Latest news from the UO

  • Reports from week five of the legislative session

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

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  • UO earns grant to strengthen STEM education

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

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  • Governor to appoint eight members to UO board of trustees

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

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  • 3 professors recognized for excellence in teaching

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

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  • Interactive map shows UO’s impact across the state

    Oregon Impact 2019 map has new look, links that tell the story of the UO’s impact across the state The Oregon Impact 2019 interactive map tells the story of the University of Oregon’s impact in every Oregon county and legislative and congressional district.  This tool is now updated with a new look as well as links to the impact in communities across the state by the Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) program. The Oregon Impact map is a collaboration between the UO Campus GIS & Mapping team, the Office of Institutional Research, the Institute for Policy, Research and Engagement, and Government and Community Relations. The site allows users to see fiscal and community impacts of the UO by clicking on an interactive map. By clicking on a specific county, state legislative districts or federal congressional district, users can view the area’s current UO student enrollment, student aid distribution, number of alumni, vendor and employee expenditures, PathwayOregon recipients, and RARE placements in the last five years.

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  • Oregon legislative session week three: New partnerships with UO academic programs

    Oregon legislative session week three: New partnerships with UO academic programs The University of Oregon is focused on finding new ways for the state to partner with academic programs that contribute to community impact, research, and economic activity. The UO is synonymous with Eugene, but did you know that Ducks have a presence in all 36 counties in Oregon? We make in an impact in schools, local governments, businesses, transportation infrastructure, and more in communities statewide. This session, we’re shedding more light on innovative initiatives and community service programs and asking lawmakers to make modest investments in their work. Bringing the Sustainable City Year Program to More Oregon Communities (HB 2594) The University of Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) is an innovative model for bridging the gap between universities and communities. It advances local redevelopment efforts, provides applied education for students, and develops the next generation Oregon’s workforce. Each year, SCYP works in a different community and matches community-identified project ideas with up to 35 university courses, 20+ faculty, and 500 students across more than 12 disciplines giving more than 40,000 hours of effort. Students add capacity, fresh thinking, and the political space for communities to think and act anew. To date, SCYP has worked in partnership with the cities of Gresham, Salem, Springfield, Medford, Redmond, and Albany. This past year, SCYP piloted two new expansions of its model, including partnering with a transit agency, TriMet and its proposed 12-mile Southwest Corridor light rail project, and with a smaller Oregon city, La Pine. We are asking the State of Oregon to appropriate $300,000 as a state matching fund for SCYP so that it can expand help more Oregon cities—both urban and rural. A more stable, predictable state appropriation will allow diverse Oregon communities. Read more about the Sustainable City Year Program here. A New Boat at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (SB 255) The University of Oregon’s 90-year-old Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) in Charleston, Oregon conducts research on marine organisms and ecosystems from the spectacular Oregon coast to the very deepest parts of the ocean, while offering educational experiences to students. Our undergraduate marine biology major, the only one in Oregon, is ranked among the best degree programs in North America. OIMB’s 42-foot research vessel, Pluteus, was built for teaching in 1973 and used for most of its life in the relatively calm nearshore waters of the tropical Atlantic. The old engines and electrical systems have reached the end of their useful life. Moreover, the vessel is too small to carry most of our classes for trips outside the bay. Vessels suitable for research and teaching are designed and fabricated in Oregon for use in the local fishing industry. An example is the fishing vessel. We are asking the State of Oregon to invest $500,000 to purchase a new boat. Read more about OIMB here. Making Prison Education a Reality for More Oregon Inmates (awaiting bill number to be assigned) The University of Oregon’s Prison Education Program (PEP) provides unparalleled learning opportunities and credit-bearing courses for campus-based and incarcerated students at the post-secondary level. The PEP draws upon UO faculty, staff, students and volunteers to design and implement a range of courses and other activities at the Oregon State Penitentiary, the Oregon State Correctional Institution, the Columbia River Correctional Institution and at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution.  Many studies show that educational opportunities improve the likelihood of successful re-entry and reduce recidivism, and our program fully reflects that pattern. We are asking the State of Oregon to invest $350,000 each biennium in PEP to stabilize instructional and administrative needs and allow for expanded services to more students and inmates. Read more about the UO’s Prison Education Program here. Expanding the Oregon Research Schools Network (SB 739) Based on the Agricultural Extension model, the Oregon Research Schools Network (ORSN), from the College of Education at the University of Oregon, extends service, instruction and research statewide by placing experts in the field to help improve the academic and career outcomes for Oregon’s youth. UO is currently in a unique five-year pilot project, in partnerships across Oregon, with North Eugene High School (4J), Roosevelt High School (PPS), Pendleton High School (PSD #16R) and Coquille High School (CSD #8). SB 739 will allow ORSN to geographically expand across Oregon within its five-year pilot by serving an additional six high schools identified as high need, highly impacted, and geographically diverse. ORSN holds strong promise for creating an improvement model to increase K-12 performance statewide. This pilot will be expanded and evaluated, over a five-year period, to assess its impact on diverse high school graduation rates, better participation in and completion of post-secondary education. Build Out of ShakeAlert and AlertWildfire Multi-hazard Sensor Network The Governor’s Recommended Budget allocates $12 million to fully build out a multi-hazard sensor network for earthquake early warning and wildfire prevention, monitoring, and mitigation by 2023. The UO works with other West Coast states and universities to bring this technology to the public through the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and UO faculty and technicians operate the network in coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies.

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  • UO’s Urbanism Next leads stakeholder briefing in Washington

    First published in Around the O on February 1st 2019. Autonomous vehicles will have wide-ranging impacts on the form and function of cities, including significant changes to urban design, transportation and municipal governance, members from the UO’s Urbanism Next program explained during a recent bipartisan forum in Washington, D.C. “Autonomous vehicles are not a transportation issue, they are an everything issue,” architecture professor and Urbanism Next Director Nico Larco said at the briefing. “We need to have everyone involved, including those interested in housing, community development and economic development. This is going to affect all of us.” The briefing, last month at the Library of Congress, is regularly convened by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, and Rodney Davis, a Republican from Illinois. It brings together practitioners, policymakers and thought leaders on transportation policies and practices, especially in metropolitan areas. “Transformational changes in the transportation sector require new ways for governments of all levels to pay for infrastructure,” said Rebecca Lewis, a professor in the UO School of Planning, Public Policy and Management, who serves as research director for Urbanism Next. “Less parking means less revenue, but empty seats in cars and curb drop-off zones could be new revenue opportunities.” Larco and Lewis also led a discussion about the potential role of legislators and federal authorities to help cities purposefully direct any disruptive changes that have already begun. Blumenauer and Davis joined Larco and Lewis in speaking to a room of around 100. Blumenauer hosted a congressional briefing featuring Larco in June. “Portlanders continue to lead the way as we usher in the 21st century of transportation,” said Blumenauer. “Nico, Rebecca and the entire Urbanism Next team are doing critically important work to prepare cities for changes in automation, sharing and e-commerce. I look forward to continuing to work with them to promote more livable and equitable communities.” Urbanism Next is a center created by faculty members in UO’s Sustainable Cities Initiative and UO Portland, with support from the UO Presidential Fund and UO Portland. The center provides information, applied research and direct assistance to municipalities on the effects of emerging and fast-developing technologies that matter for cities, such as autonomous vehicles, small-footprint modes of transportation such as scooters and bikes, e-commerce, and the sharing economy. UO faculty members were also in Washington, D.C. to participate and present at in the annual Transportation Research Board meeting, a program of the National Academies of Sciences. Larco and Lewis were joined at the conference by UO professors Marc Schlossberg and Anne Brown. “The presentation in Washington demonstrated that the production of new knowledge isn’t enough,” said Schlossberg, professor in the UO School of Planning, Public Policy and Management and co-director of the UO’s Sustainable Cities Initiative. “Getting that knowledge into the hands of people who can put it into practice is equally critical.” Working with Blumenauer, Urbanism Next is proposing a national clearinghouse, where stakeholders and city planners can find comprehensive, organized and vetted research on the effects of emerging technologies on cities, including design of transportation systems and neighborhoods, as well as impacts on real estate, municipal finance, and issues of equity, health and the environment. Blumenauer noted that U.S. Rep. DeFazio, a Democrat who represents Oregon’s Fourth District, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is a partner in the effort to establish a clearinghouse to collect, conduct and fund research on the influences of highly automated vehicles on land use, design, transportation, real estate and municipal budgets and for other purposes. —By Rachael Nelson, University Communications

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  • Oregon academy to honor UO biologist for zebrafish research

    First published in around the O on January 31st, 2019. University of Oregon biologist Charles “Chuck” Kimmel will become the first person to receive a new lifetime achievement award from Oregon Academy of Science in recognition of his role establishing zebrafish as a model organism for research. In a letter of nomination, Bruce Bowerman, head of the UO Department of Biology, wrote that Kimmel was largely responsible for continuing the work started by George Streisinger to move the tiny fish species forward as a model for studying early development and behavior in organisms having spines, including humans. Streisinger, long considered to be the founding father of zebrafish in research, died in 1984 while scuba diving at the Oregon Coast near Florence. “Importantly, Chuck saw the virtue of zebrafish as a genetic model for studies of vertebrate development, due to the relative simplicity of its embryonic cell lineage compared to other vertebrates, its optical clarity during embryogenesis and its rapid generation time,” Bowerman wrote. “It is truly remarkable how Chuck’s insight has had such a global impact, with hundreds of laboratories throughout the world now using zebrafish as one of the two leading models for vertebrate development and behavior.” Four of Kimmel’s longtime UO colleagues also submitted letters of endorsement. The Oregon Academy of Science established its lifetime achievement award as “a higher tier of recognition for a scientist who has invested an entire career making world-class contributions to a field of research while in Oregon,” said Andrew Baggett, the academy’s president, in his letter announcing Kimmel’s selection. Recruited by Streisinger, Kimmel, now a professor emeritus in the Department of Biology and the Institute of Neuroscience, came to the UO in 1969 following postdoctoral work at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. He earned a doctorate in biology in 1966 from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Kimmel retired from teaching in 2003 but has maintained an active research lab, where he and colleagues continue to study mechanisms that shape skull cartilages and bones during development. In addition to research, Bowerman noted, Kimmel has influenced the careers of numerous doctoral and postdoctoral researchers. “I am very proud of the trainees who passed through my lab over the years,” Kimmel said. “Besides their work done in my lab for which I received this recognition, many of them have substantial histories of contributions after leaving my lab, and many have influential positions in our scientific community.” Kimmel will receive the Oregon Academy of Science’s lifetime achievement award at 1 p.m., Feb. 23, in Graf Hall at Linfield College in McMinnville during the organization’s annual meeting. The academy, formed in 1943, is an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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  • Two weeks in, the Oregon legislative session is underway

    Two weeks in, the Oregon legislative session is underway As week two of the Oregon legislative session comes to a close, Oregon’s state capitol building is busy with legislators, citizens, and lobbyists working on public policy and budgets. As organizations, legislative staff members and others worked to review the more than 1,400 bills that were initially introduced, the seven public universities have identified approximately 530 bills that could impact the UO. The UO’s top funding priority is to secure a minimum of $120 million increase over 2017-19 legislatively adopted budget for the Public University Support Fund (PUSF). This will allow the university to keep tuition increases at or below 5% for the next two years. We are also advocating for investments above 120 million that could be used to improve academic advising, enhance financial aid, and reduce student debt. We’re working closely with students, faculty, staff, community colleges, and business partners to make the case to lawmakers on increased funding in this session’s budget  is critical for college access and affordability. Higher education policy bills The universities evaluate and engage in policy measures on various topics. Here is a snapshot of key bills which could directly impact the UO if they are passed: Requiring community colleges and public universities to establish textbook affordability plans (HB 2213) Expanding tuition equity eligibility to more students (HB 2507) Requiring community colleges and universities to adopt—if they have not already—a written policy on hazing as well as reporting annually to Higher Education Coordinating Commission on hazing incidents, including to high school graduates of Chemawa Indian School (HB 2519, SB 312, SB 263) Providing funding for Title IX enforcement and compliance, sexual harassment prevention and gender discrimination prevention (HB 2562) Making permanent the campus veteran resources grant program (SB 35) Requiring universities to provide credit to each student who receives grade of four or higher on International Baccalaureate (IB) exam (SB 160) Making changes to entrepreneurial ecosystem programs like RAIN Eugene, whose purpose is commercialization of university-based research (SB 418) Requiring contractors with universities to employ apprentices and establish plans for outreach, recruitment and retention of women and minority individuals (SB 455) Various bills related to accelerated credit programs and credit transfer policy from community colleges to public universities It’s expected that the Legislature will also consider bills related to implementing a state-run paid family leave program, state protections to Title IX, regulation of campus safety officers, and more. Other UO highlights in the capitol since the start of session The House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee has heard from UO representatives. On January 24t universities participated in an informational presentation on the Oregon Campus Resilience Consortium and their recommendation to create a Higher Education Safety and Resilience Council. Presenters included Andre LeDuc, the UO’s Chief Resilience Officer. To view the PowerPoint presentation from the hearing, click here and to view the hearing click here. On January 29 Michael Thomas, the UO’s Veterans Programs Coordinator, testified on the value and impact of the Campus Veterans Grant Program, which the Legislature approved last session and is administered by the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs. Funding for the program was only approved for a single biennium, so the Legislature must renew it this session. The UO received $54,000 last year to fund a part-time staff person in the veteran’s services office and expand support programs and services. View Michael’s testimony here. What’s next? In the coming weeks, we expect to see an informational hearing about the Oregon Business Development Department’s $10 million request for a University Innovation Research Fund. The program would increase university competitiveness for federal research awards, leverage federal funding and increase the number of Oregon researchers in the areas of applied research and development, technology demonstration, and deployment. Stay tuned to the GCR Blog for more updates from your government relations team in Salem.

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