April 6, 2020, KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The Oregon Institute of Technology (“Oregon Tech”) Board of Trustees met April 2, both remotely and with a few members meeting at the university’s Klamath Falls campus, practicing social distancing. Oregon Tech Board chair, Jessica Gomez, as well as other board members and President Nagi Naganathan, acknowledged the extraordinary times in which the university is now operating and the forward looking efforts underway. Board discussions and votes during the meeting were done within the context of how the unfolding pandemic will affect all stakeholders within the Oregon Tech community, and the importance of certainty in tuition and fees to allow families and the university to plan for next year.
The Board voted to decrease 2020 spring term fees for students due to changes in operations due to COVID-19, to provide relief to those impacted students. In consultation with student government leadership, the university proposed reducing mandatory fees by about 12 percent and 15 percent for the Klamath Falls and Portland-Metro students, respectively. The university administration provided updates on new financial aid and emergency loan programs available to students as they navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trustees also discussed at length the effect of any future tuition increase on students during the current environment of student and family finances being affected by COVID-19. The board also expressed concern about keeping the university financially viable through a period where there is a high likelihood of budget cuts at the state level, as well as the potential of enrollment drops, both immediately and in the fall.
After significant discussion, the Board voted to approve changes in tuition and fee rates for fall term based on the consensus recommendation of the Tuition Recommendation Committee (TRC), which includes a majority of students in its membership, and which was endorsed by the ASOIT student government and President Naganathan. Tuition rates for undergraduate and graduate student residents and non-residents for the next fall would increase by 5.0 percent. Certain higher cost programs will also increase the associated differential cost by 5 percent. Vice president of Finance and Administration, Brian Fox, noted that financial aid remissions would be increased in parallel to help students manage costs. The Board commended the efforts of the university administration and the Oregon Tech Foundation over the past several years to increase aid, and stressed the importance of increasing student financial aid further, beginning in September. The university will bring additional financial aid proposals to the Board’s May 28 meeting.
On the topic of Board membership, President Naganathan noted that current student board member, Dana Londen, expects to graduate in June, and that the Board secretary had led a review committee for students who had applied for the open position. The committee forwarded three student applicants to the president for consideration. After interviewing all three finalists, President Naganathan recommended Timothy Hasty to the Executive Committee of the Board. Tim is studying mechanical engineering and is expected to complete his undergraduate degree at Oregon Tech by 2023. Tim already has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Western Oregon University, served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army, worked in an outreach center helping homeless Veterans in Central Oregon, and participated in rolling out the Oregon Health Plan, among other accomplishments. Members unanimously voted to recommend Tim for the Board seat; with the next step being to forward his application to the Governor’s Office for appointment, which will then be considered for confirmation by the state Senate. Members also voted to recommend to the Governor extension of the board service term of Rose McClure, who holds the faculty position on the Board.