BEND — Central Oregon got its wish for a four-year school that locals can attend when Oregon State University's Bend branch opened in 2016, but the university's goal of expanding its facilities has been drastically weakened after the state allocated the university just a fragment of the expansion money it requested.
The state gave OSU-Cascades $9.5 million of the $69.5 million it wanted, The Bend Bulletin reported on Thursday.
The university was hoping to build another academic building by 2021, as it currently only has one facility. But Kelly Sparks, the university's associate vice president of finance and strategic planning, said that's likely no longer feasible.
"At this point, at the earliest, it will likely be 2022," Sparks said.
The university had about 1,200 students in its first academic year and is projected to grow to as many as 5,000 students by 2025.
The state, however, is still adjusting to having eight major universities to fund, as OSU-Cascades expansion money doesn't fall under OSU's main campus funding.
Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades, said the bump from "seven to eight mouths to feed did not play well in the Legislature."
Many legislators would actually prefer OSU-Cascades to fall under the responsibility of Oregon State University, Johnson said.
"But OSU-Cascades was created not because OSU in Corvallis wanted to create it, it was because Central Oregon said we need higher education here, and the state itself made that decision that we're going to invest in an institution in Central Oregon and we're going to fund it separately," Johnson said.
Supporters in the Legislature are encouraging the university to go back in 2018 and 2019 to ask for more money, Johnson said.