UO State Affairs News

  • 2019 State Legislative Agenda

    During the 2019 legislative session, the University, in partnership with students, faculty and staff, will pursue a legislative agenda that aims to ensure affordability, access, and success for students; deliver an excellent educational experience in an inclusive and diverse environment; and invest in faculty members to improve quality and promote academic research and innovation. Access, affordability, and completion for Oregon students Increase operating funding for Oregon public universities by at least $120 million for the 2019-21 biennium to keep tuition increases for resident, undergraduate students at UO at or below 5% for the next two years. Increase funding for state programs, which include UO’s Engineering & Technology Sustaining Funds, Labor Education Research Center, TallWood Design Institute, dispute resolution programs, Clinical Legal Education, and other signature research centers. Increase investment in the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the state’s only need-based aid program. Protect and expand funding for Sports Equity Scholarships through the Oregon Lottery, which helps UO meet Title IX requirements to equitably fund women’s athletics and provide graduate scholarships. Invest in facilities that produce high-demand degrees and discovery All seven public universities request the allocation of $65 million for capital improvement and renewal for maintenance of existing buildings and ensuring that students have safe and appropriate environments in which to learn and live. $54 million in state-backed bonds for the renovation of Huestis Hall, a 45-year old structure that is the teaching and research hub for biological sciences at the UO. It serves 3,000 students each year. It has urgent seismic vulnerabilities and accessibility and safety deficiencies. The project will eliminate nearly $19 million of deferred maintenance and protect many of the UO’s K-12 pipeline and summer STEM programs for girls and low-income students. Academic excellence and ingenuity Create a state matching fund for the Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP), which embeds UO students and faculty members within an Oregon city, county, special district, or tribe for an entire academic year. Students work on partner-identified projects to provide ideas for real solutions to community challenges. Many communities—especially those in more rural areas—want to particpate but cannot afford it.  A matching fund would allow more Oregonians to be served. Through a one-time investment purchase a new ship for the UO’s Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, which will add teaching and research capacity on Oregon’s Coast. The UO will match the state’s investment through philanthropic gifts. Investment in the UO’s prison education programming, Inside Out, which operates in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Corrections to bring credit-bearing courses to approximately 300 inmates each year. Programs like these help reduce recidivism rates in Oregon and broaden the student experience. Support Governor Brown’s ‘Resilience 2025’ proposal that will fund the full build out of ShakeAlert by 2023. ShakeAlert is the earthquake early warning and wildfire monitoring seismic sensor network operated through the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, of which UO is an active member with other West Coast universities. Partnerships for Economic Transformation Support investments in research and discovery, including grant funding and other innovative policies or funding initiatives that leverage Oregon’s industry strengths and workforce needs with the UO’s academic portfolio.

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  • UO research may soon make Oregon safer in quakes and fires

    First published in Around the O on October 16th, 2018. Research by UO seismologist and earth sciences professor Douglas Toomey is shaping a new set of policy agendas designed to help Oregon prepare for a Cascadia earthquake and other natural disasters. Toomey’s work on the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system and its companion multihazard monitoring efforts informed Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s just-released document, “Resiliency 2025: Improving Our Readiness for the Cascadia Earthquake and Tsunami.” “Imagine technology that enables you and your family to be notified before earthquake shaking arrives or that helps to reduce the growing impacts of wildfires,” Toomey said. “That technology exists, and we’re getting closer to being able to roll it out to the public in Oregon.” University of Oregon Department of Earth Sciences researchers, together with colleagues at the University of Washington, have been building out the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network for more than 25 years. The network is now supporting ShakeAlert, a collaboration of the U.S. Geological Survey; UO; University of Washington; University of California, Berkeley; and Caltech. ShakeAlert will provide seconds to minutes of warning, allowing individuals to determine the best course of action for safety. Through automation, industry, utilities­ and transportation sectors will be able to power down or protect critical operations. Implementing a statewide multihazards early warning system by the year 2023 is one of six strategies outlined in Brown’s Resiliency 2025 plan for improving Oregon’s preparedness for the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. The plan calls for a multihazard warning approach that includes the ability to monitor and respond to wildland fires, landslides and other natural hazards. “We want to build out a single, cost-effective, multihazards warning system,” Toomey said. Toomey, the project’s principal investigator, and his team at the Oregon Hazards Lab are already working with faculty members at University of Nevada, Reno and the University of California, San Diego to leverage the expansion of seismic monitoring to real-time wildfire monitoring cameras. The project, known as AlertWildfire, uses communications technology similar to that of ShakeAlert. It provides access to state-of-the-art, pan-tilt-zoom fire cameras and associated tools to help firefighters and first responders detect, contain and mitigate wildfires. It will benefit Oregonians by offering program cost-sharing and leveraging technology for new purposes to protect natural resources and enhance public safety. “The real barrier is that it takes time to generate funding,” Toomey said. “There is clear support from federal legislators and state legislators who think it’s an important thing to do. Translating that support into funding takes time, and that’s what we’ve been doing over the past few years.” The governor’s plan includes a one-time request to the Oregon Legislature of $12 million in the 2019-21 biennium to fully build out Oregon’s multihazard sensor network by 2023. Pilot projects using ShakeAlert and AlertWildfire have been implemented throughout Oregon. For example, the Oregon Department of Transportation is developing an automated warning light system on critical, heavy trafficked Oregon bridges not designed for seismic loads, signaling pedestrians and motor vehicles to take alternate routes. Should these bridges fail under strong shaking, the warning light system can prevent potential life-threatening safety hazards. And the Rogue Valley Council of Governments is facilitating awareness of ShakeAlert in southwestern Oregon by crowd-sourcing solutions to systems or community issues. For example, a group of local engineers is developing a community database of building structure types within the county, noting each building's potential response to strong shaking. With support from the Bureau of Land Management, University of Nevada, Reno and UO teams recently installed AlertWildfire cameras on Steens Mountain and in the Blue Mountains in southeastern Oregon and several mountaintops throughout northern Nevada. More AlertWildfire camera installations in Eastern Oregon are in the works. “Continued investment in ShakeAlert and AlertWildfire is absolutely critical in order to have enough sensor density in this state to have the technology available to the public,” Toomey said. “We are grateful for Gov. Brown’s support and hope to win the support of the legislature next year.” The ShakeAlert project receives support primarily from federals sources such as the USGS, which currently provides $12.2 million per year. However, state contributions in California and Washington mean that public alerts will come to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle well before they come to Oregon.  Currently, Oregon’s ShakeAlert network is only 38 percent complete and public alerting is not possible until it is at least 75 percent complete. The resiliency plan and funding for the hazards network may be included in the governor’s recommended budget, which will be released in early December. Final decisions on funding will not be made until the conclusion of the 2019 session. If the funding is provided, it will mean that public alerting will be available sooner to Oregonians.

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  • Breaking Trail: PathwayOregon at 10

    First published in Around the O on October 3rd, 2018. Brianna Hayes was at a restaurant with her dad when the letter arrived. The first-generation college student from Portland had been active at President Ulysses S. Grant High School, earned a solid GPA, and been accepted to the UO. But she had no idea how to afford college, and she was feeling down. Then her mom called. “You just got a piece of mail from something called PathwayOregon,” she said. “Your tuition and fees are paid for.” “I’m just sitting there screaming in the middle of the restaurant, and then I started crying,” says Hayes, a member of the class of 2018 who studied political science and philosophy. “My dad asked, ‘What is wrong with you? What’s going on?’” “I said, ‘I’m going to college. It’s going to work out.’” For the last 10 years, high school seniors from across Oregon have begun their college journeys like Hayes, with a PathwayOregon letter from the University of Oregon. The unconventional scholarship program is funded by UO donors, the Oregon state government, and millions of dollars allocated by the university through the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships. The program helps the UO leverage Federal Pell Grant funding, combining these resources to make the most of each. Years before the first PathwayOregon freshman arrived on campus, UO administrators posed the question: How can the state’s flagship university remove financial barriers to college for Oregonians with lower income and help them succeed once they’re here? The answer was a comprehensive approach that offers financial access, along with support that helps students succeed once they’re here—practical assistance to help students meet academic requirements, manage their finances, overcome common challenges, link their majors to future careers, and more. PathwayOregon—an innovative and unconventional scholarship program—was among the first of its kind at a public institution in the United States and was the first one in the state of Oregon. Although the funding varies for each PathwayOregon scholar, the promise is the same. The university guarantees that tuition and fees will be covered for four years as long as the students meet benchmarks on the path to success. The model allows for students to apply for other scholarships and grants, while simplifying what is often a complex financial puzzle. Freed to focus on their studies, and with guidance from the program’s academic advisors, students are more likely to graduate on time and with less debt. For many, this freedom makes it possible to study abroad, participate in internships or student-leadership activities, and explore ways to match their education and interests with a future career. A decade after it started, the program has cleared the path to the UO for more than 5,000 Oregonians—inspirational stories that began with a letter. For more information: around.uoregon.edu/pathwayoregon2018 —By Ed Dorsch, BA ’94 (English, sociology), MA ’99 (journalism), University Communications Oregon Quarterly

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  • UO experiments with own 'extension service' in Pendleton

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

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

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

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  • Eugene's Millrace is getting a makeover thanks to UO Knight Campus

    First published in the Register Guard on August 22nd, 2018. For the long-neglected Eugene Millrace, the University of Oregon’s new Knight science campus could be an unexpected boon. The narrow waterway, which runs between Franklin Boulevard and the Willamette River, has a rich history. In recent decades, however, it has been best known for its murky and stagnant water, its blackberry- and horsetail-covered banks, and as a receptacle for garbage, dirty stormwater from nearby parking lots, and the occasional pledge from UO fraternities. The millrace runs only a few feet from the under-construction first building of the new $1 billion Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact and that proximity to the UO’s new crown jewel is already paying dividends. The UO has been quietly planning a $1 million enhancement project on a short stretch of the millrace directly adjacent to campus, with new bridges and a new boardwalk, as well as environmental work to improve the water’s quality and nearby vegetation. After decades of fruitless talk about the millrace’s potential and how to revive it, the UO’s project is the first actual action — albeit on a limited scale. Following the recent controversy about the university tearing down its nearly century-old Hayward Field, Mike Harwood, the UO’s vice president for campus planning, said the restoration of another historical asset feels like “one of those win-wins for everybody.” “I think it’s the right thing to do,” he added. “It helps the university but it’s a win for the community because it’s a part of our heritage that we have kind of ignored.” Eugene’s earliest white settlers dug the millrace in 1851 to spin waterwheels that powered the city’s first industrial development. The waterway soon became a major recreation canal for city residents and the university community, with boathouses renting out skiffs and canoes to coeds and townsfolk starting in the 1890s. An annual Canoe Fete on the Millrace was a major fixture of the city’s calendar for 50 years, with elaborate floats drifting on the waterway. The millrace was even prominently featured in a 1929 silent picture called Ed’s Coed. But in the post-World War II era, it was partially buried and slowly allowed to deteriorate. Hourly updates from The Associated Press.   “There was definitely a post-WWII fade of the millrace,” said Bob Hart, executive director of the Lane County Historical Society. Subsequent restoration plans “all shipwrecked,” he added. “The millrace is one of those historical legacies that never seems to get high on anyone’s agenda.” The UO’s new project touches only about a 600-foot stretch of the 2-mile-long waterway, but the changes will be significant, according to an application submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The work won’t start until next summer at the earliest, after the Knight Campus building is complete. The UO will, in fact, be drying out the millrace in that stretch later this summer and diverting the water downstream through a large pipe, so crews can use the millrace’s bed as part of their work on the building. “There’s gonna be some warts before the really nice stuff happens,” Harwood said. “We’re going to make it look worse before it looks better.” Eventually, the university plans to dredge up 2,800 cubic yards of silt and sediment from the bottom of the waterway — potentially weighing 4,000 tons — deepening the channel from an average of 2 feet to 7 feet for most of the stretch. It will also be re-grading the millrace’s banks, and installing logs with root wads, boulders, and coir soil wraps to limit erosion. The changes should enhance the water quality and the habitat potential for fish and amphibians. Native plants — sword fern, kelsey dogwood and fruited bullrush, among others — will then be planted on the banks, and vegetated water treatment areas will be added to improve the quality of the stormwater runoff. “The deeper the water, the healthier it is because it doesn’t get affected so much by sunlight,” Harwood said. “The water (now) is shallow and you get a lot of algae and stuff because it gets so warm” and it’s less attractive to fish. Harwood said the UO is also considering whether to increase the millrace’s flow by pumping more water from the Willamette River into the channel. That could further improve the stream’s quality. Tests by the UO found excess nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and heavy metals in the waterway. Next to the Knight Campus building, the project will build a 360-foot long concrete decking boardwalk for pedestrians and cyclists, along with a new pedestrian bridge and a rebuilt bridge across the millrace. Plans for a section of “stadium steps” to jut out overlooking the millrace have likely been scrapped, however, due to cost constraints, UO officials said. The bigger vision, from Harwood’s perspective, is eventually restoring the full stretch of the millrace on UO property. (The university isn’t planning to be involved in any work on sections south of Franklin Boulevard). Harwood said he could even see sections, including the Mill Pond, where canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards could be re-introduced. “How can we break the remaining sections into discrete projects that make sense?” he said, when asked about next steps. “Because there’s no way we’re going to be able to go to the city, the state, the university administration and say we want to fund it all at once.” No recent cost estimates have been made for restoring the millrace, but, even back in the 1990s, the work was projected to cost $22 million. Harwood completed a similar project when he worked at North Carolina State University, although he warned it was “a 10-year slog” and involved cobbling together local, state and federal funds. Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said it’s heartening that the UO is kick-starting work on the millrace. “There are citizens who have been advocating for improvements and we have been eager to upgrade the millrace for many years,” she said. “Fundamentally we are appreciative of the university’s efforts to invest in that part of our urban landscape.” But she added that the council doesn’t have any discussions about other millrace work “on our immediate agenda.” “We do have a lot of other projects going on at the moment,” she said. “It may come up at a later point.” Jerry Diethelm, a longtime leading advocate for restoring the millrace and a former UO professor, said he hadn’t heard anything about the new project. “Hope it indicates a commitment to more,” he said. Hart, of the historical society, said he felt the UO deserves “a pat on the back” for doing some “actual preservation” of the millrace, especially given the school’s “reputation of ‘knock it down, build it up.’” But he said he feels Eugene residents more generally should take some ownership of the project. “We seem to be more present-oriented here,” compared to other communities in the Willamette Valley, Hart said. “We seem to lack an appreciation sometimes of what you can gain by looking back.”

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  • UO Housing’s Capital Construction gives students hands-on experience

    First published in the Daily Emerald on August 4th, 2018. “I love to encourage dreams, but they also have to be able to answer ‘What is it going to cost?’ and ‘How long is it going to last?’” said Opp-Beckman. Five years ago Opp-Beckman partnered with the College of Design to find a new way to engage students. The first project Opp-Beckman recalls doing with the Capital Construction team is creating residential hall identities, which included boards for each residence hall with carpet samples, paint swatches, photos, and color schemes. “Blue, green, brown” read Hamilton Hall’s board, which is displayed in the office. Students on the team have flexible hours but typically work 10-12 hours per week during the school year and up to 40 hours a week in the summer. Though the students don’t earn any college credit, they have a paid part-time job and gain hours of experience. These hours can be significant for some students. According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Board, those wanting to become licensed should complete The Architectural Experience Program (AXP), which includes a 3,740 hour experience requirement. Stacks of black wall signs to be put in Bean Hall covered the conference table in the office. Some have a four-digit room number with braille underneath and others have floor numbers or were bathroom signs. Irikaa Pilania, a graduate student on the Capital Construction team helped design some of Bean Hall’s furniture including the signs.“After we choose the furniture, we get to go out and call vendors for products and sometimes we see product launches,” said Pilania. When the furniture for Bean Hall arrives, one of Pilania and other team members’ responsibilities will be to assure everything was delivered and is correct, said Opp-Beckman. Each student on the team typically has their own project, and rarely does the entire team work on the same one. In addition to Bean Hall’s furniture design, Pilania is designing the seating in the soon-to-be renovated Knight Library Cafe. Another graduate student on the Capital Construction team, Alexa Stewart, is currently working on a project for Earl Hall. What started as a window leak complaint led to a long-term “replacement skin,” a redesign for the building’s exterior. Senior Stella Christ is working on a renovation in Carson Hall, which will include “creating a new look” and turning the laundry rooms into lounge or study spaces. Stewart usually gets to the office around 7:45 a.m. and leaves around 4 p.m. Her day consists of computer-aided design (CAD), drawing, research, site visits and making changes when parameters shift, “which they do, always” the Capital Construction students collectively agreed. “You really learn how to be adaptable,” said Stewart.Christ said it’s nice to get to experience the real-life thing instead of theoretical ideas that typically happen in a classroom.“They learn about cost and durability of furniture and fabric, create bulletproof things, and have be be cost-conscious through it all…they take a designer’s vision and blend with it,” said Linda Zimmer, associate professor and head of interior architecture.The Capital Construction team works under UO Housing so maintaining strong relationships with residence life, custodial services and dining services is important to the team said Opp-Beckman. “David will come to me about positions he needs for his team and I help get the word out,” said Zimmer, who recommended four people to Capital Construction this past year.When Opp-Beckman is first approached with a project, the first step is a meeting with the students on the Capital Construction team. Next, he said, they establish loose parameters. Opp-Beckman is typically on-site and not in the office so the students are able to work independently. “This is a reflection of the work that we could be doing in the real world, except we get to dabble in new things and be in the familiarity of campus,” said Stewart, who previously worked in an architecture firm for two years. “You can’t get any closer to the hands on architecture experience; we’re in the thick of it.”A monthly meeting with Opp-Beckman is held to check on progress and to regroup as a team.“Things are never a one-person decision because there’s always many factors involved and people making sure you have all your boxes checked,” said Stewart. One of the team’s recently completed projects was the conceptual design of Kalapuya-Ilihi. The task was to create the “best room design that can be a single, double or triple.” The team created two versatile room designs, but received a call with a change to the parameters. “…when more rooms had to be changed into triples, we were able to confidently do it,” said Opp-Beckman.

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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 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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