Senate OKs university boards bill

SALEM — The Oregon Senate has passed a bill to allow public universities to break free of the statewide university system.

In a 23-7 vote Wednesday, the Senate sent the bill to the House. It's expected to pass, and Gov. John Kitzhaber is expected to sign it.

The bill would allow the state's public universities to establish independent governing boards with the power to hire and fire a president and take on debt by selling revenue bonds. The bill was initially drafted to satisfy demands by the University of Oregon and Portland State University to become autonomous.

If the bill passes, governing boards for the state's two largest universities would be set up immediately, and the other five public universities could establish their boards later.

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