The Presidential Fund for Excellence provides funding for the University of Oregon to make strategic investments in initiatives and priorities focused on achieving the university’s mission.
Made possible by a $50 million anonymous gift, the Presidential Fund for Excellence aims to:
- Secure the university’s preeminence in focused fields of teaching, research and discovery.
- Promote interdisciplinary work that elevates the university’s mission.
- Improve student experience and enhance student success to prepare them to be future leaders and agents of social and economic impact.
- Adopt innovative teaching and operating practices that improve the university’s ability to achieve its mission.
- Provide benefit to our community and state through these endeavors.
President Michael Schill committed $1.5 million from the Presidential Fund for Excellence to expand and enhance the Business Law Program. Oregon’s Business Law Program has world-renowned faculty, robust clinics and field placements, and highly regarded graduates in top businesses and law firms around the world. Program strengths include bankruptcy, business, finance, entrepreneurship, estate planning, green business initiatives, intellectual property, sports, and tax.
These investment funds will support the program’s strategic plan to expand its experiential learning opportunities to prepare law students to become practice ready in the area of business law. The support also will help the law school develop collaborative projects with the University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative.
In partnership with President Schill, Provost Patrick Phillips announced in fall 2020 the creation of a new research and policy center on racial disparities and resilience. The center will include hiring new faculty members who will focus their research on addressing racial disparities in the United States.
Additionally, the university launched two new academic programs as minors—Black Studies and Latinx Studies, along with the creation of a program in the Division of Undergraduate Education and Student Success that will use data analytics to study the opportunity gap faced by students of color.
The university is also continuing to take steps to address the way the entire university hires, trains, and treats its faculty and staff with an aim at increasing diversity at UO and to improve campus climate by directly addressing systematic racism on campus that affects Black faculty, students, and staff.
The grant from the Presidential Fund for Excellence will allow Urbanism Next to establish a new center with faculty and staff from the two UO locations. The center will expand on the work Urbanism Next is doing to examine the changes that could come with the growth of such technologies as autonomous vehicles, e-commerce, and the sharing economy.
The creation of the Urbanism Next Center will build upon the research and partnerships already established through the initiative.
The UO’s Presidential Initiative in Data Science is an interdisciplinary initiative bringing together new and existing faculty to create new research and education programs focused on data science.
By ramping up its ability to analyze data and extract information about trends and populations, the university is responding to an increased demand across nearly all scholarly disciplines, and society as a whole.
The Presidential Initiative in Data Science will seek to hire eight new data science faculty in AY 2017-18 in the natural sciences, social sciences, the College of Business, and the School of Journalism and Communication. Each of the current hires are listed in the 2017-18 Institutional Hiring Plan and additional hires are expected to be made in future years as the initiative grows.
Nine Endowed Faculty Chair Positions
The president will develop nine new faculty chairs, one for each school and college and each division within the College of Arts and Sciences. One half of each two million dollar endowment will be provided through the Presidential Fund for Excellence, with the schools and colleges responsible for raising the second half of the funds. The provost will work with the deans to develop a set of guidelines for each chair.
Endowed chairs contribute to faculty excellence by funding support for salary and research, recognizing achievement, and by enabling the university to be more competitive in attracting scholars of the highest caliber.
The creation of a Black Cultural Center is among the top objectives of the university and the Black Student Task Force.
The Black Student Task Force identified student success and timely graduation as a top priority for the center. In order to meet that need, President Schill has allocated a portion of the Excellence Fund to support student success programming at the Black Cultural Center.
With more than $1.5 million now raised toward its approximate $2.75-$3 million capital cost, and construction plans in development, groundbreaking is scheduled for 2018.
Media Center for Science and Technology
School of Journalism and Communication
The new Media Center for Science and Technology, based in the School of Journalism and Communication, will explore how scientific discoveries and technological solutions are conveyed and understood by a wide variety of audiences.
Through experiential and traditional classroom teaching, students will learn how to be better communicators of science and technology. Faculty and students will work collaboratively with university scientists, external institutions, and private companies to research and evaluate best practices.
The Presidential Fund for Excellence will provide seed funding to begin the Media Center for Science and Technology’s programs and research.
Oregon Research Schools Network
College of Education
The new Oregon Research Schools Network, in development by the College of Education, is a five-year pilot program that aims to dramatically improve the quality of public schools in Oregon and increase the number of college-ready graduates.
The network will be created by placing UO COE faculty members in up to 10 high schools across Oregon, connecting schools with research and expertise provided by the College of Education. Faculty members will teach students and provide pedagogical training to the high school teachers.
Costs for each placement will be shared with local school districts, with an emphasis on schools with high proportions of first-generation and under-represented students. The Presidential Fund for Excellence will provide seed funding to launch the network and will also explore providing additional support to the university’s pipeline programs Summer Academy to Inspire Learning and Oregon Young Scholars.