UO State Affairs News

  • Innovative cell therapy research boosted by state funds

    First published in Around the O. An innovative new research project from UO’s Robert Guldberg has captured the attention of Oregon’s economic development agency Business Oregon and the UO’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation. Guldberg’s $1.2 million project, which zeroes in on one of the central challenges of the fast-growing cell therapy industry, is the first to tap into the University Innovation Research Fund. The new state fund is designed to support research at Oregon universities that drives innovation and economic development.

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  • Legislators get firsthand look at the UO's aging research boat

    First published in Around the O. The University of Oregon’s Institute of Marine Biology hopes  the Oregon Legislature’s 2020 session will lead to smoother sailing for its many students.

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  • TallWood Design Institute Opens One of Nation’s Largest Timber Research Facilities

    First published on at https://archenvironment.uoregon.edu. On Oct. 10, the TallWood Design Institute—a partnership between the College of Design and the OSU Colleges of Forestry and Engineering—hosted the grand opening of the A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory on the OSU campus.

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  • 'Dreamer' campaign raises matching funds for scholarships

    First published in Around the O on September 17th. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in November, but the Dreamers Working Group at the University of Oregon isn’t waiting to take action.

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  • HEDCO anniversary marks a decade of innovation and service

    First published in Around the O on August 12th. The celebration is scheduled for fall, but this summer officially marks the 10th anniversary of the HEDCO Education Building. Part of a $50.5 million construction project, the state-of-the-art facility has transformed the College of Education, created an iconic entrance to the west side of campus and accelerated the college’s far-reaching efforts to advance education and social services. “The architecture is stunning,” said Randy Kamphaus, the college’s dean. “However, the most important benefit of this building is how well it serves our people and their critical work on behalf of children and families. Since it opened, this impressive facility has elevated the college’s teaching, learning, research and community outreach tremendously. It has been, and continues to be, a catalyst for success.” COLLEGE OF EDUCATION No. 3 special education graduate program in the nation. No. 14 graduate school of education in the nation. Highest-ranked academic unit at the UO, due largely to a decades-long record of national and international research and development in special education, counseling psychology, educational leadership and school psychology. Long tradition of translating research into effective models, methods and measures that improve lives. Forty-three commercial education products currently on the market, innovations with an enduring impact in Oregon and across the nation. The building is named for California's HEDCO Foundation. The foundation's gift of $10 million, along with a $12.5 million gift from Lorry I. Lokey, helped secure the Legislature's authorization of $19.4 million in general obligation bonds. Private gifts covered 60 percent of the project costs.  “Together, the HEDCO Foundation, individual donors, and the Oregon Legislature made this historic construction project possible,” Kamphaus said. “On behalf of our faculty and the university, I would like to express our gratitude and acknowledge the visionary leaders who made it happen, including my predecessors Michael Bullis and Martin Kaufman.” What began as a plan to expand and modernize facilities overwhelmed by a tripling of enrollment led to a historic renovation of the entire 9.8-acre site. The first construction for the college since 1980, the project updated all the buildings within the education complex, including the Clinical Services Building and the Education Annex, known informally as “the little red schoolhouse.” It also renovated the college's historic brick buildings, naming the three connected wings the Lorry I. Lokey Education Building in appreciation of his investment in the project.  At four stories counting the basement parking structure, the HEDCO building increased the college's space within the complex by two-thirds and united its five clinical training programs under one roof. Since the building opened in 2009, the college has served an average of 943 undergraduate students each year, a 33 percent increase over the prior decade. The building continues to provide an ideal learning environment for students who go on to successful careers in teaching, couples and family therapy, speech pathology, school administration and counseling, research, and more. The college is also a resource for current teachers, who must maintain continuing education requirements. The HEDCO building has also helped the college continue its stellar track record for garnering grant dollars. Agencies are more likely to award proposals from organizations with suitable facilities, and the HEDCO Clinic is a big plus when applying for state and federal research funding. In fiscal year 2017, the college was responsible for 53 percent of the university’s grant-related funding. One of the most important benefits, Kamphaus said, has been to help the college recruit, retain and develop a world-class faculty. Visitors are impressed with the building, he said. And facilities — functional offices, convenient meeting rooms and practical work spaces — are big morale builders for the entire faculty. Since Kamphaus started as dean five years ago, the number of tenured faculty members in the college has increased by 35 percent. The building’s flexible design has accommodated the growth well, he said, making it possible to reconfigure the interior layout without affecting the overall aesthetics or functionality. Kamphaus is confident the facilities will continue to help the college realize its ambitious goals for the next decade, and longer. HEDCO Clinic This state-of-the-art university training clinic offers children and families behavioral health services, hosting more than 8,000 client appointments a year. Students seeking careers as couples and family therapists, speech language pathologists, and counseling and school psychologists gain practical experience. For families, the clinic offers one space to access many different services. Some of the simplest amenities added during construction, such as parking, space for children to play while waiting and a washroom, have made big differences. The setting is customized for the clinics as well as the college’s groundbreaking research on concussion management and recovery, speech pathology, stroke patients, autism and more. High tech home Designed to make teaching, long-distance learning and collaboration easy, the building’s leading-edge technology was also planned with upgrades and expansion in mind. This adaptable infrastructure has enabled the college to keep important tools up to date and relevant over the years. Learning community The HEDCO building was designed to promote collaboration and foster community, and informal learning spaces throughout the building reflect this approach. The Swindells Lobby features a fireplace, cafe and a learning commons with a computer lab. Wide hallways encourage students to interact with their peers as well as faculty members. Comfortable, flexible spaces were designed to create a home away from home. By all accounts, these ideas are working well in practice. Throughout the building, learning spills out of labs and classrooms and into the hallways. Multifunctional learning spaces serve an array of configurations for meetings, classes and group projects. Chance encounters blossom into impromptu meetings and discussions, which are significant educational experiences. One of the earliest projects on campus to fully adopt this design approach — now a national trend for universities — the HEDCO building has served as an example for other new construction on campus.   All under one roof When it first opened, the HEDCO building united five clinical training programs in one building, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration — an approach that has been highly successful. The new facility also has enabled the college to offer better services for students, faculty members and staff. Students and faculty members can easily find the information and resources they need. Community members and prospective students can ask questions, get directions or start a tour at the front desk. Welcoming families As home for the College of Education, the building serves as a bridge between the university and the families, communities and professions it serves. Walk through the HEDCO building on any given day, and you’ll see preschoolers playing in the grassy courtyard, parents bringing children to an appointment or students and faculty members collaborating on research that will improve lives. By creating a functional, welcoming environment, the building helps the college serve the community and fulfill its teaching and research missions. —By Ed Dorsch, University Communications

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  • Universities leave Salem with some wins, some plans to try again

    First published in Around the O. The state’s recently concluded legislative session may be remembered most for the partisan politics that dominated its final days, but the UO and students in higher education will see some positive outcomes. The Public University Support Fund, which funds Oregon’s seven public universities, was increased by $100 million, or 13.6 percent, to a total of $836.9 million. That is the second-largest increase in a single session since 1999. The funding will help universities partially cover rising costs and keep tuition increases for Oregonians lower than they would have been otherwise. The increase brought the UO’s resident tuition increase down to 6.91 percent from 9.6 percent, or a $675 total annual increase for students taking 45 credits a year. And the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the state’s primary need-based financial aid program for resident college and university students, increased by $12.5 million, or 8.6 percent, which will allow the grant to serve approximately 2,500 more students across the state. Another success was a new $10 million University Research Innovation Fund administered through the Oregon Business Development Department. The fund will match competitive federal research awards, leveraging federal grants that require matching funds and supporting innovation and research capacity. Grants will be targeted in priority industries, such as advanced manufacturing, high technology, outdoor gear and apparel, health care innovation, food and beverage, and forestry and wood products. Research and innovation faculty members and staff played a key role in lobbying for the fund, as did staff at the business development office. “The University Research Innovation Fund is a good example of how sometimes it takes more than one session to get an idea cross the finish line, especially if it has a price tag attached,” said Libby Batlan, associate vice president for state and community affairs. “We introduced this concept in 2017, and while it was well received, it was not funded. We worked throughout the interim and came home with a win this time around.” Lawmakers also funded deferred maintenance projects at $65 million, which will help make sure buildings and classrooms on campus are safe and up to date. Capital projects, including the UO’s renovation of Huestis Hall, will be on the agenda for funding in the 2020 session. The Legislature has approximately $315 million of bonding capacity to distribute in February. State programs experienced a small increase in funds, including clinical legal education and the Dispute Resolution Program, Labor Education Research Center and TallWood Design Institute. A law, House Bill 2030, was passed making the UO eligible to apply for seismic rehabilitation grants. The campus veteran’s grant program, which provides funding for UO’s veteran’s service officer within the Division of Student Life, was renewed. The $54,000 grant the university currently receives from this program funds a half-time program coordinator, additional computers and technology, expanded student veteran engagement events and increased veteran welcome sessions. Despite efforts by UO faculty members, students and staff who testified before various legislative committees, a number of bills did not pass that would have funded programs and initiatives to help Oregonians statewide. All the measures were unanimously approved by the House and Senate education committees but did not make it out of the ways and means process. Those measures include funding for a new ocean-going research vessel for UO’s Oregon Institute of Marine Biology; a matching fund that could enable communities in rural areas to participate in the Sustainable City Year Program; funding for the UO’s prison education program through the Clark Honors College; and $12 million for the build-out of Oregon’s portion of the multihazard sensor network for the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning and wildfire prevention system. “These are incredible projects and programs from UO faculty members and students, and we believe that they are of value to the state,” said Hans Bernard, assistant vice president for state affairs. “While it’s disappointing they weren’t funded this session, we won’t give up on making sure lawmakers understand their value and will be back in future sessions.” The Legislature will convene again in February 2020. For more detailed information about all the measures that passed that will have an impact on the UO, read the end of session report on the Government and Community Relations Web site

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  • 2019 Legislative Session Overview

    2019 Legislative Session Overview In the November 2018 General Election, Democratic candidates in Oregon won supermajorities in the Senate and House of Representatives. The electoral victories paved the way for an ambitious progressive agenda for the 2019 legislative session. Despite all of this, legislation to make Oregon just the second state in the nation to cap greenhouse gas emissions failed in the final week of session. This was seen as a major defeat for Democratic majorities and Governor Kate Brown and will likely be top of the agenda when lawmakers return to Salem in 2020. Outcomes for Higher Education: $100 million increase in the Public University Support Fund: This is the second largest increase since in the PUSF since 1999. The increase helped universities partially cover rising costs and kept tuition increases for Oregonians lower than they would have been otherwise. An increase to the Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) to serve 2,500 more students: The OOG is the state’s only need-based financial aid program for university students. $10 million for a new University Research Innovation Fund: This two-year effort to secure matching funds for federal grants will help our faculty members more aggressively compete for federal grants and advance research at the UO. $65 million in deferred maintenance capital funding: This funding will help make sure our buildings and classrooms on campus are safe and modern. The funds are distributed to all public universities based on a formula, largely driven by square footage of buildings. Small increases in funding for all State Programs, which include the Clinical Legal Education, the Dispute Resolution program, the Labor Education Research Center, and the TallWood Design Institute. Passage of a law that makes the UO eligible to apply for seismic rehabilitation grants. Expansion of the campus veteran’s grant program, which provides funding for UO’s veteran’s service officer within the Division of Student Life. What Else Happened? Heading into session, lawmakers’ attention was split between the normal legislative processes and grappling with how to respond to issues related to the culture of harassment and discrimination in the Capitol, especially as it relates to gender. The Senate President and Speaker of the House appointed a joint Capitol Culture Committee to examine how to address problems and make the capitol a safer place to work for legislators, staff, and lobbyists. Ultimately, several bills passed that establish new protections for those in the Capitol and regulations for employers that include a requirement they adopt comprehensive policies on workplace harassment and sexual assault (SB 726, SB 478, and SB 479). Early in session, the Legislature passed a statewide rent control measure (SB 608)—the first of its kind in the nation. The bill puts a cap on rent increases on most properties at seven percent a year and requires landlords to give three months' notice and pay a tenant a month's rent to evict them without cause. This was a major win for affordable housing advocates who had introduced the concept for several sessions while realtors were able to hold it back. Revenue reform was front and center all session long, as the Joint Committee on Student Success brought its work and recommendations from the last twelve months to bear. In April, the measure—dubbed the Student Success Act (HB 3427)—passed the House. As it made its way to the Senate for a vote, Oregon’s Senate Republicans walked out for the first time during the session. The strategy of denying a quorum effectively means the Senate cannot legally come into session and vote on bills. As a result, they slowed down the process enough to make a deal that killed two legislative priorities for Democrats: A bill that would require safe storage of firearms among other new regulations on guns (SB 978), and one that would abolish the non-medical exemption for child vaccinations (HB 3063). Both measures garnered huge engagement from members of the public both in support of and opposed to legislation. The Senate passed the Student Success Act and sent it to the Governor for her final signature. The measure established a new corporate activities tax, which will raise $2 billion each biennium that is dedicated to early childhood and K12 schools. It should be noted that students at community colleges and public universities were wholly excluded from receiving any of the funds. In the final days of the session the Legislature approved SB 116, which stipulates that any referral of the Student Success Act will be before voters in January 2020, not the November 2020 General Election. In May, the Legislature took up juvenile justice reform (SB 1008). The bill made changes to Measure 11, which caused people as young as 15 to be charged and sentenced as adults. A broad coalition worked to shift the youth justice system to focus on prevention and rehabilitation for youth, including eliminating life sentences without parole for youth. The bill also establishes a process where all youth who are convicted in adult court access to a “second look” hearing, and more. The last month of session was consumed with negotiations and debate on several other key issues. A Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (HB 2005) passed after negotiations and input from the business community, which creates a new statewide insurance program for all employees. The program will be funded through an employer and employee payroll tax. Lawmakers also referred a tax increase on tobacco products and created a new tax on e-cigarettes and vaping products (HB 2270). It will be referred to voters for their approval in the November 2020 election and is expected to raise $340 million for the 2021-23 biennium. This funding will be dedicated to the Oregon Health Plan (90%) and tobacco cessation efforts (10%). The last week and a half of session created national headlines. The eleven Senate Republicans once again denied the Senate a quorum by not appearing on the floor and leaving the state to avoid voting on the cap-and-trade bill, known as ‘Clean Energy Jobs’ (HB 2020) because of its impact on rural industry and citizens. After several protests and a walk out that lasted nine days, the Senate President announced that the bill did not have the votes to pass. Ultimately, the Republicans returned to the Capitol two days before the legislature had to adjourn and passed a series of state agency budgets and policy bills. The 80th Oregon Legislative Assembly adjourned sine die on June 30, 2019.

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  • Oregon governor will speak at UO commencement

    First published on May 20th in Around the O. Oregon’s 38th governor, Kate Brown, will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 commencement at the University of Oregon. UO’s commencement for the Class of 2019 will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 17, in Matthew Knight Arena. Brown, who assumed the governorship in 2015, has more than 25 years of experience in government and public service. “Gov. Brown has a lengthy history of helping people, creating efficiencies in government, and making sure that all Oregon residents have a voice in how our state moves forward,” said UO President Michael H. Schill. “She is a friend to the University of Oregon, and she will deliver a message to graduates that will be inspirational, empowering and challenging.” Commencement is one of the UO’s most important academic traditions, conferring degrees to about 4,000 undergraduates and about 1,000 graduate students. The event starts with a Grad Parade – with faculty, staff and graduates in full regalia – walking down 13th Avenue to Matthew Knight Arena for the main event. It marks the culmination of years of hard work and scholarly study for each student. It is the moment that a Duck transitions from a life as an undergraduate or graduate student to one of the university’s more than 200,000 living alumni out in the world. More than 100,000 live in Oregon. Many have gone on to serve as leaders in business, industry, education, the arts, government, non-governmental organizations and their communities. UO’s alumni include winners of Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards, Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim fellowships, MacArthur genius grants, the Nobel Prize, Olympic medals, Rhodes scholarships, the National Humanities Medal and countless other honors for achievement and public service. The UO graduates more ROTC officers than any other civilian school and ranks 16th for Peace Corps volunteers produced by the nation’s largest universities. In addition, the UO has produced seven Oregon governors, eight U.S. senators and 20 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Brown was born in Spain, where her father served in the U.S. Air Force. Her family moved to Minnesota and she later attended the University of Colorado Boulder, receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental conservation with a certificate in women’s studies. She went to the Northwest School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, earning her law degree in 1985. Brown worked as a family law attorney, focusing on cases involving children in Oregon’s foster care system. She also worked with the Juvenile Rights Project, co-founded the Oregon Women’s Health & Wellness Alliance and taught at Portland State University. In 1991, Brown was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives, where she served the 13th District. In 1997, she became a state senator, serving the 21st District. She was elected to statewide office as Oregon Secretary of State and began that job in January 2009. Six years later, she became Oregon’s 38th governor when her predecessor, John Kitzhaber, resigned. She won a special election in 2016 and was re-elected to the state’s top post in 2018. During her tenure, Brown has signed legislation to improve the state’s education system, added jobs by passing Oregon’s largest transportation package, contained costs by improving government efficiency and accountability, and worked to assure that most adults and children have adequate access to health care. For more information, visit the UO commencement website.   https://around.uoregon.edu/content/oregon-governor-will-speak-uo-commencement

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  • Revenue forecast released; leaders call for more funding for higher ed

    On May 15, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released its quarterly economic and revenue forecast. This is the forecast that lawmakers will use to make final budget decisions this session. The level of funding in the Public University Support Fund will receive is heavily reliant on this forecast. It’s clear that Oregon’s economy is currently on solid ground. According to the report, “Economic gains over the upcoming 2019-21 biennium will be more in-line with underlying growth in the labor force and productivity. Encouragingly, the latter has shown signs of life recently due to the tighter labor market. The recent escalation in the trade war is a wildcard. It is too soon to know how disruptive it may be to global supply chains as developments are ongoing.” Here’s the bottom line: Projected net General Fund resources are up $883 million, which provides undeniable certainty that the Legislature has the necessary funds to invest in tuition stability, reduce student debt and strengthen the entire education continuum in Oregon. Including Lottery revenues, net resources are up $908 million. Oregon’s unique kicker law has been triggered for both personal and corporate taxes. A record (in dollar terms) $1.4 billion personal kicker is projected for 2019-21, while corporate tax revenue of $616 million is projected to be dedicated to K-12 education spending. This means that Oregonians will receive a kicker credit on their taxes next year. Students and families across the state are counting on the Legislature to keep the cost of a college degree affordable and expand scholarships for Pell-eligible and historically underserved Oregonians so their dreams into degrees.  Moreover, Oregon businesses need the trained workforce that our community colleges and universities provide. You can read more about the quarterly revenue forecast and economic outlook here.

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  • Update from Salem: Student Success Act passes; vaccine and gun measures lose steam

    On May 13, the Oregon State Senate passed HB 3427, known as the Student Success Act, which will raise approximately $2 billion for early childhood and K-12 schools on an ongoing basis. This bill was the culmination of the work of the Joint Committee on Student Success (JCSS), which was established in January 2018. The JCSS was tasked with creating a plan to improve outcomes for students throughout Oregon. HB 3427 establishes the Fund for Student Success (FSS), the Student Investment Account (SIA), the Early Learning Account (ELA), and the Statewide Education Initiatives Account (SEIA). It requires funds to be spent on increasing learning time, decreasing class size, offering a well-rounded education, and student health or safety. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, “At least half would go to grants to state school districts for programs aimed at improving things such as graduation rates, reading levels and attendance. Around 20 percent would fund early childhood learning programs. The remaining roughly 30 percent would fund career-technical education programs and free meals at school for low-income students, among other things.” More information about the bill can be found here. The measure pays for the new investments in early childhood and K12 education through a reduction in personal income tax rates for the lowest three tax brackets in Oregon by 0.25 percent, as well as establishes a modified commercial activities tax of 0.57 percent on Oregon commercial activity over $1 million. The House passed the Student Success Act previously, so the bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for her signature and final approval. All this came on the heels of the Senate Republican Caucus denying quorum to hold up any further activity in order to negotiate a deal on other policy and budget priorities. The standoff lasted four days and resulted in the death of two controversial of pieces of legislation. The first is HB 3063, which would end non-medical vaccine exemptions. The second is SB 978, a bill that strengths several gun control laws, including safe storage, fees, carrying in public buildings and real estate (including public universities), museum transfers, and more.

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