Gov. Kate Brown visited Oregon State University-Cascades on Wednesday to sign a bill approving $39 million for a new academic building on the Bend campus.

The state funding, plus a $10 million match from private donors, will pay for a building for classes in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

The building is a step forward in the university’s master plan to add dozens of buildings and streets on what will become a 128-acre campus for 5,000 students.

Brown, who spoke inside Tykeson Hall before signing the bill, said the community should be proud of OSU-Cascades and how it continues to grow with state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technology and, she added, “very nice dorms.”

“The vitality of the Central Oregon economy is very much dependent on our students and making sure they are prepared for the workforce of the future,” Brown said. “OSU-Cascades is making it possible for students who love this place — and there are many of them — to stay right here in this region.”

OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson and state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, each spoke at the bill signing, along with OSU-Cascades students Melanie Widmer and Lynnea Fredrickson.

The two students described how they made trips to the state capital in Salem to support the bill.

Knopp, who has advocated for the university funding, said he was discouraged last year after the Legislature approved just $9.5 million of the $69.5 million university officials requested.

But in December, Brown called for $88 million in funding: $39 million for OSU-Cascades, $40 million for a science center at the University of Oregon and $9 million for a new field house at Eastern Oregon University.

The funding bill was passed last session in March.

“Many of you, like me, were disappointed with the outcome of the 2017 session,” Knopp told a standing-room-only crowd Wednesday. “But I got a call from the governor after the session, and she made a commitment that she would work with me and the Central Oregon delegation to get to where we needed to be.”

Before Brown signed the funding bill, she took a short tour of the campus, ending up in the dining hall, where she stopped to speak with students.

Her visits with students were short and sweet, but one encounter was especially humorous. She asked Walead Sultani, a junior studying energy systems engineering, how he liked his studies.

Sultani didn’t miss a beat.

“I cry in the shower sometimes,” he said, which drew a laugh from Brown and her entourage.

“I’m a jokester,” Sultani said afterward.

Another student, Al Alkindi, was in the middle of a multicultural club event in the dining hall when the governor walked by and sparked up a conversation.

Alkindi, who is originally from Oman, said he thought it was great that Brown came to the campus and met with students.

It was his first time meeting a governor.

“I’ve only been here in the states since 2015,” Alkindi said. “I haven’t had the chance.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

20099372