- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - The first order of business for the new governing board of the University of Oregon will be to go into the banking business.

The board of trustees is planning a university Central Bank to invest the school’s operating cash and reserves amounting to more than $200 million, the Eugene Register-Guard (https://bit.ly/1l94xqy) reports.

Those investments are now handled by a systemwide operation for the state’s seven public universities.

But the universities are getting their own boards. The University of Oregon’s meets for the first time Thursday and Friday.

“The thought process can be really University of Oregon-centric. We don’t have to think about the good of all seven (Oregon) public universities,” said Karen Levear, the university’s new director of treasury operations.

Levear was hired to launch the Oregon University System’s internal bank in 2010, and the university’s bank is expected to be much like it.

The University of Oregon hired Levear in January at a salary of $145,000, according to university records.

At the systemwide bank, Levear performed a “cash concentration” technique that closed as many as 70 public university bank accounts and placed the operating cash and reserves in a single, big account held at the state treasury, producing nearly $11 million in unanticipated returns over its first three years.

“The universities benefited and the students benefited from this internal bank concept,” said Penny Burgess, the current interim director of treasury operations for the statewide system. “The pooling of cash and investments across all universities was very successful.”

Oregon State University is taking over the systemwide bank and will operate it as a shared service for the rest of the universities.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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