Latest news from the UO

  • Anti-racism resources: What we’re reading this week

    Last week, the death of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis once again brought to the forefront the ugly picture of racial bigotry in our country. Like many of you, the UO Government and Community Relations (GCR) staff team is doing much reflecting, reading, listening, and learning. We’d like to share with you some resources to help us engage in change and become more educated; that’s what we do here at UO Advocates—we advocate. We’ve found these links to be insightful as we figure out how to better serve our UO GCR’s mission of building relationships that support all university constituencies, including Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The first is a document with links to webpages, videos, books, and other resources that are available to help us take care of ourselves and support each other, support people and communities of color, reflect, learn, and get involved. Some of these links are for UO staff and/or share a little about what UO communities are doing to support communities of color and call out and address system racism; most we hope are useful and compelling far beyond the boundaries of our campus community. In addition, here are some additional anti-racisms resources: Anti-Racism Resources for White People Luvvie’s Anti-Racism Reading List White Ally Toolkit President Obama’s Essay (which includes a link to resources) Tasha’s Anti-Racism Resources   In the coming weeks, we plan to share additional resources and highlight some of the work UO faculty and researchers are doing to examine, and hopefully change, systemic racism and inequity.

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  • UO leaders speak out against hatred, racism and violence

    First published in Around the O on May 31, 2020. University of Oregon leadership, including President Michael H. Schill, the Vice President for Student Life Kevin Marbury, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh, and Provost Patrick Phillips are speaking out against hatred, racism and violence. “George Floyd’s tragic and senseless killing by a white police officer on a street in Minneapolis shocks, saddens and outrages all of us.” “As leaders of this university it is important to speak out against these and other less publicized atrocities inflicted against people of color in our nation. We call on our entire university community and nation to recognize that these are not isolated events, but instead reflect a society deeply in need of transformation and healing,” said the leaders “Now is the time to raise our voices and send the message that hatred and violence toward people of color and other marginalized groups must stop. In the words of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘the ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.’” In a statement issued on May 29, they said these injustices are happening during a time when COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact of communities of color.

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  • Merkley urges Senate to increase funding for TRIO programs

    May 21, 2020 02:30 pm U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) was joined by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Jon Tester (D-MT) in leading a bipartisan group of 40 senators seeking to ensure increased financial relief for Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO). TRIO programs are eight federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, offering grants to institutions of higher education that serve and assist lower-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs. TRIO also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRIO projects.   In a May 15 letter addressed to congressional leadership, Sen. Merkley and 39 other senators urged Congress to include significant funding for TRIO programs in an upcoming fourth coronavirus relief package. The letter comes as a response to the economic and social difficulties facing many financially vulnerable students due to the coronavirus pandemic, including lack of access to reliable internet and career counseling.

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  • UO appeals to Oregon delegation for research relief

    May 20, 2020 01:29 pm On Monday, May 18, UO leadership sent a letter to the Oregon congressional delegation requesting university research workforce relief in the next coronavirus stimulus package. The letter, signed by President Michael Schill, Vice President for Research & Innovation David Conover, and Dean of the College of Education Randy Kamphaus, asked the Oregon delegation to include $26 billion in emergency supplemental funding for federal research agencies to allow for cost extensions to existing grants. Higher education associations arrived at the request by estimating four months of grant activity across all sponsored research agencies such as National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The letter highlights that the total amount requested includes $75 million specifically for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). UO leaders pointed to the difficulties facing the UO research community, highlighting the impact of the holds placed on nearly all research efforts as a result of the government’s stay at home requirements. “Unless Congress acts, we are reaching a point where layoffs of grant-funded personnel will begin and accelerate as we move forward into summer,” the letter states. “Congressional action will assure that the federal funding agencies have supplemental funds to backfill losses on individual grants and thereby enable current projects to be completed once research reopens.”

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  • IRS clarifies that emergency financial aid grants are not taxable income

    May 8, 2020 08:03 am On May 7 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued FAQs on the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund and Emergency Financial Aid Grants under the CARES Act. The FAQ clarifies that aid, including emergency aid to college students, should be treated as a "qualified disaster relief payment" and is not treated as taxable income.  See April 24 GCR Blog post about action by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) to seek clarification regarding taxability of these grants.

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  • Coalition calls to fund tech and science research in future coronavirus financial relief

    On Monday, May 4, the Task Force on American Innovation (TFAI) organized a letter and press release urging Congress to recommit funding to national tech and science research in any future coronavirus legislation. TFAI––a coalition of companies, business and university associations, and professional societies that advocate for federal investment in basic science research––was joined by seventeen other organizations in urging Congress to invest in the future health of the U.S. research enterprise. The 18-group coalition is raising alarm to the dramatic reduction in research activity across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the inability of U.S. companies and universities to train the STEM workforce. The letter further emphasizes the integral role that science and engineering research will play in rebuilding the United States economy and responding to the health challenges that result from the pandemic. The University of Oregon participates in several of the groups that signed the letter including The Science Coalition, Friends of IES (Institute of Education Sciences), and the National Photonics Initiative.

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  • National Science Foundation: 70 years of funding fundamental research

    On May 10, 1950, Congress established the National Science Foundation (NSF) as an independent federal agency designed to promote the progress of science, advance the country’s health, prosperity, and welfare, and to secure the nation. The University of Oregon joins other research universities across the country in celebrating NSF’s 70th anniversary by featuring a few of the many discoveries UO researchers have made with support from NSF funding. The Science Coalition – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities dedicated to sustaining the federal government’s investment in fundamental scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation and drive American competitiveness – has created a fun new infographic featuring UO-related discoveries and research funded by NSF. These are just a few of the many NSF-funded research projects UO faculty have conducted since NSF’s founding. Follow the links to learn more about a few of these discoveries: Lasers: Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry Geri Richmond, who is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and specializes in understanding the molecular processes that occur in liquid surfaces and the environmental relevance of their chemistry and physics, has used lasers and computational methods to impact acid rain, atmospheric aerosols, and oil spill remediation. Mathematical Modeling: Computational Material Chemistry Professor Christopher Hendon has researched mathematical modeling and used NSF-shared computing resources to help identify key variables required to make consistently tasty coffee. Early Evidence of Humans: Anthropology professors Dennis Jenkins and Loren Davis researched DNA from human coprolites (otherwise known as dried feces) – which shows as some of the earliest evidence of humans in North America. Glacial Melting: Earth Sciences Professor Dave Sutherland discovered that glaciers are potentially melting as much as 100 times faster than predicted.

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  • House passes $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan

    May 19, 2020 08:50 am On Friday, May 15, the US House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package, by a vote of 208-199 along mostly party lines, marking the start of an effort to pass a fourth emergency supplemental spending package in response to COVID-19. The bill includes $100 billion for education, with $27 billion allocated to public institutions of higher education through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Other allocations of these education funds include $1.4 billion to schools with “unmet needs” and up to $10,000 of student loan forgiveness per student loan borrower, which is applicable to all types of student loans. The bill would also enable DACA and international students to be eligible for all education funds, as well as retroactively make these students eligible for relief funds under the CARES Act, the third stimulus. An interactive dashboard created by the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Office of Data and Policy Analysis includes estimates of the amount of funds each eligible public university would receive under this bill as written. The University of Oregon would receive approximately $28 million of the $300 million distributed to Oregon institutions of higher education.  APLU released a statement on the passage of the HEROES Act saying that the bill addresses some of the acute challenges facing public research universities. “While short of APLU’s request, the funding would go a long way to support institutions essential to the public good. We appreciate the flexibility in the use of funds so institutions can adapt the federal support to the unique needs of their campus communities.”

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  • OR delegation supports more funding for research workforce

    May 7, 2020 10:44 am In a May 4, 2020 letter addressed to United States Senate leadership, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) were joined by 31 other senators in urging Congress to provide additional support for the U.S. research workforce, which includes graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators, and technical support staff. The bipartisan letter requested a total of $26 billion dollars to be included in the fourth coronavirus stimulus package. “In the current environment, researchers face myriad problems. Many are unable to make progress on their grants. Researchers who receive federal-grant funding may continue to receive their salaries even though their research has stopped, but many need supplemental funding to support additional salary and lab supplies as they ramp up work again and for the completion of their initial grant work.” The $26 billion requested would be used to accomplish three goals: Cover supplements for research grants and contracts; Provide emergency relief to sustain research support personnel and base operating costs for core research facilities; and Fund additional graduate student and postdoc fellowships, traineeships, and research assistantships. The Senate letter comes on the heels of a similar April 29 letter to House leadership initiated by U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) and joined by 178 other members of the House, also requesting support for the U.S. research community. “Protecting the research workforce is critical to state and local economies as research universities, academic medical centers, independent research institutes, and national labs are major employers in all 50 states. In the long term, these researchers are essential to protecting our nation’s public health, national security, economic growth and international competitiveness. Preserving our scientific infrastructure and protecting our innovation pipeline will help ensure U.S. leadership in the world.” Both of Oregon’s senators signed the Senate letter. Oregon Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, and Suzanne Bonamici signed the House letter. Major associations of higher education, including the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Association of American Universities (AAU), previously recommended $26 billion to support major research agencies in a letter addressed to both House and Senate leadership on April 7. The UO Government and Community Relations blog covered that request to Congress here. Read an article covering the May 4 Senate letter here. Read an article covering the April 29 House letter here.

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