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New OPB Documentary Chronicles the History of Oregon State University


OPB will premiere a new, one-hour Oregon Experience documentary that explores the long history of Oregon State University (OSU), Oregon’s largest university and Oregon’s only land-grant institution.  

Oregon State University” airs on OPB TV Monday, June 11 at 9 p.m. and will be available to watch online at opb.org/OSU the same day.  

In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed federal legislation creating land-grant schools that would provide a liberal and practical education for the masses. It was a radical idea in a time when higher education was only accessible to the wealthy. The mission of land-grant schools would be to provide a low-cost instruction in agriculture, military tactics, and mechanical arts.  

The federal government provided states with federal land to fund the new institutions. In 1868, the Oregon Legislature chose Corvallis College as its official land-grant school. Over the years, the school would have many names, including the Oregon Agricultural College (OAC), and finally in 1961, Oregon State University.  

Today, OSU is one of only two institutions in the country to be designated land-, sea-, space- and sun-grant status. Those federal designations provide unique opportunities to conduct and share research on a broad range of issues related to natural resources.  

OPB’s documentary “Oregon State University” takes an in-depth look at OSU’s enduring legacy as a school for the people of Oregon, and its continued impact today with cutting-edge research projects conducted around the world—in technology, natural resources, marine sciences, and more.  

The program uses hundreds of rare images, historic film, and oral histories with illustrious alumni. Interviews include:  

  • John Byrne, OSU president 1984-1995, former NOAA administrator
  • Jonathan Hurst, Dynamics Robotics Laboratory & associate professor of Robotics
  • Lawrence Landis, director, OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center
  • Jane Lubchenco, distinguished professor, former NOAA administrator
  • Sylvia Moore, professor emeritus of Women’s Athletics
  • Michael Oriard, former professional American football player, emeritus distinguished professor of American Literature and Culture
  • Edward Ray, OSU president William Robbins, emeritus distinguished professor of History  

In conjunction with OSU, OPB is hosting community screening events in Bend and Corvallis for the film. Free and open to the public, the events will feature the full-length documentary and a Q&A.  

  • Bend event: Tuesday, June 5, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at the Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall Street. Tickets are free, but required. Reserve them online at opb.org/OSUbend.  
  • Corvallis event: Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 SW 26th Street. Tickets are free, but required. Reserve them online at opb.org/OSUcorvallis

“Oregon State University” airs on OPB TV Monday, June 11 at 9 p.m. and will be available to watch online at opb.org/OSU the same day. The program is written and produced by Kami Horton and edited by Bruce Barrow. For more information, along with images, visit opb.org/OSU.

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