Conduct code, budget, initiatives highlight trustee meetings

Relief carving of intertwined UO

The June meetings of the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon included important discussions around the student conduct code, budget, academic hiring, IDEAL Framework and Presidential Initiative in Data Science.

The board approved the 2019 fiscal year budget and amendments to retirement plan management policies as well as a new violation under the conduct code to include “violation of law.”

The Office of the Dean of Students proposed the new violation, citing campus safety concerns resulting from limitations in the code in dealing with criminal acts, such as assault or child pornography.

The addition was approved 7-6 with several trustees requesting the Student Conduct Committee work with the dean of students office to further clarify the language to allay concerns from students about potential overreach and negative academic effects based on unwarranted arrests.

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee did not move forward a revision proposed by the Student Conduct Committee to re-establish panel adjudications, rather than the university’s current single adjudicator approach.

Provost and Senior Vice President Jayanth Banavar walked the committee though the successful implementation of the Institutional Hiring Plan, as well as the new budget model that will be adopted in the new fiscal year. In addition, Banavar introduced Sabrina Madison-Cannon, the incoming dean of the School of Music and Dance, who was visiting campus and preparing for her arrival next month.

Student success was also a theme for the committee, with President Michael H. Schill sharing news that the university will make significant investments in academic advising by hiring an additional 23 advisers in the coming months. It is part of the comprehensive effort to strengthen student advising and career counseling, enhance student success and improve on-time graduation.

Doneka Scott, associate vice provost for student success, provided an overview of related initiatives that have moved forward in the last year, including:

  • Reorganization of undergraduate studies.
  • The introduction of integrative practices for student success, such as UO Connected/UO Committed.
  • A new approach to peer advising that betters coordination and collaboration.
  • The creation of a Transfer Student Subcommittee that will to find ways to better serve transfer students, who represent 25 percent of the student population.

Investment in the Presidential Initiative in Data Science was highlighted during the full board meeting, with Bill Cresko, professor of biology and initiative director, updating trustees on progress during the last six months.

Another academic area the trustees focused on is the cluster of excellence in volcanology, volcanic hazards and geothermal energy. This discussion featured Department of Earth Sciences  head Paul Wallace and the cluster’s newest team member, Joe Dufek, who joined the UO this year from Georgia Tech.

Chuck Lillis, chair of the board, noted that a number of new faculty positions have been identified to help the university build on strengths and supplement areas of need, while Cresko said a Data Science Vision Committee has been created to help imagine a data science ecosystem that will ultimately shape a program, an institute and campuswide interactions.

Also, the Division of Equity and Inclusion shared an ecosystem of equity and inclusion activities, known as the IDEAL Framework.

Lesley-Anne Pittard, assistant vice president for campus and community engagement, described the three ways the university approaches diversity: by embedding equity and inclusion in the daily practices and policies of the UO, aligning units around the shared IDEAL Framework, and mobilizing people to do the work.

Yvette Alex Assensoh, vice president for equity and inclusion, shared successes with the board while outlining goals for the future as units across campus build and implement Diversity Action Plans. Ultimately, the work is intended to make the UO a “self-reinforcing learning community around issues of equity and inclusion.”

Trustees also conferred honorary degrees, the first awarded by the UO’s relatively new institutional board and the first in a decade. Two native Oregonians, Lorry I. Lokey and Carrie Mae Weems, were unanimously approved to receive honorary degrees.

“Carrie Mae Weems and Lorry I. Lokey are among the most exceptional people the state of Oregon has ever produced,” Schill said in announcing the pair’s nomination. “Through artwork that resonates with people of all races, Weems invites us to reimagine the possibilities for humanity, especially people of color. Lokey, through his astonishing generosity, champions the value of education and helps fuel scientific progress in the United States and abroad.”