The New Partnership: Stabilizing UO's future
One of the goals of the SAA is to make sure our members are in the know of big things happening around campus. A huge thing right now is the New Partnership, which is a proposal that President Lariviere and his team have drawn together that greatly affects how UO will be funded and governed. The UO has proposed a three part plan to reform and improve higher education in Oregon. First, free universities from a centralized state bureaucracy and provide schools greater autonomy over their management and operations. Second, strengthen public accountability by establishing a dedicated governing board for UO and other schools. And third, prevent further budget cuts and the tuition increases they cause by establishing public-private endowments. 59% of Oregonians support decentralized – not centralized – governance of higher education.
Whether you agree with the proposal or not is up to you, but as students it’s important for us to be as informed as possible because we are the ones being affected by this the most. Do you have a problem with how high and unstable tuition is? Do you care about who gets to say what is done with your money and general UO policy issues? If so it is vital that you understand what the New Partnership is all about. Here are a few particularly important things to know:
State funding for higher education has been declining for 20 years. As state support has gone down, student tuition has gone up. Today, the UO receives just 7% of its funding from the state budget and it ranks dead last among AAU public universities in state funding per student. Without change, student tuition at UO will skyrocket to $17,000 a year by 2020. 74% of Oregonians believe rising tuition threatens to make a college education unaffordable for Oregon families.
Under the New Partnership model, the UO proposes establishing a public governing board—a majority of its members appointed by the governor—which will focus on the UO’s mission and public responsibility. The Oregon University System will be involved with the UO as a coordinating board responsible for setting and monitoring educational outcomes such as degree attainment, and will have authority to coordinate with other universities to prevent duplication of programs.
A state funding commitment of $65 million per year over thirty years will be used to make annual payments on a new public endowment. The UO will match the funds with money raised from private donors, and manage the combined public-private endowment. That pool of money will create a stable, perpetual base to fund the UO’s education mission and bring greater stability to resident undergraduate tuition costs. In its first year, the public endowment will generate sufficient operating revenue for the university and will continue to grow. The bond creates even greater incentives for philanthropists to give to the university.
The New Partnership proposes an operational endowment. Half of the seed money will come from an $800 million general obligation bond, if the legislature agrees to pick up debt payments over the next 30 years at about the same annual cost as its current, minimal appropriation to the UO. The other half will come from private donations, and the combined $1.6 billion endowment will provide a perpetual – and constantly growing – source of UO funding.
While this plan envisions a public governing board for the UO, a state-level coordinating body such as the Oregon University System will be charged with setting clear standards of success for the institution. It will hold the UO accountable for meeting those standards—including accessibility, affordability, diversity, economic development and service impact.
In a nutshell, the New Partnership will restructure Oregon’s higher education governance model, strengthen academic accountability and institute a first-of-its-kind, public/private funding configuration at the UO. It is that last element that has received the most attention. It also holds the greatest potential – not only for stabilizing UO tuition, but for preserving the university’s public mission of offering an affordable education to a broad spectrum of Oregon students.
The UO Foundation and UO Alumni Association are both actively supporting higher education reform efforts before the legislature. To learn more about the issues and how you can join the effort, visit http://newpartnership.uoalumni.com, call 541-346-7550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org