President calls for resilience in the face of fires, pandemic

UO President Michael Schill

UO President Michael H. Schill sent the following message to the campus community Sept. 10:

Dear University of Oregon community,

Like many of you, I have been horrified watching the news coverage of the wildfires ravaging Lane County, parts of Oregon, and other locations up and down the West Coast. Just when I thought the challenges facing our community couldn’t get worse, they did. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have experienced loss, those who have been forced to flee their homes, and those whose lives will never be the same as a result of the fires. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the courageous firefighters who are working tirelessly to save lives, homes, and businesses in the path of the flames. The entire University of Oregon community offers our concern and support.

Thankfully, the campus is not in danger from the wildfires burning east of Eugene. There is no change to our operational status, though some activities and services may be curtailed due to poor air quality. We are offering support to members of the university community who have been displaced by the Holiday Farm Fire, including temporary housing in our residence halls and access to free showers in the Student Recreation Center. If you are a university employee or student in need of such assistance, please use this web form and someone will quickly connect with you.

The UO’s Safety and Risk Services team is closely coordinating with Lane County Emergency Management, and some university personnel are temporarily embedded in the county’s fire response structure to help. Recognizing that we must continue to prepare campus to start the fall academic term later this month and the unique constraints posed by COVID-19, we are identifying ways we can assist and respond to fire-related requests for assistance, including providing meals from our dining services and the use of some facilities.

If the fire were to move closer to Eugene and campus, official warnings and evacuation orders would be issued by Lane County Emergency Management through an alert system that pushes a message to every mobile phone in the area. In such a circumstance, the university would amplify and supplement those messages through our UO Alert text notification system. You can see a visual representation of the Holiday Farm Fire evacuation zones at this website, and the university is providing regular updates on the UO Alerts Blog. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional information as warranted.

I know that many within our community are already feeling stressed and anxious due to the many challenges of this year, and the situation created by these fires exacerbates those feelings. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I know that our resilience is being tested as it never has before, but I firmly believe in the strength of the UO community and I am confident that, by pulling together and supporting each other, we can overcome the challenges we now face.

Thank you. Stay safe and take care.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law