UO Federal Affairs News

  • Congressman Blumenauer Introduces Bill to Study Community-Wide Influences of Autonomous Vehicles

    First published on blumenauer.house.gov on May 8thl. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, introduced the Preparing Localities for an Autonomous and Connected Environment (PLACE) Act. This legislation would create a federally funded highly automated vehicle clearinghouse to examine the secondary influences of autonomous vehicles.   “With innovations in transit, rideshare, bikeshare, and scooters, the transportation sector is changing faster than ever before. Autonomous vehicles are coming faster than most of us realize and it is incumbent upon us to start planning now,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “Done right, Autonomous vehicles can increase mobility, improve social equity, and solve some of the country’s most vexing problems. Done wrong, we may repeat the mistakes of the past. The PLACE Act will allow us to have the research at our disposal to create more livable communities for all.”   The PLACE Act creates a federally funded clearinghouse that is housed at a higher education institution, like the Urbanism Institute at the University of Oregon. These facilities would be required to collect, conduct, and fund research to help understand how autonomous vehicles can influence land use, real estate, transportation, municipal budgets, urban design, the environment, and social equity. The proposed clearinghouse is funded at $2 million annually and would be chosen by the Secretary of Transportation within 180 days of enactment.    "Congressman Blumenauer is widely recognized as a pioneer in understanding the role of place in making communities resilient and livable. His bill would establish an essential resource for communities to manage impacts from autonomous vehicles," said Michael H. Schill, University of Oregon president and professor of law. "The clearinghouse would speed the dissemination of research by programs like the Urbanism Next Center, an initiative of UO's Sustainable Cities Institute."   “The implications of autonomous vehicles touch virtually every aspect of community planning,” said American Planning Association President Kurt Christiansen, FAICP.  “Communities are working now to identify the right policies to ensure that new mobility technologies enhance and expand quality of life and livability. The access to critical information and research provided by the PLACE Act is essential to helping communities get our AV future right.”   Current legislative frameworks being debated in Congress would delineate state, local, and federal roles in regulating autonomous vehicles while also setting cybersecurity, safety, and data standards. However, little attention has been paid to the secondary influences of autonomous vehicles once they are deployed onto the roads. The proposed clearinghouse is funded at $2 million annually and would be chosen by the Secretary of Transportation within 180 days of enactment. https://blumenauer.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-blumenauer-introduces-bill-study-community-wide-influences

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  • DeFazio talks transportation with UO students and researchers

    First published in Around the O, the students in professor Marc Schlossberg’s Bicycle Transportation course had a special treat recently as their classroom was transformed for the day into the setting for a high-level policy discussion that included one of the most influential lawmakers in the land when it comes to transportation issues. The class included University of Oregon faculty members and others who looked at transportation through the lens of their own research — ranging from environmental law to psychology to computer science and civil engineering. But the students also got to ask questions of and hear from a distinguished guest who plays a major role in determining which transportation trends are likely to be implemented: U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio.  The Springfield Democrat is the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman as well as a UO alumnus. He was joined by the UO’s Heather Brinton, director or the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center; computer science professor Stephen Fickas; psychology professor Elliot Berkman; planning, public policy and management professor Rebecca Lewis; and Oregon State University civil engineering professor David Hurwitz. The class, which coincidentally was held on Earth Day, was a chance to highlight some of the innovative, multidisciplinary approaches the university is applying to what is one of the most critical issues facing society in the coming decades And the students got a broad, behind-the-scenes look into how it all happens. The hour-plus conversation ranged from the unexpectedly fast adoption of electric scooters to how to overcome the psychological and structural barriers preventing more people from walking or bicycling to nearby destinations. It even touched on how other futuristic modes of transportation, such as driverless cars, might accelerate cities’ use of streets for more space-efficient and low-carbon modes of transportation. “We’re rethinking transportation in the 21st century,” Schlossberg, a professor in the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management, told participants, noting how all the scholars in the room should be considered transportation experts in order to advance research and its applications. After each faculty member shared how their knowledge contributes to solving transportation issues, DeFazio shared an anecdote about a recent trip to a self-driving car technology company. He saw a bunch of kids playing games around a parked car, which he learned was how the car was “learning” how to predict kids’ actions by having its sensors observe them playing. But he also gave insight into the dialogue in the halls of Congress about such technology when it comes to navigating autonomous vehicles’ liability issues. “How is this all going to work?” he asked. “It’s going to be difficult.” Much of the work at the UO actually addresses the question DeFazio asked, only it approaches it from a different perspective: Rather than asking how cars can better see people simply as objects to avoid, many researchers at the UO are asking how cities can actually be redesigned to prioritize people on foot, bike or scooter in the first place. Schlossberg said the UO is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of such issues because no other university can lay claim to the same range of faculty members applying their research to transportation, which includes planning, public administration, architecture, computer science, law, landscape architecture, business, journalism and other disciplines.  Schlossberg also noted how it was DeFazio’s work more than a decade ago that set in motion this diversity of faculty members all focusing on transportation issues — including the actual course DeFazio was now taking part in — starting with the creation of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium in 2005. That sparked a chain reaction leading to the Sustainable Cities Institutein 2009, the UO Urbanism Next Center in 2017 and the Applied Transportation Studies focus area earlier this year. “We’re at a time when decisions about how we design transportation systems are either going to be part of the problem or part of the solution, and I really believe Oregon has a particular expertise and a real commitment to help communities meet their needs in this critical area,” said Brinton, of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center. Students asked about issues relating to privacy concerns and climate change, and educating the public in order to overcome them.  “We’re sitting in one of the world’s premier colleges of education, and if anybody can do that, we can,” said Berkman, the psychologist. “And Oregon is a great state for this laboratory model.” “One thing that’s exciting to me is a year ago people weren’t even talking about scooters as form of transportation,” added Hurwitz from OSU. “Here’s a mode of transportation that didn’t exist a year ago and now they represent tens of millions of trips in the U.S., revealing a massive preference for a new way to travel for trips under two miles. Our challenge is to help cities understand how to capitalize on the opportunities and challenges scooters present in terms of street design, policy, equity and safety.” DeFazio, who helped create the national Safe Routes to School program, said he was encouraged that the work at the UO also places a focus on how these new forms of transportation can potentially help more kids get to school and elsewhere in their community independently and safely. In all, Schlossberg said the open discussion among the scholars and the congressman was a rousing success. It gave students the chance to contribute to a wide-ranging discussion among experts spanning multiple disciplines they ordinarily wouldn’t have access to in a classroom setting. In addition, it gave Schlossberg the chance to show DeFazio the long-range effect of legislation he backed more than a decade ago. The gathering also illustrated how well the UO is positioned to help communities across the United States be better able to meet the transportation challenges of the 21st century. “I thought it was a tremendous experience for the students to be able to listen to candid talks and sometimes differing opinions from these scholars and Congressman DeFazio,” he said. “These are important issues that students are tackling as part of applied projects in this class, ones that will definitely be part of their professional work once they leave campus. This was a beneficial and fun way to involve them now.” —By Jim Murez, University Communications   https://around.uoregon.edu/content/rep-defazio-talks-transportation-uo-students-and-researchers/?utm_source=UOnews

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  • Congress is working on the FY20 budget but many obstacles remain

    The process for developing the federal budget for FY20 is in full swing. The Trump Administration submitted its request to Congress last month which included deep cuts to key programs. Members of Congress are circulating “Dear Colleague” letters in support of their funding priorities. A plethora of interests from across all sectors are engaged in fly-ins and advocacy days, typical for this time of year. But the biggest hurdle to an orderly budget process remains. Congress must agree to raise the budget expenditure caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 to avoid across-the-board cuts, also known as sequestration. A coalition of interests is asking Congress to develop a two-year agreement to raise the caps for FY20 and FY21 and allow for additional resources for discretionary spending. On Tuesday April 9, House Democrats abandoned a floor vote on H.R. 2021, the “Investing for the People Act of 2019,” after progressive Democrats opposed the defense spending figure. The measure would have raised non-defense discretionary spending to $631 billion for FY20, a 5.7 percent increase above FY19, and defense spending to $664 billion for FY20, a 2.6 percent increase over FY19.  The House did pass a resolution establishing an overall limit of $1.3 trillion for defense and non-defense funding, which is nearly the same level as FY19. This opens the door for the House Appropriations Committee to continue crafting FY20 spending bills and begin marking up measures in the weeks ahead.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) intend to launch budget negotiations at the staff level. They reportedly intend to negotiate a two-year deal to raise the caps and avoid $126 billion in automatic budget cuts. The administration has stated that they do not support raising the budget caps, but according to the Washington Post McConnell has said Pelosi and President Trump “both support trying to reach an agreement on a new spending pact for both the Pentagon and domestic programs.” Source: AAU and APLU reports  

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  • Dear Colleague round-up: Oregon delegation supports research budgets

    First published on the UO government and community relations website, members of the Oregon delegation routinely support funding for student aid and federal research agencies. Evidence of that support comes in the form of “Dear Colleague” letters, one of many tools used by members of Congress to advance budget and policy priorities. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are again leading advocacy for funding for the Institute of Education Science, a top priority for University of Oregon advocacy given activity by College of Education faculty with this program. Congresswoman Bonamici’s Dear Colleague letter included 40 members of the US House as signers. She and her colleagues called for an appropriation of $670 million for the agency, restoring it to pre-sequestration levels. ShakeAlert, the earthquake early warning system, is a priority for west coast policymakers and stakeholders across all levels of government and sectors of the economy. Members of the Oregon delegation have joined with colleagues to again support funding by the U.S. Geological Survey for ShakeAlert. Earlier this week, UO faculty joined with their counterparts from the University of Washington, UC-Berkeley, and Caltech in a fly-in to share updates about the implementation of ShakeAlert. In March, university staff worked with House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott and Congressman Peter DeFazio to request continued funding for the National Center for Campus Public Safety through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Largely at the behest of members of the coalition Disaster Resilient Universities, 27 members of Congress joined Reps. Scott and DeFazio to support continuing the center as a clearinghouse and resource for risk managers and other university personnel concerned about continuity of campus operations. The university coordinates its advocacy for student aid and research with the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. Top advocacy priorities include federal student aid programs, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, Title VI international programs, and the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as other specialized priorities.  

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  • Cutting-edge device gives the UO a leg up in technology race

    First published in Around the O on April 24th 2019. A new multi-million-dollar research tool that will let UO scientists and students jump ahead of the technology curve is now being installed in a campus lab. The plasma focused ion beam instrument, known as the Thermo Scientific Helios Hydra DualBeam, is only the fourth instrument of its kind in the world and the first to be housed at a university or service center in North America. It is similar to a scanning electron microscope but also uses beams of ions rather than electrons to image, etch and analyze materials at nanometer scales. The acquisition was made possible through a new strategic collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific. The relationship promises to further position the UO as a key research and testing site, both for UO researchers and industrial clients who will lease time on the instrument. “It’s a real win-win-win that will greatly benefit the university, our faculty doing cutting-edge research and our students training for high-tech careers using the world’s most advanced tools and technologies available,” said David Conover, vice president for research and innovation. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Thermo Fisher Scientific to ensure that our research facilities stay ahead of the technology curve.” As part of the collaboration with Thermo Fisher, the UO will pilot a new instrument acquisition model that could help keep its research facilities at the forefront of science for years to come. The UO will work with Thermo Fisher’s Material Science division to ensure the Helios Hydra DualBeam stays cutting-edge throughout its time on campus. As new product features are developed, they will be added to the instrument. In turn, UO researchers will provide early feedback on featured applications to help shape future capabilities and functions for use within academic and industry labs. Even as workers were still unpacking 7-foot-tall wooden crates that housed the instrument during shipping and using a heavy-duty ceiling crane to lower pieces of the tool down a flight of stairs to the Center for Advanced Materials Characterization in Oregon, where the Helios Hydra will be located, Kurt Langworthy, director of the center, had already received inquiries from UO researchers and industrial clients interested in renting time on the machine. The instrument should be operational by the end of the month. “This will strengthen our position as a top-tier research facility, enabling internal researchers and external partners to investigate materials at scales that are more than 10 times our current limit,” Langworthy said. “Once word gets out that we have this instrument, we will be pretty busy.” The Helios Hydra will offer new efficiencies for materials science researchers seeking to discover and design new materials and analyze their properties and structure. But it will also serve other kinds of researchers, including biologists who could use the tool for so-called “connectomics” projects that involve mapping neural connections in the brain. The advanced materials center, one of the UO’s core research facilities, offers high-tech services to researchers, companies and universities. The collaboration builds on a long history and growing relationship between the UO and Thermo Fisher Scientific, which includes research collaborations, instrument acquisitions, in-kind gifts and opportunities for students. “DualBeam technology is widely used for sample preparation and 3D materials characterization, and the collaboration with the University of Oregon focuses on bringing this technology to a new level of performance,” said Trisha Rice, vice president and general manager, materials science, at Thermo Fisher. “In addition to finding the best ion beam match for a variety of samples and materials, it could lead to the ability to characterize previously difficult samples, such as those that contain carbon,” she said. “In addition, we plan to gain new insights and create best practices to optimize sample throughput and quality in the various DualBeam applications, helping researchers publish potentially groundbreaking results.” The strategic collaboration with Thermo Fisher and addition of the Helios Hydra will also benefit UO students training for high-tech careers in programs like the advanced materials analysis and characterization master’s degree program, a chemistry program facilitated through the center’s labs, and the Master’s Industrial Internship Program, housed in the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. Thermo Fisher has been a prominent partner in the internship program for nearly 20 years, with 89 students starting their careers at the company. In 2017, Thermo Fisher provided funding to the internship program in support of its diversity and inclusion efforts. The master’s program trains students for careers in industry and government labs. It couples industry relevant hands-on coursework with nine-month paid internships in industry, giving students practical experience to springboard their careers. “Many of our students intern with Thermo Fisher Scientific and go on to have careers there,” said Stacey York, director of the Master’s Industrial Internship Program. “Some even return to the UO to earn doctorates, bringing their learning and experience from internships back to the university.” Ultimately, Langworthy said, the new partnership will streamline ways to align UO research and industry with the resources offered by Thermo Fisher’s business network. As the new collaboration progresses, the UO will look for more opportunities for large-scale collaborations with Thermo Fisher. “There is a lot of potential for ongoing partnerships, new discoveries and new ways to attract outside investment for research and sponsorships,” Langworthy said. “We are excited to see what the future holds.”   https://around.uoregon.edu/content/cutting-edge-device-gives-uo-leg-technology-race

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  • UO professor emeritus receives Congressional Gold Medal

    First published in Around the O, George Wickes, a UO Professor Emeritus in English, was recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his role as a cryptographer and intelligence officer in the Office of Strategic Services. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio presented the medal to the 96-year-old Wickes at a ceremony in the Wayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse this week. Wickes served at the end of World War II and in Vietnam from 1945 to 1946. “It’s terrific to be honored today,” Wickes said. “It was an honor to serve in the Army and as a professor at the university.” DeFazio lauded Wickes for his bravery and contributions to the nation. “I wish that I would have taken a course in the English department during George’s time at the UO,” said DeFazio, who received a master’s from the university in 1977. “It’s an extraordinary honor for me, on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives in Congress and the American people, to give George the Congressional Gold Medal for his service.” The ceremony was attended by five dozen former colleagues and students of Wickes, who lives in Eugene. They applauded as DeFazio rewarded Wickes with the bright gold medal. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest awards presented to civilians in the United States. Paul Peppis, a UO English professor and director of the Oregon Humanities Center, spoke about Wickes’ “generosity of spirit” and “willingness to share wisdom, experience, hospitality and friendship.” “George represents the ideal scholar who guides you to succeed,” Peppis said after the ceremony. “His literary knowledge is immense and he’s incredibly humble. He taught me the value of mentorship and respecting those who came before you.” The OSS was the first organized effort by the U.S. to implement a centralized system of strategic intelligence and was the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency. After his service with the OSS, Wickes went to graduate school on the G.I. Bill, earning a master’s degree at Columbia University and a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. While writing his dissertation, Wickes directed Fulbright programs in Belgium and Luxembourg. He taught at Duke University for three years, then moved to Claremont, California, to become one of the seven founding faculty members of Harvey Mudd College. After 12 years teaching humanities at Harvey Mudd, he came to the UO as a visiting professor of English in 1970. In his 2006 memoir, Wickes said he immediately knew Eugene was where he “wanted to spend the rest of my life. Except for travelling, of course.” Wickes officially retired from the UO in 1993 but continued to teach until 2015. After his retirement, he taught at French universities as a Fulbright lecturer, inaugurated the UO English department’s faculty exchange program with the University of Tubingen in Germany, and taught in several European cities through the UO’s overseas program. He is the author of numerous books, including “Americans in Paris,” “The Amazon of Letters,” “The Memoirs of Frederic Mistral” and three collections of Henry Miller letters, all of which he donated to the Knight Library, where they are available to view through Special Collections and University Archives. —By Jess Brown, University Communications

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  • Report: UO boosts the state economy by more than $1 billion

    First published in Around the O. From money brought in by students, visitors and research grants to spending on employment, supplies and construction, the UO remains an economic engine not just in Lane County but statewide, a new report shows. The university’s estimated economic footprint in Oregon was $2.2 billion in fiscal year 2017-18, according to UO economist Tim Duy, who has been producing the study for the university since 2010. That figure captures the total amount of economic activity associated with the university, which ripples outward to shape the state’s economy. However, what’s also notable is the share of economic activity generated from money that flows into Oregon from outside the state through university activities, such as federal research grants and spending by students and visitors from outside Oregon, spending that wouldn’t happen without the UO. Seen through that lens, spending by the university, students and visitors, combined with construction spending, had an economic impact of $1.2 billion. Of that, an estimated $781 million came from outside the state, injecting 15,387 jobs with $577 million in payroll into the state’s economy. Absent the influx of resources from out of state, the UO would essentially be recirculating Oregonians’ money within Oregon. While there is a benefit to that, the influx of money from beyond Oregon’s borders has a greater effect. “The University of Oregon acts as a trade-sector firm in our economy, drawing in revenue from outside the state in the form of tuition and research grants. This funding substantially contributes to the Oregon economy,” said Duy, who also is senior director of the Oregon Economic Forum. Looking at the university using a narrower definition of economic impact, the UO spent $561 million related to students and grants that came from outside its borders, generating an economic impact of $1.1 billion, including $438 million in pay associated with 11,794 jobs. Student spending After the economic boost generated by the university itself, new economic activity generated by student spending represents the second-largest contribution to the university’s effect on Oregon’s economy. Students spent $261 million on rent, food, books and supplies, and other goods; roughly half of that came from out-of-state students. That out-of-state spending generated an economic impact of $226 million statewide in the past fiscal year and supported 2,243 jobs that paid $55 million to workers. Boosted by an academic reputation that extends beyond Oregon, enrollment of nonresident students rose from 47.7 percent to 49.1 percent as the percentage of total tuition and fees from nonresidents students hit 67 percent. “A larger percentage of nonresident students boosts the economic impact of the University of Oregon because it represents a larger draw of resources from out of state,” Duy wrote in his study. Construction spending Perhaps the most visible element of the university’s economic benefit can be found high in the sky with the construction cranes that have popped up around campus in recent years. It’s been said the number of construction cranes that dot a city’s skyline represent a barometer of an area’s economic health. Using that measure, the UO is in fine shape. At times over the past year, cranes could be found on construction sites for Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, Hayward Field and, more recently, University Health Center renovations. In all, construction spending generated an economic impact of $196 million in 2017-18, with $72 million in payroll that supported 1,537 jobs. Welcome to Oregon Thanks to campus tours, commencement ceremonies, athletic events, concerts and conferences, the UO also gives a healthy boost to Oregon’s tourism industry. One only has to look on the edges of campus to see the number of lodging establishments and eateries that seek to house and nourish the many people who have the UO campus as their destination. Spending by visitors equaled $27 million, generating an economic impact of $51 million with 475 jobs and earnings of $15 million. But the university’s benefits to the economic health of Lane County and Oregon extends beyond dollars and cents, Duy added. “I think it is important to remember that the amount of spending associated with the university is really just one of the ways that we contribute to the local economy,” he said. “For example, the traditional consistency of that spending across the business cycle also helps stabilize the local economy, and that stability in turn should increase the willingness of firms to expand in the region.” Duy is author of the University of Oregon Statewide Economic Indicators, Regional Economic Indicators and the Central Oregon Business Index. He has published in the Journal of Economics and Business and is also a member of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and the State Debt Policy Advisory Commission. He also produces the monthly UO Index of Economic Indicators, which tracks state and regional prosperity. Duy’s economic impact study is one of several tools the university uses to measure the UO’s contributions to state and regional economies. The Oregon Impact interactive map demonstrates the fiscal and community impacts of the university on the state by geographic and legislative districts. The map is a collaborative effort between Campus GIS and Mapping, Institutional Research, and Government and Community Relations. —By Jim Murez, University Communications

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  • Interactive map shows UO’s impact across the state

    Oregon Impact 2019 map has new look, links that tell the story of the UO’s impact across the state The Oregon Impact 2019 interactive map tells the story of the University of Oregon’s impact in every Oregon county and legislative and congressional district.  This tool is now updated with a new look as well as links to the impact in communities across the state by the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) program. The Oregon Impact map is a collaboration between the UO Campus GIS & Mapping team, the Office of Institutional Research, the Institute for Policy, Research and Engagement, and Government and Community Relations. The site allows users to see fiscal and community impacts of the UO by clicking on an interactive map. By clicking on a specific county, state legislative districts or federal congressional district, users can view the area’s current UO student enrollment, student aid distribution, number of alumni, vendor and employee expenditures, PathwayOregon recipients, and RARE placements in the last five years.

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  • UO’s Urbanism Next leads stakeholder briefing in Washington

    First published in Around the O on February 1st 2019. Autonomous vehicles will have wide-ranging impacts on the form and function of cities, including significant changes to urban design, transportation and municipal governance, members from the UO’s Urbanism Next program explained during a recent bipartisan forum in Washington, D.C. “Autonomous vehicles are not a transportation issue, they are an everything issue,” architecture professor and Urbanism Next Director Nico Larco said at the briefing. “We need to have everyone involved, including those interested in housing, community development and economic development. This is going to affect all of us.” The briefing, last month at the Library of Congress, is regularly convened by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, and Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois. It brings together practitioners, policymakers and thought leaders on transportation policies and practices, especially in metropolitan areas. “Transformational changes in the transportation sector require new ways for governments of all levels to pay for infrastructure,” said Rebecca Lewis, a professor in the UO School of Planning, Public Policy and Management, who serves as research director for Urbanism Next. “Less parking means less revenue, but empty seats in cars and curb drop-off zones could be new revenue opportunities.” Larco and Lewis also led a discussion about the potential role of legislators and federal authorities to help cities purposefully direct any disruptive changes that have already begun. Blumenauer and Davis joined Larco and Lewis in speaking to a room of around 100. Blumenauer hosted a congressional briefing featuring Larco in June. “Portlanders continue to lead the way as we usher in the 21st century of transportation,” said Blumenauer. “Nico, Rebecca and the entire Urbanism Next team are doing critically important work to prepare cities for changes in automation, sharing and e-commerce. I look forward to continuing to work with them to promote more livable and equitable communities.” Urbanism Next is a center created by faculty members in UO’s Sustainable Cities Initiative and UO Portland, with support from the UO Presidential Fund and UO Portland. The center provides information, applied research and direct assistance to municipalities on the effects of emerging and fast-developing technologies that matter for cities, such as autonomous vehicles, small-footprint modes of transportation such as scooters and bikes, e-commerce, and the sharing economy. UO faculty members were also in Washington, D.C. to participate and present at in the annual Transportation Research Board meeting, a program of the National Academies of Sciences. Larco and Lewis were joined at the conference by UO professors Marc Schlossberg and Anne Brown. “The presentation in Washington demonstrated that the production of new knowledge isn’t enough,” said Schlossberg, professor in the UO School of Planning, Public Policy and Management and co-director of the UO’s Sustainable Cities Initiative. “Getting that knowledge into the hands of people who can put it into practice is equally critical.” Working with Blumenauer, Urbanism Next is proposing a national clearinghouse, where stakeholders and city planners can find comprehensive, organized and vetted research on the effects of emerging technologies on cities, including design of transportation systems and neighborhoods, as well as impacts on real estate, municipal finance, and issues of equity, health and the environment. Blumenauer noted that U.S. Rep. DeFazio, a Democrat who represents Oregon’s Fourth District, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is a partner in the effort to establish a clearinghouse to collect, conduct and fund research on the influences of highly automated vehicles on land use, design, transportation, real estate and municipal budgets and for other purposes. —By Rachael Nelson, University Communications

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  • Students, faculty feel effects of government shutdown

    First published on the dailyemerald.com on January 26th. While the longest partial government shutdown affected federal workers across the country, including IRS workers and FBI agents, some functions at the University of Oregon were hindered as well. Betsy Boyd, the University of Oregon associate vice president for federal affairs, said that while the government has been shut down a number of times in the past few decades, the latest shutdown was unique. “There’s never been a shutdown like this one,” Boyd said. “Granted it is a partial government shutdown so it does not affect all parts of the federal government, but the length, the lack of urgency about resolving it, the uncertainty about a path forward, all of that makes it atypical in my experience.” The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, 2018 over funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall, ended last Friday when Trump signed a bill that would keep the government open until Feb. 15. According to the New York Times, Trump will keep negotiating with Congress for funding a border wall. Boyd said the biggest impact of the shutdown on the university was the effect on individual students, like those whose family members didn’t receive paychecks. “I remain concerned about students whose families may not have applied for financial aid because they’ve been government employees and may now be facing cash constraints,” she said. “I hope that students in that position are talking to financial aid or student affairs because there are folks that want to help them.” Although there is a temporary reprieve, a few areas of the university have been impacted by the shutdown, and some impacts could have lingering effects. Research proposals left waiting About 80 percent of research funding granted to UO faculty comes from federal sources, according to the latest data from the Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation. While some agencies that fund UO research, like the Department of Education, remained open, others, like the National Science Foundation, were closed during the shutdown. This meant that researchers who proposed projects to those agencies during the shutdown had to wait to communicate with the agency and wait for their proposals to be reviewed, said Cassandra Moseley, senior associate vice president for Research and Innovation. This delay becomes especially problematic for researchers when their proposals are time-sensitive. Moseley gave an example of Forest Service efforts: “In the Forest Service right now, they’re not doing any prescribed fire or pile burning. If they miss those windows, which are usually a couple weeks a year, they’re going to wait until next year,” Moseley said. “There is a lot in the federal government that is going to wait until next year.” However, Boyd said many of UO’s researchers are reimbursed for their expenditures, so it’s not always as disruptive to research. “I think our university, because of the composition of our research program, which is especially oriented to the National Institute of Health and Institute of Education Sciences, is dealing with fewer research impacts than other institutions.” Financial aid The Department of Education, which oversees Federal Student Aid, was still open during the shutdown, said Jim Brooks, director of Student Aid and Scholarships. Difficulties did come up for some students, Brooks said, when trying to verify information for their FAFSA with other federal agencies that are closed during the shutdown. Brooks said that most of those issues were resolved when the department changed the process for verifying that information in early January of this year. Since the Department of Education is currently funded by the government, student aid payments are still being distributed, both Brooks and Boyd said. The number of students whose financial aid at UO was impacted is much smaller than at some other schools, Brooks said, because most students had submitted their FAFSA information in the fall prior to the shutdown. Brooks said other schools where more students come to campus in the winter are facing more challenges. But some individual UO students who may need documents from the IRS for their financial aid are encountering challenges, Boyd said. The financial aid office is working with those students on a case-by-case basis, she said. Brooks, who was interviewed by the Emerald before Congress and the president struck a temporary deal, estimated that the shutdown would create more difficulties for financial aid if it continued through late February, when the university begins to inform new students of their financial aid awards. “Where that might get tricky is if this shutdown goes on too much longer,” Brooks said. “I don’t think anybody anticipates the shutdown going that long, but I don’t think anyone anticipated them going as long as they’ve gone right now.” SNAP food benefits Individuals who are enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program receive monthly benefits to buy groceries. Funds are usually distributed on or after the first of the month; however, benefits for February were released early on Friday, Jan. 18 due to the shutdown. “It is very important to carefully budget your food benefits through February,” Dawn Myers, SNAP program manager, wrote in a letter to those enrolled in the program. According to the Student Sustainability Center’s website, many students who are on work-study programs or who receive other aid are also eligible for SNAP benefits. While the funding for food security programs remains at least through February, there are a number of other programs through the university that can support students facing food insecurity. The Student Sustainability Center works with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and the Department of Human Services to enroll students in food assistance programs and offers a variety of other support. More information can be found at dos.uoregon.edu/food. DeFazio addresses impact on community members and military personnel A bill was passed in September 2018 to ensure that military branches under the Department of Defense would have secure funding through at least September 2019. Despite passing the bill, members of the Coast Guard that are considered essential have been required to work without pay through the shutdown because they fall under the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Student Veterans Center, about 450 people at UO have self-identified as being a member of the military or are military-affiliated. Congressman Peter DeFazio held a town hall meeting on Saturday to hear from members of the community on how the shutdown has affected them. Though the government is now open, DeFazio said, “It’s not over yet.” DeFazio commented on how a wall would not be the best way to spend money for border security. He said more funding should be spent on better technology and hiring more personnel to protect borders. He also noted that the Coast Guard, which was working without pay during the shutdown, intercepts more drugs than Customs and Border Protection at the southern border. Maria Kalnbach, the nontraditional and veteran student engagement and success coordinator at UO, said her son, a Coast Guardsman, has been impacted by the shutdown. Her husband is a retired Coast Guardsman as well, and she says she hasn’t seen an impact like this before. “It’s hard as a mom to worry about your son. Just knowing that he’s struggling to figure out how he’s going to be able to pay the rent next month and how that’s all going to work out,” said Kalnbach. While her son was on leave a few weeks ago, she said she stocked him up on groceries and helped him get a car payment delayed until he had the money to pay it. Many community organizations like churches and food banks have offered to help unpaid servicemen and women. Kalnbach said that any students facing concerns because of the shutdown can reach out to her to brainstorm and seek out resources for assistance. “The bottom line is it’s a relief that we have three weeks when people will be paid and the government will begin to have people back in their positions but it’s by no means over,” Boyd said. “So from a university standpoint, we’re continuing to pay very close attention to this. I think students or anyone that’s affected should know that their elected officials want to hear from them.” Kalnbach can be reached by email at mariak@uoregon.edu and by phone at 541-346-1160. Emily Goodykoontz contributed reporting to this story.

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