Trustees approve policies updates, hear from Rhodes Scholar

At its December quarterly meeting, the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon approved a new education specialist degree, updated board policies to align to new state law, received updates on several programs and heard presentations on a range of annual reports.

The board invited the recently named Rhodes Scholar and two finalists to speak with trustees. UO’s Rhodes Scholar, Nayantara Aurora, a senior majoring in neuroscience at the Clark Honors College, is the first Duck to receive the award in 15 years. Colleen Uzoekwe, a senior majoring in human physiology and a UO track and field student-athlete, and Lucy Roberts, a 2023 Clark Honors College graduate currently pursuing a masters in geography, also spoke with the board about their experiences at the UO and applying for the prestigious scholarship.

“It’s really, really unusual for a university to have all of its nominees become finalists and it is such a big deal to be a finalist,” President Karl Scholz said. “You all are amazing.”

“The panel thought all three of you are as impressive as we do you,” said trustee Elisa deCastro Hornecker. “You are well spoken and intelligent women. I hope you will stay in touch with the university and come back and tell us what wonderful things you are doing to make the world a better place. We’re just so excited you spent time with us today. Congratulations.”

Jason Younker, the assistant vice president and advisor to the president for sovereignty and government to government relations, gave the board an overview of the Home Flight Scholars Program. The program launched in October 2022 and provides financial and academic supports for students who are Oregon residents and citizens of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon. 

Younker told trustees 82 students are currently enrolled in the program and shared details about the support it provides to them and other American Indian/Alaska Native students on campus.

Trustees heard presentations on the College of Education, alternative intelligence and its place in the classroom, student mental health initiatives, an overview on the program approval process, and student enrollment and financial aid.

The meeting also included the annual treasury report, the annual capital and sustainability report, and the annual report from the UO Foundation.

Specific agenda items the board took action on at the meeting, held Dec. 4-5 at the Ford Alumni Center, included the following:

  • Updated the policy on retention and delegation of authority, and changes to public comment, presidential selection, trustee appointment, and board self-evaluation policies in response to recent changes in state law.
  • Approved a new education specialist degree program in education leadership that complements degrees currently offered at the university’s College of Education.

The board also held executive sessions on collective bargaining and safety risks.

This marked the final board meeting for Janet Woodruff-Borden, who has been serving as interim provost and executive vice president and previously served as executive vice provost for academic affairs.

Full materials and recordings of the meeting can be found on the UO Board of Trustees website.