- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - One of Oregon’s four smaller universities says it, too, wants an independent governing board of its own.

Western Oregon University in Monmouth southwest of Salem plans to follow the lead of the state’s three large universities by setting up a board that will take much of the authority that has been exercised by the state Board of Higher Education, the Salem Statesman Journal (http://stjr.nl/1eFgtAK) reported.

The Legislature has given the four smaller universities the authority to do the same, or to pursue options such as becoming the branch of a larger school or forming a consortium.

The independent boards have the authority to hire and fire presidents, set tuition and fees, and oversee university operations.

President Mark Weiss said Western Oregon has healthy reserves and is a stronger financial position than some of the other potential partners in a consortium, and it wants a board that puts a priority on the school’s initiatives such as the “Tuition Promise” that freezes tuition after a student’s freshman year.

“We have concerns that our fiscally sustainable practices may go unrecognized while funding goes to support less-sustainable practices elsewhere,” Weiss said in a report issued Wednesday.

The university will submit its application and business plan to the Board of Higher Education on March 1.

If it is approved, the institutional board will begin governing on July 1, 2015.

Decisions about governing options are expected by March from Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Southern Oregon University in Ashland and the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls.

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Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com

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