UO State Affairs News

  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown aims $12 million for earthquake early warning system

    First published on December 19th, 2018 By Eugene Register-Guard; online@oregonian.com SALEM – Every second of warning matters when a major earthquake is about to rumble. Seconds provide enough time for school children to shelter under desks, traffic to clear from bridges and fire departments to raise their garage doors, said University of Oregon Prof. Doug Toomey. That's why he and other researchers around the West have been working on setting up an earthquake early warning system. The looming danger of a massive magnitude 9 Cascadia subduction zone earthquake off the Oregon Coast adds urgency to their work. "For the public it's going to give them advance warning of strong shaking so they can take protective action," Toomey said. "In the case of a Cascadia earthquake, they'll get tens of seconds to many tens of seconds of early warning here in Eugene, and so they can duck, cover and hold. Studies show that when people are caught unaware in earthquakes, they panic and that leads to more casualties than necessary." The goal is to have the statewide early earthquake warning system up and operational by 2023, according Gov. Kate Brown's office. Early warning would come over a network of microwave towers passing data collected by an array of seismometers and GPS sensors, which would detect the first ripples of earthquakes. The state also could use the system to warn of wildfires, Toomey said. The same microwave towers also could pass images from high-definition cameras scanning forests for puffs of smoke. Brown included $12 million for an earthquake early warning system in her proposed budget this fall. Bonds would fund the system, so Oregon lawmakers likely won't vote on it until summer. "When the next Cascadia subduction zone earthquake strikes the Pacific Northwest, Oregon will face the greatest challenge of our lifetimes," Brown said in a statement. "Oregon's buildings, transportation network, utilities, and population are underprepared for such an event, and we must accelerate our preparations. That is why funding for an earthquake early warning system in my budget is so critical." The early warning system would be responding to earthquakes rather than predicting them. Scientists can't accurately predict earthquakes — yet. But researchers have learned that the initial waves of an earthquake move rapidly with little shaking. Depending on the magnitude of the earthquake and the distance of a sensor from where the temblor begins, the initial ripples might give seconds to minutes of advance warning before the damaging waves arrive. Spring Break Quake of 1993 was literally a wake-up call At 5:34 a.m. on March 25, 1993, one of the stronger earthquakes to hit the area in years jolted residents from Salem to Portland awake. How that scientific data will go from research computers to the public and emergency agencies is still being worked out. Toomey said the early warning system might trigger cell phone alerts and community sirens. Mexico and Japan created early warning systems after massive quakes struck, including a magnitude 8 earthquake in Mexico City in 1985 and a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, in 1995. "These other countries have had them for decades," Toomey said. "It's a proven science. It's proven effective." Two plates of the Earth's crust meet under the Pacific Ocean about 40 miles off the Oregon Coast. One of the plates is sliding under the other — the Cascadia subduction zone — building up pressure that scientists say will eventually release in the form of a massive earthquake, potentially one of the most powerful earthquakes every recorded. There's a 25 to 40 percent chance of a magnitude 9 earthquake in the next 50 years, Toomey said. So the race is on to be prepared. Oregon's early warning earthquake system would be part of ShakeAlert, a system covering the West Coast. The system would be built upon an existing network of sensors operated by the UO, the University of Washington, University of California, Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology. Specifically, the $12 million would cover the cost of completing Oregon's network of more than 100 sensors, Toomey said. The entire ShakeAlert system across the West Coast will cost $28 million annually to maintain, which he said the U.S. Geological Survey is set to pay. "We have to be over 75 percent complete before we can start providing alerts to the public," Toomey said. "We're about 50 percent complete right now in the state and that's why the governor's budget is important. It would allow us to complete that network." Shaking in the Cascadia earthquake might last as long as five minutes, said Leland O'Discoll, ShakeAlert project manager and a seismic field technician at the UO. So being able to brace for the earthquake will be invaluable. How to react to the early warning of a pending earthquake will depend on what someone is doing at the time, but the general advice from experts is to duck, cover and hold: drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table or desk and then hold on until the shaking stops. An earthquake early warning system reduces losses in the moment, O'Discoll said, and accelerates recovery after the event because damage is reduced. Setting up such a system would signal a shift in how Oregonians respond to a major natural disaster. The response would begin before the earthquake strikes, said Linda Cook, emergency manager for Lane County. An alert would allow factories to shut down and trains to slow down, potentially using automated systems. "Granted, it's only seconds to minutes of advance warning," Cook said, "but seconds to minutes can make a big difference." Florence on the Oregon Coast sits in harm's way of a Cascadia earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Like Cook, Megan Messmer, a project manager for Florence, said advance warning would be valuable. She said it would lower the effects of secondary disasters triggered by an earthquake. Toomey said that a common misconception about a Cascadia earthquake is that coastal cities would be immediately rocked by shaking. But the temblor would likely begin on the far southern end, off California, or the northern end, off Canada. With ShakeAlert, a city such as Florence near the center of the subduction zone might have as much as a couple of minutes of warning when the major earthquake strikes. "Any work that the state does to help move us forward (with a warning system) will be helpful in those types of disasters," she said, "Because we as an individual city don't have those resources or even ability to do that large scale or technical of a project." – Dylan Darling | Eugene Register-Guard

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  • Construction cranes dot the sky from Dad's Gate to Hayward

    By Anthony St. Clair, Eugene-based freelance writerFirst appeared in UO Giving Brown leaves crunch underfoot, and low clouds hide the sky—but there may be hints of blue to come. Students talk and smile, or review a book or device as they make their way to the next class, meeting, or lab. Throughout the UO campus, construction equipment beeps and rumbles.This might be the home of the Ducks, but right now campus is the home of the cranes—construction cranes, that is. They dot the sky from Dad's Gate to Hayward. Work continues on the new $39 million Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, the upcoming hub for the College of Arts and Sciences, scheduled to open in fall 2019. The $1 billion Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact rises toward its 2020 opening date, when the new complex will begin accelerating the process of turning scientific discoveries into societal benefits. Also opening in 2020, a brand-new Hayward Field will build on Track Town’s history while attracting athletes and fans to the “Finest Track and Field Facility in the World.” This fall, the university celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Black Cultural Center at East 15th Avenue and Villard Street. All this activity and excitement is only possible thanks to donors’ support.  Momentous as they are, however, these donor-funded projects are not what have brought me to campus. I’m seeing the UO’s future rise all around me. But I’m also aware that past donor support helped build campus facilities that are now complete—and making a tangible difference.  My path today takes me to three projects—one turning 10 years old, and two renovations that were completed this fall. The College of Education celebrates the 10th anniversary of the HEDCO Education Building this year. Students and faculty members in the Robert D. Clark Honors College are enjoying a fully renovated Chapman Hall. And in Pacific Hall, new science labs have opened and other renovations continue.   HEDCO EDUCATION BUILDING  Straight modern lines and tall windows contrast with the brick of the HEDCO Education Building, but that’s just one small way it stands out—both on campus and in its field. Teaching, research, and clinical space combine for educators, psychologists, therapists, and scientists to prepare students for their future, aid families, create best practices used around the world, and connect research and the broader community. It’s the equivalent of a teaching hospital for social services. The project began thanks to a $10 million pledge in 2004 by California's HEDCO Foundation. Enabled in part by the foundation’s president, Dody Dornsife Jernstedt, BA ’69, MA ’70 (communication disorders and sciences), that pledge helped secure the 2005 Oregon legislature's authorization of $19.4 million in general obligation bonds. All told, $29.2 million in donor gifts covered 60 percent of the cost to make HEDCO a reality. Construction began in 2007, and the 65,000-square-foot HEDCO Education Building opened in 2009.Today, students sit in booths and type on laptops surrounded by notes and books. Movable tables in the Lisa Brown Classroom have been arranged for discussion. Golden afternoon sunlight shines on the green courtyard and brightens the inner corridors through floor-to-ceiling windows. Classrooms have been designed for discussion and active learning. A hearth area and coffee shop help foster a sense of community and encourage informal learning experiences. From the ground up, it’s been designed to advance the mission of the College of Education.  In the HEDCO Clinic, located in the south wing of the building, UO students gain practical experience serving individuals and families under the supervision of faculty members. “The total effect of the HEDCO Clinic is immeasurable,” says Wendy Machalicek, associate professor of special education and interim director of the clinic. “Approximately 9,000 visits are held in the HEDCO Clinic each year, and hundreds of undergraduates and graduate students in a variety of College of Education programs participate in supervised delivery of clinical services.  “The clinic now houses five subspecialty clinical services that are both integral to our academic program offerings in the College of Education and in providing research-based assessment and intervention to the greater Eugene community. This new building has accelerated everything we do.” CHAPMAN HALL  From HEDCO I cross north to the Memorial Quad and Chapman Hall, home of the newly remodeled Clark Honors College (CHC). State bonds funded $8 million of the project’s $10.5 million price tag—with the caveat that the UO would have to match $2.5 million of the funds in order to receive the allocation. Donations from alumni and various private sources poured in. The newly renovated Chapman Hall opened this fall. By all accounts, the project has accomplished its goals—making the interior more unified, creating a strong identity for the college, adding more room to grow, and creating a building that fosters a scholarly community. From the outside, the brick building—right down to its original windows—remains true to the original 1939 Works Progress Administration project. Inside, however, rich woodwork combines with new flooring and a more fluid, functional layout that was designed with interaction, collaboration, and today’s technology needs foremost in mind. Downstairs, I take a seat at the spacious, cozy hearth and wait for the dean, Gabriel Paquette, who joined the CHC faculty this year. I reflect that the hearth must be the heart of Chapman Hall. How wrong I am. In fact, the honors college is the heart of the university. Dean Paquette approaches Chapman based on the goal behind early fundraising efforts: define CHC’s identity so everyone could understand it better. “The new Chapman centralizes CHC students who are also spread all over campus for their respective disciplines,” says Paquette. “Community forms here. These top students go to the rest of campus and lift up everyone.” “I first came in the day of Chapman’s reopening,” he says. “I immediately realized this space was designed with student learning in mind, with members of a core faculty who see themselves as dedicated mentors.” Smaller class sizes of 15 to 19 enable discussion. Walls lined with chalkboards and graphed wipe-boards aid interaction and study in classrooms and common areas. The Shephard Family Library inspires students with an entire wall of shelves displaying past theses. A student kitchen has cooking, food storage, and prep space along one wall, computers along the opposite wall, and tables in the middle.“We are at an edge of campus, yet we are part of the center,” explains Paquette. “It’s a historical corner, where we become a reflection and distillation of the UO’s finest qualities. The renovated Chapman Hall makes the honors college the UO’s college in all senses.”  PACIFIC HALL For a moment, I’m back in high school. Low, narrow pink corridors (but thankfully no lockers). Gray concrete floors in lecture room 123. After serving generations of students, Pacific Hall—the university’s original science building—was ready for transformation. This fall, renovations to the lower three floors of the south wing are complete. That high school haze falls away when I step into a wide, tall, brightly lit, white-walled hallway. With labs on both sides, open doors and wide windows invite respectful observation. Inside, faculty and grad students pursue research projects. Undergraduates also participate in the “hands-on experiential learning that the UO takes pride in,” says Hal Sadofsky, associate dean of natural sciences. Pacific’s mix of old and new is a sign of progress during an approximately $20 million renovation, sparked by a $7 million donation from Cheryl Ramberg Ford, class of 1966, and Allyn Ford in 2016. Earlier this year, sixteen new labs opened. While the exterior of the UO’s original science building remains, further renovations finish in 2019, and other planned updates need donor support.After Willamette and Streisinger Halls were built, labs shifted to more modern facilities. However, UO science majors have increased, and research excellence is a priority. Returning labs to Pacific means better projects, better people, and a more interconnected scientific ecosystem.“Our sciences aren’t the country’s largest,” says Sadofsky, “but they are possibly the most interdisciplinary. That’s one of UO’s strengths. We’re already seeing surprising hallway conversations between students due to the interdisciplinary nature of the building.”In between classes, UO junior Shakira Harris sits on a wooden bench set into the wall.“I like the new labs,” she says, “but the bathrooms could use an update.”Harris is hopeful that classrooms and lecture halls will be updated, but she’s glad donor-driven renovation is helping students be more prepared.“We get introduced to new technology that we’ll need for medical school, along with more hands-on experience,” says Harris. “It’s one step at a time though. They’re trying.”I wander back across campus, taking in buildings old, new, and renewed. At every step, donor support has enabled new learning, new discoveries, new facilities, new faculty members, and new opportunities throughout the University of Oregon. It’s a reminder that generosity, like renewal, is always in season.

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  • Governor’s budget plans hit UO in significantly different ways

    On Nov. 28, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released her recommended budget for the 2019-21 biennium, including two options with significant implications for higher education funding. The first version, which state law requires the governor to craft, is a balanced base budget that allocates funds based on current revenue projections. The second version is an investment budget that assumes the passage of cost containment and revenue reform in the next legislative session. The two budget options would have very different outcomes for the UO’s operating budget, student aid, and academic and research funding. On the operations side, the base budget allocates no additional investment for the Public University Support Fund over the last biennium, keeping total operating funds for all Oregon public universities at $736.9 million. Because of increased operating costs that occur over a two-year period, flat funding represents a decrease in investment for the UO. JOINT UNIVERSITY STATEMENT “The Governor’s budget provides a stark choice for the legislature and the people of Oregon: either force universities to make cuts to academic and student support programs while also raising tuition by double-digits or make college more affordable and accessible through balanced revenue reform and meaningful cost control in areas like retirement and health care.  “Even as campuses continue to find cost efficiencies wherever possible, without additional resources for public universities, the budget proposed by the Governor means students will face onerous double-digit tuition hikes and cuts to the types of services and aid they need to reduce debt, graduate, and find a job. This is not an acceptable outcome for Oregon. Public universities are committed to working with the Governor and the Legislature to find solutions that expand opportunities for students instead of limiting them. “It is time to stop relying on students and their families to shoulder our economic challenges. It is time to invest in Oregon.” —Signed by the presidents of all seven public universities in Oregon Under this budget option the UO would likely be forced to consider double-digit tuition increases for resident undergraduates and potential cuts to services, programs and workforce in order to balance its budget. The investment budget increases the Public University Support Fund by $120 million for a total of $856.9 million. This level of funding would keep tuition increases for resident undergraduate students at the UO at or below 5 percent for the next two years. It would also preserve most recent investments in financial aid and student support programs, such as academic advising and PathwayOregon. State programs, which include institutions, centers and programs operated by public universities, are another area of concern. As opposed to providing instructional support, these programs address economic development, natural resources and other public policy issues. Many of these programs have an industry-specific focus, matching state support with funds from the private sector and other sources. At the UO, they include the Labor Education Research Center, clinical legal education and the Oregon Office for Community Dispute Resolution in the School of Law. The governor’s base budget keeps funding for all state programs flat from the last biennium, with the exception of the engineering and technology sustaining fund, which is eliminated entirely. The $25 million fund is used to invest in public research universities that respond to urgent engineering education needs of Oregon’s fast-growing high tech industry. In contrast, the governor’s proposed investment budget increases funding for all state programs to meet inflationary costs. It not only maintains the fund’s level, it increases it by $35 million to a total of $60 million. The UO would benefit from this increase in relation to the expansion of its research portfolio and establishment of the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. In capital construction, the UO’s top request to the state is the renovation of Huestis Hall, a STEM and life sciences hub for 3,000 students and faculty members each year. While the governor did not include funding specifically for this or any other capital construction projects requested by universities in either of her budget scenarios, both budget options set aside $225 million in state-backed bonds for university projects. The university and UO advocates will request $54 million for the renovation of Huestis Hall to make seismic upgrades and renovate teaching and research spaces. Student aid in the base budget would see flat funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the state’s only need-based aid program, at $152 million. In the governor’s investment budget, the grant is nearly doubled, reaching $273 million. A provision of state law also allocates 1 percent of net lottery proceeds to public universities for the former sports lottery program. The UO receives approximately $1 million each biennium from general lottery dollars to replace what universities used to receive from the now-defunct Sports Action Lottery. The revenue provides intercollegiate athletics scholarships as well as academic scholarships for graduate students. The governor’s base budget eliminates sports lottery funding entirely. The investment budget restores that funding at the full 1 percent. Another area where universities are affected is academic, research and economic development funding. In the base and investment budget options, the governor allocates $12 million to fully build out the multi-hazard sensor network for the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system wildfire prevention, monitoring and mitigation by 2023. The UO works with other West Coast states and universities to bring this technology to the public through the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and UO faculty members and technicians operate the network in coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies. The only previous direct state investment in this work was in 2015 when the Legislature allocated $670,000 for the purchase of more seismic sensors. In the governor’s investment budget, additional academic, research and economic development funding that benefits the UO includes: $15 million in campus public safety improvements through the creation of a statewide shared services training program for higher education institutions focusing on prevention, preparedness, incident response, continuity and recovery. $10 million to establish a public university innovation fund at the Oregon Business Development Department, the state agency that oversees economic development activity, to support economic development partnerships between businesses and public universities. The innovation fund provides matching funds for university grant requests for applied research. $5 million in funding for the International Association of Athletics Federations World Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will take place in 2021 in Eugene. This will be the first time the event has been held in the United States. The Oregon Legislature will consider the governor’s recommended budget during the 2019 legislative session that starts Jan. 14.

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  • Oregon Senate Democrats will split top budget job

    Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (from left) and Sen. Betsy Johnson will be the Oregon Senate's joint co-chairs on the Ways and Means committee during the 2019 session. Rep. Dan Rayfield will be the panel's co-chair from the House. (The Associated Press)   By Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/OregonLive The Oregonian/OregonLive A triumvirate of Democrats will lead Oregon’s budget-writing Ways and Means committee next year, under a unique arrangement that involves the Senate’s appointment of joint co-chairs: Sen. Betsy Johnson of Scappoose and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, who represents Beaverton and northwest Portland. Rep. Dan Rayfield of Corvallis is the co-chair from the House. Both Johnson and Steiner Hayward were vying for the job, presenting Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, with a tough decision that he apparently resolved by choosing both. “Senator Johnson and Senator Steiner Hayward are two of the most experienced budgeteers in the Legislature,” Courtney said in a news release. “They are accomplished individuals. One is a doctor. The other is pilot with a law degree.” There are usually two Ways and Means committee co-chairs, one from the majority caucus in each chamber, and two vice chairs representing the minority caucuses. There were two joint co-chairs from the House in 2011 but that was because the chamber was split evenly between Democrats and Republicans that session. Then-Rep. Dennis Richardson, a Republican who is now secretary of state, and then-Rep. Peter Buckley, a Democrat, shared the job. It’s unclear whether there is any precedent for legislative leaders voluntarily splitting the job between two people for other reasons.

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  • 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 participate 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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