By Lauren Dake

The Bulletin

PORTLAND — There will be bumps along the way, heavy-lifting and hurdles, Oregon State University President Ed Ray said on Friday, but the Cascades campus will expand to a four-year campus.

“We are not going away,” Ray said shortly after giving his annual State of the University address to a room full of hundreds of people at the downtown Portland Hilton hotel on Friday.

“What we are doing is the right thing for Central Oregon.”

Ray said he’s hopeful that this legislative session, which kicks off on Monday, Central Oregon Community College secures the type of bonding it needs to retire the debt on Cascades Hall, allowing OSU-Cascades to end its lease on the building and move forward with expansion plans.

Ray noted that historically both the governor and lawmakers have been supportive of the university’s efforts to expand.

In a decade, he envisions the OSU-Cascades campus as thriving and hopes the estimates of 3,000 to 5,000 new students by 2025 turn out to be a low estimate.

He hopes it’s closer to 8,000 or 10,000.

“The upside is enormous,” he said.

At his address, Ray announced that Oregon State University has met its $1 billion fundraising goal several months before its deadline. He said OSU now has the largest enrollment of any Oregon university, with more than 25,000 students attending classes in Corvallis; 3,800 working on degrees online, and another 1,000 in Bend.

He highlighted student achievements, noting that last year, the average high school GPA of incoming students was 3.57. More than 40 percent had GPAs of 3.75, he said.

Funding for research, Ray told the crowd of alumni and civic and business leaders, was $263 million in 2013, an amount that topped all other Oregon universities combined.

He also noted the Federal Aviation Administration picked OSU to operate one of six national sites for testing drones. The unmanned aircraft will be used for search and rescue, monitoring crops and marine and coast research and work with partners in Bend and the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

And, he highlighted in his address “changing the face of Central Oregon by expanding OSU-Cascades to a full four-year branch campus of Oregon State University.”

He praised Vice President Becky Johnson’s leadership skills and said the project is a partnership with the “community, donors, the governor and the legislature,” and he said “it will serve the only region in Oregon without a four-year university.”

— Reporter: 541-554-1162,