Oregon legislative session week three: New partnerships with UO academic programs

The University of Oregon is focused on finding new ways for the state to partner with academic programs that contribute to community impact, research, and economic activity.

The UO is synonymous with Eugene, but did you know that Ducks have a presence in all 36 counties in Oregon? We make in an impact in schools, local governments, businesses, transportation infrastructure, and more in communities statewide. This session, we’re shedding more light on innovative initiatives and community service programs and asking lawmakers to make modest investments in their work.

Bringing the Sustainable City Year Program to More Oregon Communities (HB 2594)

The University of Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) is an innovative model for bridging the gap between universities and communities. It advances local redevelopment efforts, provides applied education for students, and develops the next generation Oregon’s workforce.

Each year, SCYP works in a different community and matches community-identified project ideas with up to 35 university courses, 20+ faculty, and 500 students across more than 12 disciplines giving more than 40,000 hours of effort. Students add capacity, fresh thinking, and the political space for communities to think and act anew.

To date, SCYP has worked in partnership with the cities of Gresham, Salem, Springfield, Medford, Redmond, and Albany. This past year, SCYP piloted two new expansions of its model, including partnering with a transit agency, TriMet and its proposed 12-mile Southwest Corridor light rail project, and with a smaller Oregon city, La Pine.

We are asking the State of Oregon to appropriate $300,000 as a state matching fund for SCYP so that it can expand help more Oregon cities—both urban and rural. A more stable, predictable state appropriation will allow diverse Oregon communities.

Read more about the Sustainable City Year Program here.

A New Boat at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (SB 255)

The University of Oregon’s 90-year-old Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) in Charleston, Oregon conducts research on marine organisms and ecosystems from the spectacular Oregon coast to the very deepest parts of the ocean, while offering educational experiences to students. Our undergraduate marine biology major, the only one in Oregon, is ranked among the best degree programs in North America.

OIMB’s 42-foot research vessel, Pluteus, was built for teaching in 1973 and used for most of its life in the relatively calm nearshore waters of the tropical Atlantic. The old engines and electrical systems have reached the end of their useful life. Moreover, the vessel is too small to carry most of our classes for trips outside the bay. Vessels suitable for research and teaching are designed and fabricated in Oregon for use in the local fishing industry. An example is the fishing vessel. We are asking the State of Oregon to invest $500,000 to purchase a new boat.

Read more about OIMB here.

Making Prison Education a Reality for More Oregon Inmates (awaiting bill number to be assigned)

The University of Oregon’s Prison Education Program (PEP) provides unparalleled learning opportunities and credit-bearing courses for campus-based and incarcerated students at the post-secondary level. The PEP draws upon UO faculty, staff, students and volunteers to design and implement a range of courses and other activities at the Oregon State Penitentiary, the Oregon State Correctional Institution, the Columbia River Correctional Institution and at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution. 

Many studies show that educational opportunities improve the likelihood of successful re-entry and reduce recidivism, and our program fully reflects that pattern. We are asking the State of Oregon to invest $350,000 each biennium in PEP to stabilize instructional and administrative needs and allow for expanded services to more students and inmates.

Read more about the UO’s Prison Education Program here.

Expanding the Oregon Research Schools Network (SB 739)

Based on the Agricultural Extension model, the Oregon Research Schools Network (ORSN), from the College of Education at the University of Oregon, extends service, instruction and research statewide by placing experts in the field to help improve the academic and career outcomes for Oregon’s youth. UO is currently in a unique five-year pilot project, in partnerships across Oregon, with North Eugene High School (4J), Roosevelt High School (PPS), Pendleton High School (PSD #16R) and Coquille High School (CSD #8).

SB 739 will allow ORSN to geographically expand across Oregon within its five-year pilot by serving an additional six high schools identified as high need, highly impacted, and geographically diverse. ORSN holds strong promise for creating an improvement model to increase K-12 performance statewide. This pilot will be expanded and evaluated, over a five-year period, to assess its impact on diverse high school graduation rates, better participation in and completion of post-secondary education.

Build Out of ShakeAlert and AlertWildfire Multi-hazard Sensor Network

The Governor’s Recommended Budget allocates $12 million to fully build out a multi-hazard sensor network for earthquake early warning and 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 and technicians operate the network in coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey and other federal agencies.