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October 22, 2020

Welcome CAS new faculty!

As one way to welcome new faculty to our College and University each year, we provide a short profile for each of them. These profiles are easily one of the most visited pages on our CAS website each year.  Our first installment of profiles for this year feature Mattie Burkert (English), Cristi Carman (Psychology), Lauren Ponisio (Biology), and Jerell Rosales (Cinema Studies).  Welcome, new faculty!

Bruce Blonigen
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

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September 9, 2020

Latinx Studies Program Announcement

I am very pleased to announce that the College of Arts and Sciences is launching a Latinx Studies program, which will begin offering a Latinx Studies minor in Fall 2020. 

This exciting new program comes as the result of work undertaken by Michael Hames-Garcia, Laura Pulido and a dedicated group of faculty and staff stakeholders, including Audrey Lucero, who will serve as the

program’s inaugural director. Through their hard work, Latinx Studies will be able to offer an interdisciplinary curriculum that enables students to understand the diverse histories and contemporary experiences of Latinx communities in the U.S., as well as in Latin America.  The minor – which will form the academic core of Latinx Studies – includes course options from 15 departments and colleges around campus.

Latinx Studies will join other vital initiatives and entities on campus and in the greater community, such as the UO Dreamers Working Group, the Latinx Strategy Group, the Spanish Heritage Language Program, The Latin American Studies Program and the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies to provide a wide range of offerings that will serve this important and growing community of students and scholars at the University of Oregon.

We in the College of Arts and Sciences share with our colleagues the desire to make the University of Oregon a leading site for Latinx Studies in the U.S. by continuing to add to our strong presence in the field with strategic investments in faculty research and hiring, and exciting opportunities for students at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Bruce Blonigen
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

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August 25, 2020

In support of Black Lives Matter

Racial discrimination, injustice, and violence have an incredibly long and persistent history in the U.S., especially for Black people. The recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black people at the hands of law enforcement have once again underscored the horrors of injustice and discrimination that Black people face in our society. It is imperative that we take action immediately.

These actions must be in pursuit of clear goals. For the College of Arts and Sciences and the University of Oregon, I think our initial goals are fairly straightforward. We need to recruit more Black faculty, staff, and students to our campus, for starters. But just as crucial is the need for a climate where they can succeed and flourish. It is imperative that we recruit and retain Black faculty and staff, not simply to address the systemic discrimination Black people face in our institutions, but because it is vital to our own excellence as an institution that Black culture, history, and perspective are represented and valued.

In support of these goals, these are the actions our college will be taking in the coming year, beginning immediately:

1) We are launching a Black Studies program, which will begin offering a Black Studies minor in Fall 2020 ([] Having this academic program in place will make it possible for the Umoja Academic Residential Community (ARC), a key program for first-year Black students, to begin again in concert with an academic program. The Black Studies program, the Umoja ARC, and the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center will hopefully provide a strong foundation to welcome and support Black students on campus.

2) We will work closely with the provost to hire more Black tenure-track faculty through the Institutional Hiring Plan, Target of Opportunity hires, and any other available strategies. We will also review our hiring process for career instructors and staff to devise and implement strategies to recruit and retain more Black people in these important positions on our campus as well.

3) We will dedicate CAS Dean’s Diversity Grant awards this coming year to addressing systemic discrimination and injustices toward Black people on our campus. These awards support proposals that are generated by our faculty and departments, allowing them to implement more “local” actions to improve climate in their units for Black faculty, staff, and students, or support other efforts related to the Black Lives Matter movement.

4) We will redouble our efforts to work with STEM departments to close the achievement gaps between Black students and their white peers.

5) We will work with faculty to develop new courses and curriculum that will fill in the gaps we have with respect to Black Studies and anti-racism pedagogy. Consultation with faculty and students will be important to ensure that we are not only building courses and curriculum that are pedagogically sound, but that also resonate with our students.

6) We will meet with different constituent groups on an annual basis to gather their advice and feedback on our efforts. We will ask to meet with the Black Strategies Group, with Black student groups, the Black Alumni Network, and with our Black faculty. This will be part of an annual effort to review and assess our effectiveness and plan our future actions.

We see all of these actions as part of an iterative process of action, discussion, evaluation, and development of new action plans. We must commit to these types of ongoing, iterative processes if we want to truly address the systemic and pervasive racism in our organization and in our society. This can’t be a one-time, check-the-box exercise.

Our college and university have been engaged in such an iterative process since the Black Lives Matter movement began more than five years ago. We can see it in the conclusion of a three-year Diversity Action Plan, a Black Studies cluster hire, and efforts to establish a Black Studies program. Not unexpectedly, we have had both successes and failures. We are committed to learning from these experiences and doing better. This moment calls for us to recommit ourselves in the strongest terms to this process.

I thank everyone in advance for joining us in these efforts in CAS that are vital to the University of Oregon as a whole.


Bruce Blonigen
Tykeson Dean

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August 17, 2020

Black Studies Program Announcement

I am very pleased to announce that the College of Arts and Sciences is launching a Black Studies program, which will begin offering a Black Studies minor in Fall 2020.

The college’s efforts began with a Black Studies initiative in Fall 2018 that stemmed from a Black Studies faculty cluster hire during the 2017-18 academic year. Curtis Austin, an Associate Professor in our History Department and one of the cluster hires, directed the initiative during the 2018-19 academic year at the same time he advised the Umoja Academic Residential Community (ARC). We are very appreciative of his efforts on behalf of the Black Studies initiative to lay down its important foundations, including his work with Avinnash Tiwari to develop the curriculum proposal for a Black Studies minor.

The program has been led over the past year by Avinnash, a career instructor from our Writing Composition Program in the English Department. He has continued to shepherd the Black Studies minor through the university’s curriculum committees. Avinnash also developed a successful proposal to reinstate the Umoja ARC, which was in hiatus during the 2019-20 academic year. Like Curtis, he has been an important advisor and mentor for Black students on this campus.

Avinnash has also worked with other faculty on campus with expertise in this area to craft the Black Studies minor, and I am deeply appreciative of his efforts and collaborative spirit. I am also very thankful to the many other faculty and staff who have contributed to getting us to this point.

Having this academic program in place will make it possible for the Umoja ARC, a key program for first-year Black students, to begin again in concert with an academic program. The Black Studies program, the Umoja ARC, and the Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center will provide a strong foundation to welcome and support Black students on campus.

However, we have much additional work to do to make sure Black students feel welcomed and supported, and that Black faculty and staff have input on the future of Black Studies on our campus. When fall term begins, we will invite Black Studies constituents and allies on campus to participate in conversations about the future of program and to plan curricular and hiring initiatives. We look forward to those conversations and the important work we have in front of us to make real and immediate change in the experiences of Black faculty, staff, and students in our community.

Creating a prominent home in CAS to study, learn, and honor Black culture, history, and people is imperative—as the ongoing national struggles against racism make tragically clear. It’s an important step, but far from the only step we are taking. Next week, we will be announcing other initiatives the college is pursuing immediately to address racial injustice and discrimination toward Black people.

Bruce Blonigen
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

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February 17, 2020

School of Global Studies: We Want Your Input!

The College of Arts and Sciences is considering the creation of a School of Global Studies to be located within CAS and we want your input!

We believe that such a school could offer a new and exciting structure for organizing our many globally focused departments and programs. Organized around our linguistic and regional strengths, the School will bring together units and faculty across the Humanities and Social Sciences divisions to encourage pedagogical innovation, collaborative research and teaching, and publicly engaged learning.

To give some context, Philip Scher, Divisional Dean of Social Sciences, led a series of conversations with other divisional deans and a variety of potential stakeholders across campus starting in 2017 to discuss the idea of forming a School of Global Studies within the College of Arts and Sciences. Karen Ford and I also joined these conversations and were encouraged by the general support and enthusiasm we heard. We were eager to pursue the idea further. However, a number of events led us to put the initiative on hiatus, including the leadership transitions in our office and the Provost’s Office, as well as CAS Taskforce review of the structure of CAS.

This fall, with these events behind us, we presented a preliminary proposal to the Provost based on those prior conversations with faculty. In addition to the scholarly and pedagogical advantages of the school, we also cited the need for a dedicated space that would form an interdisciplinary home and campus focal point in order to build critical mass of the School. In these discussions, we proposed Friendly Hall as a location for the School’s modern world languages, the Department of Global Studies, and an administrative shared services support unit for the School. With the Provost’s encouragement, we are now eager to talk with faculty and staff more widely and refine our ideas.

Our preliminary proposal for a School of Global Studies would combine the Department of Global Studies (formerly the International Studies department) with contemporary languages and existing, regionally-focused programs (e.g., Latin American Studies) in both the Humanities and Social Sciences.

We think that a CAS School of Global Studies has the potential to achieve a number of exciting outcomes to make the University of Oregon even more recognized for its strength in global studies. These include opening ways for faculty to have rich collaborations around innovative pedagogy that trains future generations of students and path-breaking, publicly engaged research. Done right, the school can highlight our existing strengths in a much more unified fashion and help us build new ones.

We have now formed a Steering Committee to help craft a more detailed proposal that is responsive to and informed by faculty and staff. We are very grateful to the Steering Committee members for their willingness to devote their time and expertise to these important discussions:

Mokaya Bosire, African Studies
Robert Davis, Romance Languages
Rachel DiNitto, East Asian Languages and Literatures
Ian McNeely, German and Scandinavian
Jennifer O’Neal, Indigenous, Race and Ethnic Studies
Eileen Otis, Sociology
Craig Parsons, Political Science
Lisa Redford, Linguistics
Lynn Stephen, Anthropology
David Wacks, Romance Languages
Kristin Yarris, Global Studies

The Steering Committee will facilitate two upcoming town hall discussions:

Monday, February 24th from 3:30 – 5:00 in EMU 146 – Crater Lake North Room

Tuesday, March 17th from 3:30 – 5:00 in EMU 146 – Crater Lake North Room

We encourage all interested faculty and staff to attend and look forward to the next phases of this discussion as we prepare a final proposal for the Provost in Spring 2020.

Bruce Blonigen
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences



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February 11, 2020

Deans and Decisions

Our dean’s office just completed our process of ranking departments’ proposals for tenure track faculty lines for the Provost’s Institutional Hiring Plan. The major groups we consult are our Heads Council, comprised of two elected heads from each division of the college, and the CAS Caucus, comprised of CAS faculty in the UO Senate. We had excellent meetings with these groups, which gave us important feedback. But I also realized through these conversations that colleagues may not understand how we generally make decisions in our dean’s office.

I’m writing this blog post in the hope that it might lift the lid on what can seem like a black box to others not in our office. Here are the main features of how our CAS dean’s office makes decisions.

Consultative group decision making

We are highly collaborative as a group of deans, and none of us—including me—makes substantive decisions without consultation and discussion. Karen Ford and I have a daily check-in meeting to review and discuss timely decisions that have to be made in our office. A significant part of Karen’s new role as Dean for Faculty is to be my dean’s designee whenever needed, especially when I’m out of town representing the college externally, so it’s very important that we are in close communication. Karen and I also meet individually with the Divisional Deans, Associate Deans, and Assistant Deans on a weekly basis. In addition to those focused meetings, we have a two-hour leadership team meeting and a one-hour working lunch each week, during which all of the deans come together to discuss common issues we share in the college. And we are not a formal bunch, so someone monitoring our activity would find frequent chatter on email, text, and phone outside of these meetings. In other words, much of our week is spent in group decision making.

We are also consultative with many other groups. We have weekly meetings with the Provost and are in frequent contact with many other university partners, from other deans to colleagues in human resources and student affairs, to solve mutual issues and work toward common goals. We have monthly all-college meetings with our unit heads and managers and the unit heads also have a monthly meeting with their divisional dean. For decades, the dean’s office has used a Heads Council (formerly called the “Wise Heads”) as a key advisory body. In parallel, we have an elected group of unit managers from the college (the Managers Advisory Committee) that we rely on for advice. In recent years, we have also added the CAS Caucus as a main advisory body, to great success.

This wide range of meetings might not seem completely efficient. There are certainly times when we are discussing issues that do not pertain to all people in the meeting. For example, why do we need the other divisional deans in the meeting when we are discussing how to rank the natural science IHP proposals? What we have found is that we get much better outcomes for the college when we work as a team, learn from each other, and make sure all of our decisions are accountable to others and follow equitable practices.

Determine and follow general principles for fairness

When someone asks me what it is like in the dean’s office and what makes it interesting, I oftentimes say that it’s a place where unusual issues and challenges bubble up that did not have an obvious answer at the unit level through existing policies and practices. A too-easy way to handle these special issues is to develop a special solution for each of them. In our opinion, that leads to wrack and ruin!

Instead, we work very hard to find general, defensible principles by which we can determine a solution. In doing this, we worry a lot about inappropriately setting precedents for the future, as well as being fair to others who in the past have had similar circumstances. We think creatively about a variety of possible solutions and then examine each one to see if it would be a robust and acceptable solution to analogous situations in the past or ones we can imagine in the future. The overriding principle is to be fair to everyone in the college with the resources we have.

We also think proactively about our current policies and practices and continuously review them for the fairness of their outcomes. We see a wide variety of practices, policies, and experiences across our units, and this often leads us to suggest changes or new policies that will more likely ensure fair and equitable outcomes. Examples of this in recent years include standardized compensation tables for heads and program directors; standardized calls and systematic review to determine who gets resources for items such as conference support and international travel support; and new standardized policies on a range of decisions including external fellowship support, joint appointments, and TRP policies.


Quantitative data (or metrics) is very valuable in decision making because it often provides an efficient way of providing a consistent comparison across units. This is an important way that we can be fair and avoid making decisions in isolation.

But we never rely solely on metrics. Instead, we use metrics as an initial diagnostic tool to help us explore more. Any time the metrics point to a conclusion about what’s happening in a particular area of the college (e.g., a department), we have conversations with the people in that area and say: “Here’s what these data show and the implications we can draw from them. Are we missing anything?” Often those conversations lead us to gather and examine other data and forms of information so that we can understand the situation even better before we make any decisions.

In the end, we aspire always to be data-informed, not data-driven. We especially would not want to be driven by any one metric, or even a small set of them. This is why we have a large set of metrics on the college that we publish for our heads and managers in the “Dashboard for Departments” on CASweb, which is also a repository for lots of useful information about the college, including all of our CAS-specific policies.

I hope this helps provide more clarity about how we make decisions in our dean’s office. It’s important to us that we are systematic, rigorous, fair, and accountable in the decisions we make. And this is especially true when we have to make important resource decisions, like the IHP decisions and budget cuts we must face in the coming months. These are very challenging situations and decisions, but we can assure you that these are the principles we follow in the interest of the college and the university.

Bruce Blonigen
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences


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January 22, 2020

Experiential Learning Inventory

Since Tykeson Hall began welcoming students at the beginning of fall term, we have been working with our partners across CAS to realize our vision of integrated advising that will not only help our students navigate their academic journey, but also help them envision and explore meaningful career paths that stem from their majors.

To further these goals, our next phase of accelerating student success will focus on expanding “experiential learning” opportunities—namely, practical experiences (internships, volunteer assignments, lab research, etc.) that deepen our students’ portfolios of career-ready skills and prepare them to enter the workforce after graduation.

Our first step in making experiential learning a reality for all CAS students will be to understand what our 45 departments and programs are already doing to offer practical experiences to undergraduates.

Do you place students in volunteer or internship settings that help them gain professional skills? Does your department offer field work, capstone projects and/or leadership-development opportunities? Perhaps you have a one-of-a-kind approach to helping students apply their classroom knowledge in real-world settings. We want to hear about that, too!

Our short-term goal is to create a complete inventory of all such opportunities across CAS. To that end, Lamia Karim, associate professor of anthropology and current CAS Dean’s Fellow—in collaboration with Carol Stabile, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives—has prepared a Qualtrics survey that has just been sent out to all CAS department heads and unit managers. The goal of the survey will be to capture as much information as possible in electronic form as a starting point, which will then form the basis for deeper conversations with departments.

Once the survey results have been compiled, Lamia will interview selected departments to make sure that the survey has accurately captured the opportunities in those departments and fill in any information gaps that might remain. These interviews will then inform further outreach to departments to make sure we have compiled the most complete inventory possible, and Lamia will then produce a report summarizing the results, which will be made available to all of CAS.

The inventory will help us identify where additional experiential learning opportunities might be developed, and where departments might be able to learn from each other and share information, to the benefit of all of their students. The inventory will also be the basis for a database of opportunities that will be a tool for all Tykeson and departmental advisors.

We look forward to seeing your survey responses!

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November 23, 2019

Tykeson Hall: A Showcase for Public Art

“Smith Rock, Oregon”—oil painting by professor emerita Margaret Prentice (Room 331, Tykeson Hall)

The newest additions to the 2,400 artworks in the State of Oregon art collection include nearly 50 works recently acquired for Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall.

Since 1975, the Oregon Arts Commission has managed the state’s Percent for Art Program, which stipulates that one percent of the construction budget for a public building shall be set aside for art; through this funding, the OAC places high-quality, accessible art in public buildings throughout Oregon.

The art acquired for Tykeson Hall ranges from nature photographs to oil paintings to a five-story interactive sculpture in the main stairwell—all of which amplify the natural environment thematics and color schemes in the building.

The 11-person Tykeson Hall Artist Selection Committee (see committee roster below), facilitated by Rebecca Banyas of the OAC, met throughout 2018 and put out a call to artists for two categories of art in the building: 1) two-dimensional artworks for the conference rooms and collaborative spaces throughout the building, to help create a warm and welcoming space for students, and 2) a large-scale three-dimensional statement piece that would help define the innovative, forward-thinking character of the building.

“Planetarium”—photograph by professor emeritus Craig Hickman (Room 133, Tykeson Hall)

According to Banyas, the selection process is prescribed by the state, but leaves a great deal of flexibility for each committee to define its objectives and choose the artwork that best supports their goals. Her role, in addition to facilitating the process, was to connect the committee with her wealth of contacts in the regional art world.

For the conference rooms and collaborative spaces, the committee selected works by several Oregon artists: oil landscapes by UO professor emerita Margaret Prentice; nature photographs by Deb Stoner, Gloria Baker Feinstein, Adam Bacher, and Joe Cantrell; photographs of urban and rural signage by UO professor emeritus Craig Hickman; and relief block prints by Mika Aono, a printmaking studio technician at UO.

“Reflectance Field”—multistory three-dimensional installation by Susan Narduli (main stairwell, Tykeson Hall)

For the large-scale installation, the committee commissioned Los Angeles artist Susan Narduli, whose studio bills itself as “working at the intersection of art, architecture, technology and public space,” to produce a five-story interactive installation. Entitled Reflectance Field, the dynamic sculpture is intended to be evocative of rainfall and designed to invite active participation.

The work features 35 carefully placed chimes within a field of 1,100 “rain” elements (ranging in size from 6” to 12” suspended on 50 cables); together these components transform the sculpture into a collaborative musical instrument. Watch a video of the magic of the chimes in action.

Sculptor Ellen Tykeson—whose parents Willie and Donald Tykeson were the philanthropists who launched the fundraising effort that resulted in the building that now bears their names—was a member of the artist selection committee. She has served on numerous such committees and was struck by the collaborative and enthusiastic spirit of her committee colleagues.

“Resonance IV” — relief block print by Mika Aono (north end of 2nd floor hallway, Tykeson Hall)

“We had an unusually strong committee.” she said, “Members were informed and passionate about the project, and brought an understanding for the overarching vision of what this building could contribute.”

She added that her mother, Willie Tykeson, who was able to tour the building shortly before she passed away in October, was very pleased with the art selection. “We got a great result,” she said. “I was very happy to be included.”

Take a tour of Tykeson Hall to see the full selection of artwork, which may also be viewed  on the Oregon Arts Commission Percent for Art Collection website.


Tykeson Hall Artist Selection Committee—State of Oregon Percent for Art Program


Rebecca Banyas, Public Art Project Manager, Oregon Arts Commission

Committee Members

Martina Oxoby, Owner’s Representative, Design and Construction, Campus Planning and Facilities Management
Cathy Soutar, Project User Group Chair, Planning and Facilities Director, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)
Hal Sadofsky, Divisional Dean for Natural Sciences for the CAS, Math professor, user group member
Kate Werdebaugh, Interim Director, Career Center, user group member
Isaac Campbell, Design architect, Office 52
Chris Andrejko, Architect of record, Rowell Brokaw
Ginger Cartwright, Architecture faculty, user group member
Jia Rong Li, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) student representative
Boyuan Yang, Student intern and employee, Career Center
Sarah Grew, Artist and community member
Ellen Tykeson, Artist and community member

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November 12, 2019

OpEd Project: Call for Proposals


On February 22 and 23, 2020, the Clark Honors College, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Division of Equity and Inclusion are co-sponsoring a two-day workshop, called “Write to Change the World.” In this interactive workshop participants will explore ideas and sources of credibility; learn how to present ideas quickly and powerfully under pressure; understand when and why people change their minds; reflect on the difference between being “right” and being effective; and develop strategies for greater impact, including how to escape being pigeonholed and how to preach beyond the choir. The workshop also includes a pedagogical component, so that participants can incorporate this important part of public writing into their courses. Participants will leave with an outline of an op-ed in hand, plus three months’ access to OpEd Project journalist mentors for individual follow-up.

Recognizing that journalism is improved when a diversity of perspectives are included in public discourse, the OpEd Project and its UO partners seek to focus on the ideas and impact of underrepresented voices, including women, in order to share knowledge, resources and connections across color, creed, class, sexuality, gender and beyond.

Each of the co-sponsors will send seven participants to the workshop. Faculty members can submit applications to only one of the co-sponsors.

TTF faculty and career instructors may submit applications to the College of Arts and Sciences. Applications should include the following:

  1. A letter of application (no more than 500 words), describing how this workshop relates to your teaching and research, and how you will focus on the ideas and impact of underrepresented voices
  2. A description of the project you intend to work on during the workshop (no more than 250 words)
  3. A current CV.

Please send applications to: Applications are due December 15, 2019. Applicants will be notified no later than January 15, 2020.




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New Faculty Profile: Humphrey Honghui Shi, Assistant Professor, Computer and Information Science, Data Science Initiative

Humphrey Shi specializes in artificial intelligence. His current research focuses on accurate and  efficient visual understanding for intelligent systems. In particular, he has most recently worked in the fields of computer vision, machine learning, and AI systems and applications for science, education, agriculture, medicine, finance, transportation, and other industries. His long-term goal is to advance AI research and technologies in interrelated fields by building intelligent systems to facilitate understanding multiple sensory inputs, to gain actionable insights from perception to cognition, and to solve important real-world problems. Currently, he has a focus on accurate and efficient machine understanding of various types of objects and activities from sensory inputs such as images and videos. He and his team have won international AI competitions and set new state-of-the-art standards for computer vision benchmarks. Humphrey has been awarded more than $10 million in support from industry, academic units, and government agencies. He received his B.E. in engineering physics from Tsinghua University in Beijing and his M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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New Faculty Profile: Yvette Saavedra, Assistant Professor, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies

Yvette Saavedra is a historian specializing in 19th century U.S. history, borderlands history, history of the U.S. West, Chicana/o history, and gender and sexuality history. Her research interests include the intersection of race, power, identity, colonialism, nationalism, gender and sexuality. Her recent book, Pasadena Before the Roses: Race, Identity, and Land Use in Southern California, 1771-1890, (University of Arizona, 2018) examines and details the social and cultural history of how Spanish, Mexican, American, and indigenous groups’ competing visions of land use affected the formation of racial and cultural identity in Pasadena, California. Her work reconceptualizes how culturally subjective ideas about race, masculinity, and visions of optimal land use became tangible representations of political projects of conquest, expansion, and empire building. Her current projects include a second full-length book, tentatively titled Living la Mala Vida: Transgressive Femininities, Morality, and Nationalism in Mexican California, 1810-1850, a study that (re)defines masculinity, femininity, gender, and sexuality within Mexican nationalism and concepts of political and social citizenship. Other research in progress includes a study examining the influence of Chicana lesbian feminist theory and methodology on the writing of Chicana/o and U.S.-Mexico borderlands history and studies, a tracing of the development of the Texas sodomy law and the policing of homosexuality during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and a study of female masculinity in the 19th century U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

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New Faculty Profile: Johanna Richlin, Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Johanna Richlin specializes in the anthropology of religion, with expertise in evangelical Christianity in the U.S. and Brazil, U.S. migration, psychological anthropology, and studies of affect and emotion. Her doctoral research explored the impact of U.S. migration experience on the varied religious beliefs, choices, and sentiments of Brazilian migrants in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region. At the UO, she is teaching courses on migration, religion, culture and psychology, and she is working on several research articles and a book manuscript, In the Hands of God: Evangelical Therapeutics and Migrant Faith among Brazilians in the U.S. After receiving her Ph.D. in 2016, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and then an assistant research professor, also at Johns Hopkins. She then held an appointment for the 2018-19 academic year as a visiting professor in the UO Department of Anthropology. Johanna has an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford in cultural and social anthropology and a master of theological studies from Harvard Divinity School.

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New Faculty Profile: Jennifer O’Neal, Acting Assistant Professor, Indigenous, Race and Ethnic Studies

Jennifer O’Neal specializes in American West and Native American history in the 19th and 20th centuries, with an emphasis on decolonizing methodologies, social movements, and race relations. Her research and teaching is dedicated to the intersections between the social and cultural contexts through which marginalized or underrepresented communities are represented. For both the Clark Honors College and the Department of Indigenous, Race and Ethnic Studies, she has developed undergraduate courses engaging students in decolonizing pedagogy and is involved in community based-research with indigenous community course partners to document the often hidden histories of Oregon’s tribal communities. Jennifer has a B.A. and M.A. in history from Utah State University as well as an M.A. in Library and Information Science from University of Arizona. She has previously been an archivist at the Smithsonian, the Department of State and the UO Libraries. Awards include Henry Roe Cloud Dissertation Fellowship, Yale University; Rippey Award for UO First-Year Programs; Outstanding Faculty Award, UO Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence; and Diversity Award, Society of American Archivists. Jennifer is completing her Ph.D. in history at Georgetown University.  She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

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November 2, 2019

Tykeson Hall: What Do We Mean By “Designed for Student Success”?

Tykeson Hall ribbon cutting, Oct. 25, 2019. From left: Andrew Marcus, Eric Tykeson, Ellen Tykeson, Amy Tykeson, Michael Schill, Doneka Scott, Kevin Marbury. Photo: Michelle LaFoe

In late October, the UO officially cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall. This was a joyous celebration of the Tykeson family as well as a wide array of donors and supporters, the collaborative success of our campus colleagues, and the promise we are collectively making to our students.

At this event, in this blog, and everywhere else we have articulated the vision of Tykeson Hall, we have said it’s a building designed for student success. But what do we mean by that?

Tykeson Hall was purposefully designed to help us realize a new, integrated paradigm of academic/career advising, with an open, flowing floor plan that makes it easy for students to access advising resources and invites them to engage with the advisors, faculty, and staff who are here to help them.

Architects Isaac Campbell and Michelle LaFoe of Office 52 Architecture have visited several times since Tykeson Hall opened to observe how people are using the building, and they have had numerous conversations with students and faculty they have encountered. Campbell reports that they have heard repeatedly that “they appreciate the way the building flows, within and between floors, as well as the visual connections that happen within the building and how the building frames beautiful views out into campus.”

View from James Commons on first floor of Tykeson Hall. Photo: Isaac Campbell

One of the ways the architects created a sense of openness was through an emphasis on transparency, visual site lines, and natural light, an aesthetic enhanced by a five-story light well in the center of the building as well as an open staircase with an art installation; both of these features allow not only abundant natural light but also connect floors vertically and add to the ambiance of spaciousness. In addition, the architects placed deliberate emphasis on views both out of the building onto the campus landscape and also into the building, so that passersby can see the activity inside.

Light well in center of Tykeson Hall. Photo: Michelle LaFoe

“People like seeing other people, seeing what’s going on, hearing what’s going on,” said Campbell. “We wanted to give people a way to connect to the larger building and make them feel a larger sense of community. These features heighten this sense in a very important way.”

Art installation in stairway. Photo: Isaac Campbell

Additional design aspects that help define the building’s unique character include a Pacific Northwest-inspired color palette and an emphasis on furnishings, fixtures and finishes that suggest warmth and welcome.

The color palette comprises a floor-by-floor color scheme (see below). The first floor, for instance, is “oak prairie,” a theme that emphasizes warm greens and off-white while the second floor is “forest,” with deeper, cooler greens. These colors play out in paint selections as well as fabrics and materials, such as the “dandelion” lighting fixture on the third floor. If you look closely at this fixture, you’ll see that it is made from cones of veneer wood. It is an example of the playful and informal style that pervades the building.

This style is further exemplified by furnishings that are comfortable and purposely eclectic. In the smaller meeting rooms, for instance, chairs are not identical (though coordinated through fabrics and/or colors) to create a feeling of informality. The pervasiveness of wood throughout (on the ceiling, as part of the furnishings, as trim) magnifies the sense of warmth. “The use of wood creates a phenomenal impact on the character of the space, gives the building a Pacific Northwest feel,” said LaFoe.

Dandelion light fixture on second floor. Photo: Michelle LaFoe

From the moment it opened its doors at the beginning of fall term, Tykeson Hall has been bustling with activity—owing in part to the strategic location of several large classrooms in the building. Students come into the building for classes, and then stick around to study in the James Commons, get a cup of coffee and nosh at Amy’s Corner café, grab a conference room for a more private conversation or study time, visit the University Career Center, and, of course, meet with advisors. Flexibility and adaptability for spaces of all sizes are key concepts that add to the ambience of the design, including classrooms, group work, and social spaces.

Advising is at the heart of the Tykeson design. The open, light-filled building facilitates exploration and discovery while making it easy for students to engage with academic and career advising attuned to their interests and needs. Here’s a floor-by-floor guide to Tykeson spaces and services:

Garden Level — color scheme: Coast (marine blue and light gray reminiscent of the Oregon Coast)

  • University Career Center
  • 100-seat registrar-controlled classroom

First Floor — color scheme: Oak Prairie (warm greens and off-white that suggest the oak prairie of the Willamette Valley)

Academic and Career Advising for the following flight paths:

  • Industry, Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Public Policy, Society and Identity
  • Media, Arts and Expression
  • Amy’s Corner Café
  • James Commons
  • 70-seat registrar-controlled classroom

Second Floor — color scheme: Forest (deeper and cooler greens reminiscent of Oregon forests) 

  • Academic and Career Advising for the following flight paths:
  • Global Connections
  • Healthy Communities
  • Scientific Discovery and Sustainability
  • 30-seat, 40-seat and 70-seat registrar-controlled classrooms; 24-seat mathematics classroom and 24-seat CAS seminar room

Third Floor — color scheme: High Desert (oranges, yellows, and reds that evoke the high desert and painted hills of Central and Eastern Oregon)

Faculty Offices

  • Mathematics and writing tutoring areas
  • Slape Terrace
  • 30-seat registrar-controlled classroom; 24-seat composition classroom

Fourth Floor — color scheme: Alpine (cool blue gray, light blue, and white, reminiscent of Oregon’s high peaks)

  • College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office
  • Office of the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion

In addition to facilitating student exploration, the new building offers amenities to faculty teaching in the building. Geography professor Andrew Marcus, who, as the former CAS Dean, was the key driver behind the Tykeson vision, is now teaching Geog181, Our Digital Earth, in Tykeson Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with more than 70 students taking his class.

“It’s a nicer room to teach in than any other I have experienced at the university,” said Marcus. “The layout makes it feel more like a 35-person class than a 70-person class; access is great for folks of all ability, chairs and tables are easily moved around, and the technology allows for subtle tweaks in lighting and audio that make it easy to do everything from interactive student assignments to videos. Plus, I can always reward myself at the end of each class with one of Amy’s fantastic pumpkin cookies  at Amy’s Corner café.”




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October 30, 2019

New Faculty Profile: Ken-ichi Noma, Professor, Biology, Institute of Molecular Biology

Ken-ichi Noma is the final hire in the Genome Function Cluster (along with two other hires, David Garcia and Jeff McKnight). As an undergraduate, he studied electronics and computer engineering at Takuma National College of Technology and Nagaoka University of Technology. His Ph.D. is from the Department of Biotechnology at University of Tokyo. Ken-ichi joins us from a position at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, in the Gene Expression and Regulation Program. As a graduate student,  he successfully engineered a strain of carrot that could grow in high-salt conditions such as deserts. His work on carrots involved spontaneous mutations generated during cell culture. Out of this work grew an interest in how genomes accumulate mutations and, in particular, the role of mobile genetic elements referred to as “transposons.” Ken-ichi’s current research focus is 3D genome organization—that is, how genomes organize themselves in space and its relationship to epigenetics, cancer and aging. He studies this in both yeast and human systems. Disorganization of this 3D structure is correlated with human disease, including cancer. Despite the clear importance of 3D genome organization to basic and medical research fields, these genome-organizing principles remain  poorly understood, a gap the Noma laboratory is addressing.


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New Faculty Profile: Davina Mattox, Instructor, Romance Languages

Davina Mattox has three degrees from UO: a B.A. in journalism and Romance languages; an M.A. in Romance languages (French and Spanish); and an M.Ed. with a teaching certification in French, Spanish and English as a second language. Since 2011, Davina has been at Boston University, most recently as a senior instructor, where she taught a broad range of courses from first semester French up through the more specialized 300 French classes, included a course called “French in the Professions.” She has also served multiple times as a course coordinator. Davina’s interests center on foreign language pedagogy, teacher training, teaching through technology, Francophone comic books, and French cinema.

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New Faculty Profile: Sergio Loza, Assistant Professor, Romance Languages

Sergio Loza is the new director of the Spanish Heritage Language Program at the UO. As a first-generation college graduate, a son to Mexican immigrants and a grandson to two Bracero workers, his cultural roots and linguistic experiences are those of a heritage speaker of Spanish. This identity informs his scholarly inquiry as well as his advocacy for educational excellence for all Spanish heritage learners. Sergio’s research interests include Spanish heritage language education and research, Spanish sociolinguistics, critical language awareness, critical discourse analysis, language ideologies, language attitudes, sociolinguistic style, Spanish in the U.S., and bilingualism. Recent publications include a book chapter, “Spanish as a heritage language in the United States: A familial and academic struggle through the attitudinal and ideological standardization of language,” in Transformation, Transgressions, and TrustOff Campus: Seggau School of Thought 2 (2018), and journal articles including “Critical heritage language awareness in the heritage context: Development and validation of a measurement questionnaire” (Language Testing) and “Transgressing standard language ideologies in the Spanish heritage language (SHL) classroom” (Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures. He received his Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics from University of Arizona.

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October 22, 2019

New Faculty Profile: Yingjiu Li, Professor, Computer and Information Science

Yingjiu Li will be coming to UO from a position at the Singapore Management University where he was cybersecurity area head.  His research team has identified system vulnerabilities in the Android and iOS operating systems (resulting in operating system improvements by Google and Apple). More broadly, his research concerns security and privacy in the “Internet of Things”, mobile and system security, applied cryptography and cloud security, and data application security and privacy.  Some specific topics have included vulnerabilities in face authentication systems, algorithms allowing efficient keyword searches on encrypted databases, and the privacy of RFID tags. One current project involves using Blockchain to manage access to secure private databases.  Li works at the intersection of theoretical academic concerns and and technology that is transferable to industries such as cell phone manufacturers and carriers.

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New Faculty Profile: Krystale Littlejohn, Assistant Professor, Sociology

Krystale Littlejohn received her BA in sociology and Spanish language and culture from Occidental College in 2007, and her PhD in sociology from Stanford University in 2013. She was a faculty member at Occidental College before joining the faculty at the University of Oregon. Krystale’s work examines race, gender, and reproduction. She is particularly interested in investigating how cultural categories shape behavior in intimate relationships and she examines the consequences of these behaviors for health outcomes. Her work has been published in Demography, Gender & Society and Journal of Health and Social Behavior, among other outlets. Krystale’s research has been supported by funding from the ASA Minority Fellowship Program, the American Association of University Women, and the Society of Family Planning. She is currently working on a book project, Just Get on the Pill: Gender, Compulsory Birth Control, and Reproductive Injustice (under contract with University of California Press), for which she has conducted in-depth interviews with young women to examine how taken-for-granted ideas about gender then structure inequality in pregnancy prevention.

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New Faculty Profile: Kristopher Kyle, Assistant Professor, Linguistics

Kristopher Kyle specializes in applied natural language processing, corpus linguistics, language assessment, second language acquisition and second language writing. He comes to the UO from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where he was an assistant professor. He joins UO as assistant professor of linguistics and also has a joint appointment with the English department at Younsei University in South Korea. In addition, he is a project member (2015-present) for the development of lexical diversity in the writing of students of English and Spanish as a second language at the University of Madrid. Kristopher’s research has been funded by the TOEFL Committee of Examiners and the Language Learning Early Career Grant, and he has recently published in journals such as International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, Applied Linguistics, Behavior Research Methods, and Studies in Second Language Acquisition. He received his Ph.D. in applied linguistics at Georgia State University.

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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 degrees conferred. 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, a total of 200 degrees were conferred in 2016-2017, which places us at #15 on the overall list in the Chronicle study.  The total number of majors is much higher, of course; in academic year 2018-2019, we had upwards of 500 foreign language majors and close to 500 minors.

Like the UO, most of the colleges with the highest numbers of degrees conferred 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 conferred, by far, the largest numbers of degrees, followed by French. Among East Asian languages, Japanese conferred 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

updated on October 29, 2019

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

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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
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

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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
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences

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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

Best wishes for fall term,


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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
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences



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:


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.


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:


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

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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