ANNOUNCEMENT: THE MSI will grow to the Marine and Coastal Opportunities (MACO) program!

January 17th, 2024
From the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, subject Transitioning Marine Studies Initiative (MSI)

Dear Colleagues:

The Marine Studies Initiative (MSI) has been underway at OSU since 2016. With many collaborators, it has helped us achieve a great deal. We now have:

  • A hub for university-wide engagement that hosts workshops and other activities to advance transdisciplinary exchange and scholarship on marine and coastal issues.
  • An interdisciplinary social sciences-based undergraduate marine studies degree in the College of Liberal Arts, with 90+ majors and counting.
  • A state-of-the-art 70,000-square-foot Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building with laboratory, office, classroom, auditorium, and innovation spaces.
  • A 34,000-square-foot housing project scheduled for completion in 2025 that will accommodate students and visiting professionals studying or working at HMSC.
  • New experiential learning options based at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, with greatly increased enrollments in summer, fall, winter and spring.
  • New collaborators supporting summer internships at multiple locations along the Oregon coast.
  • An OSU-owned field station in Port Orford, supporting studies of gray whale ecology, kelp forest health, and other topics.

With this robust mix of projects and activities, some now managed by other units at OSU, I have decided MSI will transition from a catalyst initiative to a permanent academic support program called the Marine and Coastal Opportunities (MACO) program. Dr. Kristen Milligan, who has served as MSI associate director for the past seven years, will direct MACO, reporting under the Office of Academic Affairs alongside other university experiential learning programs.

Dr. Jack Barth, who has led MSI since its inception, has agreed to serve as a special advisor on marine issues through this June to help us with the transition, before stepping fully back into his role as professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. Jack’s leadership has been essential to MSI’s success, lessons from which are informing our aspirations for transdisciplinary research and teaching under OSU’s new strategic plan. I am grateful for his outstanding work. I would also like to thank Dr. Milligan, Dr. Bob Cowen, and many others who contributed to making MSI a success.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Edward Feser

Provost and Executive Vice President


Create a healthy future for our ocean and the planet through transdisciplinary research and teaching that emphasizes collaboration, experiential learning, engagement with society and problem solving.


Through its Marine Studies Initiative, Oregon State will be recognized as a global leader in 21st-century transdisciplinary education and research and lead the development of inclusive strategies for successful stewardship of our ocean and planet for today and tomorrow.

An advanced teaching and research model
The Marine Studies Initiative (MSI) increases understanding of coastal and ocean systems and promotes sustainability on key issues including climate change, food security and safety, natural hazards, renewable energy production and natural resources management.

Leveraging OSU’s international leadership
The MSI is an interdisciplinary effort that cohesively involves each of Oregon State’s 11 colleges and Honors College, the university’s Graduate School, the Hatfield Marine Science Center campus, the university’s Marine Experiment Station and Seafood Lab.

A framework of collaboration
The Marine Studies Initiative creates a framework of collaboration – including students, faculty, government, industry partners and other institutions of higher education and tackles challenges facing the ocean, coastal communities and people who depend on a healthy, thriving marine environment.

Unique experiential learning
The MSI provides vital knowledge and experiential learning opportunities. Because of the MSI, a new liberal arts undergraduate degree program in Marine Studies was developed. The Marine Studies (MAST) Degree is housed in the College of Liberal Arts and focuses on the social, political, and cultural issues of coasts and ocean in the context of a meaningful understanding of marine natural science.

State-of-the-art facilities
The MSI bridges world-class teaching and research facilities at Oregon State’s main campus in Corvallis and its Hatfield campus in Newport along the Oregon Coast, where the new Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building is located. 

Learner-centric programs
With contributions from across OSU, the MSI builds undergraduate and graduate courses and residential study programs at the Hatfield campus in Newport. Marine studies educational opportunities will be extended through OSU Extension outreach and engagement programs and in partnership with the state’s coastal community colleges.

Curriculum and research blends the natural and social sciences
The MSI blends the natural and social sciences to include themes of marine science, big data, business and technology, natural resources and ecosystems, coastal resiliency and public safety, marine policy, ocean law and science, education and human health.

Enhances the coastal economies and the environment
The MSI increases understanding of Oregon and global coastal and ocean systems and promotes sustainability on key issues including climate change, food security and safety, renewable energy production, natural resources management and natural hazards – such as seismic events and tsunamis.