Latest news from the UO

  • Summary of FY18 Omnibus Bill Funding

    First published in Around the O. In mid-March, Congress passed the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill – H.R. 1625, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 – to fund the federal government until the end of the current fiscal year, ending September 30, 2018. On March 23, President Donald Trump signed the package into law. Congressional action followed a decision by Congress to lift the budget caps for FY18 and FY19, clearing obstacles to funding programs at near current levels and, in some cases, well above current levels. On balance, national higher education associations, including the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) applauded the action particularly as it related to record investment in the National Institutes of Health. Read the AAU statement here and the APLU statement here. Since passage of the Omnibus, the Trump Administration has threatened, and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has confirmed, the office will formally proposes a package of rescissions to the Omnibus to Congress. The Budget Act of 1974 allows the president to submit a rescission resolution to Congress - within 45 days after a spending law has passed - identifying appropriations the president does not want to spend. Multiple appropriations rescissions can be provided to Congress in a single request and Congress may approve all, some, or none of the President's request. It is unusual for a president submit such a package of spending cuts after passage of a budget with his own party in control of Congress. Which funds may be proposed for rescissions and prospects for congressional approval are both unclear. FY18 agency round-up: Financial Aid Congress continues to prioritize student aid. The omnibus funds the Pell Grant program at $22.475 billion and in combination with mandatory funding the maximum award is raised to $6,095 (+$175) for the 2018-19 school year. • Federal Work Study (FWS) is funded at $1.13 billion, a $140 million, or 14.1 percent increase above FY17. • Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) is funded at $840 million, a $107 million, or 14.6 percent increase over FY17. • Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) is funded at $23 million, reflecting a $5 million or 18 percent cut below FY17. FY18 funding for federal agencies and programs of interest to the UO and other research universities includes the following. National Institutes of Health (NIH): The omnibus provides funding for NIH at $37.084 billion, an increase of $3 billion, or 8.8 percent, above the FY17 level. This figure includes $496 million from the 21st Century Cures Act. The agreement also directs NIH to delay enforcement of the clinical trials expansion, maintains the salary cap at Executive Level II, and does not contain any riders limiting access to scientific materials. Report language also states that NIH cannot depart from its current method of negotiating facilities and administrative payment rates. Department of Education (ED): Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is funded at $613.5 million, an $8 million, or 1.4 percent increase above FY17.  International Education and Foreign Language Studies (Title VI) is funded at $72 million, the same level as FY17. National Science Foundation (NSF): The omnibus provides $7.8 billion for NSF, an increase of $295 million, or 4 percent, above the FY17 funding level. The Research and Related Activities Directorate receives an appropriation of $6.33 billion, which is an increase of $301 million over FY17. The Education and Human Resources Directorate receives $902 million, an increase of $22 million over FY17. The omnibus also includes $182.8 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction, which is a $26 million decrease from FY17. Department of Energy (DoEn): The omnibus provides $6.26 billion for the DOE Office of Science, an increase of $868 million, or 16 percent, above FY17. The measure also funds the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) at $353 million, a $47 million, or 15.5 percent, increase above FY17. National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): The omnibus provides $152.8 million for NEH, a $3 million, or 2 percent, increase above the FY17 funding level. Department of Defense (DOD): The measure includes $2.34 billion for 6.1 basic research, a $64 million, or 3 percent, increase above FY17. Army and Air Force 6.1 basic research accounts are cut 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. The bill provides funding for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at $3.1 billion, an increase of 8 percent over FY17. The omnibus also includes a $50 million rescission listed as DARPA undistributed reduction. Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI): The omnibus provides $400 million for the initiative, a $25 million, or 6.7 percent, increase above the FY17 funding level. Other Provisions of Interest: Dickey Amendment and Gun Violence Research: While appropriations language prohibits the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other Health agencies from using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control, the omnibus clarifies that “the CDC has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.”

    Read More
  • UO Portland celebrates 10 Years in the White Stag Block

    First published in Around the O on April 5th, 2018. It was more than just the start of classes this week for University of Oregon Portland. It was also a cause for celebration. Spring term marks the 10-year anniversary of the opening of the White Stag Block, the place where the university consolidated its long-standing Portland programs and began its modern vision in Oregon’s largest city. An open house to mark the occasion is Tuesday, April 17, from 4 to 7 p.m. UO Portland Academic degree programs All programs are graduate level, unless otherwise noted College of Design Architecture Historic preservation Product design (bachelor’s) Sports product design School of Journalism and Communication Multimedia journalism Strategic communication School of Law Third-year law students can opt to study in Portland Lundquist College of Business Oregon Executive MBA Sports product management While the opening of the White Stag Block gave the UO a prominent home in Old Town, the university has had a continuous presence in Portland for 135 years, dating to the opening of its law school. The UO also oversaw the medical school that eventually became Oregon Health & Science University. Academic programs in architecture, law, business and journalism, as well as student support and development offices, were located in a variety of spaces in Portland during the last half of the 20th century. Most of those programs moved to the historic White Stag Block in 2008, with the Lundquist College of Business moving across the street to 109 NW Naito in 2017. “During the last decade we’ve seen the distinctive academic programs in Portland leverage the connection to the state’s urban core,” said Jane Gordon, vice provost for Portland. “From interdisciplinary research to meaningful student mentorships with industry leaders, UO Portland provides students with critical experiential learning, while in turn providing services to the Portland region.” UO academic programs in Portland primarily focus on graduate, professional and executive coursework, along with research and projects with community partners. Other programs, such as advancement, admissions and career services, focus on strengthening the connection of UO alumni, faculty and students to Eugene. The open house is a free community event to celebrate and showcase UO Portland. The event — part of Design Week Portland — will feature aspects of UO Portland programs, such as 360 video and virtual reality demonstrations by the School of Journalism and Communication, product demonstrations by sports product management students, and a workshop on cleats by the sports product design program. The Duck will make an appearance and be available for photos with guests. “The open house is a way for us to welcome the community and feature our students and programs. We encourage alumni, friends and anyone curious about our program to attend,” Gordon said. “It’s also a chance for us to recognize all the UO’s great work from the past 10 years. The opening of the White Stag Block will be remembered as the starting point for the modern UO era in Portland.” —By Heidi Hiaasen, University Communications

    Read More
  • State grant helps expand UO Student Veterans Center services

    First published in Around the O on March 7th, 2018. A grant awarded to the University of Oregon’s Student Veterans Center by the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs will help the center expand its programs and resources.  During the 2017 session, Oregon legislators unanimously passed Senate Bill 143, which allocated $1 million to expand campus veteran resource centers at Oregon community colleges and public universities. In addition, the legislature allocated funds to hire a statewide campus veteran coordinator to provide training and technical assistance to campus veteran resource coordinators. Justine Carpenter, the UO’s director of multicultural and identity-based support services, was one of many public universities representative who testified in support of the bill. The Student Veterans Center provides support and services to more than 400 UO student veterans and family members eligible for military benefits, including the GI Bill. The $54,000 grant funds a half-time program coordinator, additional computers and technology, expanded student veteran engagement events and increased veteram welcome sessions — the center’s version of Week of Welcome — to include winter and spring terms. The grant also expands the Peer Advising Veterans Education program, which matches new veteran students on campus with experienced UO peers. “The overarching goal of the Student Veterans Center is to ensure we connect student veterans — many who are attending the UO directly after serving in the military — with support and resources that will help them be successful,” said Maria Kalnbach, coordinator of nontraditional and veteran student engagement and success. “This grant is a good step in helping us build a robust program that attracts more veterans to the UO.” Trent Goodman served in the Marine Corps as a radio communications operator; he is currently a senior majoring in cinema studies. He made a point of making connections with fellow veterans when he first arrived at the UO from Illinois and soon found a home at the Student Veterans Center. “It’s a place to take a break, decompress, get advice, use a computer and help each other with homework,” Goodman said. Now serving as the PAVE coordinator, he and his fellow peer advisors are currently reaching out to, and serving as mentors for, 100 first-year student veterans on campus in Eugene and Portland. “We share advice about the UO or about anything we’re asked,” he said. “We pride ourselves on getting answers to the questions we don’t know the answer to immediately.” The UO PAVE program is one of 38 programs on campuses across the country and is supported by a national team. It was just starting when Goodman arrived. “PAVE has grown and become more professional at the UO, especially in connecting people to resources,” Goodman said.  The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs provides statewide veterans services, including training and certification of county veteran service officers and managing appellate federal benefit claims; programs for aging veterans, including two homes for veterans; and a home loan program that provides low-interest loans for Oregon veterans. Currently, Oregon is home to approximately 325,000 veterans.

    Read More
  • Construction starts on UO's Knight Campus

    March 2, 2018 The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact began its transition from vision to reality Friday as heavy equipment started clearing the way for the ambitious project. Dozens of state and local dignitaries, university officials, faculty and staff at the groundbreaking event applauded as UO President Michael H. Schill gave workers the signal to start tearing down an existing building on what will be the site of the futuristic campus on the north side of Franklin Boulevard. “This is an important moment in the history of our university as we create a new path to success, impact and opportunity for our students and the state,” Schill said. The effort to rethink research, science education and innovation is made possible by a $500 million lead gift from Penny and Phil Knight. This game-changing initiative is specifically designed to fast-track scientific discoveries and the process of turning those discoveries into innovations that improve the quality of life for people in Oregon, the nation and beyond. UO officials also delivered news from Salem that state lawmakers had approved an additional $20 million of state bonds toward the project. The Legislature in 2017 approved $50 million in state bonds for the campus. “The magnitude of the Knight Campus’ impact is strongly tied to state support. With $70 million in state capital funding, we are ahead of where we expected to be at this time,” said Patrick Phillips, acting executive director of the Knight Campus. “We are very grateful for the state’s support of this once-in-a-generation initiative.” As part of the 2018 funding package, the UO has pledged to use Oregon-manufactured wood products — particularly cross-laminated timber — to further support the state’s economy. The university will incorporate the wood beams in many public-facing areas of the building. The first phase of the project includes a $225 million, 160,000-square-foot structure, which will be built on the north side of Franklin Boulevard between Onyx Street and Riverfront Parkway. It is slated to open in early 2020. The innovative campus stands to have economic benefits of $80 million in annual statewide economic activity. Over the next 10 years, the Knight Campus will house an estimated 30 principal researchers and their teams, generating an estimated 750 new jobs. Representatives from Hoffman Construction, the general contractor, and the architecture team of Portland-based Bora and New York-based Ennead were also on hand for the event. The groundbreaking comes a little more than 16 months after the Knight Campus announcement. The initiative will feature cutting-edge labs and open, collaborative spaces. It is expected to attract top researchers in fields new to the UO — such as bio-engineers, computational scientists and immunologists — who will join forces with established UO researchers in the life, physical and prevention sciences, as well as those in management and communications. —By Jim Murez, University Communications

    Read More
  • Rep. DeFazio gets a taste of quantum science in UO visit

    First published in Around the O on February 2nd, 2018. The importance of photonics and quantum physics was on full display Friday during a visit to campus by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio. DeFazio, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, received a primer on qubits — units of data that can exist simultaneously in two states. In explaining how scientists are trying to harness qubits by manipulating their paths, Jonathan Lavoie, a research associate in the Department of Physics, used a green laser with an intensity 70,000 times dimmer than that of a $30 laser pointer. The demonstration was done in the lab of Michael Raymer, a Philip H. Knight Professor and co-founder of the UO’s Center for Optical, Molecular and Quantum Science. Raymer hosted the DeFazio visit as part of a push by the National Photonics Initiative for a national quantum initiative. In a brief talk, Raymer noted that while the U.S. has pioneered the basic science behind photonics — the study of light and its interaction with small molecules — and quantum science, China, the United Kingdom and other nations across Europe have already committed large investments to develop quantum computing. That, he said, could challenge U.S. leadership. The U.S. needs a concerted effort by academia, government and industry, Raymer said. As part of a national investment, he said, the National Photonics Initiative recommends $500 million in new public funding over five years to be split among four top-level national labs, with each focusing on a primary objective. Each would then funnel research funds to satellite labs where scientists are pursuing related projects. Raymer, under the auspices of the National Photonics Initiative, co-authored a 2016 white paper calling for a quantum initiative that would facilitate economic growth and help the U.S. keep pace with accelerating international competition. “I appreciated this opportunity to be back on campus to hear from world-renowned physicists about the incredible potential that photonics and quantum technology have for improving the safety, longevity and security of American infrastructure,” DeFazio said. “The University of Oregon is leading the way in pushing for more quantum physics research that will produce the transformative technologies of tomorrow. I’m excited by this effort and the research being done here to advance this promising field.” Raymer described three pillars that underlie quantum science: computing capabilities that could lead to improved designer molecules, machine-learning and artificial intelligence; communications featuring enhanced data encryption for security; and sensing capacities that could benefit such things as biomedical imaging, GPS-free navigation and gravity measurements. A public investment, Raymer said, would allow U.S. scientists to advance the technology to a level where it would be adopted for development by industry, following a path similar to the internet. Continued investment in photonics, which is at the heart of quantum science, would lead to advancements for the infrastructure of the nation’s transportation system. After Raymer’s talk, 2012 Nobel laureate David Wineland, who recently joined the Department of Physics as a Philip H. Knight Distinguished Research Chair, and Brian Smith, newly recruited from the University of Oxford and part of the U.K.’s quantum initiative, helped answer DeFazio’s questions. Raymer’s leadership was recognized last October by Oregon’s U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-District 1, during a hearing by the House science committee. In mid-February, Raymer will join other scientists in the National Photonics Initiative for meetings with a U.S. House working group on science and technology to help initial efforts to craft a potential budget and implementation plan for a U.S. quantum initiative. The National Photonics Initiative is a collaborative alliance among industry, academia and government. It is led by a coalition of scientific societies, including the American Physical Society, the IEEE Photonics Society, the Laser Institute of America, the Optical Society and the International Society for Optics and Photonics. “It was an honor to host alum and congressman Peter DeFazio to showcase the groundbreaking photonics and quantum physics research being done on campus that can serve to promote national security and U.S. economic and technological leadership,” Raymer said. “We are thankful for all Rep. DeFazio has done in support of academia, research and science in Congress, and we look forward to working with him to advance the next generation of science and technology infrastructure through efforts like a national quantum initiative.” —By Jim Barlow, University Communications

    Read More