There’s nothing like a little rivalry between the Beavers and Ducks to liven up a public meeting.
Lane Transit District board member Gary Gillespie is a Ducks fan, but he caused an uproar at a high speed rail meeting in Salem on Tuesday when he said Oregon State University had more Oregonian students than the University of Oregon.
And then there was the potentially incendiary aside about how UO used to get called the University of California-Eugene.
“Keep digging,” quipped Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy in response.
As it turns out there’s no real controversy, as OSU, with about 17,500 Oregonians enrolled at its Corvallis campus, has nearly 4,500 more in-state students than UO, according to data from the Oregon University System.
OSU also has a higher percent of students who hail from the Beaver State, with 63 percent, compared to the Ducks 53 percent.
Portland State University leads all public universities in the state with 23,180 Oregonians enrolled, however.
Gillespie said in an interview on Wednesday that he was a little bit surprised about the fuss his comments generated, and that he was arguing for a spur line to Corvallis to boost ridership on the rails.
“Mainly what I was trying to point out was that a connection to the higher speed rail was just as important to folks at Oregon State as to folks at the U of O,” he said.
Corvallis, however, was left off both proposed high speed rail routes picked by a group of public officials and consultants on Tuesday.
Kate Peterson, OSU assistant provost for enrollment management, said that OSU has had the largest entering class from Oregon for the past few years.
She credited efforts to keep college affordable, provide financial aid to Oregonians, such as the Bridge to Success program, and academic programs.
Bob Kieran, Oregon University System assistant vice chancellor for institutional research and planning, said OSU attracts students from all corners of the state based on its forestry, agriculture and other colleges.
Out of state students at the University of Oregon isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, Kieran said.
“The additional tuition that comes from non-residents is a significant funding source for post-secondary education in this state,” Kieran said, noting that Oregon has decreased its investment in higher education since the 1990s.
“Every time they bring a non-resident to their campus, that subsidizes two or three residents whose tuition does not cover the cost of instruction,” he added.