Sept. 2001: Oregon State University-Cascades established in partnership with Central Oregon Community College. It uses the college’s classrooms for more than a decade

Aug. 2012: OSU-Cascades’ expansion to a 4-year university approved by state higher education officials

July 2013: Legislature approves $16 million in bonds for new, 10-acre campus

Summer 2016: OSU-Cascades campus set to open with one academic building, a residence hall and dining complex; capacity: 1,890 students

Sept. 2016: Campus has 1,215 enrolled students


Feb. 6: Bi-partisan bill requesting $69.5 billion for OSU-Cascades introduced as House Bill 2782

Feb. 22: Legislative analysis lists state projections that OSU-Cascades is state’s fastest growing public university campus; Central Oregon is state’s fastest growing economic region; projected 16 percent job growth in Central Oregon by 2024

Feb. 23: Public hearing on HB 2782 with testimony heavily in favor of bill

March: OSU-Cascades report to Legislature says existing campus will reach capacity by 2021; plans include expanding campus to accommodate up to 5,000 students by 2025

March 14: HB 2782 approved 8-0 by House Committee on Higher Education and Workforce Development

March 15: Bill sent to Joint Ways & Means Committee. No action is ever taken

May: The Bulletin reports Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission list of bonding priorities places most OSU-Cascades projects near bottom of official wish list

June: Supporters of HB 2782 say legislation is dead as individual bill, but expect bonds between $20 million and $69.5 million will be included in final bond package.

July 4: Legislature’s $1.3 billion bond package includes $9 million for OSU-Cascades; miscellaneous appropriations bill includes another $500,000 to renovate OSU-Cascades facilities

July 7: Legislature adjourns

September: OSU-Cascades enrollment at 1,204, with 67 percent from Central Oregon

Nov. 14: OSU-Cascades officials appear at hearing in Salem to ask for reconsideration of funding

Nov. 21: Master plans for proposed 128-acre campus are unveiled

Dec. 8: Gov. Kate Brown announces supplemental request of $39 million in bonds for OSU-Cascades; request will be considered by Legislature in February 2018

Sources: Legislative Policy and Research Office, Oregon Legislative Information System, The Bulletin archives.

SALEM — The roller-coaster ride of state funding for OSU-Cascades took a sharp upward swing this weekend with the announcement that Gov. Kate Brown wants $39 million more to build the Bend campus.

The fortunes of the year-old campus had been on a steady decline in Salem since early last year, as first Brown and then the Legislature slashed the $69.5 million request for the school to just $9.5 million.

Brown’s late Friday announcement was part of an $88 million package of supplemental spending she wants for Oregon State, the University of Oregon and Eastern Oregon University.

Brown says she expects another $10 million will be raised for the OSU-Cascades campus through matching funds or private funds. The campus is expected to use modern Oregon wood products for a major portion of the work.

If approved by the Legislature, the funding would put the Bend campus back on track to be able to handle the expanding demand for public four-year education in Central Oregon.

“It’s a new session with new opportunity,” said Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, a campus supporter. “We have a need, a great case and a great team working together.”

Knopp warned there was a long way to go to get the governor’s request through the Legislature and back to the governor’s desk to be signed.

“Anything can happen,” Knopp said.

Within hours of the Friday evening announcement, at least one lawmaker was signaling his disapproval of the plan.

“There is still no logical rationale for added capacity at OSU Cascades,” said Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, on Twitter.

Evan’s critique echoed a statement last summer by House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, who in explaining why only $9 million of a $1.3 billion state bond package went to OSU-Cascades, said there was “no consensus” in Salem for the need of a public four-year college “out there.”

Brown critiqued the arguments by campus supporters as less than compelling and said the projects requested were “not shovel ready.” She said any funding for OSU-Cascades had to be considered as part of the total money spent on Oregon State’s main campus in Corvallis, a bone of contention for supporters of the Bend campus who say it should be considered as a stand-alone entity for budget purposes.

OSU-Cascades officials expressed a sense of abandonment for what they thought was a new jewel in the state’s higher education collection.

“We just opened up the campus last fall, and now, you have to wonder, what’s the level of support for the campus on the state government level?” said Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades.

After the shock came recriminations, with Republican lawmakers claiming Kotek, Brown and Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, all Democrats, had sunk the funding because the campus was located in an area represented in Salem by Republicans. House Minority Leader Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, had a contentious relationship with Kotek during the 2017 session.

The campus is in the district of Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, who is the leading GOP candidate for governor against Brown in 2018.

By the fall, OSU-Cascades supporters were quieting any partisan squabbling and worked to put together a coalition of business, educational, political and other civic leaders to lobby for the need for the campus.

Business executives pointed out it is the fastest growing public university campus, located in an area with the fastest population expansion, and fastest projected job growth.

Scott Allan, general manager of Hydro Flask, said having a local pool of qualified workers was essential to the future of Central Oregon, which was a key to the future of all of Oregon.

Students testified in November that high school graduates are more likely to stay closer to home and pursue a full college education with a major four-year university east of the Cascades.

Brown was convinced, saying in her announcement of the $39 million request that keeping OSU-Cascades on track was a priority.

“These projects serve high-need, growing communities outside of the Portland metro area,” Brown said.

While “thrilled with the governor” for making the commitment, OSU-Cascades lobbyist Erik Kancler said supporters are working to make sure the surprise of the 2017 session morphs into a more assured — and earned — position in the 2018 session.

“We just need to keep on making our case, keep on talking about the need and the opportunity,” Kancler said. “When we articulate the benefits to the state, why we need to keep on track, nearly all the people we talk to express support. We just need to see it through.”

— Reporter: 541-525-5280,