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Kelly Sparks, OSU-Cascades expansion, finance leader to step down, take job with U. of Maine

Kelly Sparks is leaving her role at OSU-Cascades to take a job in Maine
OSU-Cascades
Kelly Sparks is leaving her role at OSU-Cascades to take a job in Maine

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning at Oregon State University – Cascades, is moving on, as she has been appointed chief business officer and vice president of finance at the University of Maine.

Sparks, who has served in her current role since 2013, played a significant role in establishing and expanding the OSU-Cascades campus, officials said. Her last day with OSU-Cascades will be Sept. 30. At the University of Maine, she’ll oversee business and finance operations for campuses with nearly 12,000 enrolled students.

“Kelly’s leadership has been extraordinary, and I value the partnership we shared when I was vice president for OSU-Cascades,” said Becky Johnson, interim president of OSU. “She has been a creative and strategic force, building relationships throughout OSU and Oregon, and executing the vision for an innovative branch campus of OSU in Central Oregon to serve the region and state.”

Now a 128-acre campus, Sparks oversaw the purchases of the complex properties that comprise it, a former pumice mine and former county-owned demolition landfill. She built the construction and engineering teams that developed plans that used fill from the former landfill to raise the floor of the pumice mine to developable levels, saving 30,000 one-way truck trips.

Sparks led the creation of a long-range development plan for the campus that engaged more than 1,600 community members and outlined goals for a net zero energy, water and waste campus.

She steered the construction of $186.4 million in capital projects at OSU-Cascades including 228,000 square feet of academic, research, dining and student residential buildings. She also initiated collaborative planning for a Student Success Center that will open in 2024, a health and recreation center, for which campus officials now seek state funding, and a 24-acre innovation district.

Sparks oversaw departments at OSU-Cascades including the business office, human resources, campus safety, facilities management, operations and technology, as well as in units including child care, dining, transportation and the Innovation Co-Lab.

“We are very grateful to Kelly for her professional contributions and dedicated work ethic,” said Andrew Ketsdever, interim president of OSU-Cascades. “She has helped set the OSU-Cascades campus on a trajectory for tremendous future success.”

Ketsdever anticipates announcing plans for Spark’s replacement in the coming weeks.

“It has been an honor to lead and collaborate with talented teams within OSU and OSU-Cascades, as well as dedicated community leaders and volunteers, and to help fulfull the 30-year community effort to establish a university campus to serve Central Oregon,” said Sparks.

Sparks served on the Governor’s Regional Solutions Center Advisory Committee, on the board of Bend 2030, the COIC Broadband Action team, the Deschutes Public Library Expansion Advisory Committee, and on the boards of the Bend FC Timbers and the Cascade School of Music.

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