Dissolution of the Oregon University System
From 1929 until July 1, 2015, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education governed the “Oregon University System”, which in recent years consisted of the following seven public universities: Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon, and Western Oregon University.
Senate Bill 270 (2013) (“SB 270”) authorized the governor to appoint independent governing boards for three of those universities: Oregon State University, Portland State University, and the University of Oregon. These governing boards assumed authority for these institutions on July 1, 2014, at which point each of these institutions became independent of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.
In 2014 the governor (pursuant to SB 270 and a subsequent Oregon law, House Bill 4018 (2014) (“HB 4018”)) appointed independent governing boards for each of the four remaining Oregon public universities, including Eastern Oregon University. Those governing boards assumed authority for their institutions on July 1, 2015, at which time the Oregon University System and the Oregon State Board of Higher Education were abolished, under the authority of another law, Senate Bill 80 (2015) (“SB 80”).
Independent Public Status of Eastern Oregon University
The Oregon Revised Statutes define Eastern Oregon University as a “public university in the state of Oregon” (ORS 352.002(7)), and a “university with a governing board” (ORS 352.029(3) and ORS 352.054). As such it is “a governmental entity performing governmental functions and exercising governmental powers” (ORS 352.033) and “an independent public body with statewide purposes and missions and without territorial boundaries” (ORS 352.039). EOU is neither a state agency nor a local government (ORS 352.033).
Authority of the Governing Board (the Board of Trustees)
Eastern’s governing board “manages the affairs of the university by exercising and carrying out all of the powers, rights and duties that are expressly conferred upon the governing board by law, or that are implied by law or are incident to such powers, rights and duties.” ORS 352.029(3). Some of the specific powers expressly conferred upon the board are listed at ORS 352.087.
SB 80, which abolished the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and the Oregon University System, transferred the powers of those institutions to the new university governing boards. Thus, under section 3(2) of SB 80, “All of the duties, functions, powers and lawfully incurred rights and obligations of the State Board of Higher Education that pertain to a university with a governing board are transferred to and vested in the governing board.” Likewise, “For the purpose of succession to these rights and obligations, the governing board is considered to be a continuation of the State Board of Higher Education and not a new authority, and the governing board must exercise such rights and fulfill such obligations as if they had not been assigned or transferred, except as otherwise provided by law.” Employees of the State Board became employees of each university, with no change to their seniority, contractual rights, or any applicable collective bargaining agreements. SB 80, section 3(1). Moneys and other assets of the state board were appropriated and transferred to each university. SB 80, section 3(3). Policies and regulations of the state board became policies of the individual universities, which the university boards had the power to amend or repeal. SB 80, section 8.
Further details of the university’s governance are defined in the Bylaws of Eastern Oregon University (adopted by the Board of Trustees of Eastern Oregon University on June 4, 2015), and the various statements and resolutions of the Board of Trustees of Eastern Oregon University. These can be viewed on the tab “Bylaws and Statements” on the upper right of this page.Share: