give students real-world, problem-solving experience to prepare them for successful careers;
- after college: OSU’s Ag Experiment Station and Forest Research Lab help create new jobs and markets through research that fosters innovation and sustains the resources necessary to grow new businesses in a creative, thriving economy.
- throughout life: Through local partnerships centered around Oregon Open Campus, OSU Extension provides continuing education for degree completion, career development, and opportunities for lifelong learning.
Figure 1. OSU’s Statewide Programs contribute to the lifecycle of learning, from preparing students to learn to contributing new knowledge for high-quality careers.