Fighting for funding in Salem
University leaders fight for higher education funding in SalemNews contacts:
Tim Seydel, Vice President, University Advancement, 541-962-3628
Alex McHaddad, Legislative Aide, University Advancement, 541-962-3083
LA GRANDE, Ore. April 14, 2017 – The Education Subcommittee of the Oregon Joint Committee on Ways and Means heard testimony from university leaders at the state capitol April 12-13, and EOU was there to fight for higher education funding.
Last Wednesday, EOU Trustee Bobbie Conner joined a panel that included Oregon State University President Ed Ray and Portland State University Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion Carmen Suarez.
Addressing student issues including food insecurity and finance, Conner provided the subcommittee with compelling examples of how the college experience can define a student’s life.
“Food insecurity is correlated with fair to poor health, lower grade point average, low income and unemployment over time,” Conner explained. “And food insecurity in the college years can affect cognitive, academic and psycho-social development.”
Conner also addressed the need for increased state investment in public universities.
“The decline in subsidies for higher education institutions has generated significant losses for both students and society,” she said. “The worst outcome for everyone is when a student accrues debt and does not matriculate to a degree. That is why we must focus on sustaining and increasing the investment, ensuring that universities are being efficient with our dollars, and driving funds into programs in s
tudent support services that ensure completion in six years.”
On Thursday, Associated Students of EOU President Sidronio Rangel appeared before the subcommittee to discuss the impact of Sports Lottery funding – a percentage of the State Lottery Fund that has been allocated to public universities for intercollegiate athletics since 1989, but has been eliminated from the Governor’s Balanced Budget for 2017-19.
“I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my dreams as a kid of playing collegiate soccer if it weren’t for the athletic and academic scholarship I was awarded through Sports Lottery funds,” Rangel, a Mountaineer soccer player and NAIA scholar-athlete, told the subcommittee. “Being on the soccer team enhanced my education, encouraged me to accomplish all my coursework early and develop crucial time management skills, all of which were integral to my success as an EOU student.”
Rangel is preparing to graduate with a bachelor’s of arts degree in June. In addition to his role as student government president, he is also vice president of the Latino Impact Club on campus, works as a TRiO Student Support Services tutor, is a resident assistant for off-campus housing, and is proud to say he has maintained a 3.8 GPA throughout his educational career.
Many rural, first-generation and low-income students could not attend EOU without Sports Lottery scholarships. The program also helps fund assistant coaches through the graduate assistant program, allowing EOU to work closely with rural, place-bound students who are not able to relocate, but want to further their education in a graduate program.
“I want to make sure that our 323-plus student athletes at EOU continue to live their dreams,” Rangel said in his concluding remarks. “Higher education is fundamental to my success, and I’m sure it will be to those that enroll in any college in Oregon. I want to make sure generations have that same opportunity; the opportunity to learn, expand and create lifelong memories along their athletic and academic journey of garnering a degree at EOU and any other Oregon public institution.”
In response to Rangel’s testimony, Education Subcommittee Co-Chair Senator Rod Monroe affirmed the role of the university in meeting the educational needs of the region.
“Eastern is quite an institution, and I’m experienced with them because I was on the board of Mt. Hood Community College for 10 years,” Monroe said. “Eastern has a satellite campus at Mt. Hood Community College as well, so we have a close relationship there. It’s an integral part of our whole situation in terms of academics, especially for eastern Oregon and eastern Oregon students.”
The subcommittee will be hearing public comment on public university funding next Monday, April 17 in Salem. For more information on EOU advocacy, email Legislative Aide Alex McHaddad in University Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org.