UO students and faculty testify at Joint Ways and Means Committee hearings

Over three sessions in late April, dozens of representatives from Oregon’s seven public universities, including the University of Oregon, testified before the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Education for the purpose of advocating for support and funding for Oregon’s public universities. The three days of presentations to the committee highlighted the ways that higher education impacts Oregon’s workforce and tax base, how universities collaborate in a variety of ways to improve the lives of Oregonians, and how increased state funding could positively impact Oregon’s students.

UO student Megan Van Pelt, junior and co-director of UO’s Native American Student Union, shared her experience of how the Oregon Tribal Student Grant has impacted her educational experience and benefited her tribe and community.

UO’s Patrick Sponslor, administrator for the Oregon Office for Community Dispute Resolution, housed in the UO School of Law, spoke to their program’s research and workforce preparation. The Oregon Office for Community Dispute Resolution trains future professionals while supporting a network of Community Dispute Resolution Centers across the state that provide direct alternative dispute resolution services to underserved community members.

UO Professor of Architecture Judith Shiene testified about how the UO is preparing students for the workforce through the TallWood Design Institute, a partnership between the College of Design at UO and OSU’s Colleges of Forestry and Engineering. The institute unites faculty across the disciplines of architecture, structural engineering, and wood science to advance mass timber and other wood product building solutions.

Legislators also heard from Lisa Gaines, director of the Institute for Natural Resources at Oregon State University. She spoke about collaborative efforts between OSU, the UO, and Portland State University, supported by National Science Foundation funding, to protect and improve the environment related to wildfire risk and adaptation.

Throughout the presentations, those testifying emphasized Oregon’s rank as 45th in the nation for state funding for public universities and about the importance of state funding for scholarship programs and wraparound services, including the Oregon Opportunity Grant.