Latest news from the UO

  • UO achieves key goals in legislative session

    UO achieves key goals in 2018 legislative session   The 2018 Oregon Legislature adjourned Saturday, March 3. In a session marked by conversations about climate change and the passage of a bill restricting gun sales in the wake of the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, The University of Oregon achieved some wins on key priorities, and received half of the funding requested for the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. Lawmakers protected universities from cuts to operating budgets, ensured DREAMers can continue to qualify for in-state tuition even in the face of federal inaction on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and allocated another $20 million in bonding authority for the Knight. “This takes us further to making sure the dream becomes a reality,” said President Michael Schill. “We are really grateful to the legislature, the governor who pushed this, and we are grateful to our local legislators for their support.” Aside from budgets and bonding, the Legislature approved several measures that will impact UO: HB 4035 – Requires the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) provide full resident tuition assistance at community colleges and public universities for qualifying members of the Oregon National Guard. HB 4053 – Aims to better understand how well accelerated credit programs like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate requirements are working for Oregon students. HB 4063 – Creates a task force on public policy related to autonomous vehicles and specifies a place for a representative from a public university on task force. HB 4141 – Creates new statutory provisions around the campus process for tuition-setting. The bill ensures public university students have the opportunities for education and engagement in every step of the process. UO is already implementing most of the new requirements, including the formation of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board, publicly posting meetings and materials, and providing opportunities for public comment and feedback. SB 1554 – Ensures that an individual or family’s contribution to a 529 Oregon College Savings Plan does not count toward determining eligibility to receive assistance or benefits like food stamps. SB 1557 – Protects university students who serve in the military by allowing them to complete missing assignments or exams in accordance with university policies if they are called to duty. SB 1563 – Ensures that undocumented students can continue to qualify for tuition equity in Oregon and can legally receive scholarships and financial aid.  SB 1566 – Takes the first steps toward addressing Oregon’s PERS unfunded liability by establishing a state matching fund for employers to contribute to in order to pay down their own outstanding liability.

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  • UO 2020: Fast Forward

    Originally published in Around the O on July 6, 2018. It’s not easy to transform an institution. Buildings and traditions date back more than a century. There are a thousand moving parts to recalibrate—programs, people, priorities. How does a 142-year-old university move boldly into the future while retaining the best of all that has been accomplished? This is the comprehensive shift happening now at the University of Oregon—an evolution that will be as visible in the institution’s academic offerings as it is in the campus architecture. New buildings, new programs, new opportunities for researchers, students, and athletes, all anchored in a steadfast foundation. The transformation is rooted in that which distinguishes the UO: innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurial spirit, and philanthropy—nearly $2 billion in support in the current campaign. Change will arrive in 2020, when the university touts the first phase of an unprecedented, $1 billion science-and-education campus; a reimagined Hayward Field that connects the legends of the past to champions of the years ahead; a campus-wide initiative to tap the exponential growth of data in our lives; and an ever-changing generation of students whose strength lies in their diversity. These are just four of the paradigm-shifting changes that will remake the face of the institution, exemplars of the transformation that will characterize a new day—the University of Oregon, 2.0. In a speech last spring unveiling the new Hayward Field, President Michael Schill issued a call to action that captures the moment: “The message for every student, every faculty and staff member, and every alumnus is clear: Don’t come to the University of Oregon to be the best in town. Don’t come to be the best in the state or even in the country. You come to the University of Oregon to be the best in the world.” Growing, and Growing More Diverse Roger Thompson is excited about the future. It’s not just that fewer Ducks are graduating with debt (and less of it) than their peers nationwide—the vice president for Student Services and Enrollment Management has witnessed only upward trends since joining the UO in 2010: growth in student population and academic quality and, above all, growth in diversity. The class of 2017 was the most ethnically diverse in the university’s history, a trend that has continued for eight years running. There are more first-generation college students and a better mix of those from urban and rural areas. “The University of Oregon has become more diverse, both in terms of race and ethnicity, as well as a socioeconomic standpoint,” says Thompson. “We’ve also become more diverse from a geographic standpoint. We now have all 50 states represented at the UO, as well as about 100 countries from around the world. In every way that you can define diversity, our student body is becoming more diverse.” The growth results from the effort to make the UO more of a national, even international school, than a West Coast destination. Thompson points out that the university is now more diverse than the state in which it resides. “Our goal as a university is to prepare people to compete in a 21st- century global economy,” says Thompson. “The more we can expose students to students who are different than them, have a different worldview, give them the chance to live, learn, recreate, with students who come from outside of the US, the more it will help all of them to prepare for a world that’s becoming very small in many ways.” The Changing Face of the UO Student 2000 2017 Student population 17,843 22,980 GPA for entering freshmen 3.40 3.55 Percentage of ethnic minorities 12.8% 26.8% Percentage of international students 7.7% 11.8% Countries represented 84 95 Accelerating Science Education and Research In 2020, an ambitious $1 billion effort to transform science education and research will come to life: the opening of the first building on the University of Oregon’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. An important milestone will be reached this summer when Robert Guldberg starts work as vice president and executive director of the initiative, made possible with a $500 million gift from the Knights. As a scientist and entrepreneur, Guldberg has completed research that has led to startup companies and new medical innovations that are now impacting patient care. Guldberg, who currently leads the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology, brings a multifaceted background that dovetails well with the roots of the Knight Campus, which grew out of the UO’s decades-long interdisciplinary culture. Continuing this tradition, the campus will become an integration point where people and ideas come together, a place where biologists, human physiologists, chemists, and bioengineers work on effective diagnostics, therapies, and interventions to treat cancer, degenerative diseases, and traumatic injuries. These points of integration help “complete the innovation cycle,” Guldberg says, and will be fostered by new partnerships. His own experience with Oregon Health and Science University and the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine serves as a prime example. Guldberg and his OHSU collaborator, Dr. Kenton Gregory, have led a national consortium of projects on treating severe extremity trauma—injuries to bone, muscle, blood vessels, and nerves. The consortium is developing numerous innovative regenerative therapies, some of which are now in clinical trials. Guldberg’s research is focused on complex bone injuries and his most recent work suggests that monitoring circulating immune cells in the blood may allow clinicians to predict which patients will heal well and which will have complications. As the Knight Campus takes shape, the partnership between UO and OHSU will deepen. UO students will have access to the clinical perspective of a medical school and OHSU students will be able to explore computational science, core life-science areas like biology and chemistry, and entrepreneurial education offered by a comprehensive research university. Entrepreneurship is key to understanding how scientific inquiry will be practiced at the Knight Campus. Guldberg describes it as building on the UO’s strong foundation of life and physical sciences by integrating applied scientists, biomedical engineers, and those with entrepreneurial experience. Says Guldberg: “Instead of starting with a fundamental question, like how does a cell work, you might start with a fundamental problem, such as how do we cost-effectively make cells, [thereby] creating a shorter path toward translation into a commercial product or a new therapy for patients.” Starting with a market or clinical need requires educational resources as well as a cultural shift. The Knight Campus will offer both, with new degree programs, including those in bioengineering and applied science, and opportunities for undergraduate research. It will also provide an economic impact to the state of Oregon, through the development of technology and startup companies. “This, in my view, is going to make the UO one of the premier places in the nation that people identify when they think of institutions that are effectively translating research into real-world impact,” Guldberg says. Making Sense of Big Data We are swimming in data. Many more of our actions—and interactions—are now recorded and measured. From our online shopping to our Facebook “likes,” from tracking the weather to tracking our daily steps, today’s technology captures mind-boggling amounts of data at the speed of light. Advanced algorithms and computers are helping analyze these data to see patterns and help us make decisions in ways never before possible. This is the era of “big data,” and it touches every corner of academia, as well: institutions are being separated into those that capitalize on the vast potential of the analysis of big data, and those that don’t.   The UO is squarely in the former group, with a plan to become a leader in “data science”—the analysis and use of big data. Under the Presidential Initiative in Data Science—a novel effort in UO history to connect every school and college under one academic idea—funding and other support will go to faculty across campus for education, training, and coordinated research in data science. Researchers and students across campus will be supported through this initiative to create new training opportunities and new interdisciplinary research projects. By building an onramp to the superhighway of big data—both figuratively and through the hardware and software that improve connectivity—UO scientists and students will crunch numbers faster and more economically. Research projects that once were laborious and resource-heavy will move to supercomputers that run the same tests digitally, eliminating costs and saving time. Students in disciplines as different as business and biology will collaborate and will be trained in techniques that will prepare them for the skyrocketing number of new jobs using data science in these and many other fields. In effect, the UO will become an intellectual center for tackling some of the world’s most pressing questions. Consider Leslie Leve, a professor in the College of Education who specializes in child development. Leve is examining how a wide swath of environmental and biological factors influence child health and obesity. Historically, that meant the use of questionnaires and interviews to understand issues in the home or at school. Today, Leve can tap large amounts of data across disciplines. She is collaborating with biologist Bill Cresko, director of the data science initiative, and fellow biologist Brendan Bohannan to use gut and skin microbiome samples to examine how genetics and biology influence child development; she is also working with geographers who use geocoding to identify geographic factors such as access to healthy food and clean water. “When we blend expertise across disciplines and merge data science with more traditional methods, we can really elevate our research and deepen our understanding of these issues,” Leve says. For centuries, liberal-arts schools have sought to provide students with the broadest education possible to help them succeed in the world. That world is changing rapidly. Says Cresko: “In many ways the 21st century requires the expansion of that liberal-arts education to involve computation, to involve data science. Our long history of being an interdisciplinary liberal-arts research university positions us well to be a leader in this revolution.” Welcoming the Worlds “It will mean that we’ve grown up,” Ellen Schmidt-Devlin says, when asked what the new Hayward Field will mean for her. The cofounder and director of the UO’s Sports Product Management Program speaks with authority. She ran at Hayward from 1976 to 1979, was mentored by renowned coach Bill Bowerman, is an AIAW All-American and number six on UO’s all-time outdoor mile list, and spent almost three decades leading divisions for Nike. When it opens in 2020, the new Hayward Field, made possible by Phil and Penny Knight and others, will enable the UO to recruit Oregon’s top athletes and those from across the world, Schmidt-Devlin says, as students and competitors at international events. Hayward will set world-class standards, becoming an optimal experience for both athlete and spectator, with permanent seating for more than 12,000 and a capacity that will top out at nearly 30,000 for special events. In 2021, one of the largest worldwide television audiences for the year will be trained on the IAAF World Outdoor Championships; nearly 1 billion viewers will behold the UO, and its new Hayward Field. “What will make this stadium particularly special in the world of track and field is that, unlike almost all the other major track venues worldwide, it is specifically designed for that sport only,” says Jim Petsche, project manager. “That keeps the athletes close to the spectators, and spectators close to the athletes, making for a more exciting experience for both.” The stadium will join the science evolution at the UO when the Department of Human Physiology moves to the northwest corner of the practice level. The department will enjoy new offices, conference rooms, and research and lab areas, including a roll-up door to the 140-meter indoor straightaway, allowing students and researchers close proximity to the athletes they study. The new facilities will support research in biomechanics, drawing the best scientists and pairing them with the best track-and-field athletes. An indoor, state-of-the-art training center will serve student-athletes. Schmidt-Devlin believes science leads to business innovations, and in this way Hayward will, like the Knight Campus, also lead an entrepreneurial tack. “We are the Silicon Valley of the sports and outdoor industry here in Oregon,” she says. “We own it. The state of Oregon can continue to lead. Our facilities need to follow.” A century of history is palpable at Hayward, where 20 world records were set. The new stadium will pay homage to the past through exhibits and displays housed in the field’s 165-foot-tall landmark tower and adjacent museum that will honor the history of the venue and the people who coached and competed here. Those who have experienced the roar of the crowd at the historic Hayward will never forget it, but the Hayward Field of 2020 will set new records if athletes worldwide dream of competing there, if our understanding of physiology is transformed, if new sports products revolutionize the industry. “In the end, we had to do just exactly as Bowerman coached his athletes with runners on their tail,” says Petsche: “Don’t look back, look ahead.” —By Tara Rae Miner Tara Rae Miner, BA ’96 (English), is a freelance writer and editor in Portland. She has finished two Eugene marathons at Hayward Field. Going Up The Knight Campus, Hayward Field, a data science initiative, and shifting student demographics are just four indicators of growth at the UO. Other efforts affirming the university’s rise: To assist in raising the four-year graduation rate by 10 percent by 2020, the UO will nearly double the number of professional advisors on campus and has adopted a data-driven advising platform that helps advisors and students collaborate to achieve graduation goals. The School of Journalism and Communication launched the Media Center for Science and Technology to research ways to convey scientific concepts, train students for the high-tech storytelling careers of the future, and enhance public understanding of science and technology. The Urbanism Next Center, supported by the Presidential Fund for Excellence, is working with US cities and is leading research examining the impacts of autonomous vehicles, ecommerce, and the sharing economy. The UO—collaborating with OSU, OHSU, PSU and the state—joined the Oregon Fiber Partnership, to build and operate a statewide optical network to advance research and innovation, education, healthcare, government services, and broadband development for all Oregonians. Online education: The UO will hire a first-ever associate vice provost for online and distance education to guide online- and distance-education strategy. Through new hires, the Prevention Science Institute, based in the College of Education, is expanding research into the genetic nature of obesity. Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, a $39 million hub for the College of Arts and Sciences opening in 2019, will be home to a new paradigm of integrated career and academic advising, serving all first-year students across campus. Chapman Hall, academic home of the Clark Honors College, underwent a $10.5 million renovation to create cutting-edge, high-tech classrooms and improve other learning and collaboration spaces. The $2.2 million Black Cultural Center, slated to open in fall 2019, will accommodate studying, student meetings, and more while showcasing cultural pieces and artwork that celebrate Black heritage. Renovations continue on Pacific Hall, the UO’s original science building, to add modern labs, enable the recruitment of new faculty, and expand research opportunities for undergraduates.

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  • UO researcher influences federal quantum physics legislation

    Originally published in Around the O on July 4, 2018. A call to action by a UO professor has helped catalyze bipartisan legislation recently introduced in Washington, D.C. Physics professor Michael Raymer and University of Maryland physicist Christopher Monroe authored proposals for a National Quantum Initiative that is the basis for federal legislation introduced this week. The National Quantum Initiative Act will establish a comprehensive national program to accelerate research and technology development in this emerging area. Its goals are to advance the country’s economy and national security by securing the United States’ position as the global leader in quantum information science. “It’s vital for the U.S. to move into a national quantum science and technology program with a unified vision and approach, with the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Department of Energy working collaboratively as equal partners under the leadership of a national coordinating committee,” Raymer said. The legislation calls for an investment up to $1.27 billion over five years. It would create a number of focused research and education centers around the country to advance quantum information science and technology and help create a workforce in this new area, Raymer said. The goal of quantum information research is to use the physical laws that apply to elementary particles of nature to revolutionize how information is stored, processed, communicated and retrieved. If successful, it could produce computers that store vastly larger amounts of data and carry out more complex calculations than today’s semiconductor-chip-based computers. And quantum computers would be impossible to hack, Raymer said. Quantum information science is an area of growing research expertise at the UO. In addition to Raymer, the university’s quantum information researchers include 2012 Nobel laureate David Wineland, who recently joined the Department of Physics as a Philip H. Knight Distinguished Research Chair; Brian Smith, newly recruited from the University of Oxford and part of the U.K.’s quantum initiative; Hailin Wang, who holds the Alec and Kay Keith Chair in Physics; and Steven van Enk, director of the Oregon Center for Optical, Molecular and Quantum Science. The House bill, H.R. 6227, was introduced June 26 and immediately referred to the House Science Committee for mark-up the next day. The bill advanced with unanimous bipartisan support.     On the Senate side, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation also introduced National Quantum Initiative legislation. The Senate is expected to consider the legislation sometime later this summer. Raymer noted that the National Photonics Initiative has led the advocacy effort for the National Quantum Initiative. The National Photonics Initiative is a collaborative alliance among industry and academia and raises awareness of the impact of photonics — the application of light — on the economy and on everyday life. This isn’t the first time Raymer’s work has been recognized by a member of Congress. In October 2017 U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, an Oregon Democrat, recognized Raymer’s work on the National Quantum Initiative during a hearing of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. In addition, in February Raymer hosted a visit by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, another Oregon Democrat and UO alumnus, to share groundbreaking photonics and quantum physics research being done by UO faculty members.

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  • Martha Walters Sworn In

    First published in the The Oregonian/OregonLive on July 2nd, By Lydia Gerike. For the first time in history, a woman is leading the Oregon Supreme Court. Martha L. Walters, 67, was sworn in Monday as chief justice and will preside over the seven-member court for the next six years. "It's just wonderful to have the support of so many people and the opportunity to serve," Walters said. After graduating from University of Oregon School of Law in 1977, Walters worked as a lawyer in Eugene and built up a specialty in employment law, according to the Multnomah Bar Association website. She was part of the legal team that won a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court case on behalf of professional golfer Casey Martin, who sued the PGA Tour over its requirement that players must walk during tournament play. The court ruled that Martin, whose circulatory disorder made it difficult for him to walk, was protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and must be allowed to use a golf cart. Though she has spent years on the bench, Walters said her time as a lawyer has prepared her to make sure the people of Oregon are being properly served by the courts. "I know ... how important it is to have someone listen to them," Walters said. She said she plans to use her new role to ensure Oregonians have access to a fair and impartial justice system. "We are at the forefront of the problems the people in our society face," Walters said. Walters was elected by her fellow justices to succeed Thomas Balmer, who has served on the court since 2001 and will remain on the bench. "She's enthusiastic and smart and hardworking, and I think she has a terrific skill set to serve as chief justice," Balmer said. It is well past time for Oregon to have a female chief justice, Balmer said, noting there were no other women justices when Walters joined the court in 2006. Now there are five. "She will set a high bar for the next chief justice, whether it's a man or woman, because she will do a great job." Walters sees her role as chief justice as a chance to help change the norms of gender in government. The year she graduated law school, Betty Roberts became the first woman appointed to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Roberts went on to become the first woman on the Oregon Supreme Court in 1982. Walters said she looked up to Roberts and knows she may now become part of the dream of other women who wish to follow in her career path. "You're just an infinitesimal part of the cosmos, but just being able to be that part is a pretty special thing," Walters said.  

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  • UO's Urbanism Next research is featured in Capitol Hill briefing

    June 27, 2018 - 5:00am First published in around the O. Few American cities are prepared for the changes already taking place because of rapid shifts in transit and technology, a UO professor said at a recent briefing for lawmakers in Washington, D.C. Architecture professor Nico Larco, who also directs the UO’s Urbanism Next Center, discussed the potential collateral effects of autonomous vehicles and other transportation changes at the Capitol Hill briefing. The briefing was arranged by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat and a longtime advocate for livable communities, who kicked it off with introductory remarks. Larco’s research centers on how changes in technology are reshaping the ways people “live, move and spend our time in cities,” according to the Urbanism Next blog. The research doesn’t address only city infrastructure needs once autonomous vehicles arrive but also secondary effects. Those include changes to retail business, city design and revenues, transit, and current planning and policies. “Most cities are unprepared for the impacts of new types of mobility,” Larco said. Even with bus ridership already diminishing due to the increased use of ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber, the conversations between the federal government and cities aren’t happening, he added. “Bus ridership in big cities is dropping, car ownership is dropping. What are governments doing to get ahead of this problem?” Larco asked. “Cities, states and federal governments are mostly focused on how to get autonomous vehicles on the road and are not thinking systemically at all. They are fixated on the technology itself.” During the briefing he presented new research, focusing on the positive and negative secondary effects of autonomous vehicles and new mobility in addition to proposing approaches to the technology Congress can use to shape cities of the future. “I talked about Urbanism Next work and focused on federal, state and local regulatory needs,” Larco said. “We had a great list of attendees, including people from a number of congressional offices as well as research entities from around D.C.”  After the briefing, Larco met with staff members from Blumenauer’s office and the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to discuss federal policy initiatives that could help communities prepare for changes. The staff of U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the top Democrat on the committee, arranged to hold the briefing in the committee’s hearing room. Larco also discussed his research and possible urban changes with Washington, D.C., city leaders, speaking with 30-40 people about the effects of emerging technology on cities and how Washington should be preparing for the coming shift. The group included the directors of the city’s planning, transportation, and energy and environment departments and several chiefs of staff from the mayor’s office.   Larco, who was recently featured in Wired magazine in a story about the effects of autonomous vehicles on municipal budgets, also gave a June 21 TEDx Talk in College Park, Maryland, just outside Washington. Entitled “How Will Autonomous Vehicles Transform Our Cities?” the talk was a chance to “pull back the curtain to preview how autonomous vehicles will shape the future planning of our parks, cities and life as we know it.”  Afterward, Larco said he’s enthusiastic about sharing Urbanism Next’s research and using it to plan for shifting city landscapes. “There is a growing awareness and interest in the serious impacts emerging technologies are going to be having on cities,” he said. “This series of meetings and presentations in D.C. was a great example of how Urbanism Next and the University of Oregon are shaping the conversation with the federal government, cities and the general public.” —By Laurie Notaro, University Communications

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  • President's year-end message cites progress and work remaining

    First published in around the O on June 13th 2018. UO President Michael H. Schill sent the following message to the campus community June 13: Dear University of Oregon community members, As we close out the 2017-18 academic year, I offer my warm congratulations to all of our graduates. I also want to thank everyone—faculty, advisors, graduate instructors and researchers, and staff—who helped our graduates reach the finish line. I look forward to standing in Matthew Knight Arena and watching those caps fly, as the class of 2018 prepares to take flight. Together, we accomplished quite a bit this year. We took big leaps forward in advancing our academic enterprise: we broke ground on the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact and hired a permanent executive director to lead this extraordinary effort to further the mission of science in the service of society; we invested in promising new academic programs—from data science and science media to embedding education researchers in high schools—and we continued to hire and invest in world-class scholars in fields such as obesity prevention, Black studies, anthropology, and volcanology to name a few. It is fitting that the year was bookended at the start by the groundbreaking for Tykeson Hall and at the end by the announcement that we will hire two dozen new advisors to work in that same building when it opens in 2019 as part of our new expansion and integration of academic and career counseling. I am incredibly excited to join with the College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Studies, and Student Life in an initiative that will support student success from the moment they step foot on campus to the time students leave and beyond. There is nothing more important. As someone who will probably go down in history as the least athletic University of Oregon president, I joined with many of you in cheering on the achievements of our scholar-athletes, both on the field and off. In particular, I was thrilled and inspired by our Pac-12 champion softball and women’s basketball teams who demonstrated the very best in intercollegiate athletics time and time again. I also enjoyed watching our students excel in activities as varied as producing art, making music, and acting. For our university to soar we need to become more diverse and inclusive. Toward that end, over the course of the past year every school, college, and administrative unit created Diversity Action Plans in their corner of campus. We opened a new Native American academic residential community, announced that we would build a Black Cultural Center, and redoubled efforts to recruit and support underrepresented students, all of which was on display during last week’s Showcase Oregon. Like most universities across the United States, we experienced tension between the rights and values of free expression and the need to create a safe and inclusive environment on an increasingly diverse campus. With few exceptions, these tensions were resolved in a way that should make us proud. We also held robust discussions from a variety of perspectives and disciplines during our Freedom of Expression Event series that explored our differences and commonalities. As I wrap up my third year as president, I have been reflecting on what I’ve learned about our students and this paragraph is specifically addressed to them. You are impressive, brilliant, passionate, and entrepreneurial. While the vast majority of you love being part of our UO community, some of you feel marginalized and unsafe on our campus. Some of you do not feel heard or supported, or fear speaking up for what you need or believe. I am reminded that we, as an institution, and I, personally, need to listen more, engage with you in a more supportive way, and strive to better understand all perspectives and needs. This will be a priority for me and everyone on our campus going forward. I want all of you—every student and every member of our campus community—to benefit from the amazing wave of success our university is riding. We have some of the greatest minds solving big problems—from protecting our earth and making our bodies work better to creating new products and advocating for justice. We are making a difference, making the world more beautiful and interesting, and preparing a generation of leaders. We are, in short, part of something really special here at the University of Oregon. I am proud to be your president. Thank you for a wonderful academic year. Enjoy the summer. Sincerely, Michael H. SchillPresident and Professor of Law

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  • Hiring a Diversity Officer Is Only the First Step. Here Are the Next

    First published by Martin León Barreto for The Chronicle. Hiring a Diversity Officer Is Only the First Step. Here Are the Next 7. By Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh  In today’s season of #MeToo, Dreamers, Black Lives Matter movements, and radical-right backlash, colleges are adding chief diversity officers to the list of essential employees. However, hiring a skilled diversity professional is just the first step. To be most effective, chancellors, presidents, and provosts must join with diversity officers to build campus environments where equity, inclusion, and diversity become a part of everyday campus life. Otherwise, they are only setting up their chief diversity officers — and their institutions — for failure. I hope the following strategies will help college leaders better position their diversity officers for success: Go first. It’s unreasonable to hold others accountable for diversity when your own staffers look just like you. So if you want more diversity on your campus, start by diversifying your own staff at the highest levels and treating its members with respect. If you do that, others are more likely to follow, and your campus will be better for it. Manage expectations. When it comes to chief diversity officers, there are almost as many expectations as there are constituencies. Don’t assume that everyone knows what the chief diversity officer’s duties are. Develop a good relationship with the officer as a basis for establishing ground rules and a mutually agreed upon agenda to promote a culture of equity and inclusion. Then, make that agenda clear and accessible. It should include the scope of the officer’s responsibilities and a reasonable timeline for achieving benchmarks. Communicate the diversity officer’s work broadly and frequently through routine campus communications and encourage the officer to push back when the scope of duties is inappropriately constrained or expanded by others. Develop meaningful measures of success. Just as chancellors, presidents, and provosts are assessed by standards that are linked to campus success, it is important to develop objective measures of performance for chief diversity officers. Those standards should be aligned with campus strategy and designed to provide incentives for faculty, staff, and students. After adopting the necessary structures and processes, assess the diversity officer’s role in working with others to create a more diverse culture, promoting innovations in programming and policies, and providing support for underrepresented people on campus. Additional guidance is available through the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, the pre-eminent voice for best practices, standards of professions, and programming in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Engage faculty members. Faculty members are often among the most powerful constituents on campus. They virtually own the curriculum, and, with students and staff, they produce the knowledge upon which many campus rankings are based. They share responsibility for guiding various aspects of campus policies and governing processes; therefore, any sustainable change in diversity requires the cooperation and support of the faculty. Fix systems, not people. For decades, well-meaning college leaders have invested money in programs aimed at "fixing" and "orienting" underrepresented faculty, staff, and students. Workshops and programs on mentoring, climate, and service are just a few. While these efforts are admirable, they focus on only one aspect of the issue. After all, when underrepresented faculty and staff leave campuses, they rarely complain about a lack of training or workshops; instead, they point to unchecked discrimination, harassment, and unfairness that are often part of the day-to-day campus culture. That is why the most effective way to enhance diversity is to "fix" the systems that undermine success for underrepresented groups. For example, fix the performance-review processes that are blind to issues of departmental climate so that managers, department chairs, and deans are better able to develop respectful working environments for all. Replace antiquated tenure and promotion processes that discount innovative research and teaching in favor of the status quo. Dismantle personnel processes that wink at sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and ADA violations, while penalizing underrepresented students, faculty, staff, and administrators who are trying to navigate hostile campus climates. Crippling systems have to change, but the chief diversity officer’s success in making that happen begins with the community’s recognition of these barriers and partnerships aimed at eliminating them. Provide adequate support. Effective results in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion take time and resources. Leaders must provide both for effective staffing, programming, and innovation. They should bring innovative diversity ideas to donors, who are often overlooked as a resource for endowed faculty positions, lectureships, and student spaces. And diversity offices should be in locations that signal their importance in daily campus life. In addition to money and space, access is equally valuable: Diversity officers need regular access to senior leaders for education, planning, and information sharing. LACE up. Create environments based on trust, in which the values of love, authenticity, courage, and empathy — LACE — are in full view. Here’s how: Love: Be kind in the face of spitefulness, forgiving in the midst of pain, hopeful when all seems lost, and patient with people, but not with ignorance or injustice. Authenticity: Authentic leaders have a firm grasp on their personal strengths and weaknesses. Admit your missteps and acknowledge when you are looking to others for support. In doing so, you invite others to be authentic as well, creating a more welcoming campus in the process. Courage: Acknowledge fear, but move forward anyway. When the going gets tough on the diversity front, take a stand and defend it, rather than using the chief diversity officer as a shield. Empathy: Take time to feel alongside the students, faculty, and staff that you serve. Seek to understand other perspectives, even when you disagree. Creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campuses is a transformative process. Hiring a chief diversity officer is a good first step, but without the proper infrastructure and genuine support from an institution’s top leadership, it’s little more than a doomed public-relations stunt. Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh is vice president for equity and inclusion and a professor of political science at the University of Oregon.

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  • Trustees to get closer look at academic investments, funding

    First published in Around the O on June 5th 2018. The Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon will take a deep dive into how the university invests in academics during the regular spring meeting, June 7-8. The Academic and Student Affairs Committee will hear details on the recently unveiled 2019 Institutional Hiring Plan that authorizes 56 searches for faculty members across a variety of disciplines. According to Jayanth Banavar, provost and senior vice president, the plan is not only a reflection of the president and provost’s priorities for the university but also each dean’s academic vision. The plan also includes prospects for collaboration and synergy among schools and colleges that emerged during the dean and faculty group discussions. It is intended to be a continuation of efforts to hire tenure-track faculty who will enhance the UO’s scholarly profile and academic excellence and who will share a commitment to student success. Banavar will later talk with the Finance and Facilities Committee on the new academic allocation model, in which each school or college is given a single operating allocation for the fiscal year based on a number of core components. The model will make schools and colleges responsible for creating an internal, balanced budget based on its operating allocation. Previously, the university followed an activity-based budget model, primarily driven by student activity such as student credit hours, the location of enrolled majors and graduate students, and earned degrees. In addition to academic-specific funding, the trustees will consider a proposed fiscal year 2019 budget and related expenditures. The expenditure proposal includes more than $1 billion in operating expenses and $183 million in capital expenses. Other items under discussion by trustees: Student success initiatives. Presidential initiative in data science. University Housing capital plan. Student conduct code revisions. Transform IT implementation. Full agendas and board materials are available at https://trustees.uoregon.edu/node/26. Committee meetings begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, June 7, and the full board begins at 9 a.m. Friday, June 8, all in the Guistina Ballroom in the Ford Alumni Center.

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  • Seniors from the Class of 2018 reflect on their years as Ducks

    June 5, 2018 - 5:00am First published in Around the O. It seems like only yesterday when the class of 2018 arrived on campus for Week of Welcome, moved into the residence halls, and ate their first Cheesy Grillers. The memories of these years will live on — the first time they wandered across the river on a fall afternoon with friends for some Autzen madness. Finding the perfect study spot and surviving first Finals week. Waking up to a blanket of snow on the ground. Coming back from spring break and finding a sun-drenched campus in bloom. These were their seasons. Along the way, they found their way, not in a straight line, but one that meandered. They discovered new places, met new friends, learned new ideas. This was the path that led to these finals days of college. Now they’re getting ready to carve a new path. They’ll be leaving behind this leafy campus and embarking on new adventures, knowing the best lies ahead. That’s why it’s called commencement — it’s the start of something, not the end. Name: Taylor Jackson Major: Business Administration with a concentration in operations and business analytics. Outside the classroom: She enjoyed mentoring for the Building Business Leaders program for two years, serving as a student ambassador for the Athletic Department, and spending 70 percent of her college career in the Lillis Business Complex. Influencers: Without a doubt, Taylor said it was the people she surrounded herself with. “The people I've met along the way inspire me to continue to push the boundaries for myself and my community." Dorm life: Taylor was appreciative of her first-year dorm experience where she roomed in the Business ARC residence hall Earl. There, she made many long-lasting friends and felt she had jump-started her career within those walls. Why she's proud to be a Duck: Taylor said she loved to see the drive all her classmates put forth to go conquer or change something out in the world, and of course she enjoyed the comradery and excitement of all the sporting events. What's next: Because of her time with the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, she snagged a job in Chicago to work for Amazon as an Associate Account Executive in their Amazon Media Group. Name: Keene Corbin Major: Geography with a minor in food studies. Outside the classroom: Served as an RA for two years, participated in Geography Club's "Map by Northwest," and worked as a teacher's assistant for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. Favorite memory: That time one of his residents ate two Big Mouth burritos in under four minutes. Did you know? Keene ran the Eugene Half Marathon three times and his favorite spot on campus is the Urban Farm. Favorite professor/instructor: In the Geography Department, Shaul Cohen, Chris Bone, and Leslie McClees, and also Harper Keeler in Landscape Architecture. Advice to his freshman self: Keene would have spent more time at Saturday Market and got more involved in Eugene community events. He recommended all students check out the Craft Center in the EMU at least once. What's next? He aspires to work for National Geographic and has applied to work for Harley-Davidson this summer as a cross-country social media influencer. Is there anything cooler than riding a motorcycle across the USA? ​​​​​ Name: Raquel Ortega Major: Advertising. If she knew then what she knows now: Raquel would tell her freshman self to surround herself with people who were doing work that she wanted to be doing. "Courage and motivation are contagious when everyone around you is working to better themselves every day." Outside the classroom: She worked with Pac-12 Networks, Oregon Athletic Department, Emerald Media Group, Allen Hall Advertising, and the Division of Equity and Inclusion. Favorite spot on campus: Raquel would sometimes wait up to 30 minutes to sit in the big chair in Erb Memorial Union to study and decompress after class. Professional highlight: Serving as an Art Director for Allen Hall Advertising and working on the Reset the Code campaign. "Seeing your work go up for everyone to see and for the chance for it to make a difference, nothing can beat that.” What’s next: This summer she travels to Seattle (for the first time!) to begin a career as Art Director Intern for the advertising agency WongDoody. The best part? The agency was founded by a UO alum — Tracy Wong! ​​​​​​ Name: Giselle Sheeran Major: Interior Architecture. Advice to her first-year self: "Relax! You're right where you need to be.” After applying for a random roommate, she was surprised to be matched with one of her best friends from high school. The match went so well that they're even planning to live with each other post-grad. What she likes about Eugene: Giselle can proudly proclaim that she went to school in the weirdest town in America. "I wouldn't trade the last five years and the friendships I've made for anything.” Favorite spot on campus: She only revealed the location to her secret spot because she's graduating. It's the perfect lunch spot, and nobody is ever there —  a little nook near the Columbia fountain nestled between the trees and Pacific Hall. What’s next: Giselle admitted she can't sit still for long and hopes to travel to many places in the next 10 years, specifically to Austin and Tokyo. In her immediate future, she hopes to land an interior design job in Portland. Name: Christopher Holloway Major: General Social Science: Applied Economics and Business. Why he’s proud to be a Duck: “Because the University of Oregon has provided me the opportunity to be the first male in my family to attend and graduate a four-year university.” Outside the classroom: He joined many groups that "promote inclusive education, diversity cultural awareness, and overall equity for Black students," such as the UO Black Student Task Force, where he was the Associate Leader for two years. Advice to his freshman self: "While I would encourage my first-year self to draw strength from my community and use it as an inspirational catalyst to explore the world, I would encourage and obligate my first-year self to keep a tethered link to my community, never forget where I came from, and use the education I will get from the UO to give back to my community and by helping underprivileged African-American youth of Northeast Portland." What's next: He will work at Nike World Headquarters as a Global Marketing Specialist Intern for Jordan Brand. He also plans to pursue concurrent degrees in Masters of Education and a Juris Doctorate degree. Name: DaHyun Kim Major: International studies with a minor in economics. Advice for fellow transfer students: Don’t get overwhelmed and recognize that Oregon is another school where they can explore and achieve great things. Did you know? DaHyun is originally from South Korea, and she had many opportunities to share her culture with the Eugene and Springfield community. Kenya connection: She also fell in love with the east African nation during college. After coming back from Kenya, DaHyun continued to learn Swahili which allowed her to maintain her cultural connection to the country. "Professor Mokaya, who teaches all Swahili course at UO, has been a great mentor in my last year of college, and he indeed played a significant role navigating my life.” Why she’s proud to be a Duck: Because of all the amazing and supportive alumni. "Shout out to all of the amazing Ducks!" What’s next: She’s interested in working for international NGOs. "I want to give back what I learned from college. I am searching for an opportunity that will ensure a chance to experience firsthand how my small contributions will impact the world.”

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