Latest news from the UO

  • UO celebrates growth in new students and Pathway participants

    First published in Around the O on September 26, 2018. A record number of University of Oregon’s first-year students will benefit from the PathwayOregon scholarship program this fall as the Division of Student Services and Enrollment Management announces 8 percent overall growth in the institution’s incoming class. Preliminary figures indicate that the number of first-year students at the UO stands at 4,203, up from 3,901 incoming students last year. Final enrollment numbers will not be available until later in October. “This is just an amazing incoming class, among the largest, most diverse and academically gifted that the University of Oregon has ever seen,” said Roger Thompson, vice president of student services and enrollment management. “More importantly, this class speaks to the University of Oregon’s clear commitment to providing access to Oregonians in need. This is the largest PathwayOregon class ever and represents a doubling of the program’s enrollment since 2013.” More than 800 of the incoming first-year students are enrolled in PathwayOregon, the 10-year-old scholarship program that covers tuition and fees for qualified, Pell Grant-eligible resident freshmen. That is an increase of more than 14 percent over the previous year. PathwayOregon also provides wrap-around student support services and best-in-class advising that have helped boost graduation rates at the UO. To date, more 5,000 students have received a free education thanks to the program. In addition, this first-year class is the most diverse in terms of a race and ethnicity. Thompson notes that 36 percent of the fall 2018 entering class is domestic minorities, a UO record. As is the case with many universities across the country, UO’s new international student population has decreased. International enrollments accounts for about 4 percent of the incoming class, down from 6 percent. Some trends also mean the traditional “freshman” label may not apply to some of the UO’s new students, Thompson said. “We are noticing that an increasing number of our freshmen are electing to start in the summer, both on campus and in our London program we started a few years ago,” he said. “Further, many recent high school graduates have enough college credits to start at the UO as sophomores, so we are changing our language to reflect an ‘entering class’ as opposed to a freshmen class.”  Other numbers show: Average high school GPA was 3.59, just shy of the record of 3.61. Average SAT scores held relatively steady at 1195 from a high of 1196. Resident Oregonians represent 51 percent of the new student population. Nonresidents are 45 percent of the new student population. Including transfer students, there are a total of 5,378 new students at the UO, an increase of 5 percent over last year. “These increases and successes in our entering class are only made possible by the hard work of hundreds of hardworking Ducks across campus,” Thompson said. “From everyone involved in recruitment to the faculty members who give their time to inspire prospective students to those who make our beautiful campus shine during campus visits, we thank you for all you do every day.”

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  • LatinX Heritage Month: A festival of culture, history and tradition

    First published in Around the O on September 25th, 2018. From art exhibits to film screenings to operas to a celebration of life and death, this year’s UO LatinX Heritage Month honors the diverse LatinX community. With events spanning late September to early November, LatinX Heritage Month at the UO and across the United States examines and affirms the culture, history, traditions and current issues of diverse Americans whose origins or ancestors are from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, or Central and South America. Campus and community members can hear a gallery talk by artist Elsa Mora about her new exhibition, “Paper Weight: Works in Paper,” or see Diego Rivera’s “La ofrenda” and Rufino Tamayo’s “Perro aullando a la luna,” on loan for a year to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art from the collection of Art Bridges. The Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies will sponsor events with film director Peter Bratt, including a teach-in on film and activism and a film screening and discussion. Bratt is an award-winning screenwriter and independent filmmaker and the co-writer and director of “Dolores,” a feature documentary about the life of activist Dolores Huerta. Also, the Wayne Morse Center and the UO chapter of Define American will show a screening of the award-winning documentary, “Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America,” followed by a discussion. Musical offerings include Cascadia Concert Opera’s “Tango of the White Gardenia,” an original chamber opera in English by Ethan Gans-Morse and libretto by Tiziana Della Rovere, and a performance by Grammy award-winning Estelí Gomez, sponsored by the Oregon Composers Forum. Both will take place in Beall Concert Hall.  A two-day Día de los muertos celebration will happen the evenings of Nov. 1 and 2 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Día de los muertos is an annual celebration of life and death that takes place in Mexico, parts of Central and South America, and LatinX communities in the United States. Altars with offerings and traditional art, music, dance, food and poetry remember and welcome souls journeying to the world of the living for a brief visit. In addition to campus events, many happenings will take place in the community. UO Spanish professor Cecilia Enjuto Rangel, Centro Latino Americano director David Sáez and musician Rico Perez are featured in “Power in Puerto Rico,” an event at Temple Beth Israel. Fiesta Cultural features more than 30 events throughout Lane County celebrating the diversity of LatinX arts and culture. In an essay, “The Equalizing Force of History,” Yvette Alex-Assensoh, vice president for the Division of Equity and Inclusion, spoke of the significance of LatinX Heritage Month and the importance of remembering history during these challenging times. “History is a great equalizer,” she said. “It cuts through rhetoric and propaganda with the mere presence of the truth. During these times where the people in the highest levels of politics and law enforcement are increasingly and vindictively targeting the Latinx community, celebrations like Latinx Heritage Month take on that much more significance.” LatinX Heritage Month is officially called National Hispanic Heritage Month by the federal government and celebrated Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Hispanic Heritage month first began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. It was expanded to cover a 30-day period by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Mid-September was chosen because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and 18, respectively. Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, also falls within this 30-day period.  The University of Oregon honors the culturally preferred and more appropriate term of LatinX Heritage Month and expands events through early November. The term “Latinx” relates to people of Latin American origin or descent and is used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina. For more information on events, see the Division of Equity and Inclusion website. —By tova stabin, University Communications

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  • PathwayOregon celebrates 10 years of transforming lives

    First published in Around the O: “I'm Going to College” Sometimes, life takes a hairpin turn for the better. Reality seems too good to be real. But then it sinks in, and you have a new story to tell—the one about that time when everything changed for the better. For 2018 graduate Brianna Hayes, her story begins at a restaurant with her dad. The first-generation college student from Portland had been active at Grant High School, earned a solid GPA, and been accepted to the UO. But she had no idea how to afford college, and she was feeling down. Then her mom called. “You just got a piece of mail from something called PathwayOregon,” she told Brianna. “Your tuition and fees are paid for.” “I’m just sitting there screaming in the middle of the restaurant, and then I started crying,” says Brianna. “My dad asked ‘What is wrong with you? What’s going on?’ I said ‘I’m going to college. It’s going to work out.’ “It was great. The best moment of my life.” For the past 10 years, high school seniors from across Oregon have been getting the PathwayOregon promise—and a lifelong story to tell. It all begins with a letter from the University of Oregon. Congratulations, now get to work. Because your college degree (and everything that happens after you earn it) just went from virtually impossible to totally achievable.   Click here for the full Around the O article: around. uoregon.edu/pathwayoregon2018

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  • University of Oregon students bring fresh ideas to La Pine

    First published in the bendbulletin.com on September, 18, 2018. Eight months after a program brought more than 100 University of Oregon students to La Pine to help chart its future, the Central Oregon city has dozens of new ideas that could become future projects. “It was a tremendous experience, and it’s going to help shape the future of La Pine in a very positive way,” said Cory Misley, La Pine city manager. On Thursday, the University of Oregon and the city plan a joint celebration marking the end of the university’s Sustainable City Year Program, an interdisciplinary program that regularly brings students to a different Oregon city. The event will highlight results from the 11 projects that came out of the program, which range from designs for a new transit center that incorporate passive heating and cooling, to design standards that give the stores along La Pine’s nascent downtown a more cohesive look and feel. Program manager Megan Banks said the students, who were mostly seniors and graduate students, had a chance to work directly with city staff on projects, simulating a more professional environment than what they would otherwise encounter in a classroom. “The students work harder and are more focused when they have an actual client,” Banks said. Misley, the city manager, said La Pine gets the benefit of detailed research on a variety of long-term projects that a small city staff might not be able to tackle on its own. La Pine incorporated in 2007 and lacks some of the infrastructure, from bike lanes to design standards for downtown buildings, that larger cities have had in place for decades. Misley said the students helped bridge those gaps for city staffers. “It allowed a lot to get put on the table without staff having to research every little thing,” Misley said. While the Sustainable City Year Program has worked with a mix of cities, ranging from Salem to Redmond, La Pine, with a population of about 1,800 people, was by far the smallest city the program has worked with. Banks said having a smaller community helped the students focus on projects that helped connect the city with the rest of the region. “They were able to consider all of southern Deschutes County,” Banks said. For example, a class that focused on cycling and pedestrian access created a series of proposals for trails extending through the city, several of which connect with established trails in other parts of Central Oregon, said Katie Fields, communications associate for the program. The projects varied in scale and focus, from creating a public relations campaign for the city, to helping the city’s senior center plan for the future. Misley said some of the proposals dovetailed with existing city priorities, including a project that created design standards for existing buildings, which he said complements work the city was doing for new and proposed downtown buildings. Perhaps the most ambitious result of the partnership was a set of passive heating and cooling standards for a proposed new transit center in the city. Fields said the proposal would save energy for the building, making use of a climate that’s very different from what students would encounter in Eugene. She added that students completed the work as part of an independent study after the class ended. While workers are currently busy building sidewalks around the edges of the proposed site, Misley said the city is still working on the design of the building. Still, he said he hopes the city can break ground on the site next summer. Banks said the weather made travel between Eugene and La Pine a challenge at times during the winter, but added that the city was able to make accommodations. Overall, she said students were happy to make the trip. “Students love to get out of Eugene,” Banks said. “La Pine was somewhere new for them.” —Reporter: 541-617-7818, shamway@bendbulletin.com

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  • Oregon Economic Forum to explore ‘poverty amidst plenty’

    First Published in Around the O on September 19, 2018. The economy is humming and unemployment is at record lows, yet many continue to feel left out of this historically long economic expansion — a contradiction that will be explored at this year’s Oregon Economic Forum.  “Reaching for Economic Equity and Inclusion in the Second Gilded Age” is the theme of the forum’s 15th-annual breakfast, which takes place Wednesday, Oct. 17, in Portland. “By all accounts we are in a robust economy, yet the growth and gain hasn’t reached everyone,” said Tim Duy, University of Oregon professor and director of the Oregon Economic Forum. “We are experiencing the challenges of poverty amidst plenty.” The event will explore different facets of equity and inclusion issues spanning geographic to racial to gender divides and action that may alleviate the economic damage that stem from those divides. The keynote speaker is Heather Boushey, executive director and chief economist for Washington Center for Equitable Growth. She is the co-editor of a volume of essays on how to integrate inequality into economic thinking. Duy will provide the economic forecast with Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist for Key Private Bank. “At this stage of the economic cycle, equity markets typically climb a ‘wall of worry.’ This year investors have worried about the aging economic cycle, rising inflation, higher interest rates, the potential for a global trade war and other threats to the nine-year bull market,” McCain said.  “The Oregon Economic Forum will provide perspective on whether investors should be worried or whether they can afford to relax.” Other speakers are Gregory Acs, vice president of the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, and Nita Shah, executive director at Microenterprise Services of Oregon. Breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and the program is 7:45 to 11 a.m. at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront. Tickets are $80 per person and $520 for a table of eight. The event is presented by KeyBank and sponsored by the UO College of Arts and Sciences, Greater Portland, Portland Business Alliance, NW Natural, Port of Portland and The Oregonian/OregonLive. —By Heidi Hiaasen, University Communications

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  • Internship program moves students from classrooms to jobs

    First published in Around the O on September 18th, 2018. Wrapping up an intensive summer, students in the Master’s Industrial Internship Program sat down with 25 companies to showcase their skills and knowledge in an effort to land an internship with one of them. The event kicked off Sept. 10 with a networking dinner where 57 chemistry and physics students got to connect with more than 60 industry professionals. Over the next two days, students took part in more than 425 interviews with 39 interviewing teams from companies ranging in size from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies and national laboratories.   As part of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, the Master’s Industrial Internship Program offers a fast-track to careers in the areas of photovoltaics and semiconductors, optical materials and devices, and polymer science. The program takes an average of 15 months to complete, and arguably the most intense periods are the interview days. “I feel the same way about the interviews as I do about roller coasters: terrified and exhilarated," said Kim Belmes, a student in the optics track. “There’s definitely some nervous excitement, like anything could happen,” said Kesley Price, who was in the program’s photovoltaic and semiconductor track, as she was gathering her thoughts between interviews. “It is a little bit of a comfort to have the first one under your belt.” Those were typical reactions among students as the first day of interviews got underway. Most had seven to eight interviews spread over the two days at the Erb Memorial Union. Industrial partners were looking to hire interns for nine-month, paid positions in myriad technical areas, including research and development, product development, applications engineering, manufacturing, process engineering and defense.  Interns work on teams alongside established scientists to make meaningful contributions to current projects. Most will be hired on by their host companies, while some will use the experience they gain to land comparable jobs in the tech sector. The Master’s Industrial Internship Program, along with the Bioinformatics and Genomics Master’s Program, form the Knight Campus Internship Program, which officially launched last year by uniting the two successful efforts. The industrial internship program offers intensive hands-on curriculum, enabling students to excel in industrial and applied research settings while also giving them the soft skills required to thrive in a fast-paced environment typically driven by problem solving in teams. “Most are going from being an undergrad to getting a high-tech, high-paying job within six months, which is amazing,” said Lynde Ritzow, director of recruitment for the Master’s Industrial Internship Program. The first three months of the program take place on campus and include focused lab and coursework to help students transition from a college setting to working in industry. That includes professional development and providing lab simulations comparable to what they’ll face once they’re at their internships. “The challenge is to get students to go from being the independent problem-solvers they were as undergrads to problem-solving effectively in teams in an industrial environment,” Ritzow said. Faculty and staff work closely with industry partners to evolve the program’s curriculum and keep students up to date with current innovations in industry. Most students receive internship offers within a few weeks of their interviews and typically start within three months. The program encapsulates the mission of the Knight Campus with its focus on fast-tracking academic science into real applications. “Academically, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” Jamie Johnson, a student in the photovoltaic and semiconductor track, said midway through her first day of interviews. “There’s very intensive coursework, lab work and teamwork, but it’s been really an amazing experience.” The following companies were represented at the 2018 Interview Event: Arclin; Cree; Electro Scientific Industries; Emerald Kalama Chemical LLC; FormFactor; HP; Isovolta; Juno Therapeutics; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Lonza; Los Alamos National Laboratory; McConnell Labs, Inc.; Microchip; Moxtek; Nanohmics; nLIGHT; Ouster; OnTo Technology; Quantum Innovations; Qorvo; Serán Biosciences; Thermo Fisher Scientific; Timbercon; Voxtel Inc.; WR Grace and Zemax LLC. —By Jim Murez, University Communications

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  • UO experiments with own 'extension service' in Pendleton

    First published in the East Oregonian on September 17th, 2018. The University of Oregon wants to add another shade of green and gold to Pendleton High School. Staff gave a group of university officials, including university President Michael Schill, a tour of the empty school Thursday and talked about the Oregon Schools Research Network, a pilot program that the university hopes will be to education what the Oregon State University Extension Service is to agriculture. Randy Kamphaus, the dean of the University of Oregon College of Education, said schools in Pendleton, Portland, Eugene, and Coquille were selected to participate in the five-year pilot program, which is focused on improving professional development, customizing research using local data, and creating dual credit courses that would be co-taught by university professors and high school teachers. The network hired Pendleton High School science teacher Piper Kelm to act as a liaison between the university and the high school, meaning she will continue to teach at PHS while coordinating the network’s initiatives at a local level. While the program is still in its infancy, Kelm is already taking steps to integrate it into the district. Kelm said she issued a survey to Pendleton teachers asking them what they most wanted from professional development. The majority of responses showed teachers were interested in classroom management and student engagement, and Kelm is now focused on integrating Conscious Discipline, a disciplinary method meant to promote social-emotional learning and self-regulation that’s already used at the elementary and middle school levels into the high school. Kelm is also in early discussions with a U of O chemistry professor on starting a dual-credit chemistry class at the high school. Pendleton High School Principal Melissa Sandven said Pendleton High School already offers dual-credit courses through Blue Mountain Community College and Eastern Oregon University, but Kamphaus said the University of Oregon’s offerings would focus on “filling in the cracks” where no other offerings exist. Kelm will also be involved in creating a local study, and she’ll spend this year devising the parameters of it. While it may not be one of the central goals of the program, Kamphaus said one of its secondary effects is it could expand the pipeline of local students to the university through exposure to the network. Schill has provided $1 million from his discretionary funding to run the program for five years, but Kamphaus is already starting to look at what the network will look like beyond the pilot stage. Kamphaus said the network’s “audacious goal” is to have the same sort of presence as the OSU Extension Service, which has facilities and staffers in all 36 Oregon counties. In order to meet that vision, Kamphaus said the network wants to emulate the extension service’s financial model, which derives funding from multiple sources at the local, state, and federal levels in addition to private funding. The network may also be more cost-effective than the extension service, Kamphaus said, because it could rent space at schools rather than require independent facilities. Despite the network still existing in an early phase, Kamphaus said officials from Hermiston and Redmond have already expressed interest in getting their own network posts. Additionally, the United Way has exemplified the network as exactly the kind of educational project they would want to fund. ——— Contact Antonio Sierra at asierra@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836

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  • UO to seek $54M from the state to renovate Huestis Hall

    The University of Oregon will ask state lawmakers for $54 million in bonds next year to renovate Huestis Hall after making the project its top capital construction priority for the coming legislative session. In May, the proposed project was submitted to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for evaluation and scoring based on its criteria and metrics for the state. This month, the commission adopted a prioritized capital project list that is sent to Gov. Kate Brown for consideration. The 45-year old, 60,000 square-foot building is a hub for the biolgical sciences at the UO. Each year 3,000 students and faculty members learn and teach in Huestis Hall labs and classrooms. Its renovation will provide much-needed improvements, including addressing critical life, safety and seismic vulnerabilites; modernizing lab learning spaces; and eliminating deferred maintenance. “Every biennium we are in a competitive climate for the state’s bonding capacity,” President Michael Schill said. “For the 2019 session, Huestis Hall is the top priority for the UO.” In addition to funding for the Huestis Hall renovation, the UO will partner with the six other public universities in Oregon to request at least $65 million for the capital improvement and renewal fund for the 2019-21 biennium. This funding allows universities to generate operational cost savings and invest in existing buildings on campus to fulfill educational and public missions. Undergradates in Huestis Hall receive rigorous training directly connected to the workforce skills necessary to meet the needs of employers from a variety of industries. In addition, it is the home to student programs and intiatives that serve underrepresented populations and expand the pipeline from K-12 to postsecondary education. For example, the Science Program to Inspire Creativity and Excellence, known as SPICE, and the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning, known as SAIL, both use Huestis Hall research labs. SPICE is a pipeline program that creates a learning environment where girls can thrive in science, technology, engineering and math fields, and SAIL helps local eighth- through 12th-graders from underrepresented backgrounds prepare for college. “Huestis Hall is a core component of the UO’s undergraduate research activities, which is critical because of how research is connected to higher graduation rates, academic achievement and career preparedness,” said Josh Snodgrass, associate vice provost for undergraduate studies. According to the UO’s project submission to the commission, the university must limit the number of students who can prepare for careers in STEM industries due to the current layout and substandard building systems in Huestis Hall. Through renovation, the UO can expand its reach, by at least 40 percent, to educate more students and equip them for the changing economy. The governor’s office will decide whether to include the projects in its recommended budget that will be released in December.

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  • SAIL launches 500 students on a course toward college

    First published in around the O on August 23rd. When Marissa McDaniel was a sophomore at Springfield High School, she was interested in college but wasn’t sure what to expect. “I had no reference for college,” she said. “I already knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t have a reason to.” But after three summers participating in the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning on the UO campus, McDaniel had a change of perspective. “It helped me see I could have a future,” she said. “It made me feel like I had a purpose.” McDaniel is about to start her second year at the UO and served this summer as a SAIL counselor. This summer marked SAIL’s 13th year at the UO. Founded by economics professors Bruce Blonigen and Bill Harbaugh, and funded largely by private gifts, the mentoring program is aimed at middle and high school students from underrepresented backgrounds, including lower-income and first-generation homes. The goal is to expose them to college life and encourage them to pursue higher education. Last spring, of the 98 high school seniors who participated in SAIL, 97 enrolled in college, including 41 at the UO, said SAIL Executive Director Lara Fernandez. “We believe in them,” she said. “We want to provide connections and show them all the opportunities that are here.” About 500 students registered for the week-long SAIL programs this summer, up 30 percent from last year, Fernandez said. Students participated in 18 different areas of study, including biology, product design, performing arts, environmental studies, physics and human physiology. “It’s all very experiential,” she said. “They’re doing.” That might mean walking along the Willamette River, working in a chemistry lab, identifying mutations in the zebrafish lab or participating in a music recording camp. Or even paying a visit to the UO’s cadaver lab. The lab, located in the basement of Klamath Hall, houses up to eight human cadavers, donated each spring to the UO so students taking advanced anatomy can dissect them. As SAIL students filed into the lab, graduate student Alia Yasen told them to take no photos and to respect the cadavers, reminding them the bodies were once someone’s mother, father, brother, sister. By turns, the students handled bones, brains and hearts before Yasen began opening the eight metal caskets to reveal cadavers that had been dissected by UO students earlier in the spring. Some students hung back, while others moved in to examine the bodies and touch organs and muscles. Emmy Sanchez, a South Eugene High School student, confessed to being a bit shocked by the sight of the bodies. But she’s interested in a career in a health profession so she knows understanding human anatomy is important.   Participating in SAIL has helped to bring her dream of a college education closer to reality, she said. “Doing SAIL has made me a lot more comfortable about coming here,” she said. “It’s a good bridge to understanding and being more comfortable around a university setting.” —By Tim Christie, University Communications

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