On Dec. 1, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced he will not seek re-election in 2022. DeFazio, who represents Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, will have served 36 years in the House of Representatives when his term ends, making him the longest serving House Member from Oregon and the 65th-longest serving member of the House in U.S. history. Articles about his retirement announcement and career can be found on his website.
UO President Michael Schill said in a statement that "I want to extend my personal congratulations to Congressman DeFazio for an outstanding career in Congress. The University of Oregon and Fourth Congressional district have been fortunate to have his representation in Congress for over three decades."
Schill called DeFazio a "strong champion for students and research by supporting federal financial aid and federal investment in scientific research and partnership." He said that "in the months to come, we will have opportunities to celebrate his contributions to the state and nation."
DeFazio earned his master’s degree in 1977 from UO in a special independent studies program. He began his studies on gerontology in the late 1960s.
Since he was first elected in 1986, Congressman DeFazio been a frequent visitor to campus and has worked closely with the University of Oregon, its leadership, faculty and staff. He has kept UO and higher education at the center of his priorities throughout his time in Congress, even when his committee assignments tied him closely to natural resources and transportation policy work.
Examples of Congressman DeFazio’s support for the UO and higher education include:
Student aid: DeFazio has supported federal student aid through annual appropriations advocacy. In the early 1990s, he advocated for the inclusion of the UO as a direct lending demonstration site.
Federal research and facilities: DeFazio has secured funding throughout his years in Congress for UO research through appropriations advocacy. He was also instrumental in securing funds for a variety of UO research projects and facilities, including the following:
- In the early 1990s, DeFazio secured earmarked funds through the US Department of Energy for a program involving UO Architecture Prof Charlie Brown and the Energy in Building Studies Laboratory.
- Over nearly a decade starting in 2001, DeFazio directed nearly $30 million in Department of Defense research funds to the UO, including funds to acquire UO’s first fMRI as part of UO’s Brain, Biology and Machine initiative. This effort was in coordination with US Senator Ron Wyden and former Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR).
- He also worked with Senator Wyden and Congressman Walden to secure approximately $60 million in shared and direct funding to three nanoscience (ONAMI) research initiatives. The initiatives included UO, Portland State and Oregon State with UO participating in two of the initiatives, both with a sustainable/greener materials aspect.
- In 2005 he secured funding for a Portland State university transportation center (UTC) that included UO and Oregon Tech. The UTC has led to approx. $20 million in related transportation research activity at the UO.
- DeFazio secured funds in 2005 for the expansion of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History (MNCH) because of its status as repository of archaeological items found at transportation projects. In 2018, he successfully nominated MNCH for an Institute of Museums and Libraries Services national medal.
- Over multiple years, DeFazio led efforts to acquire additional sensors for the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, operated by UO’s Oregon Hazards Lab in Oregon, for earthquake early warning and scientific research.
- DeFazio has regularly hosted congressional briefings and has featured faculty as witnesses in Washington, D.C. and in Oregon.
While a number of people have indicated interest in running for the congressional seat DeFazio will leave vacant, two people have officially filed to run; Democrat Val Hoyle, currently the State of Oregon’s Labor Commissioner, and Republican Alek Skarlatos, who ran against DeFazio in the 2018 general election. The deadline for candidates to file is March 8.