January 29, 2017
Dear University of Oregon community,
The United States has historically attracted and welcomed people from around the globe who helped build our nation, made scientific discoveries, contributed to the arts, fueled our economy, and created our diverse civic culture. Our nation’s first president, George Washington, observed that the “bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respected stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges . . .” Part of the University of Oregon’s mission, as a public institution, is to continue to support this tradition by bringing the best and the brightest here to be part of a rich and vibrant community of scholars.
Academic excellence and global engagement go hand in hand at the UO. By continuing our long history of welcoming eager, talented scholars from many countries, we draw global perspectives into our community and enrich the educational experience. By sending 25 percent of every graduating class to study abroad or participate in overseas internships, we widen our worldview, develop cross-cultural skills, and prepare students for a global economy.
We are troubled by the decision of the new US administration to begin a process of closing our borders by indefinitely banning refugees from Syria, placing a 120-day ban on refugees from all over the world, blocking new visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for 90 days, and signaling a religious test for admittance of new refugees. The UO is proudly committed to welcoming talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship on our campus. We stand with the Association of American Universities in supporting a visa system that “prevents entry by those who wish to harm us, while maintaining the inflow of talent that has contributed so much to our nation.”
Many in our community are worried that recent executive orders send the wrong message about our country. Many are concerned for our fellow students, faculty members, and staff members from the targeted countries. If you feel vulnerable and unwanted because of the US president’s actions, please know that you are welcome and appreciated at the UO. You are part of our community, and we stand with you in defense of our shared values of inclusion, equity, curiosity about the world, and global engagement as core to academic excellence.
Like other public research universities across the nation, the UO welcomes and supports students without regard for immigration status. We clearly stated this as our leadership signed onto a statement by our University Senate on November 16, 2016. The university is now in the process of creating an administrative position within the Division of Student Life that will be a point of contact and a resource for undocumented students and those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
More recently, we have been working to make sure the most directly affected members of our community receive our full support:
- Last week we communicated directly with students, faculty and staff members from the seven countries targeted for a 90-day visa ban, recommending these students avoid travel outside the US, given the ban and ensuing uncertainty.
- We identified all of our students currently on UO study-abroad or overseas internships. While none are from the seven targeted countries, five are non-US citizens, and we are working to ensure their smooth return to campus at the end of their international academic programs.
- A few UO academic units are about to admit graduate students from the seven targeted countries. We also have undergraduate applicants and potential American English Institute applicants from these countries. We will work to maintain the academic integrity of the admissions process (seek and welcome the best candidates, with an eye toward equity and inclusion), while also acknowledging that the UO cannot control the issuance of US entry visas at embassies and consulates abroad. We will signal willingness to work with these newly admitted students and applicants, on a case-by-case basis, to explore every option available, as we gain more clarity on visa policies to follow the 90-day ban.
- We will hold a town hall on changing immigration rules at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, January 30, in the EMU Ballroom. Experts on international immigration will review the current state of affairs, answer questions, and reinforce the core message that this university cares deeply about international and undocumented students. The event is open to all.
We know many people may have questions and concerns. We will soon provide a list of frequently asked questions on UO policies and programs related to international students, faculty and staff members. In addition, the following individuals are available to answer questions:
- General questions about international policies and programs at the UO can be directed to Vice Provost Dennis Galvan in the Office of International Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-346-5851
- International students and visiting scholars can contact Abe Schafermeyer, director of International Student and Scholar Services, email@example.com or 541-346-1215
- International employees may contact international employment specialist Jennifer Doreen, firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-346-2638, or Bill Brady, assistant vice president for employee and labor relations, email@example.com or 541-346-2305
As we have stated so often recently, the UO remains committed to fostering an academic environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all, and it bears repeating that this commitment includes our international students, faculty, and staff.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law
Provost and Senior Vice President