The Oregon State Legislature approved $13.8 million in state-backed bonds for a Student Success Center at Oregon State University – Cascades that will help students progress toward graduation and career. The Student Success Center will support student services such as career advising, internship coordination, academic advising, tutoring, disability access services, veterans support, student health services and mental health counseling. It also will include a multicultural center, student organizations and clubs, and space to support student recreation programs, as well as offices, meeting rooms and gathering areas.
“The Student Success Center will provide essential services that will contribute to student life, learning and success while in college and beyond,” said OSU Interim President Becky Johnson.
“I’m very grateful for the support of Gov. Kate Brown and Central Oregon legislators. Sen. Tim Knopp and Rep. Jack Zika have championed the Student Success Center for multiple sessions, and Rep. Jason Kropf prioritized this project in his first year in the legislature,” Johnson said. “Community members also strongly called upon legislators to support bonding for the Student Success Center. They recognize the role student success services play in progressing to graduation and developing skilled and engaged employees for the region and state.”
OSU-Cascades students played an important role in securing funding for the new building, voting in 2017 to increase student fees in response to the need for additional space and enhanced success services. The increased fees will raise $5 million for the project.
“This investment from students in a building most of us will never enjoy the opportunity to use is a testament to the shared commitment by both our campus and the Central Oregon community in supporting success for all students,” said Taha Elwefati, president of the Associated Students of Cascades Campus. “We are dedicated to creating a better tomorrow for future generations of OSU-Cascades students.”
Andrew Ketsdever, OSU-Cascades interim vice president said, “The Student Success Center would not have been possible without the partnership of student leaders with the Associated Students of Cascades Campus.”
Construction of the 22,500 square-foot center will start in 2022. The building will be located to the west of Edward J. Ray Hall and will be the second campus building to leverage geothermal energy for heating and cooling, contributing to net zero energy goals for the campus.
The center will also support an ongoing need for campus facilities and services to keep pace with student enrollment. In fall 2020, OSU-Cascades led enrollment growth at Oregon’s public universities with a 27% increase in first-year students and 16% increase in transfer students, yet lacked student support space according to a study by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
“The Student Success Center is especially critical for under-represented, first generation, low income and rural students who benefit from support services, networking and advising that aid their progress to graduation,” said Ketsdever.
Enrollment this past year included 19% students of color, 35% Pell Grant eligible, indicating financial need, and 28% first generation students. Nearly 60% were from Central Oregon.