WSU chosen for low-cost, open-access resources program

By Todd Mordhorst, Office of the Provost

openstax-logoPULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University is one of 11 institutions across the U.S. selected to take part in the national Open Educational Resources (OER) partnership, a project that could save students thousands of dollars each year.

The program, operated by Rice University’s OpenStax Publishing (, provides free consultation and resources for schools wanting to increase the use of open-access materials on campus. It seeks to build a community of institutions dedicated to lowering the cost of course materials by using OER.

“Our students have shown leadership and vision for galvanizing a universitywide effort to lowering classroom material costs and this is a great step in that direction,” said WSU Provost Dan Bernardo.

The program saved students at 15 institutions a combined $42 million in the 2015-16 academic year. For WSU, the estimated savings per year after successful completion of the program is $424,000.

“It’s up to faculty to choose whether the open textbook route makes sense for their course,” said Michael Caulfield, director of blended and networked learning at WSU Vancouver. “Often it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. But we want to make using open materials as easy as choosing a commercial textbook, so that faculty who want to go open, can.”

WSU was selected from a pool of 43 applicants. The project will provide a customized strategic plan to increase OER use on campus, 10 hours of tech support for using, editing or adding to OpenStax books or content from OpenStax CNX, at least one campus visit from an OpenStax representative and additional support.

“We’ve seen significant demand for this program,” said Nicole Finkbeiner, associate director for institutional relations at OpenStax. “Each partner school has demonstrated a desire to replace costly textbooks with as many open educational resources, including OpenStax textbooks, as possible.”

A WSU task force made up of students, faculty and staff put together plans and recommendations to reduce classroom material costs.

Faculty, staff or students interested in participating or getting more information may contact Caulfield, at 360-546-9788 or, or Rebecca Van De Vord, WSU e-learning director, at 509-335-4027 or

The OpenStax OER Institutional Partnership Program is made possible by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


Michael Caulfield, WSU Vancouver, 360-546-9788,
Rebecca Van De Vord, WSU Global Campus, 509-335-4027,