OHSU to ask lawmakers for $200M for new buildings at South Waterfront

Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal

Oregon Health & Science University plans to ask state lawmakers to provide nearly half of the money needed to meet the $1 billion cancer challenge put forward by Phil and Penny Knight.

In a memo sent Thursday to employees and students, OHSU President Joe Robertson said the school would ask lawmakers during the legislative session that begins in February for up to $200 million in bonding authority. The money raised through the bond sale would fund construction of “additional research and clinical trial space needed to carry out [Knight Cancer Center Director] Dr. Brian Druker’s cancer vision,” wrote Robertson.

Oregon State Treasury spokesman James Sinks hadn’t seen the proposal, but said the bonds would likely be general obligation bonds. The state pays back such bonds with general fund revenue, mostly from income taxes. The state had roughly $1 billion in bonding authority during the last two-year budget cycle.

The money would count toward the Knight cancer challenge. Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, in September challenged OHSU to raise $500 million by 2015. If successful, the couple would match the amount.

Under the plan, the university would construct two new buildings at South Waterfront, one to house a research center to be located next to the Collaborative Life Science Building that is currently under construction and a second where clinical trials and other services would be housed next to the Center for Health & Healing.

If approved by lawmakers, the state would fund construction of a new research facility and those floors of an outpatient/ambulatory building that will be dedicated to Knight Cancer Institute clinical trials. The remainder of that building would be part of OHSU’s own capital portfolio.

The state has supported OHSU’s expansion in the past, providing funds for its Biomedical Research Building and the Collaborative Life Sciences Building.

On Tuesday, OHSU received a $1 million gift toward the Knight Cancer Challenge from the Oregon Community Foundation.


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