Dear Beaver Caucus Member:
I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. As we are all dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to reach out to highlight what OSU is doing to support students and the broader university community.
Supporting student’s educational success. Through the hard work of OSU’s faculty, 4,000 Spring Term courses have moved to remote delivery. However, we must recognize students’ lives, like many of ours, have been disrupted, resulting in unexpected financial needs. The OSU Foundation has launched the Beavers Care Initiative which will provide immediate resources for OSU students at the Corvallis campus and at OSU-Cascades who are facing new and overwhelming challenges including the security of their basic needs.
The OSU Board of Trustees voted to freeze tuition for currently enrolled students for the summer term and the 2020-2021 school year. OSU will continue to evaluate if they can provide tuition relief to students who are enrolling in the fall.
OSU researchers have pivoted work to fight COVID-19. With disruption in the medical supply chain, many hospitals are struggling to find the necessary resources to test and treat infected patients. In response to a request by Samaritan Health Services, the OSU Veterinary Lab stepped in to produce a critical fluid for COVID-19 testing. The fluid, known as viral transport medium (VTM), allows for the safe transport of patient samples to testing facilities. OSU has the tools and ingredients on hand to produce VTM and sent three liters to Samaritan, enough to process 1,000 tests.
This past week OSU scientists launched a public health study in Corvallis to determine the community prevalence of the virus that causes COVID-19. Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-level Epidemics (TRACE) will be among the nation’s first to measure the prevalence of the virus among people who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic. With this more comprehensive information, public health and government leaders will be able to better guide efforts they are waging against the virus.
Extension and engagement grow in a new format. OSU Extension has moved their engagement platforms online and are looking for opportunities to expand. For example—a faculty member in Clackamas County is creating videos about forest ecosystems that can be used to supplement the distance education about our environment. Additionally, the Master Gardener vegetable short course online has seen record registration numbers of over 25,000 aspiring gardeners.
Containing university expenditures. While OSU will receive some relief under the federal CARES Act, it only partially covers the impact COVID-19 is having on OSU’s finances. But the university is also taking several steps to offset financial losses including; dramatically reducing expenditures for services, supplies and business travel, restructuring debt payments in auxiliaries, limiting hiring positions to only those essential to maintaining student progress toward degree completion, and evaluating staffing and benefit options for those individuals where work may no longer be available.
This is an uncertain time for you too. While this email addresses the impact of this health crisis on OSU students and the university community, I recognize and understand that wherever you call home, you are living and working in communities impacted by COVID-19, and following the health and safety measures that have been implemented to contain the pandemic.
We don’t yet know the full scope and scale of the challenges we will face in the coming weeks and beyond, but we remain committed to supporting OSU through our advocacy efforts. We all share a commitment to care for our students and help our beloved university carry out its mission to educate, research, and serve.
We are in this together, after all.