Latest news from the UO

  • Research sheds new light on tensions along Cascadia fault

    First published in Around the O on July 25th, 2018. UO researchers have found clues from seismic waves that shed new light on the location, frequency and strength of earthquakes along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The research, detailed in a paper online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, doesn’t deliver help for forecasting the next magnitude 9-plus, full-zone rupture of the fault, but it does provide context for the fault’s historical record. Off shore, but not Cascadia A series of earthquakes, ranging from magnitude 4.3 to 5.6, struck off the southern Oregon coast, about 124 miles southwest of Gold Beach, early Tuesday morning, July 24. These events, and others that frequently occur in that area, are not in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The area involved is known as the Gorda Deformation Zone, a small plate west of Cascadia caught in a vice between the Pacific and Juan de Fuca plates, said UO seismologist Doug Toomey. “It is a region of intense deformation and seismicity,” he said. Earthquakes occurring there are unlikely to cause a tsunami. The 620-mile subduction zone, which hasn’t had a massive lengthwise earthquake since 1700, is where the Juan de Fuca ocean plate dips under the North American continental plate. The fault stretches just offshore of northern Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino in northern California. From a comprehensive analysis of four years of data recorded by 268 seismometers on the ocean floor and several hundred on land, the UO team identified anomalies in the upper mantle below both ends of Cascadia. The anomalies are regions with lower seismic wave velocities than elsewhere beneath the fault line. They suggest that pieces of the Earth’s upper mantle, just below the crust, are rising and buoyant because of melting rock and possibly elevated temperatures, said UO doctoral student Miles Bodmer, who led a study. “What we see are these two anomalies that are beneath the subducting slab in the northern and southern parts of the subduction zone,” Bodmer said. “These regions don’t have the same behavior as the entire fault. There are three segments that have their own distinct geological characteristics. The north and south segments have increased locking and increased tremor densities.” Locking refers to how strongly two plates stick. “If they are stuck together tightly, as is the case here, they are building up stress and you have the potential for the release of that stress, or energy, in large earthquake events,” Bodmer said. Such quakes, while strong, are below that projected if Cascadia ruptures all at once, he said. The locking is weaker in Cascadia’s central section, which includes most of Oregon, where infrequent, smaller quakes tend to occur from creeping along the plates. Tremor refers to long-duration seismic signals often seen at subduction zones. “These happen deep and take more time than a typical earthquake as they rumble to release energy,” Bodmer said. The study helps explain long-recognized patterns in Cascadia’s historical record, said co-author Doug Toomey, a seismologist in the UO Department of Earth Sciences. “Our study is worse news for Portland northward to Seattle and for southern Cascadia, but central Cascadia is not off the hook,” said Toomey, who also is lead investigator for the Oregon component of ShakeAlert, the West Coast early warning network. “More frequent earthquakes to the north and south are seen in historical seismicity patterns.” The junction of the Cascadia-San Andreas faults, he said, has a lot of complexity and is the most seismically active part of contiguous North America. Seismic history also shows more earthquake activity in the Puget Sound area than in central Oregon. Both regions accumulate energy that eventually is released in large earthquakes, he said. The study involved deep imaging, similar to CAT scans, using different forms of seismic waves coming from distant earthquakes moving through the Earth. The ocean-bottom seismic stations, from which data were retrieved every 10 months, were part of the National Science Foundation-funded Cascadia Initiative. Older data from numerous onshore studies in the Western U.S. also were included in the analysis. The anomalies, Bodmer said, suggest that the buoyant ends serve to modulate plate coupling forces. The findings, he added, could apply to subduction zones elsewhere. “Knowing the timing and path of the seismic signals, we can look at velocity variation and equate that to the structures,” he said. “With large offshore data sources, we might be able to better understand how a large rupture in the south might extend into Central Oregon.” Moving forward, Toomey said, there is a need for real-time, onshore-offshore seismic monitoring and geodetic analyses, such as from GPS, to help plot spatial coordinates. That, he added, could feed efforts to project earthquakes in the fault zone. Co-authors on the study – “Buoyant Asthenosphere Beneath Cascadia Influences Megathrust Segmentation” – were Emilie Hooft, a professor in the UO Department of Earth Sciences, and Brandon Schmandt, a professor at the University of New Mexico who earned his doctorate from the UO in 2011. The study's publication quickly drew coverage from Temblor, a website dedicated to earthquake research, in the story: “New findings clarify the seismic risk in the Pacific Northwest.” —By Jim Barlow, University Communications

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  • Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici meets with UO faculty to discuss safety in high schools

    First published in the Daily Emerald on July 24th, 2018. U.S. House of Representatives member and University of Oregon alumna Suzanne Bonamici, D-OR 1st District, met with eight professors and researchers in the College of Education last Friday afternoon for a roundtable discussion. The discussion focused on research being done by UO faculty to improve safety in high schools. The research, which is in part funded by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education, encompasses a variety of different proposals for improving the safety and wellbeing of high school students. As a vice ranking member of the House’s Committee on Education and the Workforce, Rep. Bonamici says that school safety is something she feels passionately about. She is interested in learning about the research being conducted at UO, and disagrees with some of the school safety proposals meant to prevent school shootings that have been discussed nationally in recent months. “I’m hoping to hear from some of the experts here about what we can do in terms of policy that does not involve arming teachers, because I’m very much opposed to that,” Bonamici said. Rob Horner, professor emeritus of special education at UO, began the discussion by thanking Bonamici for her attendance. After faculty members introduced themselves, Bonamici then discussed her personal and professional background regarding education, including legislation she has worked on and her experiences with current school safety issues. Rep. Bonamici serves on the House’s Committee on Education and the Workforce and came to hear policy suggestions from UO faculty and researchers on July 20, 2018 (Brad Moore/Emerald). “What I’m hearing today concerns me — not only about gun violence in schools — but students being worried and stressed, discrimination, and students not feeling safe,” Bonamici said. “I’ve had students tell me they walk into a classroom and the first thing they do is figure out where they can hide and how they can escape.” UO faculty then took turns discussing research they had conducted or proposed. Senior research associate and associate professor K. Brigid Flannery talked about a proposal for adapting the Check-in/Check-out behavioral intervention protocol for high school students. Check-in/Check-out involves teachers meeting with individual students at various times during the school day to discuss behavioral improvements they’re working on. Flannery noted that many new high school students struggle with changes in context and expectations, and that this intervention method could help prevent the behavioral problems that often occur when they’re transitioning from middle school. Julia Heffernan, whose research primarily focuses on gender and sexuality issues in education, discussed how research has shown that inclusive curriculums and affinity groups, such as gay-straight alliance clubs, can mitigate the levels of bias and violence that marginalized high school students face. In an interview following the meeting, Heffernan described one successful example of an inclusive curriculum in elementary schools that sought to end the use of the word “retarded,” a derogatory term for individuals with physical, developmental or mental disabilities. “There were campaigns about banning the word ‘retarded,’ which was the most frequently used slur in elementary schools for any kind of deficiency,” Heffernan said. “And as teachers taught that inclusive curriculum about — who is this community? Who are these folks? You see a reduction in the violence that happens.” John Seeley, a member of UO’s Prevention Science Institute, discussed youth suicide intervention methods. Seeley’s research team is helping with the rollout and implementation of Oregon’s Youth Suicide Intervention and Prevention Plan. Their efforts focus not only on the prevention of youth suicide, but also on “post-vention” strategies that help communities cope with emotional trauma following a suicide. Bonamici remarked on the importance of these post-vention strategies, relating that she had spoken with students who were reluctant to speak with school counselors about emotional trauma. “They said there’s so much stigma that they don’t go to counselors at school,” Bonamici said. “They just don’t go talk to anybody because they’re afraid of being seen.” Horner then talked about the proven effectiveness of building positive social environments in schools, wherein all students know what behavior is expected of them. He said that research over the past 20 years has shown that improving schools’ social environments greatly reduces behavioral problems and increases attendance and academic performance. “When you actually teach those expectations, it shifts from something where the adults are controlling the agenda to where the students are simply expecting good behavior from each other,” Horner said. He also noted that due to budget limitations that schools often face, the UO research staff is taking into account the sustainability and costs of school safety interventions. “In education one of the things you’ve got to be worried about with funding, is how do we fund things not only that work, but that become easier the second year, easier the third year, and are likely to continue on?” said Horner. At the conclusion of the meeting, Bonamici thanked the UO faculty for their research efforts and promised to share their findings with her legislative staff for use in future conversations about school safety measures. “We have to come up with ways to make sure that all students have safety,” she said. “As we go forward, this will be helpful.”

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  • Affirmative action changes mean for UO

    First published in the Daily Emerald on July 23rd, 2018. On July 3, the U.S. Department of Education announced it would rescind legal guidelines for universities that use race as a factor in their student admissions process, and instead will begin promoting race-neutral admission policies. The guidelines, which were first published by the Obama administration in 2011, provided recommendations for how universities could use race as an admissions factor in a way that was consistent with federal law. The introduction to the guidelines also contains justification for race-based admissions, citing the benefits that diverse learning environments have on society. The decision to rescind the affirmative action guidelines comes amidst a lawsuit filed against Harvard by Students for Fair Admissions, a non-profit group that claims Harvard discriminates against Asian-American students by giving them lower “personality” scores even if their test scores outrank those of other applicants. The Department of Justice is also currently reviewing Harvard’s admissions policies on suspicions that it is illegally discriminating against Asian-American students. How exactly will the changes affect admissions at the UO? According to UO’s holistic review process for student admissions, the racial or ethnic identity of student applicants is taken into consideration. When asked if the university would be changing their admissions process following the Trump administration’s actions, UO spokesperson Tobin Klinger issued this written response: “No single factor determines admissions decisions and our process is carried out in accordance with best practices for university admissions, and with current federal rulings. The new guidance will not change our process at this time.” According to a recent Around the O article, since the year 2000 the percentage of UO students who are ethnic minorities has increased from 12.8 percent to 26.8 percent, with the class of 2017 being the most ethnically diverse in university history. Roger Thompson, vice president of Student Services and Enrollment Management, notes in the article that UO is more diverse than the state of Oregon itself. Equal opportunity or racial bias? Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made the decision to rescind the guidelines, arguing that they strongly encouraged racial bias in admissions processes and downplayed the potential legal difficulties of implementing affirmative action. Affirmative action is a result of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement effort to create equal opportunities for minority groups that are historically underrepresented. The constitutionality of affirmative action has proven to be controversial in college admissions.   The Supreme Court has ruled that schools are not allowed to implement quotas for acceptance of minority students, but narrowly taking race into consideration, among other factors, is constitutional. Critics of affirmative action claim that the program gives preferential treatment to minority students and lowers standards for those students, making it easier for them to get into colleges. Oregon lawmakers criticize Trump’s decision The Emerald reached out to Oregon’s congressional representatives to get their response to the Trump administration’s actions. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, issued a statement criticizing President Donald Trump’s policies, and cited the repeal of affirmative action guidelines as an attack on “proven and needed policies.” “Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise that he is now taking his battle to colleges by plotting with Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos to attack proven and needed policies that promote diversity and improve the educational experience and campus life in Oregon and nationwide,” Wyden wrote. “Just as I have fought back against Trump’s moves to defend white supremacists and to implement cruel immigration policies, I will fight back against this deeply flawed and backward-looking scheme.” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-OR, responded in an interview last Friday at UO’s HEDCO building where she held a roundtable discussion on high school safety. Like Sen. Wyden, she offered a rebuke of the Trump administration. “I see it as just another step by the Trump administration to attack opportunities for other people,” Bonamici said. “We all benefit when we have perspectives from different people, particularly in higher education.” Bonamici’s full statement on the issue can be read here. What’s next for UO admissions? Although the new guidance from the Trump administration doesn’t change any existing laws, it does indicate an opposition to affirmative action and reveals the challenges that universities might face from the Department of Justice if they continue to use race as a factor in admissions. Various news outlets, including CNN, Politico and the New York Times, have speculated that the pending litigation against Harvard may go to the Supreme Court, which could then issue a ruling that reverses past Court rulings on affirmative action, thereby making race-based college admissions illegal. Klinger acknowledged this legal situation in his response, writing that, ”The withdraw [sic] of Obama-OCR guidance that encouraged the use of programs designed to increase diversity does not materially change either the law or how UO should go about its admissions decisions, so we can’t really say when or how something might change.”

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  • Climate change lawsuit involving two UO students sees first arguments in court

    First published in the Daily Emerald on July 18th, 2018. On Wednesday, attorneys made oral arguments in Juliana v. United States — the case in which 21 plaintiffs, including two UO students, are suing the U.S. government over carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. The case, which begins trial on Oct. 29 and is presided over by Honorable District Judge Ann Aiken, could have serious consequences for the United States if the judge finds the government responsible for the plaintiffs’ accusation that the government’s use and production of fossil fuels endangered them. Juliana v. United States also raises questions as to how the Fifth Amendment, which ensures life, liberty, property and due process, should be interpreted in regards to climate change. The case is as much a question of constitutional law as it is about environmental sustainability. Oral arguments were set to begin at 2 p.m. The Register Guard reported on Tuesday that the government filed a stay with the Supreme Court of the United States, meaning that they intended to stop the case from proceeding; however, during oral arguments, the attorneys for the plaintiffs said that they would file a response for the stay application by noon next Monday. At 1 p.m., a crowd of roughly 40 demonstrators arrived at the Wayne L. Morse Courthouse bearing turquoise signs that read “LET THE YOUTH BE HEARD #YouthvGov.” Demonstrators sang a version of the song “This land is your land, this land is my land” that substituted the original lyrics for ones that promoted environmental activism and cheered when the plaintiffs and their attorneys entered the courthouse. Oral arguments began at 2 p.m. with opening remarks coming from the defendants. The United States’ attorneys argued that the case raises an issue with the separation of powers — or the distinct constitutional duties of the federal government’s legislative, judicial and executive branches. Juliana v. United States has a long list of defendants, which includes President Donald Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency and United States Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke. The government’s attorneys argued that the court ruling in the plaintiffs’ favor would be an example of the court system determining policy, instead of allowing Congress to pass legislation. The United States’ attorneys also argued that the plaintiffs were not able to clearly tether their symptoms of anxiety, asthma and natural disasters such as flooding to U.S. policy and government action. Julia Olson, the plaintiffs’ attorney, spoke after the defense and made the case that the plaintiffs’ Fifth Amendment rights to life, liberty, property and due process were infringed upon by the government’s actions. In a rebuttal to the government’s assertion that there was an issue with the separation powers, Olson pointed to past issues in which the courts have weighed in on policy, such as cases relating to voting, housing and prison. “The constitution is silent on the national energy system, but is loud on liberty,” she said. Despite the differences the parties had, both agreed at the end of the proceeding that President Trump can be dismissed from the case without prejudice — meaning that he is not involved in the case now, but can be brought back in at a later date if necessary. Olson said that because of the wide scope of the lawsuit, the court would be able to award the plaintiffs the remedy, or relief, they want, even if the president was not involved in the lawsuit. “The defendants say we can get the remedy we want without the president because we’ve sued other federal agencies and officials,” Olson said. “We’re saying ‘Fine, let’s narrow that issue; he can be out of the case. If we need him, we can move to bring him back in.’” Following the end of oral arguments, the plaintiffs and their attorneys held a press conference at 4 p.m. and addressed the demonstrators who filed into the courtroom to watch the arguments. One plaintiff, 21-year-old Jacob Lebel, spoke of the effects of climate change on his farm near Roseburg, Oregon. “This is only the tip of the iceberg and the beginning of the destabilization that climate change has instilled for me and my generation; it’s one of the worst things I can think of,” he said. Aji Piper, a 17-year-old plaintiff from Seattle, WA, said that the case can be a catalyst for change in other parts of the world. “The remedy that we’re seeking has to do with getting the courts to order the government to take responsibility through instituting a national climate recovery plan,” he said. “If we were to win this case and get the remedy and as a country start moving towards a renewable and sustainable economy, we would see the rest of the world follow along.”

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  • State law makes it easier to recruit new postdocs

    First published in Around the O, in July 2017. A new Oregon law will make it easier for researchers at the UO to recruit postdoctoral scholars and secure federal research funding, chief research officer David Conover said in a campus message July 18. “I am pleased to announce that the Oregon State Legislature has passed Senate Bill 214, a law that will make it easier for us to recruit postdoctoral scholars and bring in more federal funding,” said Conover, UO’s vice president for research and innovation. “Our UO team led the way for the rest of the state in the multiyear effort of passing this legislation.” The law applies to postdoctoral scholars — or “postdocs” — trainees pursuing advanced studies beyond the doctoral level in preparation for independent careers. Many postdocs participate in research projects under the direction of faculty mentors. The new law will exempt postdocs from the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System and provide them with an alternative retirement plan after it takes effect Jan. 1. It will allow them to receive up to a 4 percent university match on retirement contributions they make. The new law applies to scholars at other Oregon universities as well, but the UO was the initial driving force behind efforts to pass the legislation. Conover credited members of his staff, the UO Office of Government and Community Relations, United Academics and the UO Postdoc Association for working to pass the measure, which supports UO President Michael Schill’s goal of increasing academic excellence and research productivity. More details about how SB 214 will be implemented will be posted to the Research and Innovation websitein the coming months. In the meantime, questions can be directed to Cass Moseley at cmoseley@uoregon.edu. Read the full version of the announcement.

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  • UO honored by Portland's Good in the Hood cultural festival

    First published in Around the O. Creating unity in the community by celebrating music, food and resources: This has been Good in the Hood’s mission for 26 years. This year the Portland festival’s organizers honored the University of Oregon with the Title Sponsor Award, recognizing the five-year partnership to expand access to the community values of northeast Portland. Accepting the award for the university was Joelle Goodwin, former Mrs. Oregon and currently the UO’s senior associate director of admissions. “Good in the Hood brings together two things that are near and dear to my heart: the neighborhood that I grew up in and my university,” Goodwin said. “Being recognized for our support and sponsorship of the festival is really meaningful to me.” At the three-day event, student ambassadors welcomed community members to the UO booth, the Duck came out to play and staffers connected with families in the Portland community. To learn more about summer events the UO is sponsoring, visit the Around the O story with links to volunteer opportunities.

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  • The story behind the jerseys at the 2018 World Cup

    The story behind the jerseys at the 2018 World Cup By Susan L. Sokolowski, University of Oregon via The Associated Press | Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:01 PM There are lots of rules about World Cup jerseys right down to the number of colors. And then there's the issue of counterfeit jerseys. MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images What's involved in designing World Cup jerseys? By Susan L. Sokolowski, University of Oregon Nearly 3.5 billion people are expected to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. They’ll all see players wearing a fresh batch of national jerseys, designed by the major sport product manufacturers. Millions of authentic tops are made for fans to buy. Even more are counterfeited. Francisco Seco/The Associated Press Before I became a professor of sports product design at the University of Oregon, I spent about 20 years working for a major sports manufacturer on innovative products, for events like the World Cup and the Champions League Final. Sport manufacturers such as Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Puma, Uhlsport, Umbro and Under Armour start research and product development two to three years before a World Cup begins.  Jerseys must represent teams’ countries, perform for elite athletes and be desirable for fans. They must also deter counterfeiting, which undermines the only real way jersey manufacturers can recoup their design and production investments. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Following the rules The jerseys must first obey guidelines set by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. Some are pretty basic – like making sure players’ jerseys aren’t easily confused with referees’ shirts, and that they have sleeves; soccer jerseys can’t be tank tops.  Other rules are more detailed, like banning jerseys that have more than four colors, unless they’re striped or checkered in two equal colors – in which case the jersey can use five colors. The Associated Press There are also specific rules about the size and placement of logos – including the manufacturer’s own, and stars indicating how many World Cups a team has won – and player names and numbers. FIFA even specifies that both sleeves must be free of logos, to make room for its own event badges.  The Associated Press Satisfying the customer Following FIFA’s rules is a must, but the ultimate approval of each nation’s jersey designs comes from its national soccer governing federation. The manufacturer has the ideas, but the federation officials need to be convinced to go along with their new design aesthetics and performance innovations. Often the sports product manufacturer will ask the soccer federations for a list of aesthetic and performance criteria upfront. Some countries have really detailed lists, perhaps governed by tradition or superstition. Others are more open to new ideas – like Nigeria, which approved striking designs by Nike for World Cup 2018. The Associated Press The manufacturer's design touch Typically a jersey manufacturer will come up with a few ideas for each home and away jersey. Often they’ll include designs that look a lot like the team’s last World Cup jersey, others that are very different and still others somewhere in between the old design and a brand new one. The company usually hopes it’ll be allowed to create something at least relatively new, rather than just remaking a design from the past. The company making the jersey can add some design elements, too – but of course they must be approved by FIFA and the national federation. Some of these – like the neckline – are aesthetic features that may have a historical nod to each nation’s heritage. The Associated Press Other elements can combine appearance and function, like the cut and fit of the jersey, ventilation or how its materials handle sweat. There are also aspects of the design intended to deter counterfeiting; for the 2018 World Cup, many of the major sport manufacturers developed engineered knit jersey materials that help with thermoregulation and fit, while providing a unique appearance that is difficult to knock-off without the exact machinery and programming skills. The manufacturers will lab-test the materials, and then let elite players confidentially test the physical designs, on pitch, during training sessions.  Protecting the design To curtail counterfeiting, some manufacturers will embed electronic tags in their authentic jerseys, making it easy to check whether a merchant is selling real or fake products. Many large manufacturers will have teams of inspectors shopping international markets, online and at shipping ports, looking for counterfeits and working with local police to shut down sales and exportation. Total prevention is impossible, though – and it’s made harder when supplies of the real thing sell out. The Nigeria jersey sold out, making Nike a fair profit, but now it’s making Chinese and Thai counterfeiters millions of dollars too, because there are no more authentic versions available.  The Associated Press When FIFA guidelines, federation and manufacturer desires align, new World Cup jersey designs can be an exciting  part of the tournament experience for fans around the world. The Associated Press This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/whats-involved-in-designing-world-cup-jerseys-98279.

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  • UO achieves key goals in legislative session

    UO achieves key goals in 2018 legislative session   The 2018 Oregon Legislature adjourned Saturday, March 3. In a session marked by conversations about climate change and the passage of a bill restricting gun sales in the wake of the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, The University of Oregon achieved some wins on key priorities, and received half of the funding requested for the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. Lawmakers protected universities from cuts to operating budgets, ensured DREAMers can continue to qualify for in-state tuition even in the face of federal inaction on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and allocated another $20 million in bonding authority for the Knight. “This takes us further to making sure the dream becomes a reality,” said President Michael Schill. “We are really grateful to the legislature, the governor who pushed this, and we are grateful to our local legislators for their support.” Aside from budgets and bonding, the Legislature approved several measures that will impact UO: HB 4035 – Requires the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) provide full resident tuition assistance at community colleges and public universities for qualifying members of the Oregon National Guard. HB 4053 – Aims to better understand how well accelerated credit programs like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate requirements are working for Oregon students. HB 4063 – Creates a task force on public policy related to autonomous vehicles and specifies a place for a representative from a public university on task force. HB 4141 – Creates new statutory provisions around the campus process for tuition-setting. The bill ensures public university students have the opportunities for education and engagement in every step of the process. UO is already implementing most of the new requirements, including the formation of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board, publicly posting meetings and materials, and providing opportunities for public comment and feedback. SB 1554 – Ensures that an individual or family’s contribution to a 529 Oregon College Savings Plan does not count toward determining eligibility to receive assistance or benefits like food stamps. SB 1557 – Protects university students who serve in the military by allowing them to complete missing assignments or exams in accordance with university policies if they are called to duty. SB 1563 – Ensures that undocumented students can continue to qualify for tuition equity in Oregon and can legally receive scholarships and financial aid.  SB 1566 – Takes the first steps toward addressing Oregon’s PERS unfunded liability by establishing a state matching fund for employers to contribute to in order to pay down their own outstanding liability.

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  • UO 2020: Fast Forward

    Originally published in Around the O on July 6, 2018. It’s not easy to transform an institution. Buildings and traditions date back more than a century. There are a thousand moving parts to recalibrate—programs, people, priorities. How does a 142-year-old university move boldly into the future while retaining the best of all that has been accomplished? This is the comprehensive shift happening now at the University of Oregon—an evolution that will be as visible in the institution’s academic offerings as it is in the campus architecture. New buildings, new programs, new opportunities for researchers, students, and athletes, all anchored in a steadfast foundation. The transformation is rooted in that which distinguishes the UO: innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurial spirit, and philanthropy—nearly $2 billion in support in the current campaign. Change will arrive in 2020, when the university touts the first phase of an unprecedented, $1 billion science-and-education campus; a reimagined Hayward Field that connects the legends of the past to champions of the years ahead; a campus-wide initiative to tap the exponential growth of data in our lives; and an ever-changing generation of students whose strength lies in their diversity. These are just four of the paradigm-shifting changes that will remake the face of the institution, exemplars of the transformation that will characterize a new day—the University of Oregon, 2.0. In a speech last spring unveiling the new Hayward Field, President Michael Schill issued a call to action that captures the moment: “The message for every student, every faculty and staff member, and every alumnus is clear: Don’t come to the University of Oregon to be the best in town. Don’t come to be the best in the state or even in the country. You come to the University of Oregon to be the best in the world.” Growing, and Growing More Diverse Roger Thompson is excited about the future. It’s not just that fewer Ducks are graduating with debt (and less of it) than their peers nationwide—the vice president for Student Services and Enrollment Management has witnessed only upward trends since joining the UO in 2010: growth in student population and academic quality and, above all, growth in diversity. The class of 2017 was the most ethnically diverse in the university’s history, a trend that has continued for eight years running. There are more first-generation college students and a better mix of those from urban and rural areas. “The University of Oregon has become more diverse, both in terms of race and ethnicity, as well as a socioeconomic standpoint,” says Thompson. “We’ve also become more diverse from a geographic standpoint. We now have all 50 states represented at the UO, as well as about 100 countries from around the world. In every way that you can define diversity, our student body is becoming more diverse.” The growth results from the effort to make the UO more of a national, even international school, than a West Coast destination. Thompson points out that the university is now more diverse than the state in which it resides. “Our goal as a university is to prepare people to compete in a 21st- century global economy,” says Thompson. “The more we can expose students to students who are different than them, have a different worldview, give them the chance to live, learn, recreate, with students who come from outside of the US, the more it will help all of them to prepare for a world that’s becoming very small in many ways.” The Changing Face of the UO Student 2000 2017 Student population 17,843 22,980 GPA for entering freshmen 3.40 3.55 Percentage of ethnic minorities 12.8% 26.8% Percentage of international students 7.7% 11.8% Countries represented 84 95 Accelerating Science Education and Research In 2020, an ambitious $1 billion effort to transform science education and research will come to life: the opening of the first building on the University of Oregon’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. An important milestone will be reached this summer when Robert Guldberg starts work as vice president and executive director of the initiative, made possible with a $500 million gift from the Knights. As a scientist and entrepreneur, Guldberg has completed research that has led to startup companies and new medical innovations that are now impacting patient care. Guldberg, who currently leads the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at the Georgia Institute of Technology, brings a multifaceted background that dovetails well with the roots of the Knight Campus, which grew out of the UO’s decades-long interdisciplinary culture. Continuing this tradition, the campus will become an integration point where people and ideas come together, a place where biologists, human physiologists, chemists, and bioengineers work on effective diagnostics, therapies, and interventions to treat cancer, degenerative diseases, and traumatic injuries. These points of integration help “complete the innovation cycle,” Guldberg says, and will be fostered by new partnerships. His own experience with Oregon Health and Science University and the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine serves as a prime example. Guldberg and his OHSU collaborator, Dr. Kenton Gregory, have led a national consortium of projects on treating severe extremity trauma—injuries to bone, muscle, blood vessels, and nerves. The consortium is developing numerous innovative regenerative therapies, some of which are now in clinical trials. Guldberg’s research is focused on complex bone injuries and his most recent work suggests that monitoring circulating immune cells in the blood may allow clinicians to predict which patients will heal well and which will have complications. As the Knight Campus takes shape, the partnership between UO and OHSU will deepen. UO students will have access to the clinical perspective of a medical school and OHSU students will be able to explore computational science, core life-science areas like biology and chemistry, and entrepreneurial education offered by a comprehensive research university. Entrepreneurship is key to understanding how scientific inquiry will be practiced at the Knight Campus. Guldberg describes it as building on the UO’s strong foundation of life and physical sciences by integrating applied scientists, biomedical engineers, and those with entrepreneurial experience. Says Guldberg: “Instead of starting with a fundamental question, like how does a cell work, you might start with a fundamental problem, such as how do we cost-effectively make cells, [thereby] creating a shorter path toward translation into a commercial product or a new therapy for patients.” Starting with a market or clinical need requires educational resources as well as a cultural shift. The Knight Campus will offer both, with new degree programs, including those in bioengineering and applied science, and opportunities for undergraduate research. It will also provide an economic impact to the state of Oregon, through the development of technology and startup companies. “This, in my view, is going to make the UO one of the premier places in the nation that people identify when they think of institutions that are effectively translating research into real-world impact,” Guldberg says. Making Sense of Big Data We are swimming in data. Many more of our actions—and interactions—are now recorded and measured. From our online shopping to our Facebook “likes,” from tracking the weather to tracking our daily steps, today’s technology captures mind-boggling amounts of data at the speed of light. Advanced algorithms and computers are helping analyze these data to see patterns and help us make decisions in ways never before possible. This is the era of “big data,” and it touches every corner of academia, as well: institutions are being separated into those that capitalize on the vast potential of the analysis of big data, and those that don’t.   The UO is squarely in the former group, with a plan to become a leader in “data science”—the analysis and use of big data. Under the Presidential Initiative in Data Science—a novel effort in UO history to connect every school and college under one academic idea—funding and other support will go to faculty across campus for education, training, and coordinated research in data science. Researchers and students across campus will be supported through this initiative to create new training opportunities and new interdisciplinary research projects. By building an onramp to the superhighway of big data—both figuratively and through the hardware and software that improve connectivity—UO scientists and students will crunch numbers faster and more economically. Research projects that once were laborious and resource-heavy will move to supercomputers that run the same tests digitally, eliminating costs and saving time. Students in disciplines as different as business and biology will collaborate and will be trained in techniques that will prepare them for the skyrocketing number of new jobs using data science in these and many other fields. In effect, the UO will become an intellectual center for tackling some of the world’s most pressing questions. Consider Leslie Leve, a professor in the College of Education who specializes in child development. Leve is examining how a wide swath of environmental and biological factors influence child health and obesity. Historically, that meant the use of questionnaires and interviews to understand issues in the home or at school. Today, Leve can tap large amounts of data across disciplines. She is collaborating with biologist Bill Cresko, director of the data science initiative, and fellow biologist Brendan Bohannan to use gut and skin microbiome samples to examine how genetics and biology influence child development; she is also working with geographers who use geocoding to identify geographic factors such as access to healthy food and clean water. “When we blend expertise across disciplines and merge data science with more traditional methods, we can really elevate our research and deepen our understanding of these issues,” Leve says. For centuries, liberal-arts schools have sought to provide students with the broadest education possible to help them succeed in the world. That world is changing rapidly. Says Cresko: “In many ways the 21st century requires the expansion of that liberal-arts education to involve computation, to involve data science. Our long history of being an interdisciplinary liberal-arts research university positions us well to be a leader in this revolution.” Welcoming the Worlds “It will mean that we’ve grown up,” Ellen Schmidt-Devlin says, when asked what the new Hayward Field will mean for her. The cofounder and director of the UO’s Sports Product Management Program speaks with authority. She ran at Hayward from 1976 to 1979, was mentored by renowned coach Bill Bowerman, is an AIAW All-American and number six on UO’s all-time outdoor mile list, and spent almost three decades leading divisions for Nike. When it opens in 2020, the new Hayward Field, made possible by Phil and Penny Knight and others, will enable the UO to recruit Oregon’s top athletes and those from across the world, Schmidt-Devlin says, as students and competitors at international events. Hayward will set world-class standards, becoming an optimal experience for both athlete and spectator, with permanent seating for more than 12,000 and a capacity that will top out at nearly 30,000 for special events. In 2021, one of the largest worldwide television audiences for the year will be trained on the IAAF World Outdoor Championships; nearly 1 billion viewers will behold the UO, and its new Hayward Field. “What will make this stadium particularly special in the world of track and field is that, unlike almost all the other major track venues worldwide, it is specifically designed for that sport only,” says Jim Petsche, project manager. “That keeps the athletes close to the spectators, and spectators close to the athletes, making for a more exciting experience for both.” The stadium will join the science evolution at the UO when the Department of Human Physiology moves to the northwest corner of the practice level. The department will enjoy new offices, conference rooms, and research and lab areas, including a roll-up door to the 140-meter indoor straightaway, allowing students and researchers close proximity to the athletes they study. The new facilities will support research in biomechanics, drawing the best scientists and pairing them with the best track-and-field athletes. An indoor, state-of-the-art training center will serve student-athletes. Schmidt-Devlin believes science leads to business innovations, and in this way Hayward will, like the Knight Campus, also lead an entrepreneurial tack. “We are the Silicon Valley of the sports and outdoor industry here in Oregon,” she says. “We own it. The state of Oregon can continue to lead. Our facilities need to follow.” A century of history is palpable at Hayward, where 20 world records were set. The new stadium will pay homage to the past through exhibits and displays housed in the field’s 165-foot-tall landmark tower and adjacent museum that will honor the history of the venue and the people who coached and competed here. Those who have experienced the roar of the crowd at the historic Hayward will never forget it, but the Hayward Field of 2020 will set new records if athletes worldwide dream of competing there, if our understanding of physiology is transformed, if new sports products revolutionize the industry. “In the end, we had to do just exactly as Bowerman coached his athletes with runners on their tail,” says Petsche: “Don’t look back, look ahead.” —By Tara Rae Miner Tara Rae Miner, BA ’96 (English), is a freelance writer and editor in Portland. She has finished two Eugene marathons at Hayward Field. Going Up The Knight Campus, Hayward Field, a data science initiative, and shifting student demographics are just four indicators of growth at the UO. Other efforts affirming the university’s rise: To assist in raising the four-year graduation rate by 10 percent by 2020, the UO will nearly double the number of professional advisors on campus and has adopted a data-driven advising platform that helps advisors and students collaborate to achieve graduation goals. The School of Journalism and Communication launched the Media Center for Science and Technology to research ways to convey scientific concepts, train students for the high-tech storytelling careers of the future, and enhance public understanding of science and technology. The Urbanism Next Center, supported by the Presidential Fund for Excellence, is working with US cities and is leading research examining the impacts of autonomous vehicles, ecommerce, and the sharing economy. The UO—collaborating with OSU, OHSU, PSU and the state—joined the Oregon Fiber Partnership, to build and operate a statewide optical network to advance research and innovation, education, healthcare, government services, and broadband development for all Oregonians. Online education: The UO will hire a first-ever associate vice provost for online and distance education to guide online- and distance-education strategy. Through new hires, the Prevention Science Institute, based in the College of Education, is expanding research into the genetic nature of obesity. Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, a $39 million hub for the College of Arts and Sciences opening in 2019, will be home to a new paradigm of integrated career and academic advising, serving all first-year students across campus. Chapman Hall, academic home of the Clark Honors College, underwent a $10.5 million renovation to create cutting-edge, high-tech classrooms and improve other learning and collaboration spaces. The $2.2 million Black Cultural Center, slated to open in fall 2019, will accommodate studying, student meetings, and more while showcasing cultural pieces and artwork that celebrate Black heritage. Renovations continue on Pacific Hall, the UO’s original science building, to add modern labs, enable the recruitment of new faculty, and expand research opportunities for undergraduates.

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