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OSU expands Portland regional programs with unique online/in-person learning experiences

An artist's rendering of the lobby of the OSU Portland Center in the historic Meier & Frank Building

An artist’s rendering of the lobby of the OSU Portland Center in the historic Meier & Frank Building gives a glimpse into how OSU students will interact on-site.

By Tyler Hansen
July 30, 2018

If you have the ambition to move up in Portland metro’s burgeoning business world, your aspirations likely will lead you to consider the region’s fast-growing and powerful sports apparel and shoe industry.

Maria Sar can attest to this. She was a marketplace specialist and brand manager for Kroger in Portland for five years, happy with the experience she gained and promotion she earned with the company.

But ambition can’t be stifled. She had an itch to return to her hometown of Beaverton and a goal to work for Nike. To make her dream career a reality, Sar set her focus on three letters: MBA.

Oregon State University MBA graduate Maria Sar

Maria Sar landed her dream job at Nike after obtaining her MBA through Oregon State Ecampus.

As an increasing number of Portland-area professionals are doing, she turned to Oregon State University Ecampus for the opportunity to maintain career stability while pursuing a degree that would yield upward mobility.

Even before completing Oregon State’s hybrid (online/in-person) MBA in Organizational Leadership program, she accepted an offer from Nike to be a global procurement analyst.

OSU is Oregon’s statewide university, and Sar’s success is indicative of how the school – driven in part by the efforts of OSU Ecampus and its partners, like OSU’s College of Business – is venturing out there, meeting the unmet needs of adult learners in Portland now more than ever.

“The knowledge and skills I gained in the MBA program were instrumental. It opens a lot of opportunities and definitely contributed to where I am today,” Sar says. “My goal was to work at Nike, and to have achieved my goal has been rewarding.”

Ecampus, the university’s nationally ranked online education division, served more than 9,000 distance learners during the 2017-18 academic year. More than 1,000 of them call the Portland area home. They represent every demographic – from working professionals to stay-at-home parents to community college students who have an eye on their four-year Oregon State degree.

And soon they’ll have expanded access to OSU’s signature programs right in their backyard.

Oregon State’s new Portland center in the historic Meier & Frank Building opens in August. The completely renovated, 39,509-square foot space in Pioneer Square will be home to innovative learning experiences, including many that complement the expertise of top-ranked online programs through engaging face-to-face interactions, student support services, professional development opportunities and more.

“Many people in the greater Portland region want to continue their education or get better jobs, but they can’t break off and go to school full time. We plan to meet the needs of those learners as well as offer additional opportunities through this expanded presence in Portland.” – Mitzi Montoya, Dean of OSU’s College of Business

One of the first such offerings to take shape is a hybrid bachelor’s program in business administration. In addition to online course work, students will come to the Portland center for meetings with their instructors and classmates, academic advising and leadership skills workshops. They’ll also participate in exclusive networking opportunities and behind-the-scenes tours with well-established companies, such as Columbia Sportswear and the Trail Blazers.

“Many people in the greater Portland region want to continue their education or get better jobs, but they can’t break off and go to school full time,” says Mitzi Montoya, dean of OSU’s College of Business and co-leader of the university’s Portland initiative. “We plan to meet the needs of those learners as well as offer additional opportunities through this expanded presence in Portland.”

Oregon State’s programs in the metro area are based not only on meeting students’ needs, but they also will bolster the region’s job market and benefit businesses. Longtime Portland entrepreneur Ken Madden, owner of Madden Industrial Craftsmen and an advisory board member for OSU’s Austin Family Business Program, recognizes the state’s high demand for a skilled and educated workforce.

He’s enthusiastic about the opportunities OSU will soon provide prospective students.

“Now is a great time to get skilled up,” says Madden, an ex-member of Portland Community College’s board of trustees. “There’s a large number of positions and skills gaps in many areas, and employers are struggling to find people with certain skill sets. Learning never stops, and one thing I’ve seen is that employers want to see continuous growth.”

And Oregon State Ecampus makes that growth possible. Ranked in the top 10 in the nation for online education for four straight years by U.S. News & World Report, Ecampus delivers nearly 50 programs at a distance to students in all 50 states and more than 50 countries.

That gives working adults like Sar the ability to demonstrate what she calls a “commitment to being educated.” Earning an Oregon State MBA helped her distinguish herself from others also vying to work for the Fortune 500 company she yearned to join.

“OSU eased my worries about working and going to school at the same time,” says Sar, who has since been promoted to senior credit analyst at Nike. “It’s very flexible. I loved the program, and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to continue their education.”

Learn more about Oregon State’s offerings in the Portland region.


This article first appeared in Oregon Business in March 2018.

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