Dear University of Oregon campus community,
As I drove onto campus this week, I got a familiar feeling of excitement. New students were settling into their residence halls and beginning to navigate the campus. Returning students were greeting each other and catching up on what they did during the summer. In other words, the campus was coming alive. It reminded me how fortunate we are to live and learn in such a wonderful community.
As we embark on what I hope will be an amazing 2017–18 academic year, I want to write to you about the core values that are essential to our success as a great public research university. These values are part of the way we “throw our O” and make an impact that provides scientific, artistic, economic, and social benefit to the region, our state, the nation, and even the world.
First, every person on our campus is part of our UO family. You belong here. As I stated in a campus message this summer, we value every student and member of the faculty and staff, regardless of immigration status, race, religion, ethnic or national origin, political view, socio-economic status, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. The quality of the education and experiences we provide at the UO are enriched by our differences.
Second, as a community of scholars, we must look out for each other. This starts with having zero tolerance for sexual harassment and violence. It means respecting yourself and not abusing drugs or alcohol. It means standing up to hazing and other forms of bullying and harassment. We all have a responsibility to do something or say something if we see a fellow Duck in trouble or at risk. This weekend I sent a message to campus with Darci Heroy, associate vice president and Title IX coordinator, strongly affirming our commitment to addressing sexual harassment and violence, and letting our campus know that recent federal changes to Title IX will have little, if any, impact on our policies or practices.
The third value I want to talk about is our commitment to free expression and academic freedom. Free speech is the bedrock of higher education. Without the ability to speak out, question, and debate the tough issues of the day, we might as well not be a university. Free speech—peaceful, nonviolent expression of views—is essential for teaching and research, and for our ability to move our society forward in a positive direction. If you don’t like what you hear, do not shut that speech down. Instead, speak out yourself.
Finally, the University of Oregon values the pursuit of excellence in everything we do. This means striving to do your best, challenging the status quo, looking for new and better ways, and investing in the people and programs that exemplify these values. I get excited when I think of the incredible ideas, writings, experiments, performances, designs, and discoveries our faculty will generate in the coming year.
Each moment of insight or discovery that takes place at the University of Oregon adds up to a cascade of knowledge that prepares our students to lead, benefits our state, helps us understand our world, and makes an impact. This is our mission and how we improve society.
I will share more of my thoughts on the many ways we can support and encourage excellence in teaching, research, and service next week during my State of the University address. I invite you to join me on Friday, October 6, at 11:00 a.m. in the Erb Memorial Union Ballroom as I provide this university update. I hope you join me or watch the event as it is live-streamed on the UO Channel.
It is going to be an outstanding academic year. Again, welcome, and GO DUCKS!
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law