The Oregon Legislature wrapped up its 2022 short session on Friday, March 4. The University of Oregon and its students and faculty will benefit from a number of investments and policy updates.
Here’s a summary of some significant investments and legislation that impact the UO.
University of Oregon Investments:
- The UO received over $10 million to purchase scientific equipment for Building 2 of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. This state investment will support the build-out of a real-time, machine-learning fueled integrated tissue characterization and bioprinting facility. This will catalyze research to better understand the interactions of cells within tissues and to construct tissues and organs that open new avenues in personalized medicine.
- $4.5 million was allocated to support the work of Professor Doug Toomey and the Oregon Hazards Lab Wildfire Camera Network. ALERTWildfire provides access to state-of-the-art fire cameras to help firefighters and first responders monitor fire conditions quickly and accurately enabling them to send appropriate resources and send evacuation notices as needed. This is increasingly important with more extreme fire seasons facing our state in recent years.
- $700,000 will support the College of Education’s Oregon Child Abuse Prevalence Study expansion. This will support the most comprehensive child abuse prevalence study in the US and will provide data to help Oregon policymakers direct funding appropriately. The Oregon Child Abuse Prevalence Study, the first and most innovative child abuse prevalence and youth voice project in the U.S., will serve as the gold standard for prevention measurement.
Investments for all Oregon Public Universities
- $7.5 million was allocated to continue the Strong Start / Summer Bridge Program. UO will receive roughly $1.5M of this funding. In 2021, the Legislature provided one year of funding for these programs which successfully assisted students in the transition from high school to college, with a focus on those who were most impacted by remote instruction and the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will support the program for 2022 for high school graduates who did not enroll in college due to the pandemic or enrolled in college and were adversely impacted by the pandemic. Program elements to assist these students include intensive academic supports in math and writing, academic advising, note taking skills, time management, early move-in to campus, peer mentoring, tutoring, and financial literacy.
- Legislators approved a $30 million increase in Capital Improvement and Renewal bonds designed to address cost escalations on previously approved capital projects. For UO, these include Huestis Hall (approved by legislature in 2020) and the Heritage Project, consisting of University and Villard Halls (approved by legislature in 2021).
- $19 million was approved for the Tribal Student Grant Program. This will provide financial aid grants to students who are enrolled members of recognized Native American tribes.
- The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs is giving $600,000 in grant funding to 15 colleges and universities across the state to primarily support the institutions' Campus Veteran Resource Centers and bolster other services for Oregon student veterans. UO was awarded $50,600 of these grant funds. Read more in a Feb. 28 Register-Guard article.
Policy Bills Affecting University of Oregon
- SB 1505: Expanding the Rights of Student-Athletes: In 2021, with the passage of SB 5, Oregon became one of the earliest states to clear the way for student-athletes to benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL). This bill expands Oregon’s NIL law by requiring producers to provide royalty payments to student-athletes if their individual name, image, or likeness is used on a jersey, trading card, in a video game or other such setting. Oregon will become just the second state in the country to provide this benefit to student-athletes.
- SB 1522: Among other things, this omnibus education bill includes in-state tuition eligibility for Afghan refugees, in-state tuition provisions for veterans, provides access to educational programs at correctional facilities, modifies eligibility for Oregon Promise Grant, and modifies requirements for part-time faculty health insurance.
With an unprecedented amount of funding available, the Legislature made a number of statewide investments, including the following:
- Housing: $400 million to respond to and prevent homelessness. Investments to help Oregonians for more shelter capacity, rapid rehousing, resource referrals and housing stability. Local governments will receive grants for shelter capacity, hygiene needs and outreach. This funding will also go towards innovative solutions, like Project Turnkey 2.0, which acquires and repurposes hotels and other buildings to convert into shelter or housing.
- Workforce training: Over $200 million for a workforce training package. $95 million will be dedicated to community organizations to subsidize skill development, $20 million to expand apprenticeship opportunities, $35 million for local workforce boards, $15 million for career programs at community colleges, $45 million to OHSU to increase graduates from underrepresented populations.
- Behavioral health: $175 million to retain employees, and $100 million for behavioral health housing.
- K-12 education: $150 million for K-12 summer learning with grants for enrichment activities, summer school programs, and summer community activity grants, $26 million to expand career and technical education in high schools, $5 million to increase graduation rates for black students.
- Rural Oregon: $100 million on rural Oregon infrastructure projects including fairgrounds, wastewater treatment systems, and other public works.
- Child care: $100 million for child care worker retention and recruitment and subsidies for low-income families.
- Climate change: $100 million for climate resilience dedicated to electric vehicle incentives, making homes more efficient, solar panel rebates and drought resiliency.