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Oregon State University

Oregon State University
Bell Tower

Oregon State University (OSU) is a public research and degree-granting four-year university in the Oregon University System, located in Corvallis, Oregon. Total student enrollment (undergraduate and graduate) in 2002 was 18,789, 79% of which were Oregon residents and 6% from other countries. With over 200 academic degree programs, engineering, environmental sciences, forestry, and pharmacy remain some of the most notable fields of study. OSU has more majors, minors, and special programs than any other college in Oregon and offers a University Exploratory Studies Program for students who wish to investigate their options for a major field. The university also receives more research grant funds annually than the rest of the Oregon University System schools combined.

The 500-acre campus, located in the middle of the fertile Willamette Valley, is in close proximity to a good deal of farmland, an excellent foundation for its noted agricultural programs. Corvallis has over 50,000 permanent residents, is noted for its extensive public library, and is home to the second largest Hewlett-Packard manufacturing site in the world. OSU was recently rated the "Safest campus in the Pac-10" in a study by the University of Southern California.

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education classifies Oregon State as Doctoral/Research-Extensive, one of only four such universities in the Pacific Northwest. Research is done by the university at many locations throughout the state, including its Seafood Laboratory in Astoria, Food Innovation Laboratory in Portland, and at the Mark O. Hatfield Marine Science Center on Yaquina Bay in Newport. OSU manages approximately 14,000 acres of forest, including the McDonald-Dunn research forest.

OSU has a branch campus (OSU-Cascades Campus) in Bend, Oregon.

Oregon State University Logo


Early Action

1851 marks the first action in the formation of what was originally known as Corvallis Academy, the area's first community school for primary and preparatory education. In 1858 the name was changed to Corvallis College and it was formally incorporated by six local citizens.

The first college level curriculum was offered in 1865 while the school was under the administration of the Methodist Episcopal Church. OSU dates its history back to October 27, 1868, known as OSU Charter Day. On that day, the Oregon Legislative Assembly designated Corvallis College as the "Agricultural College of the State of Oregon" and the recipient of Land Grant fund income derived from the sale of 90,000 acres in southeast Oregon. As part of this designation, the college was required to comply with the requirements set forth in the First Morrill Act signed by President Lincoln when Land Grant colleges were established in 1862. The name was changed to Corvallis State Agricultural College and was then authorized to grant the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Arts degrees. The first degrees were granted, that of Bachelor of Arts in 1870.

Oregon Agricultural College (OAC)

In 1890 the college became known as Oregon Agricultural College (OAC). The current beaver mascot was adopted in 1910, replacing the original coyote selected 25 years earlier. The college was also one of the four charter members of the Pacific Coast (Athletic) Conference, formed in 1915 which is now known as the Pacific Ten Conference, or Pac-10 for short. 1917 was the first year Army ROTC was active, replacing the original Cadet Corps formed by students studying Military Science.

OAC began a horticultural products processing program in 1919, the first of its kind in the United States. The modern maraschino cherry was developed by the program in 1925 by Prof. Ernest H. Weigan. Accreditation was granted in 1924 by the Northwest Association of Higher and Secondary Schools.

Oregon State Agricultural College (OSAC)

1927 marked yet another name change this time to Oregon State Agricultural College. The Oregon Unification Bill passed by the Legislative Assembly in 1929 placed the school under the auspices of newly formed Oregon State Board of Higher Education.

Doctoral education was first provided in 1935 with the conferral of four Doctor of Philosophy degrees, three in Agriculture and one in Science. This year also saw the creation of the first summer session, starting a system of year-round operation for the college. At this point, the degree programs offered were sufficiently diverse to warrant yet another name change in 1937, simply to Oregon State College.

Naval ROTC, and the program of Naval Sciences, were added to the existing Army ROTC program in 1946. The Air Force ROTC program was included in 1949, making Oregon State one of only 33 universities in the country to offer officer training for all branches of the United States Armed Forces.

Although OSU's focus was solidly on agriculture, engineering and other vocational subjects, the novelist Bernard Malamud spent the 1940s and 1950s teaching English Composition there. His experiences as a professor were the basis for his novel A New Life. He was also awarded the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Fixer, which derives its name from a store in downtown Corvallis.

The current costumed mascot Benny The Beaver made his first appearance in 1952. The next year, 1953, saw the opening of the football facility, Parker Stadium (now known as Reser Stadium). Linus Pauling, Class of 1922, became Oregon State's first alumni Nobel Laureate in 1954 when he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work studying atomic bonds.

Oregon State University (OSU)

The current name, 'Oregon State University', was adopted on March 6, 1961 by a legislative act signed into law by Governor Mark Hatfield. The next year, Linus Pauling received the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against nuclear weapons testing. He became one of two people ever to receive the Nobel Prize in two fields (the other being Marie Curie), and the only one to hold two unshared Prizes. 1962 also saw OSU's first Heisman Trophy winner for excellence in collegiate football, Quarterback Terry Baker, also honored that year as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. He was the first west coast player to win the Heisman.

The National Sea Grant College Program began in 1966, selecting OSU as one of the original three universities to participate in the program when it became operational in 1968.

Trysting Tree is the name of Oregon State's golf course, dedicated in 1988, and has been recognized by GolfWeek Magazine as one of the top five collegiate golf courses on the West Coast. Its name is traced to a tree near Benton Hall where student couples would meet (or "tryst") and make dates.

OSU was designated as a federal Space Grant institution in 1991, making the university one of only ten in the United States to serve as a Land Grant, Sea Grant, and Space Grant designate.

In 1999 Oregon State rededicated the new $40 million 'Valley Library', selected by The Library Journal as their 1999 Library of the Year, the first academic library so named.

Student Life

Corvallis is a relatively small community, and most of the local events have a strong connection to the university. Oregon State offers over 300 student groups, the most of any university in the Oregon University System. Oregon has a wide variety of natural recreation areas, including tall mountains, a rugged coastline, several large forests, a desert, and many rivers. OSU students are only a few hours drive away from any number of outdoor recreation opportunities. Portland, Oregon, Oregon's largest city (2000 population: 529,121) is only 85 miles north of the campus.

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