Latest news from the UO

  • UO graduate school programs rank among the nation’s best

    First published on Around the O on March 12th. U.S. News & World Report has released its 2020 rankings for the top graduate schools, and programs in the University of Oregon’s College of Education and School of Law continue to be listed among the best in the nation. The College of Education ranks No. 5 among the public institutions and 14th in the country overall for education graduate programs. The college’s special education program comes in as one of the premiere places in the nation for the category with a No. 3 ranking. It also ranks second among public institutions. The College of Education’s total funded research moved up to $49.1 million, making it the No. 7-ranked school in the nation in that category. That’s a jump from $41.1 million and a 10th-place finish last year. Three School of Law programs rank in the top 10, with the environmental law and natural resources law program jumping to No. 8 in the nation, up three slots from last year. The conflict and dispute resolution program moved up one spot to seventh overall. Legal research and writing came in ranked No. 5, down two spots from last year. “Our core mission is to foster excellence, innovation and inclusion when it comes to access for our graduate programs,” said Janet Woodruff-Borden, vice provost and dean of the UO Graduate School. “I’m excited that these rankings reflect some of the gains we are making to provide a great graduate school experience.” The law school moved up to No. 83 overall, up two slots from 85, its ranking a year ago. Several graduate programs in the College of Arts and Sciences continue to be recognized, including clinical psychology, No. 25; earth sciences, No. 31; and psychology, No. 45. UO programs in the College of Design and the Lundquist College of Business were also included among the rankings. “As a top-tiered research institution, we continue to work hard at the University of Oregon to find ways to offer the very best in graduate education” said Jayanth Banavar, provost and senior vice president. “We are proud to have these excellent academic opportunities for our graduate students recognized.” To see a complete list of the rankings, visit U.S. News & World Report’s website. —By David Austin, University Communications   https://around.uoregon.edu/content/uo-graduate-school-programs-rank-among-nations-best  

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  • Legislative Session Reports: Week 7 update; co-chair’s budget released

    Legislative Session Reports: Week 7 update; co-chair’s budget released Week seven of the Oregon legislative session ended with some important budget news. The co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means released their recommended budget for the 2019-2021 biennium. This budget, based on all current revenues projected to come into state coffers and the economic forecast, had some good news and bad news for public higher education. The good news: Overall operating funding for public universities increased by $40.5 million from the base version of the Governor’s Recommended Budget, which had kept funding completely flat for universities. Additionally, the co-chairs directed the Subcommittee on Education to review appropriate funding levels for the Sports Lottery program and all Public University State Programs. Sports Lottery was zero-ed out in the Governor’s budget. The UO receives about $1 million each biennium from that program to fund scholarships for student athletes and graduate students. The UO’s State Programs include the Labor Education Research Center, the law school’s Clinical Legal Education program, the Dispute Resolution program, and the TallWood Design Institute. Additionally, there are State Programs that all universities benefit from, including the Engineering & Technology Sustaining Fund, which funds research, innovation, and workforce development. The UO received $1,134,500 in FY19 from this program, which was eliminated in the Governor’s base budget. As the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact gets up and running and the UO continues to advance its research portfolio, we expect to continue to receive more funding from the ETSF, which is distributed through a formula. The bad news: Despite a $40.5 million increase, this funding is not nearly enough to protect students from too-high tuition increases and cuts to the University’s workforce, programs, and services. Oregon’s seven public universities need a collective $120 million increase in operating funds (which would bring the total to $857 million—still below pre-recession funding levels) in order to keep tuition increases for resident undergraduate students to less than 5%. Because of the way the state’s funding formula is set up, the UO would receive an increase of just about $200,000 in operating funds at the co-chair’s budget. Don’t forget that the Joint Committee on Ways & Means is taking their show on the road (literally) and traveling to Coos Bay, Pendleton, Redmond, and Portland over the next three weekends to hear directly from the public about the budget. If you can attend one of these hearings to testify in support of higher education funding or hold signs supporting universities and colleges, click here for more information. In other news: Aside from budget news, the Capitol was busy this week. Wednesday was a solemn day with the state funeral for Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, who passed away of brain cancer last week. We are grateful to Secretary Richardson for his decades of service to the people of Oregon. The Legislature continues to debate important public policy that would impact the UO, including: Accelerated credit (SB 800) Campus safety Regulation of athlete agents (SB 686) Regional Accelerator Innovation Networks and a state matching fund for federal research grants universities’ apply for (SB 418 & HB 5524) Common Applications (SB 624) Hazing policies at universities (HB 2519) Funding for veteran’s services on college campuses (SB 35) And more!

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  • Bill would help cities take part in UO sustainability program

    First published in Around the O on March 8th 2019. A bill making its way through the Oregon Legislature would help more cities take part in the UO’s Sustainable City Year Program by creating a new state matching fund. House Bill 2594 would put $300,000 in the fund to help cities, particularly smaller communities in rural areas of the state, that otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in the sustainability program. Sustainable City Year pairs cities with students and faculty members in the College of Design, College of Business, School of Journalism and Communication, School of Law, and the College of Arts and Sciences for a large-scale, intensive, year-long partnership to tangibly move forward on paths toward a more sustainable future. “Many Oregon communities, especially those in rural areas, could benefit from a partnership with SCYP but cannot fully afford to participate,” said Marc Schlossberg, professor of city and regional planning and co-director of the Sustainable Cities Institute. “SCYP partners must meet several standards, including buy-in from local political leadership and staff, interest in a range of community improvement issues, and having financial skin in the game.” The House Education Committee held its first public hearing on the bill Feb. 25. Committee members will now decide whether to hold a work session on the bill before sending it to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, which reviews all budget requests. The bill is sponsored by state Reps. Julie Fahey, a Eugene Democrat, and Marty Wilde, a Democrat representing portions of Lane and Douglas counties.   The Sustainable City Year Program “directly connects students and cities, allowing students to learn and cities to improve,” Wilde said during the public hearing. “Students study the city and find ways it can improve in terms of sustainability. Cities benefit from the added capacity and new perspective. Students benefit from the real-world experience they can apply beyond college.” Each year, the program works in a different community and matches community-identified project ideas with up to 35 university courses, more than 20 faculty members and 500 students across more than 12 disciplines giving 40,000 hours of effort. Developed in 2009, the model has been adopted by more than 25 other universities across the United States and is being disseminated globally with the help of the United Nations. To date, the Sustainable City Year Program has worked with the cities of Gresham, Salem, Springfield, Medford, Redmond and Albany. Last year it piloted two new expansions of its model, including partnering with Portland transit agency TriMet on its proposed 12-mile Southwest Corridor light rail project and with a smaller Oregon city, La Pine. “We were very impressed by the both the quantity and quality of the work produced,” said Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa. “Student recommendations have subsequently been incorporated into plans for our parks system and the Albany waterfront, the parks and recreation department’s business practices, community engagement objectives and other city activities. By increasing our capacity and bringing in fresh ideas, student efforts helped save the city money and make more informed decisions about some of Albany’s significant challenges.”   https://around.uoregon.edu/content/bill-would-help-cities-take-part-uo-sustainability-program

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

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

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  • Meet the ocean creatures that use a mesh of mucus to catch their food

    First published on theconversatoin.com on May 2nd 2019. All animals must eat to survive. If you’ve heard the term “grazer” before, it may bring to mind familiar farm animals, such as cows or sheep munching on pastureland. But the ocean has its own suite of grazers, with very different — even bizarre — body forms and feeding techniques. Instead of teeth, one group of these invertebrates uses sheets of mucus to consume huge quantities of tiny plant-like particles. In our new paper, my colleagues and I suggest a new categorization for this overlooked group: “mucous-mesh grazers,” in recognition of their unusual feeding strategy. Unlike the mucus in our noses, which appears amorphous and blobby, the mucous sheets of these ocean grazers can be structured into ornate meshes and nets. These mucous sheets can function like a filter to ensnare food as small as bacteria. The grazers themselves are mammoth in comparison: up to 10,000 times bigger than their food. If people ate food that small, you’d be picking salt and sugar grains off your dinner plate. Marine biologists like me used to think mucous grazing was a “catch-all” feeding strategy – the idea was these guys would just chow down on whatever their mucous sheet caught. But recent technological advances are helping us understand that mucous grazers can be picky eaters. And what they consume — or don’t — influences ocean food webs. Ornate filtering meshes (amplified 1,000 times and stained bright green in this image) capture particles much smaller than the grazers themselves. Kelly Sutherland, CC BY How does mucous-mesh grazing work? Mucous-mesh grazers include salps, pyrosomes, doliolids, pteropods and appendicularians. They are typically centimeters in length, roughly spanning the size of your fingernail to the size of your hand. Some form colonies comprised of many individuals in long chains that can be much longer. These creatures are large and watery compared to their hard-bodied planktonic counterparts. If you stepped on one, it would squish, not crunch. A mostly water body enables them to grow large quickly. Mucous-mesh grazers are free floating and suited to the open ocean. They live far from shore, where food is scarce and often small. The tiny holes and fibers of their mucous meshes enable them to capture microscopic particles, which they subsequently swallow, sometimes along with the mucus. A chain of salps filtering tiny food particles through an internal mesh. Unlike spiders that spin their feeding webs, these grazers have a special organ, called an endostyle, that secretes their mucous mesh. Depending on the grazer, the mucous mesh can be located either inside or outside the body. One group, for example, secretes a mucous bubble big enough for the animal to live inside like a house. Another group, nicknamed sea butterflies, secrete mucous webs that attach to their wing-shaped feet. These mucous webs range in size from an inch to over 6 feet. Location of the mucous mesh for different groups of grazers. The mucous mesh is colored according to the ways grazers drive flow through or across the mesh. ‘MW’ shows the mucous web of a sea butterfly, or thecosome pteropod.Caitlyn Webster/www.bywebbie.com, CC BY Historically, scientists assumed mucous-mesh grazers ate anything that passed through the mucous sieve — similar to a strainer in the drain of the kitchen sink catching everything of a certain size that flows in. Recent research by my lab and others challenges this assumption and shows that their feeding may be highly selective. The mucus might capture certain food particles perfectly, while completely rejecting other particles on the basis of their size, shape or surface properties. For example, when presented with a mixture of rod-shaped and spherical food particles – differently shaped but otherwise similar in size – one species of mucous-mesh grazer preferentially swallows the spherical particles. Particles of different size and shape (spherical and rod) from the dissected gut of a mucous-mesh grazer, the appendicularian Oikopleura dioica. Keats Conley, CC BY That’s a bit like choosing tater tots over French fries: They’re both made of potatoes and are roughly the same size but they have different shapes. The mucous grazers’ food “choice” is passive, though, having to do with how differently shaped prey orient in seawater and intercept the mesh. Grazers can “pick” prey, but prey may also be able to have some say in the matter — either passively or actively. For instance, some bacteria have Teflon-like surfaces and don’t stick to the mucous meshes, so they’re almost never consumed. How all of the different prey properties might influence grazing has been underappreciated until recently. Understudied but not unimportant Oceanographers are interested in how material moves through the ocean and how the process could be mediated by organisms. Mucous mesh grazers might be an overlooked piece of the cycle. The fact that they don’t capture all prey equally has important consequences for how carbon moves through the ocean. After mucous grazers feed, they package undigested food particles into mucus-bound fecal pellets or other castoff material. Repackaging prey particles with sticky mucus concentrates small prey into larger aggregates, which makes them sink more quickly. This ultimately moves organic material to the ocean depths, potentially storing it for years or even centuries. At depth, this material is unavailable to the majority of marine organisms that live near the surface. The ‘salpatron’ allows researchers to conduct feeding studies underwater. Gitai Yahel/Ayelet Dadon-Pilosof (www.gitaiyahel.com), CC BY-ND Until the past decade or two, scientists didn’t have technological tools to watch what was happening with mucous-mesh grazers in their native habitat at the appropriate tiny scales. Because these organisms are quite fragile, now researchers in my lab and others use scuba diving or robots to directly observe them underwater. These close, careful observations using high-speed cameras and underwater microscopes or doing feeding studies in the natural environment have shown us how they select certain particles and reject others. High-speed underwater camera. B. Gemmell, S. Colin, J. Costello, CC BY-ND Further advances will combine underwater methods with recent developments in imaging and genetic sequencing to shed light on the role of mucous-mesh feeders in shaping the structure of the ocean’s microbial community. Underwater imaging allows for undisturbed observations of these fragile creatures. Researchers can watch how individual particles behave on the mesh and whether they are ultimately captured. Genetic sequencing used in the context of feeding studies helps scientists identify and distinguish the groups of tiny microbes that are often invisible to the naked eye. Knowing which particles are consumed and which aren’t tells us about the impact that the mucous grazers have on ocean food webs. Changing oceans, changing impact Picky eating by mucous-mesh grazers may have profound implications for biogeochemical cycles, particularly in light of shifting ocean conditions. Environmental factors like ocean temperature, availability of nutrients and the type and amount of prey present influence when and where mucous grazers appear, how long they stick around and their impact on ocean food webs. Pyrosome bloom off the Oregon coast in February 2018. Image was taken at about 60 m depth where there was a layer of pyrosomes, probably actively feeding on small particles. K. Sutherland/H. Sorensen, CC BY-ND A more tropical species of mucous-grazing pyrosomes (Pyrosoma atlanticum) provides a case study. Typical in warmer waters as far north as Southern California, they confounded scientists and fishermen alike when they appeared off the Oregon coast in 2014. No one knows why the pyrosomes appeared, but ocean temperatures warmed around the same time. Like other mucous-mesh grazers, the fine pyrosome filter allows them to graze on the smaller particles that are associated with warmer, less nutrient-rich surface water – prey too small for most other animals to catch. Along with other researchers along the West Coast, my lab is actively working to understand why the pyrosomes appeared, how they might affect the marine ecosystem, and if they will persist. Grazers in the ocean are inherently more challenging to study than those than on land; we continue to learn more about who they are through what they eat. https://theconversation.com/meet-the-ocean-creatures-that-use-a-mesh-of-mucus-to-catch-their-food-95749  

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  • Reports from week five of the legislative session

    Reports from week five of the legislative session The Oregon Legislature is only five weeks into its session, but bills are moving and lawmakers are taking up an array of issues from affordable housing to climate change. In the last couple weeks, we’ve had lots of University of Oregon students, faculty, and staff at the Capitol engaging on policy bills and advocating for increased operating funding to keep college affordable. Below are some highlights from the session in week five: The Joint Committee on Ways & Means, which consists of the Legislature’s key budget writers, announced their road show dates. The “road show” is when legislators tour the state with the goal of listening to Oregonians about what to include in the state’s budget for the 2019-21 biennium.   If one of these hearings is near where you live, we need YOU to attend. Even if you don’t sign up to testify, it’s important to have people hold signs and offer a strong show of support for higher education.   The four dates and locations are listed below: Coos Bay: Saturday, March 9 – Marshfield High School, Auditorium, 972 Ingersoll Ave. (1:00-3:00 pm) Pendleton: Friday, March 15 – Blue Mountain Community College, Pioneer Hall, Bob Clapp Theatre, 2411 NW Carden Ave. (5:30-7:30 pm) Redmond: Saturday, March 16 – Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, Three Sisters Conference and Convention Center (South Sister), 3800 SW Airport Way (2:00-4:00 pm) Portland: Thursday, March 21 – Portland Community College, Cascade Campus, MAHB 104 Auditorium, 5514 N. Albina Ave. (5:30-7:30 pm)   Jason Younker, Assistant Vice President and Advisor to the President on Sovereignty and Government to Government Relations, came to the Capitol to testify in support of Senate Bill 312, which would allow Native American students who graduated from an Oregon high school to qualify for in-state tuition rates, regardless of if they are from a tribe outside of the state.   HB 2641 had its first public hearing in the House Education Committee, which would provide funding for RAIN Eugene. RAIN is a business incubator started in 2015 and is housed in downtown Eugene at the 942 Olive building—the UO’s facility that provides space for entrepreneurship, start-ups, research and more.   On President’s Day, thousands of students, faculty, staff, and other advocates rallied in Salem to tell legislators they needed to fully fund Oregon’s public education system—from early childhood through college.  

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  • UO earns grant to strengthen STEM education

    First published in Around the O on February 21st 2019 When it comes to improving education in science, technology, engineering and math, one challenge UO educators have been wrestling with in recent years has been coordinating curricula among different STEM majors. “Decisions about degree requirements are made at the departmental level, so the different STEM majors often come to really different solutions to some of the same problems,” said Samantha Hopkins, associate dean of the Clark Honors College and an associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences. “Because STEM majors generally draw on courses from several different departments, the required courses are sometimes inefficient in achieving the learning objectives for the students, and sometimes the bigger ideas about the process of scientific inquiry can get lost in the need to cover content.” Thanks to a “mini-grant” from the Association of American Universities’ Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative, Hopkins and other project leaders will be working over the course of the next few years to align curricula across different STEM majors. The UO was one of 12 universities named on Feb. 20 as part of a cohort of AAU member campuses committed to improving undergraduate STEM education. “This award builds on our existing efforts to effect cultural change around teaching and learning on campus through our Teaching Academy, as well as our support for teaching and structural reforms to improve student outcomes and our reforms to core education and teaching evaluations,” said Jayanth Banavar, provost and senior vice president. “We’re proud to be a part of the AAU effort to improve undergraduate education and we look forward to seeing the dramatic changes that lie ahead for our math and science students.” Along with Hopkins and Banavar, the project leadership includes Ron Bramhall, associate vice provost and senior instructor in the Lundquist College of Business; Dean Livelybrooks, associate department head, director of graduate studies and senior instructor in the Department of Physics; and Eleanor Vandegrift, associate director of the Science Literacy Program and senior instructor in the Department of Biology. Sierra Dawson, associate vice president for academic affairs, has been a strong supporter of the UO team and its efforts. “Since Emily Miller, associate vice president for policy at AAU, visited campus in January 2018, UO has been continually engaged in the AAU’s STEM education initiative,” Dawson said. “We are excited to be working alongside our AAU colleagues to implement evidence-based practices that have been reported to remove barriers to learning for underserved students.”  The UO team will work with a facilitator to share curricular learning objectives for different majors and articulate the similarities and differences among STEM disciplines’ educational objectives. They will host a pair of two-day workshops focusing on laying the groundwork for curricular reform and seek comments from STEM reform experts, UO alumni from STEM disciplines and others with relevant experiences to share. By aligning major curricula, one hope of the effort is that students will enjoy more mobility between STEM majors. If departments can agree on shared objectives, that could allow development of new courses or sharing of existing courses to better educate STEM students across all majors, Bramhall said. “If we can find ways to align STEM curricula, we can do a better job helping students achieve common learning objectives,” Bramhall said. “By streamlining curricula and courses we hope to find some new efficiencies, achieve greater collaboration across departments, and lower some of the barriers to entry into STEM fields.” Bramhall said the real winners will be UO students who will see more streamlined degree requirements and ultimately achieve greater success in STEM courses, as measured by grades, degree progress, retention in STEM majors and mastery of science process skills and competencies. The UO’s AAU mini-grant proposal builds on the UO’s existing commitment to improving STEM education. In October, Hal Sadofsky, division dean of natural sciences, and David Tyler, chemistry chair, joined the AAU STEM department chairs workshop, Dawson said. Vandegrift attended an AAU meeting for STEM leaders and funding agencies focused on multi-institutional STEM education reform stakeholders. Additionally, there have been numerous efforts by the Office of the Provost, UO Libraries, the Teaching Engagement Program, Undergraduate Engagement and Student Success, the University Senate and others to support improved student learning outcomes in the sciences. The UO’s Science Literacy Program helped develop the framework for the AAU mini-grant proposal through strategic planning during a 2018 Mobile Summer Institute Scientific Teaching, Vandegrift said. “We’ve sponsored efforts that address all three areas of the AAU’s initiative, including pedagogy, scaffolding and cultural change,” Vandegrift said. “We already have an active and vibrant network of faculty and students engaged in reforming STEM teaching and this award will serve to make our community even stronger.” The AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative was launched in 2011 to encourage STEM departments at AAU universities to use teaching practices proven to be effective in engaging students in STEM education. The latest group of 12 member campuses is the second cohort to receive grants. Along with the UO, the grants will go to Brandeis University; Case Western Reserve University; Emory University; Georgia Institute of Technology; Indiana University; New York University; Stony Brook University; The University of Arizona; University of Maryland, College Park; University of Toronto; and Washington University in St. Louis. –By Lewis Taylor, University Communications   https://around.uoregon.edu/content/uo-earns-grant-strengthen-stem-education  

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  • Governor to appoint eight members to UO board of trustees

    First published on the dailyemerald.com on February 19th, 2019. Governor Kate Brown is considering appointments to the University of Oregon board of trustees to replace or reappoint eight members whose terms expire at the end of this academic year. The board is the university’s governing body which makes decisions ranging from campus construction to tuition increases. At the end of last year, the board approved a $60,000 raise for UO President Michael Schill and extended his contract through 2023.

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  • 3 professors recognized for excellence in teaching

    First published on the dailyemerald.com. As Jordan Pennefather walked the aisles of a lecture hall, passing out scantrons to students awaiting their Psychology 301 midterm, a small group of people entered the room. At first, he didn’t think much of it, he said, until he looked up and recognized his department head, Ulrich Mayr and a number of his colleagues walking down the steps. Mayr, head of the psychology department in the College of Arts and Sciences, waved Pennefather down to the front of the lecture hall. Mayr congratulated him: Pennefather, a senior psychology instructor, received the Tykeson Teaching Award. He was recognized for being an engaging professor and for having a good relationship with his students, said Hal Sadofsky, the divisional dean of natural sciences. Pennefather wiped a tear from his eye. “I tried to avoid looking too much at the class or I probably would have gotten more emotional,” he later said. The Tykeson Teaching Award is given to one professor in each of the divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences: humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Recipients are surprised during their lectures and are awarded a certificate and a $2,500 cash prize. The awards began in the spring of 2015 and were given out at the end of January this year. “I would say it’s one of the definite highlights of my professional career to be recognized in front of my students, I think that was a great touch since it’s all about interacting with them,” Pennefather said. “Without the students, it wouldn’t be as enjoyable.” Matthias Vogel, a senior German instructor and Faculty in Residence at Global Scholars Hall, was another recipient of the Tykeson Teaching Award this year. He currently teaches Holocaust narratives in German Literature and Film, and was recognized for his engaging lectures. ““[The class] can be really boring if you just stand there in front and just rain a lecture down on everybody. So I try to incorporate students,” said Matthias. “I try to learn from their perspectives and show them why the material that we are looking at matters.” Each year, department heads nominate professors within their department to receive this award, according to Philip Scher, the divisional dean of social sciences. This year, departments nominated professors who have difficult teaching assignments, such as controversial coursework or a new, innovative class. “One of the things that distinguishes these awards with other teaching awards out there is that we try to recognize good instructors by slightly changing the call every year. That highlights the fact that there’s all different kinds of ways to be a good teacher,” Scher said. “We try to get all kinds of excellence represented in there.” While teaching a class on the constitutional debates, department head Craig Parsons, Scher and other colleagues surprised political science professor Joe Lowndes with the award. Scher said he was awarded for his ability to teach a range of students about fraught political issues in an inclusive way that allows students to feel that their voices are heard. “It’s nice to get recognized for something you really love doing,” Lowndes said. Franklin Lewis and Becca Robbins contributed to the reporting of this story. 

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