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October 14, 2019

Leadership in Languages

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the UO ranks among the top 10 universities in the nation in several languages, in terms of numbers of majors enrolled. We are #4 in Chinese; tied with University of North Carolina at Charlotte for #4 in Japanese; and tied with UC Davis for #6 in Spanish.

We are also ranked #5 in the broader category of East Asian languages, literatures and linguistics; and also tied with UC Davis for #9 in Romance languages, literatures and linguistics.

When all of our language offerings are tallied together, we have a total of 200 students majoring in languages, which places us at #15 on the overall list.

Like the UO, most of the colleges with the highest numbers of majors in foreign languages, literatures, and linguistics are public, with the exception of Brigham Young University, the only private nonprofit institution among the top 10 over all. Overall, Spanish had, by far, the largest numbers of majors, followed by French. Among East Asian languages, Japanese had the most majors. Women outnumbered men in all of the top 13 language majors except Arabic and Ancient/Classical Greek, and this was true for all of the UO language categories.

We remain committed to advancing the visibility of languages to both prospective and current students. Watch for new websites for all of our languages, with a new design optimized for student-friendliness, starting with Russian, East European and Eurasian studies, which just last month launched its new website, as did German and Scandinavian and Linguistics.

We have also appointed a CAS Language Initiatives Coordinator to oversee our language outreach and recruitment efforts for IntroDUCKtion, Week of Welcome, and Languages Out Loud events in the fall and spring.  And, with the support of President Michael Schill, we have launched two successful years of the LIFT initiative—Language Learning Innovation for Teachers—an innovative pedagogy program that assists faculty in developing proficiency-based courses that speak to today’s students.  By the end of year two of the LIFT initiative, we will have infused the language curriculum across the college with new courses and approaches to language teaching and learning.

The CAS focus on languages has been guided by the dedicated faculty in the UO Language Council; our language learning experts in the Center for Applied Second Language Studies, the Yamada Language Center, and the Department of Romance Languages; and by our many students, whom we have consulted through all-campus surveys and listened to in group meetings.  We have met with the local superintendent of schools, and we are collaborating with local high schools, the Living the Language Academic Residential Communities, and many other language-focused enterprises of the Global Studies Institute.

Together, we are redesigning UO programs with the aim of providing the best, most innovative university-level language learning experience in the Pacific Northwest.

Karen Ford
Senior Divisional Dean, Humanities

New Faculty Profile: Nayoung Kwon, Assistant Professor, Korean Linguistics

Nayoung Kwon’s areas of expertise include neuro-/psycholinguistics and syntax. She is interested in human language processing, focusing on the questions of how language systems interact with other cognitive functions and how grammatical variations in language structure map into processing. In addition to the theoretical tools adopted in comparative syntactic research, the methods she employs to investigate cross-linguistic parsing strategies include ERPs (event-related potentials—a measurement of brain response), eye-tracking, and self-paced reading. She comes to the UO from Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, where she was professor and head of the Department of English Language and Literature. Before she joined Konkuk University in 2012, she spent one year at Harvard University as a postdoctoral researcher and also at Wellesley College as a visiting lecturer, and three years as an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She earned her Ph.D. in linguistics and cognitive science at University of California, San Diego.

New Faculty Profile: Masami Kawai, Assistant Professor, Cinema Studies

Masami Kawai is a Los Angeles-born filmmaker whose work integrates issues of race, class, gender, and what it means to be an immigrant across multiple modes of filmmaking. She is interested in exploring these issues through techniques of realism to reveal the complexity of the human experience. Her recognitions include selection as a director in the Francis Ford Coppola One-Act play series and a fellowship from LA’s Visual Communications, which supports emerging Asian American filmmakers, and she was a recipient of a Panavision New Filmmaker’s grant. In addition, she has participated in Film Independent’s diversity program, Project Involve. Her work has screened at various venues, including the Rotterdam Film Festival, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Portland International Film Festival, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She received her M.F.A. in film production with an emphasis in directing from the University of California, Los Angeles.

New Faculty Profile: Claire Herbert, Assistant Professor, Sociology

Claire Herbert uses qualitative and quantitative methods to study issues in criminology, socio-legal studies, and urban sociology. Her research areas include informality and resistance; incarceration and prisoner reentry; property rights and land use; housing and homelessness; and race, poverty, and inequality. Her forthcoming book Urban Decline and the Rise of Property Informality in Detroit (University of California Press) is a qualitative study which uses the lens of informality, borrowed from its rich history in scholarship on the global south, to study de jure illegal uses of land, houses and buildings in Detroit, Michigan, such as squatting, scrapping, gardening and demolition. She conceptualizes these practices as informal because they violate laws and regulations but have achieved social legitimacy, as many residents and authorities accept and even promote these practices in their neighborhoods. Claire comes to the UO from Drexel University, where she was an assistant professor of sociology. She completed her PhD in sociology at the University of Michigan in 2016, where she was also a trainee in the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research.

October 4, 2019

CAS Interdisciplinary Research Talks 

During last year’s discussions about a potential reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences, we heard from faculty members across all CAS divisions who expressed the desire for more opportunities for interdisciplinary dialogue and potential collaborations. In response, CAS is organizing a series of monthly Interdisciplinary Research Talks (IR Talks) for the current academic year.

CAS IR Talks will be held in our new home in Tykeson Hall. Talks will be 35-40 minutes in length, followed by a Q&A. We have asked faculty members to speak to a general audience of faculty from across the College.

Please mark your calendars for the first three talks; we look forward to your participation in a dynamic exchange of ideas with your colleagues:

Friday, November 1, 3:30-5 p.m.
Studying Nature’s Patterns Across the Arts and Sciences
Richard Taylor, Professor and Department Head, Physics

 

Monday, December 2, 3:30-5
The Bean in the Machine: The History of  Coffee under Fascism
Diana Garvin, Assistant Professor, Romance Languages


Thursday, January 9, 3:30-5
Polymathy and the Origins of the Research University
Vera Keller, Associate Professor, History

New Faculty Profile: Courtney Cox, Assistant Professor, Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies

Courtney Cox’s area of specialization is the study of identity, technology and globalization through sport. With a focus on the cultural, political, and economic effects of global sport, her current research focuses on girls and women competing in and covering basketball across the United States, Russia, Senegal, and France. She’s also interested in the world of advanced analytics in sport, and the ways in which this quantitative aspect of the game can be studied qualitatively through both critical discourse analysis and ethnography. From following the ways athletes and fans use Twitter, to analyzing branding strategies of women’s professional leagues, to tracing the history of a sport from its birth to its current status as a global phenomenon, she is fascinated with the ways sport offers new possibilities in which to conceptualize culture, economy, and technology. Courtney comes to the UO from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where she recently completed her Ph.D. Her previous education includes a Bachelor of Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication, an MA in Journalism from UT. Before her academic career, she worked for ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut and Austin, Texas (Longhorn Network). She also spent time at NPR-affiliate KPCC in Pasadena, California and with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

New Faculty Profile: Ramón Alvarado, Acting Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Data Ethics

Ramón Alvarado is a new faculty member in both the Department of Philosophy and the UO’s new data science initiative. His area of specialization is the philosophy of computation and data ethics, specifically the epistemic and ethical implications of the use of computational methods and technologies in science and society. He has published papers on the epistemic implications of big data in science as well as on the challenges of  justifying our ubiquitous reliance on computer simulations for scientific inquiry. He has also written about the challenges that opaque computational methods such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data pose to democratic processes. His publications include “Epistemic Opacity, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning,” a forthcoming chapter in Big Data and the Democratic Process;  “Epistemic Entitlements and Computer Simulations” (with John Symons), forthcoming in Minds and Machines; and “Can We Trust Big Data? Applying Philosophy of Science to Software” (with John Symons) in Big Data & Society (2016). In 2019-2020, he will be teaching Moral Theory; Technology Ethics: Hardware and Software at the Cutting Edge; Internet, Society and Philosophy; Critical Reasoning; and a seminar on data ethics.  He is completing his Ph.D. at University of Kansas.

New Faculty Profile: Stacy Alaimo, Professor of English

Stacy Alaimo researches and teaches across the environmental humanities, science studies, animal studies, American literature, cultural studies, and critical theory—focusing on developing models of new materialism, material feminisms, environmental justice, and the blue (oceanic) humanities. Her publications include Undomesticated Ground: Recasting Nature as Feminist Space(Cornell, 2000); Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self (Indiana 2010), which won the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment book award for ecocriticism; and Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (Minnesota 2016). She co-edited Material Feminisms(2008), edited the 28-chapter volume Matter (2016) in the Gender series of Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks, and edited a special volume of Configurations on science studies and the blue humanities. Stacy has more than 45 scholarly articles and chapters published and forthcoming, and is currently writing Composing Blue Ecologies: Science, Aesthetics, and the Creatures of the Abyss, and a book on ocean acidification, as well as co-editing a new book series, “Elements,” for Duke University Press. Stacy chaired the inaugural MLA Forum on Ecocriticism and the Environmental Humanities, served on the international evaluation team for the Environmental Humanities program competition in Stockholm, and has served as the co-president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. Previously, she was Professor of English and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she served as academic co-chair for the President’s Sustainability Committee and established/directed a cross-disciplinary minor in environmental and sustainability studies.

The Value of the Liberal Arts: How Do We Help Our Students Understand and Benefit From It?

One the most challenging issues we have faced in the College of Arts and Sciences over the past decade is the dramatic change in enrollments across disciplines. Nationally, students are clearly gravitating toward majors they perceive as more career friendly, such as professional school degrees and STEM fields. This heightened focus on how higher education will lead to a good job and career is unlikely to diminish as students (and their parents) continue to shoulder an ever-growing share of the cost of higher education because of the state and federal defunding of higher education.

It is difficult to shift instructional resources in a higher education setting to respond to changing student demand, though we can (and have) accommodated these demands to some extent by changing class sizes and staffing allocations. However, responding in a reactive mode to changing student demand with reallocated resources is not desirable for a number of reasons. First, our excellence as a premier public liberal arts university is tied to our commitment to offering a broad set of high-quality programs and curriculum across the disciplines. Second, training our students for their first job is far from our only goal—we want them to be educated citizens prepared for all aspects of today’s global society. Finally, while we should certainly respond to the changing needs of our students and society, the recent shift in student demand for certain majors is not always well-informed about the market. Surveys tell us that employers value liberal arts skills (such as problem solving and written communication) in potential employees much more than practical skills such as facility with a spreadsheet.

It’s this final point—informing students about the value of a liberal arts education and its immediate connection to professional success—that has been the focus of our time and attention in recent years. Some of the initiatives we have implemented on this front include:

  • Development of materials and presentations to explain the value of liberal arts education and its immediate connection to careers; we have used these extensively at Duck Days and other similar events with prospective students and their parents.
  • The UO Language Council has shown outstanding leadership by launching a number of initiatives to inform and has encouraged greater appreciation for and enrollment in our language courses.
  • Collaboration with our Admissions Office to create targeted mailings to encourage prospective students to major in classic liberal arts majors, and
  • A substantial commitment of CAS communications staff time toward developing a collection of examples of recent alumni—at least one for each major—who used their liberal arts training to get great jobs in exciting careers.

I am so appreciative of all the good work that so many individuals and teams have put into these initiatives and we have learned quite a bit from them. At the same time, it is clear that there is much more we need to do to inform students about the value of a liberal arts education and its connection to the professional world beyond college. We need to take bigger and bolder steps. We will also need everyone’s help across the College (faculty and staff) to be successful in this endeavor.

The first big step is Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall. Already, the undergraduate advising staff in Tykeson Hall is offering academic and career advising to students in an integrated fashion. This year in Tykeson, advisors will be talking about academic programs in tandem with associated professional paths. While these connections are obvious to students with respect to professional and pre-professional degrees, they don’t normally get this information about liberal arts majors. This is a major opportunity for our College. To get ready for the opening of Tykeson, we have developed a number of materials for our advisors, including “major maps” for all our majors in the College that offer information on professional paths, as well as a growing library of short briefs on alumni in professional careers for all of our majors: With the help of faculty and staff, I’m sure there is even more we can provide to advisors to help students understand and visualize the career paths that stem from our liberal arts curriculum.

But we need to leverage Tykeson Hall even further. In the coming year, I want to organize conversations and action around a few other major steps we can take in the College.

The first is to create more career-legible majors and minors from our existing liberal arts curricula. Two recent minors created by faculty have immediately garnered very strong student demand: Food Studies and Global Health. These minors use existing curriculum to create an academic program that has immediate and clear experiential learning and professional opportunities for students. They are also highly interdisciplinary, leveraging the true strength of a liberal arts education, something that last year’s CAS Task Force emphatically recommended. We need more of these types of majors and minors in our curriculum.

The second is to engage faculty in helping our students better make the connection between the liberal arts skills they gain in our courses (such as written communication and problem-solving skills) and the core competencies that are in demand from employers. There are some simple things we can do here, such as clearly identifying the learning outcomes in our courses, articulating how specific assignments help achieve these outcomes, and illustrating how these learning outcomes translate into core competencies in the professional world. But there are also more intensive things we can do in this space through collaboration of faculty with our Tykeson advisors.

Our new Career Center Director, Paul Timmins, helped lead exactly such an effort at the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota in recent years, so we will be fortunate to have his experience and advice about how to proceed.

A final area that will require significant discussion and action is strengthening experiential learning opportunities for our students in the College. Experiential learning can range from serving as a research assistant for a faculty member to formal internships with an employer. Students gain confidence in their chosen academic path and fully engage in it when they gain experience and knowledge of the professional world connected to their intended academic program. It also provides potential employers additional confidence as they consider hiring our graduating students. While we currently see many of our students participating in experiential learning opportunities, we don’t have a coordinated system to inform students of—and match students to—them. And we need to explore ways to efficiently generate such opportunities for many more of our students than we currently do because it is so crucial to their future success after they graduate.

This is truly a case where one of our greatest challenges also affords us many opportunities. I’m excited to open up these conversations with all of you in the coming year.

Bruce Blonigen
Interim Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

September 29, 2019

SEIU Settlement

We were greeted with wonderful news on Saturday that a potential strike by our classified staff was averted. I want to thank the perseverance and goodwill of the negotiators to get a deal done.

I also want to take a moment to thank our classified employees for everything you do for the College and our University. From office specialists to science lab technicians to fiscal coordinators to teaching assistants, we value all the expertise and experience you provide to us every day. I hope everyone can join me this week in letting our classified colleagues know how much we value the work they do. We are so glad you are here with us to greet students on the first day of classes!​

Bruce Blonigen
Interim Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

September 27, 2019

The Importance of Tykeson Hall

Last week’s blog post gave you an update on the opening of Tykeson Hall and our excitement about the various student success services it will provide. A natural and important question now is why we have invested so heavily in student success.

First, it is important for our College that we show students how a liberal arts education leads to success not only academically, but after they graduate as well. We have seen dramatic changes in enrollments across disciplines over the past decade, in large part due to the careerism of entering students. With the rising debt burden of students financing their own education, the importance of post-graduation professional success is greater than ever. Ironically, while entering students are more and more focused on getting STEM and professional degrees, there is considerable and increasing evidence that liberal arts skills are highly valued by employers. Tykeson Hall is a major step toward bridging this disconnect by informing students about the many and varied professional paths that stem from liberal arts majors and by providing them services to make these connections.

Second, the services in Tykeson will help all students succeed at the University of Oregon, and educating them for lifelong success is our primary mission as an institution of higher education. Unfortunately, our students aren’t always successful, and this can happen when students are uncertain about or reconsider their course of study. Some will start to question the value of their studies in one area and then conclude that they must leave the university entirely. We have not been well-prepared to help these students; for example, advising resources in one major typically aren’t geared to help students transition to another major if switching majors might be best option for them. Tykeson Hall advising will offer students easily accessible information and support about the full range of academic paths and related professional paths, and then direct students to better-tailored resources once they have found a new course of study. This should help us retain more of the students we might otherwise lose and see them successfully graduate.

Of course, there is another compelling reason why student success is so important for our college and the university—it’s vital to our financial health.

It’s no secret that we are heavily dependent on out-of-state tuition. Tuition and fees account for about 80% of the revenues for our academic operations. We have been incredibly fortunate to be located next to the largest and wealthiest state in the country, a state which has not kept up with its own in-state demand for college admissions. We have also benefited from large numbers of international students enrolling at our university in recent years.

But there are major headwinds we face in the coming years on the enrollment front. Among these are declining international student enrollments, increasing personnel costs, and little to no predicted growth in high school graduates in the state of Oregon and the U.S. overall over the coming decades. With out-of-state tuition, fees, room and board at the University of Oregon now amounting to more than $52,000 per year, we are in a tight marketplace for out-of-state students with little room to increase these charges by more than the inflation rate for the foreseeable future. Maintaining financial stability will require increasing our market share of graduating high school seniors.

How will our investment in Tykeson Hall and student success help us with these demographic and financial challenges?

First, the cutting-edge services geared to help our students be successful both in college and afterwards will set us apart from the crowd. Imagine touring our campus with your high school student and contemplating the $52,000 annual tab. A building in the heart of campus that is devoted to student success should be a powerful signal that the university is deeply invested in your student and their long-term opportunities. Our ability to distinguish ourselves from the hundreds of other schools and colleges competing for high school graduates is paramount.

Second, as mentioned above, student success will translate into better retention of the students we recruit. Better retention over the year means higher revenues because when we retain students, they continue paying tuition. Better retention from one year to the next means that our admissions staff does not have as much pressure to refill our enrollment with large entering classes. Greater student success from Tykeson Hall services may also increase average student credit hours, which also increases revenues. And it doesn’t take much change in these retention numbers and credit-hour carrying loads to create substantial revenue impacts. For example, we gain $1 million in annual revenues for every additional 30 out-of-state students, whether they are retained students from the previous year or new students.

Higher education will continue to confront significant challenges in the coming years. The future of our College and university depends on our efforts to overcome these challenges as a public, liberal arts university that relies heavily on tuition. Tykeson Hall is a clear commitment to our students’ success that signals that their investment in the liberal arts education we provide will give them the skills and knowledge to thrive both in college and beyond.

But just opening a building won’t accomplish a thing. We now all need to work together to realize the promise of Tykeson Hall—it can’t just be on the shoulders of the staff who work in the building. I have some thoughts about how we can do this together, so look for my next blog entry in the coming week or two.

Bruce Blonigen
Interim Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

September 16, 2019

UO Authors, Book Talks Series

The publication of a book is a major achievement for authors and universities, representing significant investments of research, creativity, time, and resources. UO Authors, Book Talks is a pilot series that will celebrate books published by UO faculty authors. The two-part series will occur during the 2019-2020 academic year, with one event featuring one author in fall and winter.

Each event will include a 30-minute presentation by the author about their book, followed by Q&A, a book signing, and light refreshments at the Knight Library Browsing Room.

 

Date: November 6, 2019, 5 P.M.

Author: Kristin Yarris, Associate Professor in International Studies

Book: Care Across Generations: Solidarity and Sacrifice in Transnational Families 

Description: Care Across Generations takes a close look at grandmother care in Nicaraguan transnational families, examining both the structural and gendered inequalities that motivate migration and caregiving as well as the cultural values that sustain intergenerational care. Kristin E. Yarris broadens the transnational migrant story beyond the parent-child relationship, situating care across generations and embedded within the kinship networks in sending countries.

Rather than casting the consequences of women’s migration in migrant-sending countries solely in terms of a “care deficit,” Yarris shows how intergenerational reconfigurations of care serve as a resource for the wellbeing of children and other family members who stay behind after transnational migration. Moving our perspective across borders and over generations, Care Across Generations shows the social and moral value of intergenerational care for contemporary transnational families.

 

Date: February 12, 2020, 5:30 P.M.

Author: Kirby Brown, Associate Professor of Native American Literatures

Book: Stoking the Fire: Nationhood in Cherokee Writing, 1907-1970 

Description: The years between Oklahoma statehood in 1907 and the reorganization of the Cherokee Nation in 1971 are often seen as an intellectual, political, and literary “dark age” in Cherokee history. In Stoking the Fire, Kirby Brown (Cherokee Nation) offers critical readings of several twentieth-century Cherokee authors that reveal the complicated ways their work bore witness to Cherokee nationhood in the absence of a functioning Cherokee state.

Faced with the devastating effects of allotment and assimilation policies on Cherokee communities, Brown demonstrates how historian Rachel Caroline Eaton (1869–1938), novelist John Milton Oskison (1874–1947), educator Ruth Muskrat Bronson (1897–1982), and playwright Rollie Lynn Riggs (1899–1954) turned to tribal histories and biographies, novels and plays, and editorials and public addresses as alternative sites for resistance, critique, and the ongoing cultivation of a Cherokee national imaginary. Across fiction, historiography, drama, and diplomacy, Cherokee nationhood functions as both a concrete literary claim to presence and a conceptual framework to remember the past, document the present, and (re)imagine explicitly national futures for Cherokee people in a time when the “Indian nation” was thought a contradiction in terms. Brown recovers this period as a rich archive of Cherokee national memory and a crucial moment in Cherokee and American Indian literary and intellectual production.

 

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September 13, 2019

Welcome to Tykeson Hall

Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall is open for business! Faculty and staff moved into the building in August and are now getting ready to welcome students as they arrive in fall term. Last winter, we recruited Tykeson College and Career Advising director Gene Sandan, and he has since been joined in Tykeson Hall by Miranda Atkinson, associate director of College and Career Advising, and Paul Timmins, director of the University Career Center. In addition, UO hired a dozen new advisors this past spring and summer to complement existing advising staff. Tykeson Hall advisors are in the midst of an extensive training schedule to learn about our majors, minors, and liberal arts mission. Many thanks to the faculty and staff from CAS departments and programs who spent time informing our advisors about your curriculum and degree requirements.

This beautiful building in the heart of campus is dedicated to fostering our students’ success with integrated academic and career advising, composition and math tutoring, and the strategic location of the University Career Center intermixed with classrooms, all of which will naturally draw students into the building and put them in daily contact with Tykeson Hall’s rich resources. But this isn’t just about collocation of student services in a convenient place. We have been engaged in long-running collaborative discussions with our partners in Undergraduate Education and Student Success, the Career Center, CAS departments and programs, and other schools and colleges about how to integrate academic and career success services as thoroughly as possible and make this approach part of our campus culture.

This process begins with integrated academic and career advising—an approach that involves advisors providing individualized guidance and information to students not only about academic requirements but also about the career and professional paths that emerge from our various academic programs. But there is so much more we are doing to guide students to success in college and beyond.

First, we have designed six flight paths, or meta-majors, which establish a cohesive framework for students who are exploring, or who settled too early on the wrong major, to make choices well aligned with their skills and interests. “Career coaches” from the Career Center are assigned to specific flight paths, and they will complement the integrated academic and career advising offered by Tykeson advisors. A set of “major maps” for all our majors, created in collaboration with CAS departments and programs, will guide their work. The major maps provide both academic and career information (we are in the process of developing “minor maps” as well), and we will also pilot new department-specific advising reports this fall.

While none of these practices is entirely new, providing this suite of integrated services in a building designed and optimized for such integration makes Tykeson Hall and its services truly unique in higher education. These innovations will make an especially big difference for our many students who consider switching majors at some point in their career but who have previously fallen between the cracks of our advising systems. Next week’s blog post will focus specifically on Tykeson’s importance to our students’ futures, as well as the future of UO.

We want Tykeson Hall to be a building where all will feel welcome, and we will be offering tours throughout fall term to help introduce the university community to the building and its functions. If you have not yet toured the building, I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.  We will be holding tours on Fridays from 3:30-4:30 on the following dates:

September 20th
September 27th
October 11th
October 18th
November 1st
November 8th
November 15th
November 22nd
December 6th

If you have any questions or would like to sign up for a tour, please contact Lisa Mick Shimizu at lisa@uoregon.edu.

Best wishes for fall term,

Bruce

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May 13, 2019

Tykeson Hall Update

As we near completion of Tykeson Hall construction and prepare to welcome students in fall term, I want to share our progress on operational aspects of the building.

The building is scheduled to be completed this summer, with staff moving in during the second half of August. Searches for the 20+ new professional advisors we will be hiring are nearing completion and offers are going out soon. These will be combined with the existing professional advisors in our College for a team of 31 advisors.

There were more than 300 applications for these new positions in a very competitive pool. Training of these advisors will be led by Gene Sandan, our new Director of College and Career Advising and the staff of Undergraduate Education and Student Success (UESS). UO has also successfully completed its search for a director of the University Career Center and we look forward to welcoming Paul Timmins—who comes to us from the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts—when he arrives in August.

What does this mean for CAS departments and their majors? We have met with department advising personnel, held working sessions, and done research to understand this as best as we can and to plan Tykeson Hall advising accordingly. However, because advising in each CAS department has grown organically into its own unique model over the decades, the advising landscape across our departments and programs is sort of like a box of chocolates—every single department/program does it differently, provides different types of services, and has different thoughts about what advising services are most important for their students.

Consequently, out of these conversations, we have developed a set of Advising Guidelines. These provide a picture of what we’ve learned from individual departments and also outline what we can expect Tykeson advisors to offer our students and what will generally be handled by other advisors on campus, including in our departments and programs. It is important to note that these guidelines provide a comprehensive list of all the possible advising duties/roles that a particular type of advisor may perform. If your department/program is not currently providing some of the things we have listed under the department advising personnel, no one is requiring that you start doing so now.

As a general summary of these guidelines, Tykeson advisors will take on the day-to-day academic and career advising for departments, while referring students to departments for such things as curricular-related matters, graduate school opportunities, and honors requirements. The hope is that this will free up some departments to pivot into other student success activities—ranging from coordinating more student engagement activities to developing more experiential learning opportunities. But, again, I will stress that pivoting to these new activities is NOT a requirement of departments and programs. I should also stress that we are not asking faculty to stop mentoring—and caring for—their students’ well-being. From its very beginnings, the Tykeson Hall vision has involved the creation of a campus advising hub, so exploring students in particular—and all those many students who never see any advisor at all—know where to go to get basic advice that will allow them to better plan for and pursue their academic and career goals.

There will be one difference across departments that is important to point out. The vast majority of CAS departments will not experience any change in their existing advising personnel as we open the building. However, in order to staff Tykeson properly in this time of constrained budgets, we will be transferring any existing professional advisors in CAS departments to Tykeson this summer. This will affect at most six departments, and we have been having substantial conversations with them about the transition. The potential for disruption for them is clearly much greater than in those units without a professional advisor, and we need to quickly ensure that we can take care of their majors through this transition and into the future.

We share the goal of improving student success on our campus—from better retention and graduation rates to better career readiness when they graduate. This is why I’m so excited about the opening of Tykeson Hall. I understand that any change, especially a significant one like this, is stressful. Transitions are not costless, either. But I want to ask you for your good will and spirit of collaboration to help us make this project successful. We are trying something new. We don’t have it all figured out yet. So, we will keep listening and refining even after the building opens and for many years to come. We’ll need both your assistance and your patience to make it go as smoothly as possible for our students.

There are many more details that we will provide in the coming weeks and months, but I hope this gives everyone a sense of the general plan. There have been recurring concerns from various colleagues, and so I am concluding with responses to some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Bruce Blonigen
Interim Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

 

FAQs

This new Tykeson advising enterprise looks like a major undertaking. Won’t it just increase workload for departments, especially in the transition?

With the hiring of more than 20 new professional advisors, we absolutely want to make sure that departments do NOT experience any additional workload from the introduction of Tykeson as we increase student services. Except for no more than six departments that currently have professional advisors who will be moving to Tykeson, we are not making any changes to advising personnel in departments due to the opening of Tykeson.

As with any transition, unexpected things will come up that may suddenly create new questions or work. Please let Gene Sandan and his advising team know this, so we can adjust your workload back to appropriate levels.The Tykeson advising team will have a dedicated liaison for your department, who will be meeting and communicating with your staff frequently; they will be a convenient and ready contact when you have concerns and they will help us fine tune everyone’s advising roles as we all adapt to the Tykeson Hall support model for students. We expect new possibilities for collaboration and support as the new Career Center director transitions into his role.

I’m hearing that Tykeson Hall advising means that CAS departments should no longer advise majors. Is this true?

Tykeson Hall is a partnership among the Division of Undergraduate Education, the University Career Center, and CAS. It is also an emerging partnership among the departments and Tykeson Hall advisors, many of whom have been already advising CAS majors for some time. We believe that students new to UO will be relieved to find an entire building at the center of campus devoted to their advising needs. As the Advising Guidelines emphasize, plenty of advising work will continue to occur in departments. As is the case with any new partnership, we expect that the roles and responsibilities of advisors will continue to evolve over the next few years and we—along with our partners—are committed to troubleshooting any challenges that arise.

Hasn’t CAS already reduced advising FTE for Career NTTF in some departments because they are transitioning all CAS advising to Tykeson?

From a survey of NTTF FTE devoted to non-instructional duties this past March, we found that a handful of departments (less than five) were devoting a disproportionate amount of FTE to advising relative to their number of majors. In response to the directive to cut expenditures in the coming years, we reduced FTE accordingly in these departments. This was an adjustment we would have made anyway and not related to Tykeson Hall.

As described above, while Tykeson will clearly be a hub for CAS major advising, departments will continue to have an important advising role, and we envision the development of a collaborative partnership between Tykeson advisors and departments to the benefit of our students.

Won’t it be most efficient for Tykeson advisors to simply guide students into already well-populated majors, leading to even greater losses in our lesser-known majors?

A primary goal for Tykeson advising will be expose students to our lesser-known majors to a much greater extent than they currently are. And UESS is very much supportive of this goal, too.

Here’s a problem Tykeson could remedy: Students currently come to UO having chosen a major based on relatively little information, typically in response to advice from family and friends. These sources of information often push them into a few career paths that everyone thinks will “get them a job,” and so more than half of our freshmen come to UO declared as pre-health or pre-business majors. Right now, there are two primary ways they might reconsider those choices: 1) if they’re unhappy or not succeeding in those majors, which happens frequently and causes distress, and 2) if they take a general education class and unexpectedly get passionate about something else.

Instead, here’s what Tykeson Hall advising will do:

1) Put all students into a flight path (or meta major) where they will learn about many related academic majors and the career opportunities that are connected to them.

2) Have many more students get connected with an advisor who will push them to think about their skills, passions, and experiences and how these might relate to a variety of academic and career paths.

3) Use the building itself to expose students (through video boards and other means) to many diverse examples of the careers pursued by recent liberal arts CAS alumni and how their career path developed from their major. This is one key strategy we can pursue to highlight lesser-known majors. Lisa Raleigh has been working on these stories and will continue to do so over the summer.

Note that these Tykeson efforts will enhance department’s use of introductory core curriculum courses to get students passionate about their major. We believe that these introductory core curriculum courses remain the most important strategy for gaining majors. And, of course, faculty and staff can continue to utilize any other methods they have to recruit and advise majors.

My department is one of those losing a professional advisor to Tykeson. How will my department be supported during this transition?

The potential for disruption is clearly the greatest for these departments, which is why we have been having many conversations with their head, advisors, and staff. Each of these departments has distinctive needs and concerns that will need to be addressed, and we continue to refine our transition plans with them as we move forward. During the upcoming year, I have asked Gene and our entire staff to prioritize our Tykeson advising services toward meeting the needs of students in these majors, as the other departments in CAS will not see disruptions to their advising personnel. The departments that had professional advisors comprise some of our largest majors in CAS, so we have to work hard and effectively to make sure these majors are well served as Tykeson opens, despite these personnel changes.

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April 25, 2019

2019-20 Dean’s Fellows

The dean’s office is pleased to announce this year’s three outstanding Dean’s Fellows. This is the third year of this program, which is intended to help cultivate leadership in our College and give our dean’s leadership team access to fresh perspectives on some of the university’s most important issues and projects.

The 2019-2020 Dean’s Fellows: 

Lamia Karim, Associate Professor in Anthropology. Lamia will help us consider the portfolio of majors and minors we offer undergraduates, including the role of smaller programs in the CAS curriculum. This project fits nicely with the overall conversation about the structure of CAS. Lamia has served as associate head of Anthropology, associate director of the Center for the Study of Women in Society, and as a faculty fellow in the Graduate School. Her research on gender, microfinance, religion, and law has received major national awards and grants from the National Science Foundation, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, Fulbright Fellowship Program, and Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Dave Sutherland, Associate Professor in Earth Sciences. The Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) and our marine biology program recruit top students to the UO and help us enhance our profile in the state. Dave has been significantly involved in the institute through his research, and his Dean’s Fellow project will be focused on developing new majors aligned with the OIMB. Dave’s research studying ocean dynamics in relation to estuaries and fjords has received numerous grants from the National Science Foundation, including a CAREER award, NASA, Oregon Sea Grant, and NOAA.

Ben Young, Associate Professor in Mathematics. Ben will help us explore ways to increase diversity in the natural sciences, focusing on best practices in recruitment, hiring, and retention. Ben has been trained as a search advocate through a program designed at OSU and recently piloted at the UO through DEI, and also has a distinguished record of diversity work at the UO. Ben won the Canadian Mathematical Society Doctoral Prize for his Ph.D. work; his research is in algebraic combinatorics with applications in other mathematical fields such as algebraic geometry, representation theory, statistical mechanics, and random matrix theory.

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April 21, 2019

CAS Leadership Update

Continuing our approach to sharing the top items that CAS leadership is currently working on, here is this week’s leadership update. At our recent weekly leadership team meeting, we considered the following items:

Budget

We discussed and finalized our proposed expenditure cut plan for the College as requested by the Provost’s Office.  This plan was informed by conversations with all of our advisory bodies of faculty and staff in the College, including the CAS Senate Caucus (the CAS faculty and staff who are UO Senators), the Heads Council (two elected heads from each division), the Managers Advisory Committee (two elected department managers from each division), and the entire group of department heads and managers.  We are thankful that we were given a relatively modest cut as a College though it is more a challenging exercise because of the expenditures that will come online when Tykeson Hall opens this fall.

We will be discussing our proposal with the Provost over the next two weeks or so to finalize the plan.

Tykeson

Carol Stabile, who is coordinating the development of our new Tykeson Hall operations with our partners in the Division of Undergraduate Education and Student Success and the University Career Center, gave us an update and had a number of discussion items about Tykeson Hall.

As we near completion of construction on Tykeson Hall, we look forward to officially opening the building. We currently plan to open to the public in Fall 2019. Right now, we are working on creating strong partnerships between Tykeson Hall advisors and advising in CAS units through CAS working group meetings and smaller meetings with department heads, managers, and advising staff.  We are also working on developing rich materials about our CAS majors that will allow our new colleagues in Tykeson Hall to understand our many units. We look forward to the partnerships that will allow Tykeson Hall to enhance student success on our campus.

Fellowships and Awards

We spoke with Research and Development Services (RDS) about the support they provide in helping faculty apply for prestigious external fellowships and awards. Increasing the nominations and awards that our faculty garner is a major goal for all of us and we talked through various strategies to achieve that goal.  We also shared some suggestions about additional support faculty would find helpful. We appreciate RDS taking the time to collect input and continually improve their services.

Effective Meetings Training

The deans spend a large portion of their time each week in a variety of meetings. With that in mind, we held a session on how to improve meetings. Suggestions included making sure to set agendas and sharing materials in advance, assigning times to agenda items, setting clear expectations for the meeting (e.g. communicate goals, ask people to put away laptops and cell phones, use white boards and notetakers, etc.), and following up after the meeting with outcomes and action items. We hope to be able to implement some of these things to help us use meeting time more effectively.

Writing Circles

CAS plans to hold three writing circles in Tykeson Hall in fall term. These circles provide time for faculty to focus on their writing goals in a small group setting with support from other faculty and the faculty member leading the circle. We will send a notice in May to give faculty the opportunity to sign up if they are interested.

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March 24, 2019

CAS Leadership Update

Continuing our approach to sharing the top items that CAS leadership is currently working on, here’s the most recent leadership update. At our recent weekly leadership team meeting, we considered the following items:

Budget

Following the President’s email about the UO’s budget shortfall, CAS leadership has engaged several groups in discussions about the CAS budget, including department heads, Heads Council (a smaller advisory group made up of heads), and the CAS Senate Caucus (the UO Senators from CAS). While we do not have a great deal of additional information, we know the Provost’s Office is expecting us to think of areas where we can be more efficient, or, in some cases, not provide a service. The sooner we can start being conservative and making some modest cuts, the better. We hope to minimize impact by being proactive and strategic from the outset. Within our leadership team, we are starting to think through not only how we would approach cost-cutting in the College, but also how we look for more revenues.

We will be getting more details from the Provost’s Office about the scale of the cut and timeline during spring term. Once that is known we can have more detailed conversations about how to proceed. We certainly plan to continue our conversations with representatives across the College (including heads, directors, the Heads Council and the CAS Caucus) going forward and will communicate more information to all faculty and staff as we are able. We also will continue to advocate strongly for the College in all our budget conversations with the Provost.

CAS Task Force

Karen Ford, chair of the CAS Task Force, reports that many people in meetings, surveys, and conversations have expressed an interest in having the Task Force emphasize how to improve rather than restructure CAS, especially now that budget news has made us cautious of new spending.

The Task Force decided to recalibrate—not to abandon the charge, which is very broad, but to work within that broad charge to focus on what’s working in CAS, what is not working in CAS but could, and what is not workable because of the structure (not because of the leadership). One of five working groups examining particular areas is charged with investigating alternative college structures, and that group will continue to make reorganization its main focus.

PAC 12+3 Dean’s Conference

Carol Stabile and Hal Sadofsky attended a conference in February for deans of arts and sciences colleges in the PAC 12+3. They found that many universities are facing budget challenges similar to those at the UO. Another major topic of conversation was advising, with many universities moving toward a more centralized model. Arizona State University indicated interest in sending some advisors to the UO in the fall to see how the Tykeson Hall advising structure is working.

CAS Dean’s Night at the Faculty Club

Bruce Blonigen and Hal Sadofsky will be joining the faculty club on Wednesday, April 17 to encourage faculty to participate in service and shared governance opportunities, as well as informally chat about issues that faculty would like to bring up. They would love to see you there at 5:00 pm in the JSMA.

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February 19, 2019

CAS Leadership Update

Continuing our approach to sharing the top items that CAS leadership is currently working on, here is this week’s leadership update. At our recent weekly leadership team meeting, we considered the following items:

Writing Circles

With the opening of Tykeson Hall in fall 2019, the CAS Dean’s Office will be running three CAS writing circles that will be organized and scheduled independently from those run by the Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC). Writing circles allow faculty to set aside several hours a week to focus on writing with a small number of their peers and a faculty mentor. These groups are aimed at supporting process, community, and productivity. We discussed how many circles we can sustainably run and who could lead them, and will likely settle on three writing circles led by a combination of CAS deans. We’re looking forward to continuing these popular ways of supporting faculty research.

Tracking Career Outcomes for CAS Majors

We have found one of the most effective ways to communicate the value of a CAS major is to show students what CAS alumni are doing now. To get these stories out, we initiated a series of CAS alumni profiles detailing what their career paths have been since they graduated from the UO. We would like to expand this series to include even more alumni, and are considering ways to collect information about CAS majors after graduation—information that can be difficult and time-consuming to track down. We are currently working with EMSI, a labor market analysis company, to capture some data, but we have also discussed the possibility of working with a Dean’s Fellow in the future in order to undertake a more targeted approach.

Institutional Hiring Plan (IHP)

IHP proposals have been submitted to the Provost’s Office for their review. We are grateful to the Heads Council (an advisory group of department heads representing the three CAS divisions) and the CAS Caucus (CAS Senators) for their feedback on these proposals. These two groups provided thoughtful input into the process. When final decisions are made—likely by March or April—departments that submitted proposals will be notified by the Provost’s Office.

Welcoming Our New Director for College and Career Advising for Tykeson Hall

Please join us in welcoming Gene Sandan, the new Director for College and Career Advising for Tykeson Hall, who arrived on campus Monday, February 18. In this role, Gene will help lead the UO in preparing undergraduate students for meaningful careers and success as both scholars and citizens. He will oversee more than 25 professional advisors working in Tykeson Hall and will work collaboratively with advising other leaders on campus to implement and assess new frameworks for integrated academic and career advising.

Gene comes to the UO with nearly 20 years of experience in higher education, with most of that experience in professional advising. Coming to the UO from California State University, Los Angeles, Gene has worked as the Student Success and Advising Director for the College of Natural and Social Sciences for the last two years.

Previously, Gene worked as an Assistant Dean for Academic Advising and as an academic advisor in the Thurgood Marshall College at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). He holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and planning from UCSD, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership for Postsecondary Education from San Diego State University and is a candidate for a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California. Read the Around the O profile for more details on Gene’s background.

 

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January 24, 2019

CAS Leadership Update

Here are highlights from our weekly leadership meeting, during which we considered the following items:

Communications to departments

These leadership team updates, and the blog in general, are two ways we have tried to improve communication from the CAS Dean’s Office to departments. We continue to brainstorm ways we can be more transparent and accessible using resources we already have available. We recently invited a facilitator to lead a training on communication, and through this conversation, we came up with some new ideas that we think will help communications among our Dean’s Office staff as well with faculty and staff in the rest of the College. For instance, we explored approaches that would help managers at all levels (dean’s office, department heads, etc.) learn to help others problem-solve and resolve inter-departmental conflict among themselves. We will keep trying new ways to connect and evaluating our success over the next year. Your suggestions are very welcome. (Please email casdean@uoregon.edu.)

Dean’s Fellows

We recently sent a call for nominations for our 2019-20 Dean’s Fellows program. We have had tremendous success with our first two cohorts and look forward to continuing this valuable tradition. This year, we were fortunate to have Lara Bovilsky working on a project related to graduate student success and Tyler Kendall helping to identify ways to support mid-career faculty. Dean’s Fellows serve for one academic year and are compensated with one course release and $5,000 in research funds. Read the Dean’s Fellows Call For Nominations we sent to all faculty on January 22nd for more information, and contact us if you are interested in becoming a Dean’s Fellow or have a nominee to recommend.

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January 14, 2019

CAS Leadership Update

Continuing our new approach to sharing the top items that CAS leadership is currently working on, here is this week’s leadership update. At our recent leadership team meeting, we considered the following items:

Institutional Hiring Plan (IHP) Process

We continue to focus on reviewing and preparing IHP proposal recommendations for the Provost’s Office. Proposals were due to our office December 14, and the divisional deans have since been working with department heads to make refinements where they are needed on the proposals received. The CAS leadership team has begun meeting to prioritize proposals and will be continuing this discussion over the next month, working toward the Provost’s Office due date of February 8. We will also meet with the Heads Council (formerly the Wise Heads, an advisory group of department heads from each division) as well as the CAS Caucus (CAS senators) to get their feedback. We are committed to making this process as collaborative and transparent as possible, and also to advocating strongly for CAS in a resource-constrained environment.

Course Release and GE Term Allocations

Over the break, we told department heads how many course releases and GE terms are available to their departments. We’ve tried over the past two years to standardize both of these as much as possible so departments know what to expect and can plan accordingly. So far, this seems to have been helpful and we plan to continue communicating very clearly about about this.

GE Stipends

The Provost’s Office has informed us that, as we finalize offers for new GEs, we may not increase GE stipends from existing, established levels due to our efforts to comply with the Oregon Equal Pay Act, which creates uncertainty about what that will mean for us going forward. We know this puts our units in a difficult position, but it is very important that we comply with this guidance from the Provost’s Office.

Joint Appointments

The leadership team discussed how to handle evaluations for faculty who hold joint appointments, which in some cases can be challenging for departments (particularly the majority department conducting the evaluation, which may not know how best to evaluate work in an unrelated field). In most cases, the joint appointment MOU established at the time of hire has guidance that can help. We resolved to be very explicit about the evaluation process in all joint appointment MOUs going forward to avoid ambiguity.

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January 10, 2019

Outstanding Employee Award: Kristina Mollman

As we welcome everyone back for winter term, the Dean’s Office is thrilled to start the new year by congratulating one of our star employees, Kristina Mollman, who was honored with a 2018 Outstanding Employee Award in December. Kristina is the department manager for political science.

In reviewing nominations, the selection committee reviewed each nominee on the basis of their capacity for building community, promoting inclusivity, demonstrating leadership qualities, and exemplifying mission. All of us who work with Kristina in one capacity or another can attest to her skill in all of these areas.

Here’s her nomination statement, which expands on these themes:

“Kristina Mollman represents the magic that happens behind the scenes to keep departments throughout our schools and colleges operating smoothly while faculty are educating the next generation of leaders. Kristina’s colleagues credit her with creating clear policies, processes, and communications that help undergraduate students find their way through the program, access supportive resources, and solve problems as easily as possible. As one colleague stated, ‘she has masterminded the administrative changes associated with a substantial reform of the political science major.’ Kristina’s impact and success have made her a model for other departments in CAS. Others are frequently directed to her for advice and guidance for developing procedures. Many of her recommendations and adaptations in political science have been adopted across CAS.

“One of the more notable accomplishments shared by Kristina’s colleagues is the active role she has played in the creation of a departmental equality and inclusion committee, contributing substantially to the discussion over its mandate and the interaction of faculty and staff responsibilities. In the department’s first tenure-track faculty search within the new Institutional Hiring Plan, Kristina carefully redesigned the entire search process to upgrade recruitment of diverse populations and the systematic consideration of diversity at every stage of our search process.”

Congratulations, Kristina!

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New Faculty Profile: Eric Zou, Assistant Professor, Economics

Eric Zou’s research is in the economics of pollution prevention. Eric uses a combination of large environmental datasets and modern econometric techniques to document emerging pollution sources, to understand where and why the public is often not adequately protected from these pollution sources, and to provide practical insights for the efficient design and the effective enforcement of pollution regulations. In his ongoing research, Eric documents the increasing population exposure to air pollution events caused by drifting wildfire smoke plumes, the noise resulting from the rising use of large-scale industrial machineries, and the impacts of these environmental hazards on human health and well-being in general. Eric received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2018. He is also a proud alumnus of East China Normal University where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics.

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New Faculty Profile: Tien-Tien Yu, Assistant Professor, Physics, Institute of Theoretical Science

Tien-Tien Yu is a theoretical particle physicist working at the interface of theory and experiment. Prior to joining the faculty at the UO, she was a fellow in the theoretical physics group at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, and a post-doctoral associate at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, Stony Brook University.

Tien-Tien is particularly interested in understanding the nature of dark matter, the existence of which is known through its gravitational effects on ordinary matter. She has studied the nature of dark matter through a variety of different methods, ranging from using collider and accelerator probes at CERN (home of the Large Hadron Collider) to produce dark matter, to observing signatures of dark matter in astrophysical and cosmological observations. Most recently, she has co-founded the SENSEI collaboration, which is an experiment utilizing silicon chips, much like those found in digital cameras, to search for dark matter passing through the Earth. She looks forward to continuing her search for dark matter while at the University of Oregon.

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New Faculty Profile: Julia Widom, Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Institute of Molecular Biology

Julia Widom grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where a high school class kindled her interest in chemistry. She did her undergraduate studies at Northwestern University then earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry at UO in 2013. She performed her doctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Marcus, where she used laser spectroscopy to study membranes and DNA. She then did her postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan in the laboratory of Dr. Nils Walter, using single-molecule microscopy to study RNA. She is very excited to be returning to Eugene to begin her independent research and teaching career. In her research at UO, Julia will continue to focus on RNA, which performs a plethora of different biological functions. Nearly all functions of RNA depend on its ability to fold into the correct structure on a sufficiently fast time-scale, and Julia will be combining ultrafast and single-molecule spectroscopy to study these folding processes. She will also use the ability of RNA to fold into diverse structures to build nanostructures whose properties are programmed by the sequence of the RNA. In her teaching, she seeks to bridge the gap between physical chemistry and biology.

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December 17, 2018

New Faculty Profile: Sara Weston, Assistant Professor, Psychology

Sara Weston’s research focuses on the role of personality traits in health processes. This includes an investigation of traits as indicators of potential health problems and the degree to which health behaviors are a function of personality traits—with the goal of understanding how personality can help medical professionals provide better care. Her research is concerned with discovering if and how specific health behaviors and outcomes are associated with personality, and under what conditions personality can be a predictor of health. She hopes to use this research to develop applications of personality in medical settings, including the use of traits to identify potentially at-risk patients in need of intervention and the tailoring of treatment plans to fit an individual’s strengths and needs.

 

 

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New Faculty Profile: Lesley Jo Weaver, Assistant Professor, International Studies

Lesley Jo Weaver is a biocultural medical anthropologist who holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree in global health from Emory University. Her federally funded research addresses global health disparities patterned along gender and racial lines in Brazil and India. Her forthcoming book with Rutgers University Press, Sugar and Tension: Diabetes and Gender in Modern India, details how women in North India with type 2 diabetes cope with chronic disease amid changing gender norms and the increasing pressure to occupy multiple family and public roles. Articles based on her research in both India and Brazil appear in the American Journal of Public Health, Social Science & Medicine, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Culture Medicine and Psychiatry, and Ethos, among others. In addition, she co-hosts the podcast Speaking of Race, a unique collaboration with a historian and a human biologist that explores how ideas about race came to be what they are, and why we need to change them. At the UO, she teaches courses on global health, race, gender, and qualitative methods.

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New Faculty Profile: Meredith Townsend, Assistant Professor, Earth Sciences

Meredith Townsend combines field work and mechanical modeling to learn about magma transport through the crust. The questions she is pursuing include: What controls the propagation and arrest of magmatic dikes and sills? How does the architecture of volcanic plumbing systems evolve structurally over time? How are magma chambers assembled and what promotes their growth into large, long-lived crustal reservoirs? How do crystal-scale dynamics lead to chamber-scale compositional and rheological heterogeneity? While most of her work to date has applied to volcanology, she is generally fascinated by all things rock mechanics. She is interested in understanding how geologic structures like faults and fractures initiate and evolve, and how this behavior affects hydrologic, hydrocarbon, and magmatic systems.

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December 13, 2018

CAS Leadership Update

At our recent weekly leadership team meeting, we considered the following items:

Transform IT

Ben Brinkley, Director of CASIT, gave us an update on how the university-wide Transform IT initiative has been proceeding and the implications for the College. Over the past couple of years, we have built some shared service arrangements with central IS for our administrative functions in CASIT and also transferred to IS the bulk of responsibilities for server and storage functions for the College. Ensuring that there is no degradation of services for CAS faculty and staff is our highest priority as this proceeds.

More Communications Help for Departments

Admissions is asking all departments to update content about their majors for the Admissions website. Lisa Raleigh, our Director of Communications, led us in a conversation to consider ways to use that refreshed content to create communications materials related to CAS majors, perhaps via a brochure or website. We hope to create something that could be useful to advisors, particularly those new to Tykeson, both by informing them about what CAS has to offer and by providing them a resource to pass on to students.

Institutional Hiring Plan Preparation

Initial proposals from departments are due to the CAS Dean’s Office on Friday, December 14. We discussed the timeline for the process of evaluating them and how to best organize our efforts, as well as what we expect to see and how we can make a strong and compelling case for hiring in CAS during a time of constrained resources.

Dean Transition

With Andrew Marcus officially stepping down on December 31, we continued our many discussions about how best to manage this change both logistically and more holistically. Luckily, Bruce Blonigen has been able to work with Andrew very closely over the past year and especially the past term, so we anticipate a smooth transition. We also took some time to celebrate Andrew’s many contributions over his years as dean.

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December 6, 2018

New Faculty Profile: Emily Sylwestrak, Assistant Professor, Biology

The nervous system must continuously process sensory stimuli, evaluate outcomes, and apply learned rules to future behavior. To accomplish these diverse tasks, neural circuits are specialized at the molecular, cellular, and systems levels.  Emily’s work focuses on how heterogeneous, molecularly-defined neuronal populations work together to drive behavior. Her lab uses transcriptional profiling, cell-type specific activity monitoring, and behavioral analysis to tackle this question in subcortical brain networks that control motivated behavior. Her lab’s goals are to (a) understand the diversity of neuromodulatory cell types in motivational networks, (b) determine how specific cell types are interconnected, and (c) manipulate activity in these circuits to determine how they drive changes in behavior. These circuits are altered in disorders that positively or negatively affect motivated behavior, such as in addiction and depression. Integrating information across multiple levels of analysis will allow her lab to map the activity of different molecularly defined cell types onto behavior in healthy and pathological states. By determining which cell types contribute to altered reward processing in addiction and depression, we hope to discover more specific therapeutic targets for neuropsychiatric disorders.

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New Faculty Profile: Ed Rubin, Assistant Professor, Economics

Ed Rubin is interested in the economics of the environment and inequality. His research focuses on increasing the potential for efficient and equitable public policy—particularly for policies that affect environmental quality. Ed’s research also considers several other equity-related topics—e.g., gender discrimination in the workplace, incarceration, and cannabis legalization. In general, he takes a data-driven, empirical approach to his research, combining economic intuition with tools from applied econometrics/statistics and data science (e.g., machine learning, natural language processing, and spatial-data analysis). As a recent example, Ed and his coauthor use more than 300 million natural gas bills to show that residential natural gas consumers’ responses to natural gas prices (elasticities) vary substantially both by income group and by season. They then show how this result suggests previously unexplored policies/regulations that can increase efficiency while potentially relieving some of the burdens on poorer households. Ed received his Ph.D. from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley. Before studying at UC Berkley, Ed earned a B.S. in mathematics, a M.S. in statistics, and a M.S. in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

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New Faculty Profile: Gabriela Pérez Báez, Assistant Professor, Linguistics

In addition to her teaching and research duties as a new faculty member in linguistics, Gabriela Pérez Báez also will be directing the new Language Revitalization Lab and will be involved in the activities of the Northwest Indian Language Institute. Gabriela is also the co-director of the National Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages alongside Daryl Baldwin, and she served as curator of linguistics at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution and in its Recovering Voices initiative. Gabriela’s research centers on linguistic diversity and strategies to sustain it. Within that broad umbrella, she has had two main interests: For some 15 years, she has worked to document, analyze, and revitalize Zapotec languages in her native Mexico. From her work in Breath of Life, she also has worked with tribal researchers in the United States to support archives-based research for language revitalization. Gabriela has published on migration and language vitality, language revitalization, verbal inflection and derivation, semantic typology, and language and cognition. She is also the compiler of two dictionaries of Isthmus Zapotec within a participatory and interdisciplinary model. She holds a doctorate in linguistics from the University at Buffalo.

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Recap of Tykeson Hall Town Halls

Tykeson Town Halls—Summary, Next Steps

About 60 colleagues from approximately 25 CAS departments attended two Tykeson Hall town hall meetings held last week, hosted by CAS, Undergraduate Studies (UGS) and the Career Center. In case you missed these conversations, here’s a summary of the main points covered in the two sessions.

Bruce Blonigen, CAS Dean of Faculty and Operations, offered an overview of progress made on:

  • Construction: We are on track to move into Tykeson Hall next Aug., with doors open to students by the beginning of fall term, 2019.
  • Search for Tykeson Hall Director of College and Career Advising: We are in the final stages of the search and hope to have the director in place by Jan. or Feb.
  • Hiring 20+ new Tykeson Hall advisors: This hiring will commence winter term after the new Director of College and Career Advising arrives; the goal will be to have this new cohort of advisors on campus by the end of spring term; advisors will be trained to offer integrated academic and career advising.

You can download Bruce’s slides here to see his full presentation.

Dennis Galvan, Interim Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Studies, and Kimberly Johnson, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Advising, offered the UGS perspective on the two main functions of Tykeson Hall advising:

  • To serve as a general advising hub for campus, especially for exploring and first-year students, and
  • To serve as the main hub for CAS major advising.

According to Dennis, “retention is the primary goal” of the new approach to advising that will be launched in Tykeson Hall. To advance our efforts toward this goal, a newly hired team of 20+ advisors, funded by President Michael Schill will work in concert with existing major advisors in CAS departments. This new group of advisors will be trained to offer a comprehensive range of services that will begin to move us closer to the “wraparound” services* currently offered to PathwayOregon students—but for all incoming students, not just those who qualify for Pathway by virtue of Pell-eligible status. Dennis noted that the Pathway program has resulted in a 14% increase in the four-year graduation rate for those students.

Improved Student-to-Advisor Ratios

This new team of advisors will also move closer to the national best-practices standard of a student-to-advisor ratio of 300:1. Our current ratio campus-wide is 800:1; Pathway is 425:1. President Schill’s investment in advising will improve our campus-wide ratio significantly.

Kimberly Johnson underscored that the overarching goal is to “get to students earlier” so they have the freedom to explore opportunities such as language study and study abroad within the context of a systematic plan that will help them achieve their personal and career goals. “When they are self-directed, they may not be as methodical,” and may not have any idea of the range of options that might advance their interests. “Students coming out of high school have limited understanding of different majors,” she said. The new advising paradigm will help students explore their interests in ways that capitalize on their strengths while introducing them to potential majors and career paths they might never have considered.

Flight Paths

Tykeson advising will be organized around six themed areas that encompass all majors offered on campus, and these will be called “flight paths.” The flight path themes will be finalized in January 2019; themes under consideration include “global connections” and “healthy communities,” both of which would represent a wide range of majors, including those outside of CAS.

Once these themes have been established, each CAS department will participate in the two flight paths most relevant to their majors. For instance, anthropology could conceivably fit into the two themes named above; or that department might choose two others. More information will be provided to CAS departments in winter term when the flight paths are finalized.

The Role of the Career Center

Kathie Stanley, Associate Vice President of Student Life, clarified the role that the Career Center will have in the new building—namely, to help students with skills such as interviewing and resume preparation, and to connect them with potential employers. In addition, there will be Career Center staff assigned to each flight path, and the Career Center will be involved in training the new cadre of advisors in “pre-career” advising.

Next Steps

A follow-up meeting with all CAS academic advisors will the held at 9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 13, in the Redwood Auditorium. Topics of discussion will include developing processes for informing Tykeson advisors about CAS majors and for department advisors to collaborate with the new advising team.  Working groups will be formed to start sharing best practices for advising CAS majors, but also to facilitate conversations with the new Tykeson Hall Director for College and Career Advising about how the Tykeson Hall advisors will best complement and enhance the advising that is already being done in CAS departments.

Any comments or questions? Please email the deans at casdean.uoregon.edu.

*UGS defines wraparound services as providing “holistic engagement with student’s academic, financial, residential, personal, and other challenges and needs; dependent on creating an early, trusting relationship with a professional advisor,” which has proven to increase retention and improve graduation rates.

 

 

 

Placeholder caption for chart below: According to Dennis Galvan, President Michael Schill has called for a single, unified advising structure, and this chart from Dennis’s Board of Trustees presentation on Dec. 3 shows the relationship between all <<?>> of the advising units on campus. As the chart indicates, the UOAA advisors who will remain in Oregon Hall will be focused on at-risk and/or high-performing students who have specialized needs.

 

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CAS Leadership Update

Continuing our new approach to sharing the top items that CAS leadership is currently working on, here is this week’s leadership update. At our recent weekly meeting, we considered the following items:

Agenda Setting

We want to make sure the meetings we organize have as efficient and productive agendas as possible, which can often take some conversation. We spent some time discussing the best items to have on the agenda for our upcoming department heads meeting (Dec. 12), as well as the agenda for a meeting we had later in the week (Dec. 5) with the deans of Oregon State and Portland State of their colleges of arts and sciences. We have started meeting with this deans group twice a year to discuss issues of shared interest. The meeting we had with them this week included 1) hearing their thoughts on the best structure of colleges of arts and sciences, 2) their approach to the recently passed Oregon Equal Pay Act, and 3) comparing notes on how they structure the roles, responsibilities and compensation of department heads.

Working with CAS Departments to Inform Tykeson Hall Advising

Following up on two Tykeson Hall town halls held the week of Nov. 26, we have invited department heads, directors of undergraduate studies, and undergraduate advisors in CAS to join us for a meeting on Dec. 13 to start talking about how the new Tykeson Hall advising group will be best able to supplement and enhance the advising of CAS majors currently taking place in our departments. We plan to form working groups based on size of departments and their current advising model ,with the aim of having these groups share their practices and act as a resource for the new Tykeson Hall Director of College and Career advising once he or she arrives (hopefully, winter term). Our leadership team discussed ways to make this meeting (and future working group meetings) as effective as possible.

Diversity Action Plan Implementation Grants

The Division of Equity and Inclusion has announced Diversity Action Plan (DAP) Implementation Grants to support initiatives which will boost work being done across campus to implement unit DAPs and to build capacity for that work. We discussed the best way to coordinate proposals for these grants that are coming from various units in our College, and what might be the best ideas we, as a dean’s office, should propose on behalf of the College.

 

 

 

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November 29, 2018

New Faculty Profile: Gabe Paquette, Professor, History; Dean, Clark Honors College

Gabe Paquette comes to the UO from Johns Hopkins University. He has previously held research and teaching posts at Trinity College (University of Cambridge), Harvard University, and Wesleyan University, and was Sons of the American Revolution Visiting Professor at King’s College London in 2017-2018.. Gabe’s research explores aspects of European, Latin American, and international history. His first book, published in 2008, analyzes the intellectual origins of the reform program undertaken by the Spanish Crown in the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish America during the second half of the eighteenth century. His second book, published in 2013, is a history of the Portuguese empire in the Age of Revolutions, focusing on the independence of Brazil. His third book, to be published in 2019, is a synthetic and synoptic history of the Western European “seaborne” empires in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In addition to his books, Gabe has written numerous articles, including those published in History of European IdeasJournal of Latin American StudiesModern Intellectual History, the Historical Journal, and European History Quarterly. Gabe has held fellowships awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, the University of Cambridge (Balzan-Skinner Fellowship), and the Fulbright Program.

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New Faculty Profile: Kate Mills, Assistant Professor, Psychology

Kate Mills received her bachelor degree at Portland State University, her doctoral degree at University College London, and most recently she has been a postdoc at the University of Oregon. Her lab investigates the intertwined social, biological, and cognitive processes that underlie the development of social navigational skills. Research in her lab integrates social network analysis with laboratory assessments (behavioral and neuroimaging methods), and social environmental measures (e.g., neighborhood metrics), to examine how a child’s social environment affects the development of cognitive and behavioral strategies. A main goal of this research is to understand how the prolonged development of certain brain systems can facilitate cultural learning during childhood and adolescence. Her lab’s immediate research plans involve investigations of how brain development and behavior reflect adaptations or strategies children use to be successful in their daily lives. This research addresses how the demands of a child’s social environment affect the development of cognitive and behavioral strategies, which are subsequently applied in educational contexts. Current projects involve investigations of the a) impact of digital technology use on neurocognitive development, b) adaptive use of mentalizing, c) impact of social stress on social cognitive development, and d) development of internalized models of social agents.

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New Faculty Profile: Isabel Millán, Assistant Professor, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Isabel Millán joins the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Kansas State University, where she was an assistant professor of American ethnic studies. Isabel is an interdisciplinary gender studies scholar who researches the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and age through the lenses of critical race, transnational feminist, and queer theory. She specializes in queer studies, childhood studies, and Chicanx/Latinx feminisms. She is currently completing two book manuscripts on queer and bilingual children’s literature entitled, Divergent Children’s Literatures: Childnormativity and Queer of Color Counternarratives and Bilingual Children’s Television from Dora to Elena. Her publications include articles in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. Isabel will help build on interdisciplinary queer studies strengths in WGSS, as well as contribute to Chicanx/Latinx studies at UO. She is an advanced junior scholar building a strong reputation in the field with significant experience as a mentor, and an exceptional record of leadership in national and campus initiatives.

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CAS Leadership Update

Continuing our new approach to sharing the top items that CAS leadership is currently working on, here is this week’s leadership update. At our recent weekly meeting, we considered the following items:

Tykeson Hall Updates

Advising Director Interviews

We invited five finalists for the Tykeson Director of College and Career Advising position to campus in November. Now that they’ve all completed their visits, we are evaluating the strong pool of candidates and hope to complete a hire in the coming weeks. We will announce more information as soon as we have it. Once the Advising Director joins us on campus, they’ll begin learning about the UO, meeting with various groups and individuals around campus, and hiring the advisors that will be a part of their team.

Town Halls

We invited all CAS faculty and staff to join us for two town halls this week (November 27th and 28th) to learn about our plans for advising in Tykeson. We had a good turnout from many of our departments and were able to share the latest information about how we are collaborating with Undergraduate Studies and the Career Center, the physical layout of the building, the advising team we’ll be building, ​and how that team will be communicating and interacting with CAS departments. We will soon publish a blog post with more detail about these town halls.

Diversity Initiatives

Diversity Action Plan Implementation

We went through our all-CAS Diversity Action plan to make updates about things we’ve accomplished and to plan for upcoming items. We asked our CAS Dean’s Office Diversity Working Group, a temporary group charged with examining our hiring processes for faculty, staff, and OAs, to present their final report. They identified the top five current practices that they believe may be threatening or hindering equitable and inclusive hiring​:

  1. Constraints we put on advertisement text and minimum qualifications when we hire staff.
  2. Not requiring staff search committee members to have implicit bias awareness/training.
  3. Overuse of temporary hires.
  4. Social events as part of searches.
  5. Limited consequences/enforcement if best practices are not followed or if rules are ignored.

The Working Group also provided recommendations to address these concerns. We have already begun working on some of them, and created a plan to move forward on others.

Diversity Committee Chair Meeting

This week, we are hosting the first in a series of meetings for diversity committee chairs from all CAS departments to talk about what they’re working on as well as update them on what we’ve been doing. We will give them an overview of the CAS diversity action plans and what progress we’ve made, engage them in a discussion about climate here at the UO, and let them know what funding opportunities exist to support diversity efforts and ask for their feedback on the CAS Diversity Grants.

You can find out more about our diversity initiatives online here: https://cas.uoregon.edu/diversity/

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November 16, 2018

CAS Leadership Update

Continuing our new approach to sharing the top items that CAS leadership is currently working on, here is this week’s update. At our weekly leadership team meeting, we considered the following items:

Oregon Equal Pay Act Implications

The recently passed Oregon Equal Pay Act has important implications for our hiring and retention processes. The law gives a specific list of criteria that may be used to justify pay differences, and using market forces (e.g., matching other outside offers) is not on that list. Our HR and General Counsel’s offices are seeking clarification from the state about what we need to do to follow the law and how exactly this will impact us. In the meantime, we require that every hire or retention offer for all employees (including any class of faculty, OA, postdocs, and classified) get formal approval from the CAS Dean’s Office before any offer is made. Likewise, we will need to get formal approvals from the Provost’s Office. We ask for your patience, as we will need more time to work out specifics of each situation with your department head and central administration. We ​will be communicating extensively with your department heads and managers about this moving forward.

Personnel Actions in Deans’ Departments

We plan to create a concrete policy explaining what happens with personnel actions in a divisional dean’s home department, such as promotion and tenure, department head selection, midterm reviews, and more. We hope this policy will clarify what we already do to ensure fairness and transparency.

ASA Funding

We have updated our ASA (Academic Support Accounts) fund disbursement policy to clarify that faculty with an external fellowship will still receive their full ASA allocation. We have also clarified in our policy that the annual ASA allocation will be prorated for faculty retiring mid-year. For example, a person retiring at the end of the fall term will receive 1/3 of the annual ASA allocation. The updated policy can be found on CASweb here: https://casweb.uoregon.edu/policy-academic-support-accounts

Hosting Outages

You may have experienced some interruptions in website availability and CAS file share availability over the past week or two. We continue to work with central IS to address these issues and restore consistent service across all CAS websites and file shares.

Language Websites

Lisa Raleigh has been working closely with Karen Ford, CASIT, and language department heads to pilot a new website template for language departments. This process is well underway, and we expect to have a mock-up of the new design by the beginning of winter term. Once the work with the languages departments is completed, we will consider how we might make a similar template available to other departments that may want to use it.

 

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November 13, 2018

New Faculty Profile, David Meek, Assistant Professor, International Studies

David Meek is an environmental anthropologist, critical geographer, and food systems education scholar with area specializations in Brazil and India. His interests include: sustainable agriculture, social movements, and environmental education. In a series of recent publications, David has begun advancing a theoretical framework of the political ecology of education. This perspective illuminates how the reciprocal relations between political economic forces and pedagogical opportunities—from tacit to formal learning—affect the production, dissemination, and contestation of environmental knowledge at various interconnected scales. This framework draws upon nearly a decade of research David has conducted on the opportunities and constraints facing the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement’s (MST) efforts to advance sustainable agriculture education into state curricula at various institutional scales. David found that the entrenched land management culture of extensive cattle ranching and the region’s largely degraded landscapes remain significant challenges for developing sustainable food systems. Currently, David is working to synthesize the political ecologies of health and education—two emerging areas of scholarship that together illuminate how knowledge, health, and the environment are intertwined. By integrating these theories, he seeks to provide new insight into how food systems education can produce landscapes of well- or ill-being, and how education shapes adaptation, food sovereignty, and food security.

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New Faculty Profile: Lindsey Mazurek, Assistant Professor, History

Lindsey Mazurek specializes in history of the eastern Mediterranean under the Roman Empire. She previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and taught at Bucknell University. Her research focuses on questions of ethnicity, migration, materiality, and identification in antiquity. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Roman Archaeology and will appear in forthcoming issues of the American Journal of Archaeology and Classical Review. Her current book project, Embodying Isis: Egyptian Religion and the Negotiation of Greekness in the Second Century CE, re-examines prevailing notions of Greek identity and group formation under the Roman Empire. In 2016, Lindsey’s co-edited volume Across the Corrupting Sea: Post-Braudelian Approaches to the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean (Routledge) brought postmodern theoretical perspectives to bear on questions of Mediterranean connectivity raised by the work of historian Fernand Braudel. She co-directs the Ostia Connectivity Project, a digital archaeology and social history project that combines GIS and social network analysis to reconstruct potential social groupings and their participation in the urban fabric of Rome’s main port city of Ostia. She has participated in archaeological fieldwork in the Athenian Agora, Mycenae, Nemea, and Exmoor National Park, and her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the International Catacomb Society.

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New Faculty Profile: Allison Madar, Assistant Professor, History

Allison Madar joins the UO from California State University, Chico. Her research focuses on the history of early America and the early modern Atlantic world with a focus on unfreedom and the law. Madar’s book-in-progress examines the legal and social dynamics of servitude and the ways in which masters used the widespread establishment of permanent, racial slavery as a way to exploit those who remained temporarily bound. Drawing on research in county court records, servant and slave law, parliamentary legislation, servant contracts, family papers, newspapers, wills, and inventories, Madar argues that, in many ways, the legal structures colonists designed to control slaves enhanced masters’ power over servants, most notably, over women and mixed-race servants. Madar is the author of “‘An Innate Love of Cruelty’: Master Violence against Female Servants in Eighteenth-Century Virginia,” in Order and Civility in the Early Modern Chesapeake and a History Compass essay titled “Servitude in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic: Old Paradigms, New Directions.” Her work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Gilder Lehrman Institute, and the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation. She has also been book review editor of the American Historical Review.

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CAS Leadership Team Weekly Poem

November Cotton Flower

Boll-weevil’s coming, and the winter’s cold,
Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old,
And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,
Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,
Failed in its function as the autumn rake;
Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take
All water from the streams; dead birds were found
In wells a hundred feet below the ground—
Such was the season when the flower bloomed.
Old folks were startled, and it soon assumed
Significance. Superstition saw
Something it had never seen before:
Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
Beauty so sudden for that time of year.

Jean Toomer

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November 8, 2018

New Faculty Profile: Henry Luan, Assistant Professor, Geography

Henry Luan’s research program focuses on advancing probabilistic inferences in geospatial data analysis. He is particularly interested in Bayesian spatial and spatiotemporal modeling and its applications in exploring inequities of urban environmental exposures and their associations with health. He also applies (Bayesian) machine learning as well as computational methods including Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) and Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation (INLA) to efficiently analyze large volumes of heterogeneous geographical data.

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New Faculty Profile: Leah Lowthorp, Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Leah Lowthorp is a folklorist and cultural anthropologist and comes to us from her position as an associate of folklore and mythology at Harvard University, and as a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow at the Center for Genetics and Society (CGS). Her ongoing research in Kerala, India, engages issues of cosmopolitanism, art and social change, and UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. Leah’s research explores art as a window onto culture, analyzing the performing body as engaged in dynamic interplay with social, economic, and political change within a universalizing modernity and shifting constellations of cosmopolitanism. Leah’s research with Kutiyattam Sanskrit theater expands inquiry into alternative cosmopolitan imaginaries, analyzing the performing body as engaged in dynamic interplay with social, economic, and political change over the long durée. She is also currently exploring the online circulation of biopolitical narratives, in an investigation of the digital folklore of human genetic and reproductive technologies.

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New Faculty Profile: Jina Kim, Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Literatures

Jina Kim specializes in Korean literature and culture. She is the author of a forthcoming monograph Urban Modernity in Colonial Korea and Taiwan, a comparative study of modernist literature and culture emerging in Seoul and Taipei during the Japanese colonial era. Broadly, her research interest area is in modern Korean literature and cultural history. More specifically, her research questions rest in the historical, theoretical, and philosophical concept of the “new”—whether material goods, social and technological revolutions, cultural and artistic movements, racial formations, or subjects of knowledge. She is currently completing a second book project on Sonic Narratives and Auditory Texts in Modern Korea. Her other research and teaching areas include comparative colonialisms, in particular, between Korea and Taiwan, Vietnam, and Korean diasporic literatures; intermediality, transmedia storytelling, and digital humanities; sound studies; popular fiction and popular culture; and the history of technology and literature. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Asian languages and literature (Korean literature) from the University of Washington, an M.A. in comparative literature from Cornell University, and her undergraduate degree in English literature from the University of Chicago. She has previously taught at Smith College and Dickinson College.

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