We have had an engaging three months with bi-monthly, multiple day marathon sessions with our terrific architecture and design team and the faculty-led building user group. Through this process, we have brought together a tremendous variety of UO stakeholders, usually organized into focus groups geared toward issues ranging from sustainable building practices, loading docks and alternative transportation needs to core research facilities and innovation spaces. We have just completed our conceptual design phase, which means we have a good idea of how the building will fit on our available site, as well as general agreement on the activities that will be able to be accommodated within these research-intensive buildings. We now move immediately into schematic design, which is the phase in which these ideas begin to take a physical shape through drawings and 3-D renderings. We will even have the opportunity to deploy virtual reality technology to immersively visualize and “walk through” the spaces that we are designing. The design process has been an amazing experience thus far, and I am very excited about how closely our dreams match the available reality at this stage of our planning. Our overall building timeline can be found at http://accelerate.uoregon.edu/building-timeline.
Just last week, we finalized acquisition of the land for the new campus. Through this process, I was impressed with how smoothly work progressed and how quickly we were able to accomplish these goals. It’s truly amazing and inspiring to the rest of the many “impossible” tasks that we continue to accomplish each day. I'm very pleased to report that we expect to complete a relocation deal with Evergreen Indian Cuisine in the very near future. Special thanks to Vice President and General Counsel Kevin Reed and his whole UO team for their critically important work in this area.
To make the new buildings a reality, we are seeking to partner with the State for $100 million in bonding authority. We only have one opportunity to build the initial infrastructure upon which the rest of the Knight Campus will rest, so it is critical that we get this right from the start. The state investment is particularly critical in supporting the more “outward facing” elements of the new campus, including space for entrepreneurial activities and new graduate training programs. To this end, UO faculty, students, and I have spent many days in Salem participating in individual meetings and testifying in front of a number of House and Senate committees.
We have received a universally warm and supportive reception in Salem, with nearly everyone recognizing that this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the university and state. In this spirit, some 30 external organizations including unions, tribal governments, private companies, and professional organizations have signed on a letter of support addressed to the legislature. In addition, more than 70 faculty from our sister research universities signed on to a separate letter of support delivered to the legislature the week of May 15. We are highly encouraged by the strong support from friends and allies and the work on our behalf that is starting with our legislative partners in Salem. We are hopeful for a strong outcome at the end of the legislative session in July.
On April 18, we, along with the offices of the UO Vice President for Research and Innovation and the Senior Vice President for Research at OHSU, hosted a summit between UO and OHSU to discuss enabling greater collaboration between the two institutions. More than 90 leading researchers and senior administrators gathered at Western Oregon University for discussion on potential scientific areas of interaction and ideas for short-term program/activities supported jointly that would foster greater integration. The event was highly energetic and quite a bit of consensus emerged in our seven hours together. Following the event, the presidents from both institutions reiterated their plans to follow through on suggested next steps. The leadership group convened by the presidents expects to communicate an initial plan back to the broader faculty by the end of the spring term. We recognize that not everyone was able to participate in this event, and there will be many more opportunities to engage as this partnership continues to deepen over the next several years.
Also in April, President Schill launched the search for the permanent director for the Knight Campus. The recruitment firm Isaacson, Miller has been retained to recruit and organize the search process. I encourage colleagues to nominate potential candidates through the Isaacson, Miller website: www.imsearch.com/6030. It is very important that each of us seek out the very best candidates for this position and encourage them to apply.
Finally, I had the privilege of (and a great time) giving a community science talk at the Shedd Auditorium on May 9 to the greater Eugene community, including many of my UO colleagues. With 450 people in attendance, it was thrilling to see so many people participate in a dialog about what it will mean for all us to be in a society that continues to live increasingly longer and healthier lives—a topic that happily consumes much of my time when I am not working on Knight Campus activities. We hope this is the first of many such events in the coming years. Our website will act as a video repository for Knight Campus affiliated talks, and we will be adding this section to the website in the near future.
Thank you all for your continued support of our fledgling activities. Support from the broader community, both on and off campus, has been tremendous. With the help of so many, we are making great strides towards building a successful future for the Knight Campus.
All the best,
Acting Executive Director, Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact
Professor of Biology, University of Oregon