We had a lot to celebrate in 2021 — we moved forward together in a year highlighted by research breakthroughs, a record-setting first-year class, another transformative $500 million gift, and our return to community on campus.
After a tumultuous 2020, the University of Oregon came back together in 2021 for a new kind of normal.
Winter and spring terms brought the widespread availability of vaccines to protect against COVID-19, and by early summer, it appeared briefly that we had turned the corner against the virus. Then new variants arrived and vigilance remained the watch word.
Academically, the UO gained momentum around five Academic Initiatives that aim to benefit society by focusing and strengthening the UO’s excellence in Data Science, Diversity, the Environment, Innovation, and Sport and Wellness.
We celebrated commencement in June in a hybrid ceremony that was mostly remote but featured live elements, including the traditional Grad Parade and students walking across a stage on the Quad to accept diplomas.
Actor, alumnus and diehard Duck fan Ty Burrell, the keynote speaker, advised the graduates, “Test your limits. Discover what you’re capable of. Find your best self in the crucible of attempting things that you’re generally unsure you can pull off.”
Under the theme Forward Together, the university implemented safety strategies that included a vaccine requirement, testing, and mask-wearing indoors.
After students had learned largely remotely for six academic terms because of the pandemic, a campus that had been eerily quiet for 18 months gave way to familiar scenes of students walking along 13th Avenue, returning to classrooms and hanging out at the EMU.
In athletics, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams received NCAA Tournament bids, and both advanced to the Sweet 16 before bowing out. Forward Sedona Prince made international headlines after she posted a video pointing out the disparities between the workout facilities at the women’s tournament and those at the men’s. After a viral outcry, the NCAA pledged to do better.
Track and field returned to rebuilt Hayward Field, which hosted the NCAA Championships, the Olympic Trials and the Prefontaine Classic.
Four Ducks won national titles at the NCAA Championships: Cooper Teare in the 5000 meters, Cole Hocker in the 1500, Emmanuel Ihemeje in the triple jump and Cardama Baez in the 10,000 meters.
Nineteen current and former Oregon athletes made the U.S. Olympic team, and five brought home hardware: English Gardner and Jenna Prandini (silver in the 4x100 relay), Raevyn Rogers (bronze in the 800 meters), Scott McGough (silver in baseball) and Janie Takeda Reed (silver in softball).
Fall brought a return to fans at Autzen Stadium for the first time since 2019. The Ducks delivered a thrilling season, including a stunning road upset of Ohio State in September, and for a few weeks Oregon was one of four teams slotted into the College Football Playoff. The Ducks played for their third straight Pac-12 title but fell to Utah in the conference championship game.
Soon after, Coach Mario Cristobal left Oregon to take the head job at his alma mater, the University of Miami. A week later, the Ducks hired Dan Lanning, a highly regarded assistant coach at the University of Georgia, to be Oregon’s 35th head football coach.
As we approach winter term and look ahead to 2022, we know the virus is still with us, and the Omicron variant creates new uncertainties. But the mission of the university doesn’t stop. Teaching, serving, researching. Knowledge. We move forward, together.