The OSU-Cascades campus faced opposition before it could launch. And now the state’s funding formula for capital projects punishes Oregon State University-Cascades for being a young college just starting out.

It doesn’t matter that Central Oregon is one of the fastest growing parts of the state. It doesn’t matter that the region doesn’t have another four-year university. OSU-Cascades gets the odds stacked against it before it can make an argument for a new building on campus.

For instance, OSU-Cascades wants $12 million in bonds to build a student success center on campus. It would be a hub for student activities, such as counseling, activities, tutoring, internships, study abroad and more.

Such a project at OSU-Cascades gets scored poorly by the state because of the bias built into the scoring system. Projects get more points if they create cost savings by eliminating or limiting deferred maintenance projects. OSU-Cascades is brand new. It hasn’t had time to defer any maintenance.

The proposal at OSU-Cascades also scores very differently from a proposed student success center at Western Oregon University. Somehow the WOU building would be much better at “easing capacity” and “supporting student completion” than the same kind of building at OSU-Cascades.

Students at OSU-Cascades even voted to dedicate $62 in the fees they pay each term to help pay for the building. Where’s the credit for that?

From the very beginning, some opponents of OSU-Cascades didn’t like it, because a new campus takes away dollars from existing campuses. That’s the very reason why supporters of developing what would become OSU-Cascades were turned down more than 15 years ago by the University of Oregon when they tried to get the UO behind the development of a branch campus of UO in Central Oregon.

Then-Oregon State University President Paul Risser was more visionary. He saw Bend’s growth and potential. He saw the support in the community. When supporters of developing the campus walked in to his office those many years ago to pitch Risser on the idea, he backed it before they could begin.

Central Oregon’s legislative delegation needs to get to work to overcome the bias baked into the state’s funding formula. And if you have some free time and want to help, contact Gov. Kate Brown and ask her what she is doing to help a young campus in one of the fastest growing parts of the state.

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