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Valley lawmaker proposes OSU-Cascades become its own, separate university

(Update: adding video, comments from student, Sen. Tim Knopp, Rep. Jason Kropf)

Reason for bill proposing OSU split, 'Central Oregon University' unclear; school, lawmaker opposition may doom idea

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Willamette Valley lawmaker quietly introduced legislation this week to turn OSU-Cascades into a separate public university, but surprised school officials already are expressing opposition to the idea.

House Bill 2888, sponsored by District 20 state Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, would "establish Central Oregon University as separate public university, distinct from Oregon State University."

Monmouth, where Evans is from, is where Western Oregon University is located. So some are speculating why he would propose legislation that affects Central Oregon.

Language in the link summary of the bill offers some details about how the switch would take place, but does not explain why Evans sponsored such an unexpected change.

In a statement to NewsChannel 21 late Thursday, OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson voiced her opposition and frustration with the proposed bill:

“HB2888 does not reflect the intentions of OSU and OSU-Cascades for the Bend campus. OSU-Cascades is stronger as an OSU campus than as an independent campus. OSU and OSU-Cascades' focus this legislative session is on securing capital funding for the future Student Success Center and supporting necessary funding for all of Oregon’s public universities."

Evans was not immediately available for comment on his bill.

But state Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend., who has led many efforts to pass legislation that has assisted OSU-Cascades over the years, told NewsChannel 21 he, too, is opposed to such a move.

"There is no reason for the bill," Knopp said.

Representative Jason Kropf, D-Bend, echoed the others: "OSU-Cascades is a vital part of our community. The connection between OSU-Cascades and OSU has been beneficial for Central Oregon and should continue."

One OSU-Cascades student NewsChannel 21 spoke with Thursday appeared to agree.

"I am a huge sports fan, and so having that opportunity to go to games is what I like about being a part of a bigger campus," said senior Chloe Gantz. "But that smaller classroom size is really important to my academics, and so that's why I like being here."

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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.

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