The boards of trustees that govern Oregon’s three largest state universities are, admittedly, relatively new to their jobs. But as they settle in, at least two of them must make a greater effort to keep the public informed of their actions.
All three — the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Portland State University — follow Oregon’s public meetings law. They send out notices of meetings and make them open to people who would like to attend. For now, however, only the University of Oregon actually goes the extra mile and streams trustees’ meetings live over the Internet.
As for the state’s four smaller universities, headquartered in Klamath Falls, Ashland, Monmouth and La Grande, at least two, Oregon Institute of Technology and Eastern Oregon University, stream trustees’ meetings. Southern Oregon University streams meetings on request, while Western Oregon University not only does not stream, but it also does not make its trustees’ meetings minutes readily accessible by posting them to its website. So much for public openness in Monmouth.
Granted, boards of trustees are a fairly new development at the state’s public universities. The law granting the three large schools independence was approved by the Legislature in 2013; boards of trustees began their duties July 1, 2014 — less than two years ago.
Yet several small schools are already streaming trustees’ meetings live, as is UO. And while Oregon State does not yet stream, it will have a call-in line open for those interested when trustees meet this morning to discuss, among other things, tuition increases. Those interested in the Portland State meeting this afternoon will have to attend in person.
Not surprisingly, the likely tuition increases are hot topics at all three of the large schools. UO increased its tuition by 4.8 percent for in-state students earlier this month, over student objections.
Live streaming of meetings has not been at the top of their to-do lists as trustees concentrated on the business of becoming the caretakers of the universities they serve. Now, however, it’s time to turn their attention to putting the “open” into the open meetings law that governs their sessions.