Latest news from the UO

  • Merkley, Bonamici lead advocacy efforts for Institute of Education Sciences funding

    Congress has begun considering appropriations for FY19. Of particular concern to the University of Oregon is the President’s Proposed Budget Request for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The Trump Administration’s proposed budget for FY 2019 requests $522 million, which would represent a decrease of $84 million – or 14 percent - compared to the FY 2017 enacted level. Efforts are underway to push back against that proposal. Congressional champions are requesting House and Senate appropriators to more fully fund IES. On April 11, US Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have joined with sixteen colleagues to send a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking the agency to be funded at $670 million. The letter states “With IES support and leadership, the field of education continues to evolve with increased engagement and dissemination of knowledge to state and local decisions makers. Yet the budget has remained flat – and some programs are functioning at funding levels lower than in years past. This means many pressing questions about education are left unanswered, including school safety, serving non-traditional student populations, and creating affordable pathways for good-paying technical jobs that do not require a four year degree.” On the House side, 32 members signed Rep.Suzanne Bonamici (pictured, right) (D-OR)’s letter, dated March 19, requesting $670 million for IES. Friends of IES, a coalition led by the American Educational Research Association, also weighed in with a letter to appropriators. The University of Oregon is among the institutions that signed on. On April 18, Randy Kamphaus (pictured, left), the Dean of the College of Education, visited Washington D.C.to meet with members of the Oregon delegation about the IES budget allocation, among other topics. U.S. News & World Report ranks the college’s special education program as third in the nation, with the college itself ranking 13th overall and fifth among public institutions.

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  • UO science museum is awarded highest national honor

    First published in Around the O on May 1. The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced May 1 that the Museum of Natural and Cultural History has won a 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries. Nominated for the medal by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Ron Wyden, both Oregon Democrats, the museum is among 10 2018 medalists nationwide and is the sole West Coast recipient. The honor recognizes the ways that the UO museum serves Oregon communities, with special focus on its statewide educational outreach program. The museum's program, which travels to K-8 classrooms and public libraries, brings fossils, artifacts, and lively science lessons to communities around Oregon. The lessons emphasize inquiry-based learning, investigation of objects from the museum’s teaching collections and new perspectives stemming from research at the museum and the wider UO. “This award is a well-deserved honor, not only for the museum’s incredible exhibits but also its cutting-edge research, quality education programming and its standing as a valuable community resource,” DeFazio said. “I applaud the museum for their recognition and will continue to push for federal resources to help further their exceptional work.” The award will be presented at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. May 24. Jon Erlandson, the museum’s executive director, and Jami Young, a school librarian with the Central Point School District, will accept the award on behalf of the museum. Central Point is among the Oregon school districts that have used the museum’s outreach program since its inception in 2015. During the award ceremony, Young will provide a personal account of the effect the programs have had in her community. “The museum’s impacts on our students have been nothing short of amazing,” Young said. “I’ve seen the programs ignite a passion for science among struggling readers and other children who are going through the motions at school, helping them transform into inquisitive, motivated students.” Since its inception, the program has reached schools and libraries in nearly every county of Oregon, serving almost 20,000 individuals. The majority of these learning experiences — 73 percent — have been delivered in rural communities with limited access to museums and informal science learning opportunities. “This well-deserved award is truly a testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment to public service by the University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History,” Sen. Wyden said. “As a proud Duck, as an Oregonian and as the son of a librarian, I know firsthand just how valuable these institutions are to our state. These public resources continue to enrich our communities and encourage a commitment to higher learning for people of all ages.” Erlandson called it “a great honor” to be nominated by Rep. DeFazio and Sen. Wyden and recognized by the institute. "Whether we're digging through the dirt and rocks to glimpse the deep past or inspiring tomorrow's scientists through exhibits and outreach, the MNCH is committed to learning, sharing, and stewarding stories of Earth's environments and cultures,” he said. “We’re delighted to celebrate this work with the communities we serve.” U.S. Sen Jeff Merkley, also an Oregon Democrat, recently congratulated the museum on the honor. “The museum has earned this prestigious award for its work showing not just who we are as Oregonians, but who we have been,” he said. “As we face challenging times, the museum’s work illuminating the past is more important than ever in guiding our future.” Following the ceremony, StoryCorps, a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving and sharing the stories of Americans, will visit Eugene to gather community members’ stories of how the museum has affected their lives. The stories will be preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. For a complete list of 2018 recipients and to learn more about the National Medal winners, visit the institute website. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for U.S. libraries and museums and advances such organizations through grant making, research, and policy development. —By Kristin Strommer, Museum of Natural and Cultural History 

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  • Spring Housing Affordability Symposium Planned

    Spring Housing Affordability Symposium Planned First published in Around the O, on April 30th, 2018. To address the growing crisis in affordable housing in Oregon and beyond, the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM) is hosting a symposium on May 23. The one-day event at the UO’s White Stag Building in Portland will provide the opportunity for statewide housing experts, public officials, university housing researchers, and students to gather and discuss the problems of affordable housing and work together to find viable solutions. According to PPPM Associate Professor Gerardo Sandoval, who serves on the State of Oregon’s housing stability council, the goal of the symposium is three-fold to: Paint a picture of what’s happening in terms of housing affordability Provide examples of people and organizations working to address housing affordability issues Discuss what can be done in terms of public policy “The symposium will not only create a space for stakeholders from around the state to come together and discuss work that’s being done to address the issue and look for solutions, but also to learn more about how the university can provide guidance,” Sandoval says. “The UO is a great resource for research, advice, and support on these topics directly impacting peoples’ lives.” Professor Sandoval and Assistant Professor Rebecca Lewis are hosting and coordinating the symposium. UO President Michael Schill, who is one of the sponsors of the event, will speak at the symposium on changing trends in affordable housing. Schill is a nationally recognized expert in property, real estate, and housing law and policy. Before he became UO president, he co-authored several books on the topic of affordable housing, and in 2004, he founded the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, one of the nation’s leading research centers on housing and the built environment. “Affordable housing is a critical issue in Oregon. It impacts our state’s economic development and prosperity. It is also tied to UO’s ability to recruit an excellent workforce and maintain affordability for our students,” said President Schill. “I am looking forward to hearing from affordable housing experts, legislators, developers, and others as we examine these issues and seek solutions.” Bienestar Housing Project in Hillsboro, OR. Photo courtesy of Gerardo Sandoval. Michael Lens, associate faculty director of the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies and associate professor of urban planning and public policy, will deliver the keynote speech on national housing policy research; and Margaret Salazar, director of the Oregon Housing and Community Services Agency will discuss Oregon’s approach to housing affordability. Three panel discussions will focus on the status of housing affordability in Oregon, promising affordable housing practices throughout the state, and ideas for moving forward on affordable housing. Panelists include representatives from the Oregon Housing and Community Services Agency, Community and Shelter Assistance Corp., the City of Scappoose and the City of Beaverton, a House Representative of the State of Oregon, a Multnomah County Commissioner, the Oregon Department of Land and Conservation and Development, Make Room, and the University of Oregon. The event is sponsored by the University of Oregon Office of the President, the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management, the Sustainable Cities Initiative, and the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement. Students are encouraged to participate. For further information on how to get involved, contact: Rebecca Lewis at rlewis9@uoregon.edu or Gerardo Sandoval at gsando@uoregon.edu.   April 30, 2018

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  • University presidents write on college's value

    First published on Around the O on April 30th, 2018. Social mobility, greater life expectancy and freedom are the underlying values that the presidents of three U.S. institution, including the UO’s Michael Schill, said are needed to measure the good of a college education. Schill, also a UO professor of law, joined presidents Michael Drake of Ohio State University and Mark Schlissel of the University of Michigan to address the issue in an essay for The Conversation. Schill argued that a key indicator would reflect the admission and success of first-generation students, such as was the case for him. “I may be somewhat biased, but I believe that our generation will be judged by how well we enhance the opportunities for social mobility among our citizens,” Schill wrote. Ohio State’s Drake pointed to “correlation between a college education and greater life expectancy,” noting that graduates live, on average, seven years longer than those who don’t attend college. Michigan’s Schlissel said that a college degree enhances freedom. “At its best, higher education gives us the freedom to make decisions based on our values, desires, human talents and willingness to work hard. We are free to choose our own path,” Schlissel wrote. Read their essay “3 vital ways to measure how much a university education is worth.” The Conversation article has been picked up widely by national media, including the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press, Raw Story and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Newspapers across Texas, including the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, Midland Daily News, Beaumont Enterprise, Laredo Morning Times, also have published the piece.

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  • UO undergraduate advocates for science funding in D.C.

    First published in Around the O on April 26. It’s a good thing Rachael Cleveland had early exams last term. That’s because the environmental science major spent her finals week in Washington, D.C. learning about science policy and speaking with the staff of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Peter DeFazio about the importance of funding scientific research. The UO sponsored Cleveland to attend the 2018 Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering workshop, also known as CASE, from March 18-21. The workshop, which is put on by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, educates science, technology, engineering and math students about science policy and advocacy. The CASE program is funded largely by the UO vice president of research and innovation with support also provided by Government and Community Relations.  “We’re proud to support this outstanding program, which empowers students like Rachael to become strong advocates for basic research,” said David Conover, the UO’s vice president for research and innovation. “There’s never been a more important time for us to make the case for robust funding for federal R&D, and it’s critical that we include the researchers of tomorrow in our advocacy efforts.” Out of nearly 200 workshop participants, Cleveland was the only one from Oregon. Because the event is geared towards graduate students, she also was also one of the few undergraduates in attendance. For the first few days of the program, Cleveland learned about government processes, science policy and science communication at the headquarters of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. On the last day, Betsy Boyd, the UO’s associate vice president for federal affairs, arranged for Cleveland to tour the Capitol building and meet with members of Wyden’s and DeFazio’s staff. “It’s important for the university to have money to give to students to do their research,” Cleveland said. “One of the main talking points when I went to talk with my representatives was to give examples as to why their funding matters. It’s more impactful when you can tell a story about why I’ve benefited and why other students will benefit from how they choose to fund science policy.” Cleveland, who is minoring in biology, plans to graduate with honors this spring. For her thesis, she is studying how mercury changes in concentration and form as it goes from an abandoned mine near Cottage Grove, through some tributaries and into a watershed. “I think because I’m directly affected by their choices, I have a greater impact talking about why funding science is important, rather than if the university sent one of their own representatives,” Cleveland said. “Being able to talk to the students themselves and see how they’re directly impacted I think makes a more lasting impression than if the university would just go out and say, ‘I want more money.’” Cleveland is originally from Folsom, California. Her family now lives in Kaneohe, Hawaii, but she has only ever registered to vote in Oregon. After graduating, she will temporarily work at the Springfield office of the U.S. Forest Service. “I’ve known for a while that I want to work for the government in some capacity, but now rather than looking at it from just a government agency standpoint, I’m also considering more of a science policy standpoint,” she said. “Public policy is a pretty important topic, but I don’t think a lot of people get any education in it,” she said. “So even if I wasn’t planning on pursuing public policy, it’s still important to know how to communicate with your representatives to be able to get your voice heard and to be involved with the political process.” —By Sarah Eddy, University Communications

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  • Federal funding moves ShakeAlert closer to reality

    First published in Around the O on April 19th, 2018. A recent boost in federal funding will move the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system closer to completion. ShakeAlert is being developed by the U.S. Geological Survey and researchers at the University of Oregon, University of Washington, California Institute of Technology and University of California, Berkeley. All of the schools have operated USGS seismic networks for decades and are expanding their efforts to include earthquake early warning capabilities. The omnibus spending package passed by Congress and signed by the president in March that funds the federal government through Sept. 30 allocates $12.9 million for continued development and limited public rollout of the system. It also appropriates $10 million for capital costs to add more earthquake sensors and improve system infrastructure. Congress allocated $10.2 million to ShakeAlert last year. The omnibus action more than doubles the funding for ShakeAlert by making a significant investment in the important seismic network infrastructure that supports the alert system. UO faculty members and their collaborators are revising the rollout plan, including how funds will be distributed among participating universities. “This additional funding is much needed to build out the ShakeAlert network and support the personnel that operate and maintain the system,” said Doug Toomey, a UO seismologist in the Department of Earth Sciences and lead investigator for the Oregon component of ShakeAlert. “We are appreciative of our members of Congress who continue to advocate for this needed system that will help save lives, reduce damage to infrastructure and increase the resiliency of Oregon.” Congress has consistently added funds to the USGS budget for the project. However, President Donald Trump’s request for the coming budget year zeros out ShakeAlert. The Oregon congressional delegation has been a vocal supporter of ShakeAlert and is working to secure future funding. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, in tandem with fellow Democrats Rep. Adam Schiff of California and Rep. Susan DelBene of Washington, is leading the effort, urging House colleagues to sign a letter in support of 2019 earthquake early warning appropriations. A similar effort is underway on the Senate side. This year, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Oregon Democrats, and fellow senators from California and Washington asked colleagues to support the omnibus allocation. State leaders, including Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, and the city of Portland also continue to advocate for earthquake early warning efforts. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries provided a total of $375,000 in 2017 and 2018. In addition, state legislators are serving on a statewide stakeholders committee, coordinated by UO researchers, that focuses on earthquake early warning education and outreach. State officials have said they will continue to advocate for increased state funding to install more seismic sensors. Earthquake early warning, in which sensors detect and send alerts from the fast-moving P waves that spread outward from an earthquake in advance of slower-moving and more damaging S waves, could prove critical in a big quake. Through a mobile app, people will get between seconds and several minutes of warning to seek safety. In that time, industries may be able to power down critical operations to protect both human lives and equipment. Transportation agencies may eventually be able to close down bridges, which could save lives. Earthquake early warning systems are already in use in other countries, including Japan and Mexico.

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  • 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.”

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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