Oregon lawmaker proposes voluntary merger bill

Dive Brief:

  • A controversial new proposal in Oregon could clear the way for its community colleges and four-year institutions to consolidate into super-schools, the Oregonian reports.
  • State Senate President Peter Courtney has introduced legislation that would allow the state’s seven public four-year institutions and 17 community colleges to propose merger concepts to the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission to present cost savings, academic benefit and timelines involving voluntary merger between institutions.
  • Experts say that consolidations can promote political and economic dissension, but others say that massive cost savings could be realized as a result.

Dive Insight:

The Oregon proposal comes on the heels of rising discussion over the value of larger institutions created by merger and consolidation, as a replacement to dozens of smaller four-year and two-year institutions. While it is true that each campus community grows its own culture of research and identity, states are now running out of money and time to identify ways of reducing costs without additional burden to taxpayers.

College leaders do not want to invite the opportunity to lose their jobs over mergers, but there is potentially a case to be made for some schools, particularly those in jeopardy of losing federal student aid subsidies or those facing dramatic enrollment declines and financial struggles, to examine ways that faculty positions and identity can be maintained within consolidation efforts, while branding and costs may change dramatically.

Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation