As I write, crews are preparing the building site for the Phil and Penny Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact. That we’ve successfully held to such a tight timeline is a credit to our team, including UO folks in design and construction and to our contractors, Hoffman Construction, and the combination of Bora and Ennead architects. To mark the occasion, we’re planning a groundbreaking ceremony later this term. We will share details in Around the O as they are confirmed.
While the signs of construction may be the most outwardly obvious signs of progress, we’re making strides in a number of other areas.
In the coming days, we will renew our mission to fulfill our partnership with the state. Our initial request from the state was for $100 million in bonds, and during the 2017 session the legislature approved a first phase of $50 million in bonding capacity. Following the budget plan issued by Governor Brown, we have an opportunity in the coming intersession to participate in an inter-institutional cooperative plan that combines our next phase of funding with requests from Oregon State University and Eastern Oregon University into an overall $81 million capital construction request. Because this opportunity accelerates our timeline for funding, we have been able to reduce our request to $40 million without affecting our plans. This would raise the total state contribution to the project to $90 million and finalize our capital funding process.
Even before our new building is completed we have been able to make outstanding progress in initiating our educational programs. For example, our professional development programs have begun to take shape under the direction of Professor Jim Hutchison, Director of Educational Programs for the Knight Campus. This fall we launched two new programs in cooperation with faculty from the School of Journalism and Communication and the Lundquist College of Business.
Mark Blaine, a senior instructor in the SOJC, led 30 graduate students through “The Science Story: Basic skills and techniques for communicating your research,” a two-part workshop exploring the basics of effectively communicating science to a wide range of audiences. The workshop covered visual communication, simple narrative structures, and application of narrative to a variety of media platforms — from in-person presentation to social media. They spent time discussing how to integrate storytelling into presentations and how those can be a platform for additional communication.
Andrew Nelson, a professor in the Lundquist College of Business and associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation, led some 20 graduate students in the sciences through “An Introduction to Innovation.” The workshop emphasized assessing and communicating the commercial value of research, evaluate ideas through an applied lens, and enhancing the impact of research. Future Knight Campus innovation/entrepreneurship workshops in this area will cover topics including intellectual property, raising money, and building a team.
In terms of full academic programs, we’ve finalized coalescing our internship programs into the newly named Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program (KCGIP). The KCGIP is composed of the longstanding and highly successful Master's Industrial Internship Program and the Bioinformatics and Genomics Master's Programs. These programs train scientists in an accelerated academic format and provide opportunities for the real-world knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in an industrial environment.
Our new building is designed to host training laboratories and classroom spaces specifically for applied graduate education. When the building is complete in early 2020, these Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program academic tracks, and hopefully some additional new tracks, will be co-located for the first time.
And of course our biggest news is that we have hired our new executive director, Robert Guldberg, who is currently the Executive Director of the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech University. Bob precisely fits the image of a scientific leader that we had in mind when we launched the Knight Campus, and we feel very lucky to have been able to recruit him to the UO. The entire Knight Campus team and I are working closely with Bob as we begin a planning process in advance of his arrival in September.
I was happy to be able to report to the Board of Trustees at their last meeting that we have accomplished everything that we set out to do over the last year: acquire the property for the campus, design and begin construction on our new building, establish new academic and professional development programs, establish a governance structure for hiring new faculty and staff, hire a new director, and initiate new and deeper interactions with our partners across the state, especially at OHSU. None of this would have been possible without the hard work of countless individuals drawn from nearly every part of the university. Our success in just one year’s time shows that we can accomplish great things as an institution when we all work closely together. For that I am nearly as grateful as for the accomplishments themselves.
All the best in the new year,
Acting Executive Director, Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact
Professor of Biology, University of Oregon