The president of Oregon State University visited Astoria on Monday to meet with scientists at OSU's Seafood Laboratory and community leaders, discuss the university's plans and future goals, and how it can help the local and state communities.
Edward Ray has been at Oregon State for just over a year. He was previously executive vice president and provost at Ohio State University, where he was also chair of the economics department. He has a master's degree and a doctorate in economics from Stanford University.
This was Ray's first trip to the Astoria area. In an interview with the Daily Astorian, he discussed his plans for making OSU one of the top 10 land-grant universities in the country; the school's reputation and rankings currently put it somewhere in the mid-twenties, he said.
The improvements in the quality of programs or student life would not simply be for "bragging rights," Ray said, but to give OSU students the best possible education so that they, in turn, can make greater contributions to the state.
Ray said the university needs to seek opportunities to team with other institutions and businesses to bring more research to the marketplace.
"It doesn't matter if we're the lead dog or the last dog," he said. "We have to ask ourselves what would the people of Oregon have us do."
As an example of what can happen when multiple universities and businesses collaborate, Ray pointed to the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.
"This is a poster child of how we need to behave if we're going to have an effect on the economy," Ray said of the institute, which is experimenting with nanotechnology - extremely small devices that could be used for applications such as drug delivery.
Ray said one reason he came to Astoria is to learn more about the Seafood Laboratory's research, and to see what else OSU could do to help the scientists. He said the lab's work was a good example of how basic research can have applications in the market.
"It's not just about fish, it's about doing other things with it," he said. "It's getting away from producing just the raw product."
Ray also discussed the need to balance economic and environmental interests in the state, and the necessity of strong research to better understand different issues.