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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

OSU President Ed Ray still working after opening gay cultural center decade ago

OSU alumni magazine on cultural centers Fall 2011, p. 8-11 Winter 2012, p. 5

PHOTO: (click photo to enlarge) Oregon State University President writes in the alumni magazine about raising the money to renovate or rebuild four of the main cultural centers. See article by Ed Ray, "Ed Said, Consider what it's like to be the 'other,'" Oregon Stater alumni magazine, Fall 2011, p. 8-9 (left) and an anti-gay letter in response in the next issue where the editor said Ed's article had an unprecedented response (right). Christine Armer, 0'03, "Prefers Melting Pot," Oregon Stater alumni association magazine Winter 2012, p. 5. Ed ray responds that he meant to also emphasize in the original piece that the cultural centers are important places for everyone to visit and learn. See previous post OSU President in alumni magazine on cultural center upgrade and anti-gay backlash (7/12/12)

One of OSU President Ed Ray's first acts when he started work nearly a decade ago was to officially dedicate in 2004 the Oregon State University Pride Center for LGBT students. President Ray's support for all of the cultural centers was mentioned by a local newspaper article recapping his first ten years on the job:

In a major policy address titled "Setting Our Course," Ray laid out his plan for lifting OSU into the ranks of the nation's top 10 land grant universities over the next 20 to 30 years.

To measure progress toward that lofty goal, he set a series of benchmarks OSU would need to reach by the year 2025.

The university, he said, should have 30,000 to 35,000 students, an increase of up to 75 percent from the fall 2009 enrollment of 21,000. Tenured and tenure-track faculty would need to grow as well, from the current 780 to as many as 1,500. . .

Finally, to pay for all that excellence in an era of sharply declining state support for higher education, OSU would need to double its annual revenues from both private donors and research grants. . . .

Since Ray's arrival in 2003:

  • OSU's annual research revenue has nearly doubled, from $156 million to $281 million.
  • The university has substantially increased the number of tenured or tenure-track faculty positions, including 180 new hires in the past two years.
  • By consolidating some office functions in semi-centralized business centers, OSU was able to eliminate 150 administrative positions.
  • The University's academic units have been streamlined from 63 to 42, organized into four major divisions. In addition, 26 low-enrollment majors have been eliminated.
  • More than $600 million worth of new infrastructure has been completed or approved, including several new and refurbished academic buildings, a veterinary medicine teaching hospital, a dorm for international students, several student cultural centers, an outdoor rec complex and a major expansion of the football stadium.
  • The university's first campus wide fundraising effort, the Campaign for OSU, boosted its goal from $650 million to a staggering $1 billion -- and has raised nearly $950 million to date. Some $161 million of that total is for scholarships and $103 million is for faculty, including 74 new endowed positions.

The personal touch

People on campus give much of the credit for these achievements to Ray's leadership.

J. Michael Goodwin took over as president and chief executive of the Oregon State University Foundation in 2004, fresh from leading a billion-dollar fundraising campaign at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

From the start, he says, Ray was an eager participant in wooing donors for OSU.

"Being from Ohio State, you could tell that he got fundraising," Goodwin said. "Plus he has this really optimistic vision for Oregon State that you could really believe in."

Unlike many university presidents, Goodwin said, Ray likes having personal contact with donors, asking for big gifts himself and shepherding the donations to completion. And there's a directness to his approach that donors seem to appreciate.

"This is where Ed is so great: You have to have a vision, and you have to have a discipline when it comes to that vision," Goodwin said.

"Donors need to hear that there's a vision and there's a plan for that vision and it connects with them in some way."

Another key contribution made by Ray is to get OSU's deans personally involved in fundraising efforts.

When Goodwin arrived at OSU, he said, only two divisions of the university were consistently attracting significant donations: the athletic department and the College of Engineering. That's changed dramatically, with gifts flowing to all parts of the university.

In the process, the donor base has broadened as well. Instead of relying on a handful of deep-pocketed benefactors, OSU can point to 180 individuals who have contributed $1 million or more to the university.

"We've raised almost a billion dollars, and that's great. But what it's also done is it's left Oregon State with a fundraising infrastructure," Goodwin said.

"That infrastructure and that community of donors that gets it is really an important legacy." . . .

Coming to Oregon State from Ohio State, Ray said, he was immediately struck by two things.

One was the beauty of the Corvallis campus, with its stately old sandstone buildings, grassy quadrangles and lush vegetation. The other was a sort of friendly western optimism that he found a refreshing contrast to the cynicism he so often encountered back east. Here, he felt, was a place where he could accomplish something. . .

(Quoted from Bennett Hall, "Town & Gown, Agent of Change. In His 10 years at the helm, Ed ray has ushered in a new era at Oregon State University," Gazette-Times, Sun. Aug. 4, 2013, p. A1, A4)

I clearly recall how half a century ago OSU prided itself in being a teaching college and not an impersonal research university where professors don't talk to students unless they can further the professor's research project. I was fortunate to be employed by one of the few professors who had a well-funded research grant and after spending some time on the Stanford and MIT campuses, which are well funded by research and industry, I realized that to college educations are enhanced by having strong research programs on campus. Therefore, I have been very supportive of both the strategic growth and emphasis on research funding that OSU President Ed ray has brought.

Corvallis, Oregon, being a small college town, which still has a small town newspaper that recently printed an editorial gently criticizing the lack of any representation from the general town that has is being impacted by the growth of OSU. (See editorial by Mike McInally, "Think Too Much: OSU list of board nominees misses one bet," Gazette-Times, Sun. Aug. 4, 2013)

The OSU Foundation President J. Michael Goodwin, who is quoted in the above article about his ten-year-long working relationship with President Ed Ray, was the person in charge who signed on Jan. 31, 2005 my OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement to support educational and research programs at OSU concerning people or animals of a minority sexual orientation or gender identity, which I am the founding benefactor of a currently several million dollar fund.

I am glad to see OSU and Ed Ray continuing to support the OSU cultural centers and as part of this I documented the history leading up to the Oregon State University Pride Center cultural center, which OSU President Ed Ray dedicated in 2004 to LGBT students:

Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1969-2004," posted April 30, 2010 is available on the Web site produced by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), located at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The shortened URL will also go to it more easily if you are text messaging or hand typing the link. I donated a hard copy to the Oregon State University Valley Library Guides and Collections Pertaining to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People in Oregon -- Thomas Kraemer Speech and Blog -- History of OSU Gay Student Groups 1976-2006, as documented through a speech and blog by Thomas Kraemer (PDF) (See previous posts OSU gay history at site (1/16/12) and OSU alum magazine gay history letter (9/16/09))