EOU board meeting summary
Trustees learn about student and faculty research, discuss measurements of academic quality, approve tuition increase, among other itemsNews contacts:
Tim Seydel, Vice President for University Advancement, 541-962-3628
Laura Hancock, Communications Coordinator for University Advancement, 541-962-3585
LA GRANDE, Ore. June 6, 2016 – Eastern Oregon University’s Board of Trustees convened on campus Thursday, June 2 for its regular public meeting in Inlow Hall, Room 201.
Agenda items covered research, internships and capstone courses at EOU, tools for measuring academic quality, new tuition and room and board rates for 2016-17, resolutions of appreciation for outgoing trustees, duties and responsibilities of faculty and shared governance reports. The meeting concluded with a private executive session to discuss labor negotiations.
Research, Internships and Capstone Courses at EOU – Amy Yielding, associate professor of math and recipient of EOU’s 2016 Distinguished Teaching Faculty Award, joined Travis Lowe, senior math major, in sharing an overview of research opportunities, internships and capstone work at the university.
Yielding, Lowe and Sydney Nelson, a junior math major, recently partnered with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve an air quality forecasting model being used by the city of Burns to guide home heating and open burning practices. While it is still in the pilot phase, Idaho and Montana DEQ are also interested in adopting the model.
Read more about their project: “Burn notice: math students mitigate health risks”
Yielding emphasized research courses are available to students starting their freshmen year at EOU, and internships provide further experience interacting with the public and networking with experts in the field. Capstones are another opportunity to integrate multiple experiences into a final project and students across all majors complete one before they graduate.
Research courses also prepare students for advanced study, and the acceptance rate of EOU students into graduate school is high, Yielding related. Internships often result in job offers for students after they graduate, and capstone projects help other undergraduates feel motivated to conduct their own projects and see how courses can be applied in the real world. Yielding said she recruits student-researchers from her current and previous classes, and seeks out those interested in using mathematics outside of the classroom.
“We want to get other future math students engaged in research,” Yielding said, noting that EOU’s Math Club presents original work at the Northwest Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium each year with a large showing.
EOU’s Spring Symposium, Eastern Oregon Science Journal and new Eastern Oregon Social Science Journal are other avenues for students to share research with a broader audience. Oregon East, EOU’s literary magazine, provides publishing opportunities for arts and letters students.
“A distinguished university fosters students who themselves become distinguished,” Yielding said. “These kind of activities keep me here and I’m extremely proud.”
“It’s been amazing to have hours of one-on-one time with Professor Yielding and all the faculty in the math department at EOU,” Lowe added.
Featured Presentation on Measuring Academic Quality – Sarah Witte, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, Jeff Dense, professor of political science, and Donald Wolff, interim vice provost for Academic Affairs, gave the featured presentation on measuring academic quality.
“Both faculty and administration are committed to academic quality,” Wolff said. “Our efforts are coordinated at the state level and part of a national movement to accomplish the same goals.”
Dense added the primary goal is to protect EOU’s resources – its students – and to prepare them for lifelong success.
“Academic quality must be buttressed by a commitment to access and affordability for all students and for all residents of eastern Oregon,” he said.
Additional assessment tools include the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and standardized tests, which Dense believes lead faculty to teach to the exam and hold minimal value as a measure of academic quality, along with university ranking systems. As alternatives, direct measures of academic quality are being conducted at EOU, Wolff explained, including capstone research.
Faculty review for promotion and tenure was another component of academic quality discussed. Additional measures include employer and alumni surveys and specialized accreditations.
“The measure of success of an institution, in my mind, is not financial viability,” Dense said. “While that’s an important measure, ultimately, it’s the measure of success of our graduates.”
Consent Agenda – Minutes from the board’s regular April 21 meeting and March 30 special meeting minutes were approved unanimously.
Action Items – Richard Chaves, chair of the board’s Finance and Administration Committee, presented a proposal to increase tuition by 3.9 percent for 2016-17. The increase is lower than originally projected and after discussion, the board approved the proposal unanimously.
Chaves said the committee evaluated where EOU sits in the tuition market regionally and in neighboring states and found EOU would still be very affordable after the increase.
The base tuition increase over 2015-16 rates is as follows:
- Undergraduate resident: 3.9% ($5.50/credit)
- Undergraduate nonresident: 3.9% ($14.50/credit)
- Graduate resident: 3.8% ($12.00/credit)
- Graduate nonresident: 3.9% ($15.50/credit)
- Undergraduate online: 3.9% ($8.00/credit)
- Graduate online: 3.8% ($15.00/credit)
- Eastern Advantage: ($13.00/credit)
The differential for business and economics courses will increase by .50 cents per credit.
“I want to acknowledge our students for the constructive conversations we were able to have about tuition and fees,” said Tom Insko, EOU president. “They listened very closely, asked really good questions and we had good dialogue around it, and it points to the kind of students we have.”
Insko also said he talked with students about how they can make their concerns heard in Salem and broaden the conversation of investing in education.
The board then approved a proposal for the following 2016-17 room and board rates:
Note: Board rates will remain flat at $3,555 for 2016-17.
Chaves presented the university’s fund balance policy resolution for approval next. The targeted fund balance as outlined by the new policy is 10 percent of revenues, with actions triggered if the balance rises above 15 percent or falls below 5 percent. The board passed the recommendation unanimously.
Chris Burford, university general counsel and board secretary, then discussed a resolution amending the presidential contract to conform to the board’s statement number seven. The resolution passed and the president’s contract will be amended to adopt the process outlined in the statement, which is inclusive of many different groups.
The board then accepted and presented resolutions of appreciation to outgoing trustees Ray Brown, assistant professor of education, Patricia Hinton, print services technician, and Elsie Praeger-Goller, elementary education student.
“It’s been a pleasure to serve with all of you, and your passion for the university is so appreciated,” said Holly Kerfoot, trustee from Fruitland, Idaho.
Origins of Universities and the Role of Faculty – Nicole Howard, associate professor of history, provided a historical timeline of the rise of universities and scholars and emphasized the quality interaction between students and faculty at EOU, comparing the experience to a small private liberal arts and sciences college.
Howard noted that faculty across academic disciplines involve students regularly in their projects. Faculty service to the university and to their field is another facet.
“At EOU we are in direct contact with our students all the time,” Howard said. “For a small teaching institution, faculty here do a tremendous amount of work with their students.”
Shared Governance Reports – Addie Beplate, ASEOU student government president, Colleen Dunne-Cascio, University Council chair, and John Knudson-Martin, Faculty Senate president, each provided updates on current projects and initiatives.
Following a summary of future action items, the board entered executive session to discuss labor negotiations.
In conclusion, it was announced that Jer Pratton, trustee from Hermiston, will represent the board at EOU’s Commencement Saturday, June 11. The board will convene again for a retreat August 10-11 in Baker City.