Spring brings cheer, but there's work ahead, president says

Dear University of Oregon community members,
I hope your spring term is off to a terrific start. Spring typically brings a sense of hope and renewal, and this year we have reason to be especially optimistic about what lies ahead at the University of Oregon. As I walk around campus and I teach my spring quarter class, I feel an enthusiasm and sense of community we haven’t enjoyed in more than two years.
Because we are a highly vaccinated campus in a community with low COVID-19 risk, we are able to move with cautious optimism into what I hope will be a new and better normal. While we are hopeful, we are also vigilant and will be ready to make adjustments if necessary.
This spring we have important work ahead. Our faculty and staff are launching the groundbreaking Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health. We are preparing to soon make our campus in Northeast Portland into a place where our students and faculty will help improve the lives of children and families for generations to come.
Next week, we will launch our IDEAL Climate Survey for UO Employees. We are conducting this survey because we care about making sure that the university’s culture is welcoming, equitable, and respectful. This effort will help us understand the experiences of those who work here, and help to ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed and thrive. I encourage all members of the faculty, officers of administration, classified staff, and graduate employees to take the survey when you receive the invitation by email on April 11.
Our Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact has brought on new faculty members in research areas ranging from microelectronics to next-gen biomaterials to artificial intelligence. Its bioengineering PhD program and graduate internship programs continue to grow in size and diversity, and undergraduates are now being trained in cutting-edge Knight Campus research. Preparation for the second phase of the Knight Campus is underway with plans to start construction in January of 2023.
Our community is also preparing to welcome the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 to Hayward Field in July. This year it will be one of the largest sporting events in the world, and the first time the championships are hosted in the United States or on a college campus. The magnitude of the international event is unprecedented for our campus, as it attracts 3,000 members of the media and a global television audience of 1 billion.
This celebration of diversity, human potential, and athletic achievement will also create important research and hands-on opportunities for our students and faculty. For example, our faculty will study wildfire smoke and air quality issues; our School of Journalism and Communication students will build career skills as they report on the competition; more than 200 students will gain global and cultural skills as they serve as envoys to the visiting federations; and the university will host an event focused on women in sports. In coming days, we will launch a website and share regular updates to keep you current on campus operations and activities as we celebrate our university’s standing on a global stage.
Perhaps most exciting, this June we will celebrate our graduates, hosting our first completely in-person commencement festivities in two years. We will recognize the classes of 2022, ’21, and ‘20 at a spectacular UO commencement celebration at Autzen Stadium on June 13. I so look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our students with everyone.
This spring, we have an opportunity to move forward, resume traditions, and create new ones. I remain deeply humbled, grateful, and impressed by our community’s perseverance. I am eager to see all that we will accomplish as we refocus our energy to the future, and continue our mission of making our state, nation, and world a better place for all.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law