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HECC steps in for failed university boards on capital construction

The latest evidence of the failed promise of Oregon’s independent boards:

HECC Embarks on First-Ever 10-Year Strategic Capital Development Plan for Public Universities

To learn more about the project and university stakeholder meetings, see

Salem, OR – The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) has embarked upon an in-depth process  to develop the first-ever 10-year comprehensive strategic capital plan for Oregon’s seven public universities. Launched in February of this year, the HECC concludes its first phase of statewide campus meetings this week, and will sponsor a second series of regional focus groups with campus leaders, businesses and community representatives to inform the project this June. The 10-year plan will provide a target public university capital portfolio through 2029 and will be used to guide the Commission in its recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on the prioritization of state-funded capital projects for years to come.

Ben Cannon, executive director of the HECC, said, “This is a critically important project for the campuses and for the hundreds of thousands of students they serve through their many facilities, classrooms, and research spaces. The plan will guide our Commission’s priortization of capital projects in biennial budget recommendations for the next decade, and will inform state leaders in their challenging decisions to align taxpayer-supported bonding with Oregon’s transformational goals to expand college opportunity and success for all.”

The plan is being developed in partnership with the public universities and with the expertise of SmithGroup, a planning and design firm with extensive national experience in strategic fiscal planning in higher education. After the first series of campus meetings concludes this week, the HECC and its contractor will have finished the first phase of data gathering, conducted in extensive collaboration with the public universities, to ensure the availability of data for analysis. The next set of campus visits will be held June 10 through 28, and will be focus-group style meetings to invite input from business and community representatives to assess the needs of each of the seven public universities and their regions.

Jim Pinkard, HECC director of postsecondary finance and capital, said, “Through recent university visits,  consultations on university strategic planning efforts, and expert input, we are building the knowledge base that will inform this plan. We are optimistic by the learner-focused lens that our partners are already bringing to the table in the planning process and look forward to deepening our understanding through local focus group meetings this June.”

The 10-year strategic capital plan will be a high-level summary of the state’s capital needs for public universities based on demographic, economic, industry, and other environmental factors, dividing the targeted portfolio by region of the state. It will divide the existing and potential future capital portfolio according to ideal usage and utilization, estimating space need for different academic disciplines and functions. Staff anticipates the initial phase of work to be completed by the end of September 2019. The HECC will first use the final deliverable and the data and analysis behind it to guide its prioritization of public university capital requests for the 2020 Legislative Session.


  1. charlie 04/30/2019

    A couple weeks ago, UOwe functionaries stated the $12 million deficit was due, in large measure, to decreasing enrollment. This past weekend, the Register Guard reports that UOwe plans to incur over $200 million in debt for new dorms to house students who won’t be attending UOwe. The failure at OR public unis is biblical….

    • O 05/01/2019

      New dorms at market rate (which could bring the U more money than they cost) could have three benefits for students: they will not be molding dilapidated cardboard fire traps in five short years; they will be safer and better maintained; and students in on campus housing do better in general and tend to get more out of their time at the school.

  2. Richard Bohloff 04/30/2019

    A notable Trustee is absolutely furious that the HECC still exists. The original plan was to eventually dismantle or make useless the only check to their otherwise limitless authority. Those who love control do not like reminders that the extent of their power ends at 4.99%.

  3. ODA 05/01/2019

    If I remember correctly the old OUS used to do Capital construction with two employees (and lots of help from the schools), and did pretty good for a few decades, without consulting firms.

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