Latest news from the UO

  • Calling all Ducks: Advocates needed for UO lobby day in Salem

    First published in Around the O, UO students, alumni, faculty and staff will visit the state Capitol on May 8 to advocate for higher education funding, and Duck supporters are encouraged to sign up and take part in the event. Advocates will join campus leaders, including UO President Michael H. Schill and student body President Maria Alejandra Gallegos-Chacôn, to meet with lawmakers and make the case for the funding necessary to keep tuition increases as low as possible. Other priorities include investing in new services and programs that reduce debt, improving graduation rates, and expanding career connections. A new video explains the role of advocates at UO Day at the Capitol. “Oregonians believe that having a college degree is important to succeed later on in life, but rising student debt threatens the path to prosperity that higher education has always represented,” said Libby Batlan, associate vice president for state and community affairs. “Increasing state funding for public universities and financial aid are, without question, the biggest factors to keep tuition increases low and ensuring that all students can graduate with the skills they need to get a job.”  As the university faces significant financial challenges and is in the process of cutting $11.6 million from its operating budget, additional state investment of at least $120 million would allow tuition increases to stay below 5 percent for the next two years. Investment of an additional $186 million above current levels would create new and enhanced opportunities for financial aid for underserved student populations, academic and career advising, diversity initiatives and other wraparound services that lead to a positive college experience. The proposed budget from the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means targets the Public University Support Fund at $777.4 million, which is an increase of $40.5 million over the 2017-19 biennium. The fund is split across all seven public universities. At that funding level, the UO would be forced to consider tuition increases in the double digits on top of cuts that will affect students and employees. “The Legislature is considering historic new investments in public education this session as well as new corporate tax increases to pay for it,” Schill said. “My job, and the job of UO advocates, is to ensure that lawmakers know that without an investment in higher education, they are not truly making progress for students and for Oregon’s economy.” In addition to advocate visits with legislators, the lobby day will include orientation and training opportunities, photos with the Duck, viewing House and Senate chamber sessions and performances by UO musical groups. Transportation from Eugene can be requested when signing up. An orientation video provides additional information about the role of participants. “We know from experience that it’s students and faculty who truly make the difference,” said Ivan Chen, external vice president for the Associated Students of the UO. “We need as many people as possible to come to Salem on May 8th to advocate for our future.” All are welcome and encouraged to participate. Registration is required to attend, which can be completed online in addition to viewing a training video. UO Day at the Capitol is coordinated by UO Government and Community Relations in conjunction with the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, UO Alumni Association and the UO Student Alumni Association.   Link: https://around.uoregon.edu/content/calling-all-ducks-advocates-needed-uo-lobby-day-salem/?utm_source=UOnews&fbclid=IwAR27Eq7fIhHArbyq4H39qwvPz4zEubFgOCMrTBoL7Ohyqginu2RJF7ZCNCE   

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  • Oregon Legislature reaches first bill deadline

    The 2019 Oregon Legislature reached its first bill deadline on Tuesday, April 9. All measures had to be voted out of their first committees in order to stay “alive.” For example, a bill introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the Education Committee must have moved to the floor for a vote of the full chamber, to the Rules Committee, or to the Joint Ways & Means Committee in order to remain active in the legislative process. Lawmakers are tackling big policy and budget challenges, including: Climate change: Still under debate, HB 2020 would establish a new cap-and-trade marketplace in Oregon, set a cap on overall greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and reduce it over time. It would also charge large polluters — including utilities, fuel importers and industrial facilities — for each ton of greenhouse gas they emit, though some entities would receive breaks. Amendments abound on this measure. Rent control: SB 608 limits rent increases and bars no-cause evictions after a tenant's first year in a building. The bill was signed by Governor Brown earlier this session. Workplace harassment: SB 726 would create new protections for employees who experience harassment or assault in the work place. The Title IX protections: In the wake of the U.S. Department of Education releasing its notice of proposed rulemaking late last year making changes to Title IX regulations, Oregon lawmakers introduced HB 3415. The bill would codify that universities must adopt written policies concerning sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking that occur both on and off campus, ensure relevant training is provided, and more. Credit transfer: SB 730 continues the state’s work on collegiate credit transfer and the creation of unified statewide transfer agreements (USTAs) that are reflected in current law as a result of the passage of HB 2998 in 2017. Dual credit: SB 800 requires the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) to develop standards for approving partnerships to provide dual credit programs. The University of Oregon’s key legislative priorities all continue to move through the process successfully. SB 949 provides $350,000 of new funding to support the UO’s prison education program. The program offers a horizon-broadening experience for “outside” students and invaluable skill-development and credit-bearing course opportunities for “inside” students, helping to reduce recidivism rates overall. SB 949 moved out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. Read the Around the O story on SB 949’s public hearing. SB 255 would provide $500,000 in one-time state funding for the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology to purchase a new boat for research and teaching. This measure is led by legislators who represent Oregon’s coastal region. SB 255 moved out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. Read the Around the O story on SB 255’s public hearing. SB 739 would provide $2.5 million to expand the UO’s College of Education’s Oregon Research Schools Network (ORSN) to more school districts throughout the state. The program embeds UO faculty into high schools for five years to work with teachers and students to improve high school graduation rates and student success with the newest pedagogy and resources. SB 739 moved out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. Read the Around the O story on SB 739’s public hearing. HB 2594 would create a $300,000 state matching fund for the UO’s Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP), which is part of the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management. The matching fund would help smaller, more rural cities partner with SCYP to help them solve public policy challenges and provide more students with experiential learning opportunities. HB 2594 moved out of the House Education Committee unanimously and is now in the Joint Committee on Ways & Means. Future legislative deadlines: May 15: Last state revenue forecast before final budget decisionsMay 24: Second chamber work session deadline (AKA lots more bills die)June 30: Constitutional Sine Die

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  • University presents budget options to Ways & Means

    The University of Oregon, along with the six other public universities, made their case on March 28 to the Legislature’s key budget-writers about why investment in operating funding for college students is critical to a bright future for Oregon. The universities’ presentation focused on the student experience; gaining admission to, paying for, and graduating from college in 2019. We worked to highlight for lawmakers the stark differences between the financial realities of higher education today versus 20 or 30 years ago when many of them were in school. In 1976, for example, annual tuition and fees at a four-year, public university was just more than $1,200 a year. Today, that’s approximately what a student would pay each month for a one bedroom apartment in an urban area like Portland. Universities highlighted the dramatic increase in institutional tuition remissions in the wake of lagging state investment. We talked about programs like Pathway Oregon that help Pell-eligible students pay for school, but made sure to note that that didn’t account for the full cost of earning a college degree that includes room and board, transportation, books, and food. Student, staff, and trustee representatives from all seven campuses walked the Education Subcommittee through how various investment levels in the Public University Support Fund would impact student debt levels, support services, research, and graduation rates on every campus. Specifically, we’re talking about four scenarios: +$40.5 million in the PUSF (total state investment of $777.4 million in 2019-21) The funding level that the State of Oregon has targeted as what public universities need to continue “current services.” Unfortunately, it does not include key cost drivers faced by institutions, including bargained compensation packages and other employee benefits that impact the universities’ ability to keep tuition low and not make further cuts to workforce or services.  +$120 million in the PUSF (total state investment of $856.9 million in 2019-21) The funding level public universities have calculated would keep tuition increases at or below five percent for the next two years.  +$186 million in the PUSF (total state investment of $922.9 million in 2019-21) The funding level recommended by the Higher Education Coordination Commission necessary to advance the state’s educational attainment goals.  +$263 million  the PUSF (total state investment of $1 billion in 2019-21) The optimal funding level for students and public universities to keep tuition increases below three percent for the next two years and make significant new investments in advising, financial aid, wraparound wellbeing services, and academic quality.

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  • Joint Committee on Student Success releases first draft of revenue and expenditure plan

    On April 4, the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS) released the first conceptual amendments to House Bill 2019. The JCSS toured the state over the last year examining needs and solutions to fix Oregon’s lagging K-12 graduation rate and improve student outcomes. HB 2019 will create the Fund for Student Success. Within that fund, the bill allocates a yet-to-be-determined increased amount to the State School Fund. Remaining moneys will be allocated to: Early Learning Account – 20% School Improvement Account – 50% Statewide Initiatives Account – 30%. Click here for details on the conceptual amendments. The Joint Committee also released potential options for raising revenue to pay for new investments in Oregon’s public education system. Specifically, the joint committee released three options for a new corporate tax called a Commercial Activities Tax. Click here for details.

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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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  • Prison program would get a boost from pending legislation

    First published in Around the O, a University of Oregon program that brings classrooms into the state’s prisons would be expanded under a bill now before the Oregon Legislature. The Prison Education Program got its start in 2007 when UO professor Steve Shankman taught a course at the Oregon State Penitentiary. Since then, hundreds of UO students and more than 1,000 incarcerated people have taken classes and participated in other UO activities inside five of Oregon’s prisons.   Senate Bill 949 would provide $350,000 of new funding to support the program in such efforts and allow further expansion. In testimony before the Senate Education Committee last week, philosophy and sociology student Julie Williams-Reyes shared how going inside a prison to take a class with 13 campus-based students and 13 incarcerated students inspired her to engage more actively in issues of social justice and was the determining influence in choosing her career path. Many students have gone on to work in organizations such as the Peace Corps, Teach for America and Sustainable City Year. Graduates have spoken of their experiences in a prison class as stepping stones in their careers as lawyers, teachers, doctors and professionals in various nonprofit sectors. Geography professor Shaul Cohen, director of the program, told legislators that it has broad support on campus, with the UO Board of Trustees, the UO Foundation, campus leaders and many deans offering support. He also said the program has support from the Associated Students of the UO, one of only a few student governments in the country that have invested in such educational opportunities.  Cohen also expressed appreciation for the Oregon Department of Correction’s help in making classes, lectures, workshops and common readings inside the prisons possible. At the Senate hearing, program coordinator Katie Dwyer spoke of working with incarcerated students and noted that education allows people to build self-esteem, become involved in positive programming while incarcerated and be more equipped to re-enter the community. “Incarcerated students sometimes come to us with a strong sense that they will be unable to do the work and uncertain as to how the instructors and the University of Oregon students will see them,” Dwyer said. “They speak to this experience as a transformative one, both for their sense of their academic competence, but more broadly for their self-esteem, their sense of potential impact they can have on the community. Many people have spoken of this as a turning point in their lives, in their full lives, and also of their experience as inmates in Oregon.” Last June, state Sen. Lew Frederick attended a UO graduation at the Oregon State Penitentiary and last week told the Education Committee he was deeply moved by what he witnessed. “One graduate was participating in the ceremony two or three days after he was released from prison,” Frederick saod. “It had taken him quite a bit, but he had done the work. It was a palpable joy that you could see on his face and with his family and the people who came to see him.” Sen. Michael Dembrow attended a UO class at the Oregon State Correctional Institution and testified to the power of the teaching model and bringing people together in discussion. “I think we all know that it does us no good to have individuals coming out of incarceration and not be prepared to be fully functioning and contributing members of society, but that doesn’t happen just by itself,” he said. “We need to be working hard to remove barriers that formerly incarcerated people meet as they re-enter and take steps to make sure that they are ready to re-enter, and one of the best ways to do that is through successful prison education programs such as the UO’s program.”\ https://around.uoregon.edu/content/prison-program-would-get-boost-pending-legislation?utm_source=ato04-09-19&utm_campaign=workplace  

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  • Legislature considers funding for new OIMB research vessel

    First published in Around the O, a bill now before the Oregon Legislature would allocate $500,000 in state funds to build and outfit a new ocean-going research vessel for the UO’s Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. The vessel would help the institute continue its research on marine organisms and ecosystems and provide transformative educational experiences to university and K-12 students as well as community members. It would replace an aging boat that is near the end of its useful life and is too small for current needs. Students and faculty members from the Charleston-based institute traveled to Salem earlier this week to testify in support of the bill. The hearing was held before the Senate Education Committee Institute Director Craig Young joined undergraduate marine biology major Fiona Curliss and doctoral student Caitlin Plowman to explain why a new boat is critical to coastal research and teaching capacity at the facility. “I grew up in Oregon, and when I got to go on a boat from which we could see offshore marine biology communities, I saw things I had never seen in my life closer to shore,” Curliss said. “Those of us who want to pursue marine biology need hands-on knowledge as much as we need book knowledge. We need the equipment like this boat to see these communities.” The 90-year-old institute in Charleston is a destination for students, scholars and visitors, who can take advantage of the distinctive marine environment. The UO’s undergraduate marine biology major is the only one in Oregon. “The Charleston Center is a gem in Oregon that most people don’t realize,” said state Sen. Lew Frederick, a Portland Democrat who testified at the hearing. “It sparks a curiosity in a range of issues, not just in marine biology. It has the potential to become a premier center for biological research.” Coos County Commissioner Bob Main agreed and said the boat, which would be built locally, would also boost the coastal economy. “This project is so important to the economic impact of the community that Coos County commissioners have pledged $50,000 in lottery funds to this project, which is much more than we usually pledge to one project,” he said. The marine biology institute offers experiential learning in several forms, including through boat trips on the RV Pluteus, the existing research vessel built in 1973. On the boat, students learn about oceanographic sampling methods using dredges and trawls and experience close-up encounters with deeper-dwelling sea life that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to see. The electrical and engine systems on the Pluteus are reaching the end of their lives as safe and reliable components for sailing on open waters and in challenging sea conditions. The vessel also is too small to carry most of the UO’s classes for trips outside the bay.  A new vessel would be designed and fabricated in Oregon, and if SB 255 passes, the state investment will be matched by philanthropic support. The bill is sponsored by coastal legislators, including Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay; Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Roseburg; Rep. Caddy McKeown, D-Coos Bay; Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford; and Rep. David Gomberg, D-Central Coast. The measure moves next to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means for consideration.

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  • Bill would expand the UO's Oregon Research Schools Network

    First published in Around the O, a bill that would expand a UO College of Education pilot program focused on improving high school graduation rates is currently moving through the Oregon Legislature. Senate Bill 739 would provide funding to extend to additional high schools the Oregon Research Schools Network, a College of Education program that strives to improve high school graduation rates through collaborative partnerships between UO faculty members and teachers in the high schools. The bill is sponsored by Coos Bay Democratic Sen. Arnie Roblan, a UO graduate and former high school principal . On March 27 the bill moved out of the Senate Education Committee and on to the Joint Committee on Student Success. Roblan first learned about the network when College of Education Dean Randy Kamphaus spoke at the Oregon Coastal Caucus last August. Since then the senator and his colleagues on the legislature’s Joint Committee on Student Success visited Coquille High School to learn more about the benefits of the program for students at one of the pilot sites. The schools network is based on the agricultural extension model, which extends service, instruction and research statewide by placing experts in the field to help improve the academic and career outcomes for Oregon’s youth. Its current five-year pilot project includes placing faculty members in North Eugene High School, Roosevelt High School in Portland, Pendleton High School and Coquille High School.  Senate Bill 739 seeks $2.5 million to grow the model and extend it to six additional districts across Oregon, serving additional high schools identified as high-need, highly impacted and geographically diverse. The college hopes the model can be sued to increase K-12 performance statewide. The pilot program will be expanded and evaluated to assess its effects on diverse high school graduation rates and better participation in and completion of post-secondary education. In addition, the funding will allow it to develop affordable scale-up strategies, including training materials on how to successfully launch an improvement model — which can be delivered online or in person — the development of a “train the trainers” approach, and a framework for how to increase university partnership opportunities. For more information, see “New COE program will help state boost high school grad rates.”

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