Latest news from the UO

  • Legislature delivers funding for new boat at OIMB

    In October 2019, local leaders gathered on the dock at the University of Oregon’s Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) in Charleston to get a look at an old boat. It had become clear that OIMB’s students and faculty had outgrown the current vessel. The Pluteus was built in 1973.  Before it was acquired by OIMB, it was used in the relatively calm nearshore waters of the tropical Atlantic. The old engines and electrical systems have reached the end of their life, and it is too small to carry most classes of students to waters outside the bay in Charleston.  “I have used our current boat my entire time at OIMB,” said Caitlin Plowman, a doctoral student who completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marine biology at the UO in 2014 and 2017. “A new boat will allow us to go further offshore faster and to sample deeper depths, which will be great for students like myself who study deep-sea invertebrates.” “As the number of students interested in studying in Charleston has continued to grow, and the type of research they are doing has expanded, OIMB had a good problem, but it was a problem we were determined to fix.” said State Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay). The group agreed to renew efforts to get the state to invest in a new research and teaching vessel that would be built right in Coos Bay by local company TarHeel Aluminum. Recognizing the need, in 2019 the Coos County Board of Commissioners contributed $50,000 of county funding to help get the new boat designed, so that if state and private funding came through work could begin immediately. “Our job as elected leaders is to look for ways to revitalize our south coast economy. I was proud to work with the County Commission to invest in a project that would bring jobs to the south coast” said Coos County Commissioner Melissa Cribbins. Efforts to secure state investment were almost successful earlier this year, but fell through when the Legislature became deadlocked over climate change legislation. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the economy took a dive, and the prospect of getting state funding seemed very low. We were disappointed we couldn’t get (the funding bill) over the finish line (during the regular legislative session) in 2020,” said Craig Young, director of the Institute. “But we’re also energized by the support and interest of our leaders. The boat is a floating classroom that provides a level of student experience that cannot be obtained in any other way. It will also be a unique and important resource for marine research on the South Coast.” Still, local leaders pressed on. “There was no way we were going to give up. OIMB is a treasured part of our community, they needed a new research boat, and local companies needed the work.” commented State Representative Caddy Mckeown (D-Coos Bay). “We had a great story to tell, local and state dollars, leveraging private investment from the University, creating jobs on the South Coast at Tarheel Aluminum. Win-win-win,” noted State Representative David Brock-Smith (R-Port Orford). Brock-Smith, Roblan, McKeown, and Cribbins all worked on the project, and their efforts paid off when lobbying legislative leaders to keep the money in the budget. When the Legislature released a 52-page bill to rebalance the state budget, filled mostly with cuts to other state programs, it included $500,000 to the University of Oregon for a new boat at OIMB. “The university is grateful for this investment from the state that will allow us to improve the quality of our programs at OIMB. Students and faculty alike will benefit from being able to conduct research and exploration on this new vessel, said UO President Michael Schill. In addition to helping add capacity and modernize research at OIMB, this project will have a larger legacy. Building a new boat is about more than just work for TarHeel—it’s about the future. When asked what this project meant to his company, Tarheel owner Kyle Cox said, “We’ve worked closely with the students and faculty at OIMB to design a boat that will meet the needs of marine research. When we are finished with this project, I will be able to say to prospective clients not only do we build and repair fishing boats, but we have experience in building research boats for universities. That will expand our business, and is good for the shipyard here in Coos Bay for years to come.” The University is working with TarHeel to finalize the plans and construction on the new boat should begin soon, thanks to the work of South Coast lawmakers and Coos County commissioners.

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  • Recap: 2020 Oregon Legislature Second Special Session

    August 13, 2020 08:36 am On Monday, Governor Kate Brown convened the Second Special Session of the year for the Oregon Legislature. The primary focus of the one-day special session was addressing the economic effects of COVID-19 on the state’s budget, including a $1.2 billion budget gap. Lawmakers passed eleven bills during the day, closing the budget gap, lending additional assistance to out-of-work Oregonians, and expanding policies on police reform. The budget gap: The Legislature was able to fill the billion-dollar budget gap through a number of bills while maintaining its recent investments in the state’s public education system and making additional investments in construction projects, research, and resiliency throughout the state. Lawmakers preserved the Public University Support Fund, ensuring that during these difficult economic times, the UO’s state appropriation for the upcoming fiscal year will not be cut. Additionally, the Oregon Opportunity Grant remains funded at the level approved in the 2019 session and Sports Lottery Scholarships were also preserved in SB 5723. The budgets for Public University State Programs, which are institutes, centers, and programs that address economic development, natural resource, and other issues, providing public service across the state, were reduced by 5%. With plans to create new jobs and update learning spaces for students, the UO received $57.24 million (SB 5721) in bonds to renovate classrooms, labs, and research spaces in UO’s life sciences hub, Huestis Hall. State-funded capital construction projects have created thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of new research positions in the last decade, as well as served countless students in their academic endeavors. The UO received a $500,000 match (SB 5723) to design and build a new research and teaching vessel for UO’s coastal campus, the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. The UO will also receive $7.5 million in bonds (SB 5721) to purchase seismic sensors for ShakeAlert, the early earthquake warning system for the West Coast, which will expand state-wide and region-wide resiliency and preparedness in the face of a natural disaster.

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  • U.S. Senate introduces universal telehealth legislation

    August 7, 2020 05:40 pm On August 4, 2020, Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the bipartisan Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act. The Act provides “temporary licensing reciprocity for all practitioners or professionals, including those who treat both physical and mental health conditions, in all states for all types of services (in-person and telehealth) during the COVID-19 response and for future national emergencies.” See Senator Murphy’s press release here. The University of Oregon has endorsed the bill, as the proposed temporary licensure would allow students to access campus mental health resources from anywhere in the U.S. That flexibility is needed for students who take classes remotely due to the pandemic. Under current law, each state licenses professionals and, in some cases, has reciprocity with other states to recognize another state’s standards. On August 5, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and fellow governors in Washington, Colorado, and Nevada announced that they will work together on telehealth issues. The UO Counseling Center COVID-19 update webpage indicates that students in Oregon, Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington have access to teletherapy services. For more information about options for mental health support, call the Counseling Center at 541-346-3227.

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  • UO ranks No. 10 in Gilman Scholars with highest number ever

    First published in Around the O on July 27th.  With 25 Ducks receiving the prestigious Gilman Scholarship this year, the University of Oregon is ranked 10th in the nation for the study abroad award and has the largest number of Gilman recipients in university history. In addition, the UO has six alternates, and one of the scholarship recipients was chosen for the new Gilman-McCain Scholarship. With a total of 59 UO applicants, the university’s success rate this year was 42 percent. “It's something we are really proud of since this is a huge accomplishment, and it shows the academic strength and international engagement of our students, said anthropology professor Josh Snodgrass, who directs the Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “It also shows how we are supporting our students who are in most in need of support since this scholarship only goes to students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding.” The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards up to $5,000 for undergraduate students to study abroad. The scholarship is available to students who are currently receiving the Pell Grant, while the new Gilman-McCain Scholarship is available to dependents of active-duty military. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all recipients are given the option of changing or deferring their program to a later date. Recipients can use the award for travel-based programs beginning January 2021. Recipients can also use the award in summer or fall 2020 to participate in virtual programs, such as the #NoPassportNeeded program at the UO.  The UO Division of Global Engagement, which hosts the Global Education Oregon study abroad office, serves the UO community and 30 partner institutions. It offers more than 200 programs in 90 countries, with the option to study or intern while abroad.   “The UO is immensely proud of our 25 students who competed against top national talent to earn Gilman Scholarships,” said Dennis Galvan, dean and vice provost for global engagement. “These prestigious federal awards help defray the costs of enriching education abroad programs for students of color and from underrepresented groups. They earned UO a rank of 10th in the U.S. in Gilman awards, not factoring in university size.” Gilman recipient and Portland native Anna Mills, who is studying public relations and ethnic studies with a minor in creative writing, had planned to participate in a service-oriented program, Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice in Bolivia. Her program was canceled due to COVID-19, but she will use her award when it returns next summer. “Receiving this scholarship helps me achieve a lifelong goal and passion for going abroad and applying the knowledge I learn to my everyday life,” she said. “I believe UO was ranked as the No. 10 school in the nation for Gilman recipients because it has normalized that studying abroad is achievable and something everyone should experience if they can. The support and resources are amazing.” Another Gilman Scholarship recipient, Yulissa Garcia, a senior majoring in international studies with a concentration in diplomacy and international relations and minoring in legal studies, said her success is due to the hard work and the motivation instilled in her through her family. “Receiving the Gilman Scholarship means that I will be able to literally and figuratively afford to take a step forward in my studies,” she said. ”But for my family, it means that I am able to demonstrate that hard work does pay off. I come from a family of immigrants who have endured hard labor for most of their lives, and they are my motivation to continue working hard for all the opportunities I encounter.” Galvan emphasizes the importance of accessible global education for all students, no matter their background, especially given the current focus on racial injustice in America.  “At a time when the University of Oregon, the state of Oregon, the U.S. and the world are grappling, again, with issues of racial justice, Gilman Scholarships in this remarkable number are powerful,” he said. “The more students of every color who get to know the world and the younger that Americans learn to see the peculiarity and brutality of our own racial history, the clearer it will be to see the world with new eyes and a fresh perspective.” Subject to UO travel approval, students can apply for travel-based study abroad programs leaving as early as fall 2020. The programs exceed the current standards for health and safety in education abroad. As early as January 2021, Gilman recipients can use their scholarship towards a UO study abroad program. The UO Gilman Scholarship recipients are: Kevin Aleman: Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey University Exchange, Mexico. Jennifer Beltran: GlobalWorks Argentina. Sierra Burke: Hanyang University Exchange. Yacki Carrasco-Vivar: Dankook University Exchange. Jeanie Chen: Nagoya University Exchange. Celeste Concha: Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice in Bolivia. Katee Early: global economics in London with internship. Yulissa Garcia, human rights and peace studies in the Balkans. Laila Golrangi: Curtin University Exchange. Lily Hamilton: Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey University Exchange, Mexico. Collin Hurley-Kemp: intensive Italian language in Lecce, Italy. Tyra Judge: global health, development, and service learning in Accra, Ghana. Lena Karam: Copenhagen Business School Exchange. Cheyenne Klamath-Williamson: sustainable development and social change in Jaipur, India. Mia LaRiccia: summer accelerated Chinese language in Tainan, Taiwan. Mariella Mandujano: gender, race and class in London. Angelica Mejia: GlobalWorks Ecuador. Anna Mills, indigenous rights and environmental justice in Bolivia. Ciera Nguyen: GlobalWorks in Vietnam. Tay Sikruttamart: urban design in Barcelona, Spain. idija Sovulj: refugees, health and humanitarian action in Amman, Jordan. Edna Ventura: GlobalWorks South Korea. Katey Williams: French immersion in Angers. Luke Wu: Waseda University Exchange. Madison Zbinden: Copenhagen.  —By Kavita Battan, Division of Global Engagement Student Life

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  • FY2021 House appropriations bills include funding for ShakeAlert, IES

    The U.S. House of Representatives has passed ten of its twelve appropriations bills for fiscal year 2021.  These bills were passed in two packages, known as a “mini-bus” instead of an omnibus. The federal fiscal year begins October 1. On July 24, 2020, the House passed H.R. 7608, a $259.5 billion package consisting of four bills that fund federal departments including Commerce, State, Agriculture, Interior, and Veterans Affairs through September 2021. See the H.R 7608 Fact Sheet for a quick overview on what is included. The Trump administration released a statement in opposition to the H.R. 7608 minibus. Included in the minibus under the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is funding for the ShakeAlert West Coast earthquake early warning (EEW) system. The House Appropriations Committee recommended $25.7 million for continued development and expansion of ShakeAlert, and encouraged USGS to continue collaborating with California, Oregon, and Washington in advancing the program.   One week later, on July 31, 2020, the House passed H.R. 7617, a six-bill package funding the federal departments of Defense, Commerce, Justice, Energy, Treasury Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development through September 2021 for a total of $1.3 trillion. The H.R. 7617 Fact Sheet includes a comparable overview. The Trump administration similarly opposed the H.R. 7617 minibus in a statement. Included in the minibus under the Department of Education is $630.5 million in funding for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Notably, the bill includes a $2 million increase for the National Center for Special Education Research to $58.5 million. While the FY21 funding constitutes a $7 million overall increase for IES from the previous fiscal year’s funding, it falls short of the APLU’s $670 million request. Two remaining appropriations bills have yet to be considered on the floor: funding Homeland Security and the Legislative Branch itself. For additional resources, see the APLU's detailed analyses of bills of interest to APLU institutions, the APLU priorities chart, and the AAU funding priorities tables.

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  • U.S. Senate introduces Phase IV COVID relief package

    July 31, 2020 10:39 am On July 27, US Senate Republicans released the much-anticipated phase IV for COVID relief. The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections, and Schools (HEALS) Act is made up eight separate bills, the package addresses a range of policy and funding issues. Some of the most relevant provisions that impact the University of Oregon and other universities include: $29.1 billion in support of higher education institutions, with allocations to each institution based on formulas related to the full-time equivalent enrollments of students receiving the federal Pell grant. The allocation counts 90 percent Pell students and 10 percent non-Pell students; the CARES Act counted 75 percent Pell/25 percent non-Pell. The US House-passed HEROES Act uses a head count approach. The legislation provides significant flexibility to institutions in use of funds and does not require a designated percentage for emergency grants to students. As a condition of receiving funding, HEALS requires states to maintain their overall support to institutions of higher education and need-based financial aid in FY20 and FY21 at least at proportional levels to state funding based on FY19 The bill provides $10.1 billion in supplemental appropriations to the National Institutes of Health for research relief, however, broad support for other research agencies is not included. The bill continues a harmful trend of excluding state entities from eligibility for tax benefits, including: No fix for the paid leave tax credit.  An enhanced employee retention tax credit that increases the reimbursement rate but continues to exclude state entities.  A new “safe and healthy workplace tax credit” to cover expenses such as testing and PPE that excludes state entities. The bill includes no support for state and local governments. The bill includes additional funds for testing.

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  • Friends of IES urge Congress to fund the research workforce in next pandemic relief bill

    July 28, 2020 10:20 am On July 21, the University of Oregon signed onto a letter urging congressional leaders to include funding for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the next COVID relief and stimulus funding package. The letter, signed by 21 members of the Friends of IES, including the UO and other research universities that are among the most productive IES-funded entities, asked Congress to include the $200 million for IES in the fourth emergency COVID relief bill. The bipartisan Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act (HR 7308) includes a recommended authorization for these funds. A Senate companion bill was introduced last week. This funding would allow federal agencies to provide relief and flexibility for faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students who have had their research disrupted by school closures. The funding would additionally ensure the continued collection of education statistics essential to monitoring the educational impacts of COVID-19 and support the development of evidence-based resources for educators and families facing an expected elongated period of continued distance learning into the upcoming school year. The letter stated “as the nation continues to grapple with the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for IES included in the RISE Act will be helpful in informing further response to the pandemic, as well as provide relief for IES grantees who develop and test education programs to improve educational outcomes.” Higher education associations and universities have been requesting federal funding of the research workforce to prevent layoffs and lost productivity throughout the pandemic. The UO and research universities and organizations have been highly involved in these efforts: 

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  • Government walks back rule change on international students

    First posted on Around the O on July 14, 2020. The Trump administration has abandoned a plan that would have limited the ability of international students to study in the U.S., just days after the University of Oregon and 19 other schools filed a federal lawsuit challenging the move. The reversal helped resolve another suit, filed earlier by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and seeking a preliminary injunction to block the change. The agreement reinstates an earlier policy in which the administration allowed international students to remain in the country when classes are moved entirely online to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Multiple lawsuits were filed after the administration rescinded that policy and said international students could not come to or remain in the U.S. if universities held all classes online. The UO was the lead plaintiff in one of those lawsuits, which was filed Monday, July 13, in U.S. District Court in Eugene. The suit sought a temporary restraining order against the proposed rule, issued on July 6 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, part of the Department of Homeland Security. The nationwide rule would have subjected students studying in the U.S. on educational visas to deportation should their studies pivot to remote-based instruction as a public health protection measure during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The suit challenged the federal agency’s action as arbitrary and capricious, alleging it was issued without even the most minimal attempt to address its consequences to hundreds of thousands of students and the thousands of colleges and universities that educate them. The Trump administration announced the shift earlier this month in a reversal of previous temporary guidance that had allowed international students’ education to not be disrupted by online education during the pandemic. The new rules would have forced international students to return to their home countries within 15 days if they are enrolled solely in classes taught online.

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  • UO experts submit recommendations on preparing for next pandemic to Senate HELP Committee

    On June 9, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released a white paper, entitled “Preparing for the Next Pandemic.”  The chairman called for feedback from the public on the five recommendations outlined in the paper. The area of focus are 1) tests, treatments, and vaccines; 2) disease surveillance; 3) stockpiles, distribution, and surges; 4) public health capabilities; and 5) coordination of federal agencies during a public health emergency. Researchers at the University of Oregon responded to this call. Several of the submittals emphasized the role of universities as part of preparations for the next pandemic. Public health capabilities and agency coordination: To improve state and local capacity to respond and improve coordination of federal agencies during a public health emergency, UO Chief Resilience Officer and Associate Vice President for Safety and Risk Services André Le Duc and Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement (IPRE) Robert Parker, alongside the IPRE’s Co-Director of Research Benjamin Clark, provided their expertise to Congress. As the founder of the Disaster Resilient Universities® (DRU) Network, Le Duc submitted a letter conveying the contributions of the nation’s institutions of higher education (IHEs) in emergency management at the local, state, and federal level. As a leader in the development of community and organizational resilience, Le Duc brought together the DRU Network and the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS) in 2015 to conduct the first national needs assessment of emergency management programs at IHEs in the United States. The assessment produced five recommendations, which Le Duc urged Congress to adopt. For Le Duc, “[t]his interdisciplinary approach to campus risk management, public safety, and emergency preparedness is simple and effective; it leverages our key asset, our people, by connecting and unifying knowledge, skills, and technical assistance to address ever-changing vulnerabilities at universities and colleges.” Through their work with the IPRE, Parker and Clark wrote a letter encouraging Congress to support a number of programs and policies to assist the country in a more rapid recovery and a more resilient future, including massive investments in testing and tracing and investments in coordination of the economic recovery by increasing support for regional resiliency coordination bodies, regional business recovery centers, Economic Development Administration (EDA) university centers for economic development, and AmeriCorps.

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