Schill addresses state of the university in UO Senate meeting

** This post has been updated to clarify that UO President Michael Schill did not say that the passing of Measure 97 would hurt the university’s budget. University officials are not allowed to advocate for or against any political policy.

University of Oregon President Michael Schill listed new faculty hires, academic research and increasing diversity among his first-year accomplishments during his presidential address at the UO Senate meeting on Wednesday.

Schill was optimistic about his first year at UO. His focus included building academic research, increasing accessibility and affordability, and promoting student engagement.

“It was a good year,” he said, giving praise to staff and faculty. He said the year’s successes were a group effort.

Three new vice presidents and three new deans joined UO recently. Schill said UO attracted all of its first choices. The university also hired 52 tenured faculty members — a net increase of 12 people, he said.

Other accomplishments included launching the Oregon Commitment, increasing the number of graduate students, hiring a new UOPD Chief, drawing donors to science research, increasing the diversity of the student body and denaming Dunn Hall.

Schill mentioned the looming vote on Measure 97 — a tax increase for corporations with revenue higher than $25 million. 

“We do not know what the effect of measure 97  would be because there would be a lot of people lining up for those resources,” UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said, “but without the state providing some kind of additional support we will face significant financial challenges.”

Oregon residents will vote on the measure on Nov. 8.

Among other challenges that UO faces, Schill said he wants to proactively hire faculty and build infrastructure to prepare for the growing student body. He aims to find space for science laboratories on the Eugene campus, improve the stability of deans at the Portland campus, and increase student and faculty diversity.

Schill was received well by the senate and was thanked by multiple members.

Two senate committees, the Bias Response Team Task force and the Responsible Reporting Work Group, gave reports during the meeting.

The task force held its first meeting in September and aims to assess the perceived impact on student and faculty members’ freedom of speech. The Bias and Education Response Team — the group that task force is auditing — caught national attention for accusations of violating free speech.

The Responsible Reporting Work Group held a forum on Friday to assess the current emergency mandatory reporting policy for sexual assault. Its findings were presented to the senate during the meeting, but it hopes to have a policy written for Nov. 19.

Chris Sinclair, UO math associate professor, revealed the new UO Senate website, which improves accessibility to senate information. Sinclair said the most important feature is the blog, on which senate members may hold preemptive online discussions, saving time during the limited 10 hours the group meets per term.

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Will Campbell

Will Campbell

I'm the Senior News Editor at the Emerald. I was born and raised in Vancouver, WA.