WESTERN OREGON UNIVERSITY (visited 7/15-16/13)
I guess I didn’t expect much from this school; it seemed to be a small “outpost” state school – and once again, I learned not to pre-judge a school without learning more about it. It’s a lovely campus that’s easy to navigate. The small Main Street (and by that I mean that it’s about 2 blocks long) is about a 5 minute walk away. Despite its size, one of the tour guides said that, “Monmouth is pretty chill.”
The students say that “students come first here.” Academic advising is a core function, and several people have won awards for advising. There are no teaching assistants, so students are taught by experts in the field. Their ASL is a big program, maybe the “flagship” program, if there is such a thing. Students can major or minor in it; there’s a theme floor where the RA signs, and there are several deaf faculty members. They’re looking into a Master’s in interpreting, and a major national call center has called them to ask to be a “relay station” for when they need interpreters. Other programs worth noting are the nursing partnership with OHSU (Oregon Health Science University) in Portland, although it’s extremely competitive and they have to apply to OHSU. The science building is nicknamed the “Life and Death building” and has a cadaver lab. This is also only one of two in the state that is affiliated with Microsoft so there are some internship options open to them. The ROTC Army program is strong and fairly active on campus.
Admission to WOU is rolling. For admissions purposes, SAT/ACT scores need to be sent, but if students meet the GPA requirements for admission, scores are a technicality. However, for NCAA, Honors, scholarships, and other considerations, they will need the scores. Students in WUE states get it automatically if admitted. All students have the Tuition Choice of locking into a higher tuition rate that stays consistent for 4 years, or starting at a lower tuition rate and having it increase every year; the admissions rep described it as, “save now or save later.” There are plenty of scholarships offered. The Presidential Scholarship (worth up to $3,500 a year) is given to first year students who have a completed app on file by 2/28. The Diversity Commitment Scholarship (worth $3,500 a year) requires a separate application and is awarded to students form diverse backgrounds who have demonstrated sustained and significant effort and commitment to activities supporting diversity. Their General Scholarship (worth $1,000 but is not renewable) requires a separate online application, and selection is based on academic merit, essays, activities, and quality of application.
Eighty percent of students come from Oregon, but WOU has been named as the most ethnically diverse university in the state (with about 20% of the students self-identifying as minority students) as well as being named a First-Gen Serving Institution and being federally recognized for their Hispanic integration. They have a program for First Gen, Low-Income, and LD students, but they students have to apply to be involved since space is limited. It provides a great deal of support for the students, including a building dedicated to this program with lots of study spaces, tutors, and programing. The university has approximately 400 International Students from 13 countries, China and Saudi Arabia leading the way with highest numbers. One of our tour guides was from Nepal and came here for the Criminal Justice Program. There is an international studies office which all sorts of support services, including helping them with rides to and from the airport.
Although the university is two years older than the state of Oregon (making it the oldest state university in the West), there are lots of renovations and new buildings around campus. The new library was built in 2000 and includes a 24 hour lounge and a silent study floor. They also have text-book rentals, and will start renting computers, graphing calculators, and more this year.
There are Bear Tracks on sidewalks around campus to show “safety zones.” The tour guides both felt safe on campus and walking around at night. This might come from the location in a very small town. The biggest problem is bike theft when people don’t lock their bikes. They’ve never known anyone who has needed public safety officers. However, the university offers WolfRide; they’ll pick people up around town at night or provide safe rides home if they’ve been out drinking. One of the guides would like to increase the amount of time this is available since hours are limited, but they appreciate that it’s there. The university is a dry campus, and students will be cited if found in possession. They take this very seriously. However, there’s a wine bar and a bar only a couple blocks off campus, so students are able to drink if they want.
Dorms (and the campus as a whole) are proactive about holding events, and vents are scheduled all the time. Freshmen live on campus and housing applications open in October. Ackerman is the newest dorm (LEED platinum certified) containing 10 learning-living communities. They have two gender-neutral bathrooms on each floor that are entirely private in addition to other single-sex bathrooms. Greek life is just getting started on campus due to a student led initiative. Currently there is only one federally recognized fraternity. The sororities are solely club-based and revolve around community service groups. Football is big here, as is the marching band, showing that students can get involved in a variety of ways. They also offer Rugby for both women and men.