Latest news from the UO

  • FY2021 House appropriations bills include funding for ShakeAlert, IES

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Government walks back rule change on international students

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

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

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

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  • UO leads suit to block ICE international student rules

    Update: The guidance was rescinded by the federal government on July 14. The University of Oregon is the lead plaintiff in a coalition of 20 of the top institutions in the West in a suit asking the federal courts to prevent the government from revoking visas of international students whose studies will be entirely online in the fall. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene on Monday, July 13, seeks a temporary restraining order against the proposed rule issued on July 6 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, part of the Department of Homeland Security. The nationwide rule would subject students studying in the U.S. on educational visas to deportation should their studies pivot to remote-based instruction as a public health protection measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. The suit challenges the federal agency’s action as arbitrary and capricious, alleging it was issued without even the most minimal attempt to address its consequences to hundreds of thousands of students and the thousands of colleges and universities that educate them. The coalition joins Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California system and Johns Hopkins University, which have also filed litigation to block the action. The coalition in University of Oregon v. Department of Homeland Security is represented by Gibson Dunn, and Crutcher, the legal team that successfully defended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before the United States Supreme Court in a decision issued last month. UO President Michael H. Schill said he hopes the courts will move quickly to block the action and provide more certainty to international students who face disruption, financial harm and incredible stress. “This new guidance is cruel, unfair and misguided,” Schill said. “It targets one population for sudden exclusion if a university makes decisions for safety to move instruction online. It has no sound justification in health or educational policy. Unless blocked by the courts, it will cause devastating disruption to the educational and research experience of University of Oregon international students already in the United States, as well as those looking to come to the UO.” The Trump administration announced the new guidance earlier this month in a reversal of previous temporary guidance that has allowed international students’ education to not be disrupted by online education during the pandemic. The new rules would force international students to return to their home countries within 15 days if they are enrolled solely in classes taught online. “The government’s reckless and arbitrary action not only harms these students, but also robs institutions of higher education of the autonomy and flexibility to adapt models of instruction to meet the urgent needs posed by a global pandemic,” members of the coalition said in a written statement. In the suit, UO Dean and Vice Provost for Global Engagement Dennis Galvan provided a declaration outlining how the “significant, immediate, and irreparable negative impacts on University of Oregon students and the University of Oregon as an institution” would suffer if the government adopts the ICE rules. Galvan said he has already heard from many international students experiencing extraordinary stress. That comes on top of the shared pressure of the pandemic and global efforts to grapple, again, with racial justice. “International students are vital to our success in research, teaching, and building diverse and inclusive communities,” Galvan wrote. “Whether they are studying in-person or remotely, international students provide a significant source of diversity to our community and global connections that are valuable to everyone. We are pursuing this case because all international students studying in this country deserve the right to continue their education without risk of deportation.” The UO had 1,871 international undergraduate and graduate students at the institution last year. International students also make up a portion of graduate students who also contribute to teaching and research at the university. The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation spoke out against the guidance and urged the UO to support international students. In a statement, GTFF local 3544 said it welcomes the role the UO is taking. “This change to SEVP is fueled by xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment with complete disregard for the sacrifices many international students make to study in the U.S.,” the statement said. “International students make irreplaceable contributions to UO’s academic community through their participation in classroom discussions, their original and groundbreaking research and publications, and their work in the classroom as instructors. Our community is enriched by their presence every day.” Since the federal government announced the intent to create new ICE rules, the UO has been working with the Oregon congressional delegation and national associations of higher education to reverse the ICE guidance. To date, five of Oregon’s seven members of Congress have signed letters to Homeland Security asking that the guidance be reversed. The UO also has joined with other institutions of higher education in asking congressional leaders to codify the flexibility granted in March if government does not withdraw its guidance. The universities in the coalition are the University of Southern California, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, Chapman University, Claremont McKenna College, Northern Arizona University, Pitzer College, Pomona College, Santa Clara University, Scripps College, Seattle University, Stanford University, St. Mary’s College of California, University of Arizona, University of the Pacific, University of San Diego, University of San Francisco and University of Utah. —By Jennifer Winters, University Communications

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  • Grant will bring online science lessons to elementary students

    First published in Around the O on July 6, 2020. UO researchers will develop and evaluate a web-based science curriculum for elementary school students to supplement their in-class science learning as part of a project financed by a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Project ESCOLAR, for Effective Scholastic Curriculum for Online Learning and Academic Results, will create and test online, multimedia lessons for grades three through five. The lessons will align with national standards for what upper elementary students are expected to know about science. “The goal of ESCOLAR is to deliver an online program that students can use to learn and apply science efficiently and effectively,” said Fatima Terrazas Arellanes, a research assistant professor in the UO College of Education. “Our units will be designed for the classroom and for remote learning, with students guided by teachers or parents.” Project ESCOLAR is guided by principal investigators Terrazas Arellanes and Alejandro Gallard of Southern Georgia University. Their team includes a research methodologist, science curriculum developers, a content editor, programmers, graphic designers and an external evaluator. The project builds on the research team’s previously successful online science curriculum for middle school students. The ESCOLAR approach offers students more than a digital textbook; it incorporates interactive tools and authentic science projects that have been shown to enhance and support student learning. “With the new funding, we will be able to adapt, evaluate and refine nine online science units to improve academic achievement of students studying science in upper elementary school, especially those who may struggle, such as English language learners or students with learning disabilities,” Terrazas Arellanes said.

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  • Bonamici and Select Committee announce comprehensive climate action plan

    After over a year of hearings, meetings, and briefings, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis produced a comprehensive report on June 30, 2020: “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.” Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), the only committee member from the Pacific Northwest, highlighted the contributions of Oregonians to the Climate Action Plan on the House floor and during a press conference for the Select Committee.   Contributors from the University of Oregon who shared their expertise with the Select Committee include the Oregon Law Environmental Policy Practicum, Sustainable Cities Institute, and Tribal Climate Change Project. UO law students presented findings to committee staff in fall 2019. According to the report, the Select Committee’s climate action framework outlines ambitious and achievable policies to grow the economy and put Americans back to work in clean energy jobs, protect the health of Americans by reducing emissions and toxic pollutants, make communities more resilient so they can withstand the effects of climate change, and protect America’s lands, waters, ocean, and wildlife for the next generation. An independent analysis and modeling found that implementing the plan would: reduce net overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 37 percent below 2010 levels in 2030, and 88 percent below 2010 levels in 2050; provide nearly $8 trillion in cumulative climate and health benefits through 2050; and avoid 62,000 premature deaths annually by 2050. On Wednesday, July 8 from 2-3pm PT, Congresswoman Bonamici is hosting an Oregon Kick-Off for Climate Action Webinar to discuss and answer questions on the Climate Action Plan. The Congresswoman is being joined by Don Sampson from the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Evelyn Shapiro from the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, and George Waldbusser from Oregon State University to discuss the imperative for climate action now.

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  • Recap: 2020 Oregon Legislature First Special Session

    In an effort to address the COVID-19 pandemic and statewide calls for police reform, Governor Kate Brown convened the Oregon Legislature for the 2020 First Special Session on Wednesday, June 24. The Capitol Building was closed to the public to allow for social distancing, almost all lawmakers wore masks, committee meetings were held virtually, and public testimony was received in written form and via phone in an attempt to prevent any potential transmission of the coronavirus. The Senate and House chamber sessions and all committee meetings from the special session can be viewed here. On Friday, June 26, the Legislature ended their three-day sprint having passed a total of 26 bills relating to police reform, COVID-19, and an assortment of issues left unaddressed after the previous session’s “walkout.” Police Reform: Measures relating to police reform invoked a consensus among lawmakers unlike any in recent memory, and of the six measures passed, four began with the declaration “Black Lives Matter.”   First, the Legislature established the Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform (HB 4201). The committee is tasked with examining policies that increase transparency and reduce the prevalence of injury or death in use of force, as well as determining the most appropriate policy for independent review of the use of deadly force. Senator James Manning Jr. (D-Eugene) and Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Portland) will co-chair the committee. Additionally, specific uses of force by law enforcement agencies–including chokeholds and tear gas–will face new limitations, falling short of the calls to ban these practices, but hailed by lawmakers as a step in the right direction. Effective immediately, chokeholds (HB 4203) may only be used by police if deadly force would have otherwise been justified, and the use of tear gas (HB 4208) in the state may be used only to disperse “riots,” as defined under Oregon law. Further, police officers witnessing misconduct by their fellow officers will now have a duty to intervene (HB 4205).   Oregon will also begin publishing a statewide online database of officer suspensions and revocations (HB 4207) to ensure allegations of misconduct are not shielded from the public. Finally, the Legislature passed a measure addressing the arbitration process (SB 1604), in an attempt to curb the likelihood of an arbitrator reducing or overturning discipline decisions by Oregon police agencies. COVID-19 pandemic: The Legislature passed a sweeping omnibus bill (HB 4212), allowing for virtual public meetings, authorizing the Chief Justice to extend certain statutory deadlines relating to court proceedings, prohibiting the garnishment of CARES Act funding in most situations, and requiring health care providers to collect race and ethnicity data relating to the coronavirus, among other provisions. The Legislature also extended the state’s eviction moratorium (HB 4213) and passed a companion measure establishing temporary limitations on foreclosures (HB 4204) to protect Oregonians from eviction and foreclosure through September 30, 2020. Other measures passed include an extension of an existing tax on landline phones to cellphone providers, allocating up to $5 million per year toward rural broadband services (SB 1603) and a forest management bill (SB 1602) restricting the use of aerial pesticides.  What’s next? Notably missing from the special session was legislation addressing the state’s $2.7 billion budget shortfall as a result of COVID-19. Governor Brown plans to convene a second special session later this summer in the hopes that Congress will take further action and provide states with additional federal support.   The 80th Oregon Legislative Assembly adjourned sine die on June 26, 2020.

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