Dear University of Oregon community members:
It is incredibly exciting to see the University of Oregon campus return to life at the beginning of the academic year. The crisp fall air, the flaming hues of changing leaves, and hustle-bustle associated with move-in, the first day of classes, convocation, meeting new people, and rekindling friendships gives me a renewed sense of energy, hope, and enthusiasm. I cannot wait to see what each of you—students and members of the faculty and staff—accomplishes and achieves in the coming year.
One of the shared values that binds us together as one of the nation’s great public institutions of higher learning is our commitment to students. The primary mission of the UO is to create and convey knowledge to the next generation so they can go out into the world to become leaders, artists, innovators, musicians, scientists, teachers, small-business owners, informed citizens, critical thinkers, and problem solvers.
Over the past several years, we have greatly expanded our efforts to ensure that students from every background and income level can come to the UO and succeed. We just celebrated the 10th anniversary of PathwayOregon, an extraordinary commitment to the young people of our state that any Federal Pell Grant-eligible student with a 3.40 GPA or greater who is admitted into our freshman class will not pay tuition or fees. The PathwayOregon program also includes best-in-class advising that has boosted graduation rates tremendously. Some 5,000 students have already received a free education thanks to this great program.
As PathwayOregon demonstrates, financial support is helpful, but does not eliminate all barriers to academic success. We need to provide great advising to all of our students, remove curricular roadblocks to timely completion, and help students plan for life after graduation. That is why earlier this year I committed to hiring 23 new advisors who will enhance our ability to guide students. And we are going to try something new: Academic advisors will not only be able to assist students in selecting their courses, they will also be able to help shape students’ careers. We plan to have the vast majority of our new advisors hired and ready to go when the new college and careers building, Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, opens in the fall of 2019.
Research repeatedly shows that one of the keys to succeeding in college is feeling a sense of belonging and connection to the community. We have done a lot in recent years to promote inclusion. Among the most important innovations are our first-year interest groups (FIGs) and our academic residential communities (ARCs). We now have more than 56 FIGs and 16 ARCs. Over the past couple of years, we added FIGs in food studies, popular music studies, and digital arts. We are also offering new ARCs in health sciences and Native American and indigenous studies. In 2019, we are planning to open a new Latinx ARC.
While a lot of great things are in the works, we are not waiting until 2019 to elevate our game. I would like to share with you information about new academic resources we will provide to our students this fall:
- Student One Stop: This new website—www.uoregon.edu/onestop—connects students with the huge swath of support services available on campus, including information about academic and career advising, financial aid and scholarships, housing, class registration, safety, diversity resources, technology, and so much more. In the past, due to the UO’s decentralized structure, finding these things on the UO’s many webpages was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But now students can simply click the Student One Stop link at the top of almost every UO webpage and those resources will be at their fingertips. It is easy. Use it.
- Guide App: This new mobile phone application connects students to a host of campus resources that are individually tailored to them—reminders on when it is time to apply for scholarships and financial aid, information about how to get a tutor or advisor for a specific school or college, how to prepare for an advising session, or how to explore student life resources. Students can search for and download the app “Guide by EAB Global” and they will be prompted to access a custom University of Oregon app that authenticates for each student. The app then displays a unique dashboard for academic appointments, class schedule, major information, and more.
There is much more work to be done, but there is also so much to celebrate at the beginning of the term in our focus on advancing the UO’s ambitious student success efforts. The new resources and tools we have launched this week are a meaningful down payment on our long-term commitment to student success at the UO, and I am confident they will pay dividends for our students in the years to come.
Thank you. As always, it is my great honor to lead the University of Oregon. I hope each one of you has a great start to the 2018-19 academic year.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law