Francisca Benitez

At the regular Eastern Oregon University Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, the main topics of discussion were the contract between EOU and The Learning House and problems with Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System.

EOU has been working on a contract with TLH, an online education solutions partner, for months. The board voted unanimously to finalize the contract by the end of the month, giving the power to EOU President Tom Insko to finalize it with advice from committee chairs.

TLH would advertise EOU’s online programs, taking a cut from the profits on

online tuition. TLH wouldn’t change the online curriculum, so the online programs would not change for students.

Holly Chason — EOU’s director of institutional effectiveness, research and planning — presented the process in which she and a committee of staff, faculty and student representatives gathered input from the campus community about the potential partnership with TLH. She introduced four speakers from the committee who answered questions from the board. One of the presenters was psychology professor Robert Butler.

“There will always be groups that feel underrepresented or leery, but I feel we did our best to gather feedback and represent a balanced group from across campus,” Butler said.

The speakers from the committee asserted the partnership is the right move for EOU.

“We have (online) courses, we have faculty, we have a program that could go in a great direction if we had the resources to market it,” education professor
Allen Evans, member of the committee, said in support of the

Although he worries that in online education, teachers and students miss out on the connection that in-person learning provides, Butler said expanding online programs is a good move for EOU: “These are necessary steps that we need to (take) if we want to keep EOU strong and viable in the future.”

The day-long meeting began with a presentation from Tim Nesbitt, interim executive director of PERS Solutions for Public Services, an organization made to inform individuals and organizations about the PERS problem. In a nutshell, he explained that public employees being promised an overly generous retirement pension has resulted in a $26 billion dollar deficit in the
Oregon government.

“Yes, mistakes were made,” Nesbitt said. “It’s quite understandable that what I might call mistakes someone else might call promises.”

See complete story in Friday's Observer