Enriching the Workforce

Linus Pauling

Oregon State University’s 160,000 alumni have made and continue to make significant contributions across Oregon, the nation and the world.

For many, Oregon State’s most prominent graduate is Linus Pauling, a world-acclaimed scientist and peace activist and the only recipient of two unshared Nobel Prizes — for chemistry in 1954 and peace in 1962. His legacy at Oregon State continues through the Linus Pauling Institute, which along with the Department of Chemistry, is housed in the new Linus Pauling Science Center that opened in 2011.

The accomplishments of Oregon State alumni are diverse and historic. Douglas Engelbart, who invented the computer mouse and developed the initial idea for email, is an Oregon State graduate, as is Bernie Newcomb, co-founder of E-Trade. John young, the former president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard, calls Oregon State his alma mater, as do Chris Johns and Dennis Dimick, editor and executive editor respectively of National Geographic magazine.

Former U.S. Forest Service chief Gail Kimbell, Leatherman tool inventor Tim Leatherman, U-Haul founder Leonard Shoen, former Oregon Gov. John Hubert Hall, screenwriter Mike Rich (Secretariat, Radio, Finding Forrester) — are all Oregon State alumni. So are Heisman Trophy winner and Portland attorney

Terry Baker, World Series champion Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox, former congresswomen Darlene Hooley and Julia Butler Hansen and NASA astronauts William Oefelein and Donald Pettit.


The impact of Oregon State graduates continues to grow. Recent alumni are driving discovery and the economy in such areas as alternative energy development ranging from solar to wind to nuclear, the computer-driven, 21st century dimensions of agricultural management, striking an appropriate balance between commercialization and conservation in forest products, protecting and enhancing public health, understanding the world beneath the sea and many others.

As a result, Oregon State alumni are leaders in the state and national economy, and findings from recent research reflect their impact. In surveys conducted last spring of both the Oregon public and of Oregon State alumni, respondents gave Oregon State higher marks than any other university for making a positive impact on the Oregon economy through innovations and spinoff companies that create jobs. These surveys rated Oregon State higher than any other institution for serving local communities through access to education and real-world problem-solving initiatives; for providing practical research focused on global problems; and conducting research and teaching that enhance sustainability.

In a new survey of Oregon State alumni conducted by ECONorthwest, nearly 71 percent of more than 5,800 respondents work in occupations directly related to their undergraduate degrees. And their earning power is significantly higher than the rest of the U.S. population: The median income of Oregon State graduates in the ECONorthwest survey falls between $60,000 and $80,000 — 50 percent greater than the median income nationwide, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau. Approximately 10 percent of graduates reported annual income of $200,000 or more, compared to 5 percent of the U.S. population.

Income of Oregon State graduatesThe employment success of Oregon State graduates also measures well against other Oregon universities. Independent research conducted last fall by PayScale reported that at mid-career, Oregon State alumni with a bachelor’s degree earn more annually than graduates of any other Oregon university, nearly $6,000 more per year than graduates of the next-highest Oregon public university and only slightly less than University of Washington graduates.

But the impact of Oregon State alumni is not defined only in monetary terms. More than 66 percent of respondents to the ECONorthwest research reported that they volunteer in their community, with nearly 40 percent volunteering between 10 and 99 times a year. Forty percent also report serving on boards of community organizations. These graduates extend the land grant mission into their lives and careers, giving back to benefit the people of Oregon.

Here are just a few more examples of OSU grads who have helped power our economy:

Mike and Brian McMenamin 

Mike and Brian McMenaminsPortland’s McMenamin brothers, Mike and Brian, were microbrewers before microbrewing was cool. They both graduated from Oregon State with degrees in political science, Mike in 1974 and Brian in 1980. But beer, not politics, was their destiny.

Opening their first pub in 1983 in Portland, the brothers added a brewery two years later, and McMenamin’s is now the region’s fourth-largest microbrewer. They’ve also built an empire of more than 50 pubs, breweries, hotels, coffee roasters and movie theaters throughout Oregon and Washington, many in historic buildings, and all featuring a variety of historic and commissioned artwork. Music venues draw top regional and national performers.

Considered pioneers of the Pacific Northwest’s thriving microbrew and historic hotel industries, Mike and Brian have made McMenamin’s an Oregon icon.

Vanessa Keitges 

Vanessa KeitgesPortland’s Vanessa Keitges is rapidly making her mark as a leader in business development, marketing and sales, having helped several companies achieve triple-digit growth in both domestic and international markets.

A 1997 Oregon State graduate with a degree in philosophy, Vanessa and a group of local investors bought Columbia Green, a Portland eco-technology firm, in 2009. The company specializes in green roof systems, where vegetation planted on rooftops help manage storm water runoff, cut heating and cooling costs and reduce air and water pollution.

As CEO, Vanessa has rapidly increased sales, from $1 million in 2010 to $3.1 million in 2011. Columbia Green has also been recognized for its success in exporting products designed and manufactured in the U.S.

Lee Perry 

A 2006 OSU-Cascades graduate with a degree in liberal studies, Lee Perry partnered with Aaron Switzer, owner of Bend’s independent weekly newspaper the Source, to found Lay-It-Out Events in 2007.

The business has grown rapidly and is now Central Oregon’s largest event production company, managing Balloons Over Bend and Winterfest, as well as concerts at the Old Stone Church in downtown Bend. Last spring, Lee teamed up with local race organizer Fresh Air Sports for Happy Girl half marathon, which drew more than 1,000 participants — an impressive turnout for a first-time event.

Lee sees his role at Lay-It-Out Events as an experience maker, creating moments that become memories. He says the people who do well in Bend are making things happen for themselves and working within the community they love.


3 Responses to “Enriching the Workforce”

  1. Marvin Yonamine says:

    Go Beavs!!!!

    I’m a proud OSU 1987 Grad and public school teacher in the State of Hawaii.

    Glad to hear great higher education news from my alma mater. The media usually puts down public education.
    Great to hear some refreshing news out of OSU.

    Aloha !!!!

  2. Thanks for your help in developing Jacoby Ellsbury. I have now become a big OSU fan!

  3. Thanks for publishing the article. I am 88 grad from OSU. Improvements and news about alma mater are always nostalgic. cheers..