Eastern Oregon University has been designated by the state Legislature as Oregon's Rural University.  The designation, which passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously and was signed by Governor Kate Brown last week, doesn't come with a boost in state funding or new rules for how the university is run.


EOU Vice President for University Advancement Tim Seydel told the Eastern Oregonians the designation could help when applying for state and federal grants for programs that are targeted toward helping first-generation college students, for example, or those from rural communities.  Seydel said the designation could help with recruitment at the La Grande-based university, which had 3,016 students enrolled during the fall term.


Republican State Representative Greg Smith, who sponsored the bill, said the designation could help the university with recruitment of students from rural areas who don't want to attend school in a big city.


"They'll know that they'll be coming to an environment they'll be comfortable in," Smith said.


Officials in other parts of the state have considered closing the small university as a way to save money, so Smith said he also felt the designation will remind lawmakers from more urban areas of the university's importance in serving Eastern Oregon residents.


Seydel said the university is also building partnerships with area industries and government agencies so that students can find more meaningful work study and internship experiences.


"We've got a lot of work to do but we're certainly in a better place than we were three years ago," said David Nelson, a Eastern Oregon University board member. "We're on an upward trend."



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