OHSU Board Approves Merger Agreement With Oregon Graduate Institute

11/06/00    Portland, Ore.

Oregon Health Sciences University's Board of Directors today approved a merger agreement with the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology. The move follows the graduate institute board's approval of the merger plan on Monday, Dec. 4. Under the plan, OHSU would add a school of science and engineering to encompass OGI. The new school would be known as the "OGI School of Science and Engineering." In addition, OHSU's name would be changed to Oregon Health "and" Science University. OHSU is currently home to the schools of dentistry, medicine and nursing, its five research institutes, its two hospitals and their clinics, and its 200 public service programs.

"A merger between these two leading institutions would offer countless benefits to Oregonians in education and research," said OHSU President Peter Kohler, M.D. "Advances in medical research often occur at the interface between disciplines. Increasingly, medical research and care have the look and feel of high tech. I believe the potential for this combined operation has the capacity to exceed either program alone."

Kohler also explains the proposed merger will hold tremendous financial benefits for Oregonians. Total research funding for the combined institutions will be approximately $185 million initially. That funding is projected to double by 2010 as the alliance pursues new federal and private funding in the burgeoning fields of biomedical engineering and biotechnology.

Scott Gibson, chairman of the OGI Board of Trustees, adds that an OHSU/OGI merger would allow the combined institutions to offer additional resources and services to the public and local business.

"One of the most exciting aspects of this merger is that it will enable OGI to dramatically strengthen its educational offerings to the high-tech industry," he said. "We plan to substantially enlarge our faculty, adding greater breadth and depth to our educational offerings in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and management, further building upon our double-digit growth of the past 10 years."

That faculty expansion also will enhance OGI's ability to meet Oregon high-tech companies' growing demand for access to OGI faculty members' expertise in a wide variety of important technological disciplines, including speech recognition and synthesis, database technology, intelligent signal processing and reliable systems, Gibson added.

In addition, by expanding OGI's environmental science faculty, Gibson noted, OGI and OHSU will be poised to play an even greater role in working with various state and federal government agencies regarding environmental issues, such as sustainable development and environmental health.

The merger also is expected to provide a major surge in resources for OHSU's researchers and physicians. With the recent mapping of the human genome, researchers at OHSU and other institutions will spend years studying the proteins that genes produce. OGI's strengths in biological spectroscopy combined with OHSU's strengths in X-ray crystallography will provide the necessary, powerful tools. In addition, OGI's computer science faculty will provide needed expertise in managing the tremendous amount of information involved in genome research.

The proposal will now proceed to the subsequent steps in the process, including accreditation of the combined institutions, legislation to extend the OHSU enabling statute to encompass the engineering mission of OGI, and other required technical steps. The merger is expected to officially take place by the summer of 2001.

To merge the two Oregon institutions, OHSU's mission would be broadened to encompass the OGI mission and engineering program. OHSU's Board of Directors would be expanded to at least 10 members from its current seven. Some OHSU departments might be merged with OGI departments, and additional collaborative engineering alliances with Oregon State University and Portland State University could be pursued. In addition, OGI's highly regarded, precollege education program, Saturday Academy, would be repositioned in the most appropriate place to address the needs of the 7,000 students it serves each year.