University of Oregon Senate Vice President Elliot Berkman introduced a game of Jeopardy to make learning about the senate bylaws, constitution and committees more fun. Since very few answers were phrased as a question, one was able to go home with a cash prize.

UO senate members and administrators got together on Oct. 2 to go over their goals for the year. UO senate is a decision-making body for primarily the academic side of UO made up of professors, classified staff, students, librarians, research faculty and members of the administration.

The afternoon festivities took place in the Ford Alumni Center with primarily only senate members in attendance. All members were asked to watch the video “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek before the meeting and explore their reason for “why” they wanted to be senate members.


UO Senate President Elizabeth Skowron addresses the group at the Senate orientation. The University of Oregon Senate holds its orientation at the Ford Alumni Center on Oct. 2, 2019. (Marissa Willke/Emerald)

Some members, like Senate President Elizabeth Skowron, joined the senate to leave UO “better than we found it.” Other members, like classified staff employee Jay Butler, said that it has everything to do with the representation of classified staff.

“I wanted to get involved because I wanted a classified voice, and just 10 or 11 years ago we were on the senate, but we didn’t have any voting rights,” Butler said. “Many of the things we discuss in the senate affect us just like they affect everyone else, and we can see things from a different point of view.”

This year, the UO senate is implementing a new strategy to keep senate meetings more productive than in years past, including employing Robert’s Rules of Order, a book is used across the world for parliamentary bodies to instill a sense of order in their meetings. Each member was given a hard copy of the book and asked to get familiar with some of its procedures.

Halfway through the meeting, select members of the UO administration were asked to give a short speech to the senate about why they do the job. They also discussed how they have worked with senate in the past, and how they plan to work with them in the future.

“I literally have the best job on campus because it is so student-centered, so student-focused,” said Doneka Scott, vice provost for undergraduate education & student success. “There’s no reason for us to convene an institution of higher education if students aren’t our focus. We can go do our work many other places.”

Scott said she hopes that the senate is ready to work alongside her to improve undergraduate student life in her first full year in her position. She said her major goal for the future of UO is ensuring that all students who want to graduate in four years have all the tools they need to make that a reality.

Provost Patrick Phillips and Vice President of Finance Jamie Moffitt also attended the event and talked some about last year’s $11.6 million budget cuts, and how they hope to avoid the same predicament next year.

Both Phillips and Moffitt said they hope to work closely with the senate in the future to discuss the best ways to implement what is a proposed $7 million in cuts for this coming year, according to Moffitt.