University of Oregon

Photo: Lady Gaga on tour in Asia.
AP PHOTO–WONG MAYE-E

Lady Gaga, Sweet Potatoes, and Water Buffalo
What kind of education will best prepare today’s students for the challenges of the twenty-first century? One way of thinking about the all-important question is offered in this blog post, “If Lady Gaga Can be Useful . . . ” by Yong Zhao, associate dean for global education in the UO College of Education. A full professor in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership and the author of more than twenty books, Zhao is currently focusing on designing twenty-first-century schools in the context of globalization and the digital revolution.

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, is no doubt one of the most successful global superstars. She has more than 13 million Twitter followers and 40 million Facebook fans. Her YouTube video “Bad Romance” has accrued more than 411 million views and celebritynetworth.com estimates her net worth to be about $110 million. Apparently, she has something valuable to offer.

But what she can offer is of no value in the village where I grew up. Nestled in the hills of China’s Sichuan Province, the village’s only industry is farming. With all the young people gone to the cities as migrant workers, about fifty people, including my father, live in the village, which once had a total population of more than 200. No resident in the village has ever heard of Lady Gaga nor would find her interesting or valuable. When I was growing up, the most valued talent was the ability to handle water buffalos used to plow the rice field, other than physical strength to carry things such as newly harvested rice or sweet potatoes. I don’t know for sure how good a water buffalo handler she could be, but I am quite sure she will not be able to run on bumpy muddy paths with 200 pounds of sweet potatoes dangling on each end of a bamboo pole.

If she had been born in my village, she would make a lousy farmer. Moreover, what earned her the success she enjoys today would be useless, cause her terrible trouble, and bring shame to her family. To make her useful in the village, her parents would try very hard to educate her: teaching her that meat is for eating, not for wearing, singing does not bring home food, no one would marry a girl with wild hair, and fetching water from the village well every day is a good training course for learning to carry sweet potatoes.

In the same vein, I doubt that Lady Gaga would make a great worker on Henry Ford’s assembly lines. Her eccentric personality and nonconforming style would make it hard for her to follow rules and repeat the same action with precision. She could make a great Halloween appearance, but that is just once a year. So she would have been either fired on the first day on the job or educated to forget her passion, desire, and talent in music, if she could have withstood the training program.

There have been many individuals with the qualities of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta born in villages like mine in human history, but they have been “educated,” in various rigorous ways, to become anything but Lady Gaga. Out of necessity, societies and families must ensure that their future generations have the ability, knowledge, and skills to live a successful life as workers, parents, and citizens. Thus they must have an education, formal or informal, that focuses on cultivating what meets the needs of the society. For a long period of time in human history, many societies have only needed a very narrow spectrum of human talents on a large scale and a very small pool of special talents. As a result, the dominant education paradigm has been to reduce the vast diverse potentials of human talents, interests, and abilities to what the society deems as useful or employable skills and knowledge.

Such a paradigm continues today and in even more rigorous, organized, and forceful ways. Governments and other authoritative bodies work very hard to define useful skills and knowledge through curriculum, standards, textbooks, high-stakes testing, and financial investment. In the U.S., for example, whatever raises standardized test scores on math and reading is useful and valued. This is why over the past decade the majority of U.S. schools have narrowed their curriculum to the two tested subjects, many teachers have aligned their classroom instruction to what is to be tested, students who do not perform well on these tests are considered at-risk and sent to remedial programs, and schools and teachers failing to produce the required test scores are believed to provide low-quality education. This is also why instructional times for arts, music, sports, foreign languages, social studies, and science have been shortened or eliminated.

Lady Gaga proves that such a paradigm no longer works. In addition to her, the hundreds of TV channels, numerous cooking shows, millions of YouTube videos, and the explosion of jobs that never existed before are just examples of the tremendous expansion of possible ways that the full spectrum of human talents and interests can be useful and valuable. Author Daniel Pink, in his insightful book A Whole New Mind, proposes that traditional overlooked aptitudes—design, story, empathy, play, and meaning—have become essential in the Conceptual Age. I don’t think these aptitudes necessarily make traditionally valued aptitudes (logic, analytic, verbal, and quantitative) less valuable. Instead, they add to the list of useful and valuable talents and skills. In a similar fashion, the frequently talked-about twenty-first-century skills are another way to suggest that we have arrived at an age when society can make use of the broad range of human talents and interests.

Thus, education should move beyond the paradigm of imparting to our children what government or other authorities deem useful. Instead, it should work to support every individual student to become successful, help each individual to reach his or her full potential, and encourage all students to pursue their passion and interests. After all, if Lady Gaga can be useful . . .

Visit Yong Zhao's blog, Education in the Age of Globalization




Tales of a Kindhearted Curmudgeon
Towering figures cast long shadows, as was abundantly clear in recent retrospective appreciations of the life and work of UO art historian and art professor emeritus Marion Dean Ross. The author of landmark scholarship regarding Oregon’s built environment, Ross was a pioneer in the study of Pacific Northwest architecture and in promoting historic preservation in the region. The celebration of his work as scholar, teacher, mentor, and UO benefactor (giving more than $1 million in the early 1990s for the acquisition of library materials) included a display in Knight Library, a companion website (libweb.uoregon.edu/aaa/ross), and a lecture by Leland Roth, professor emeritus of art history and the former Marion Dean Ross Distinguished Chair in Architectural History. Roth has collected anecdotes showing the personality of the beloved but sometimes-prickly Ross, and presents them here.

Photo: Marion Dean Ross at his desk
UO LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Marion Dean Ross (1913–91), professor of architectural history at the University of Oregon from 1947 to 1978, was a demanding teacher who held his students to very high standards. Many have reported how they dreaded his examinations, and how he could put them ill at ease with a well-intended but sharp remark. Movie director James Ivory ’51, an architecture student at the UO before shifting to film making, recalled a particular slide-illustrated class lecture. Ivory was making sketches from the slide of a building Ross was explaining, when Ross happened to walk along the side of the room. On glancing down and seeing Ivory’s sketches, Ross stopped lecturing and inquired loudly, “What are you doing, Mr. Ivory!” Collecting himself quickly, Ivory responded, “Learning about architecture, sir,” to which Ross replied, “Well, all right then.”

Other students took copious notes. One former student told me he had opted to write a research paper instead of making a detailed building model, an option Ross offered his students (and many architecture students did opt for making a model). Documenting his paper with the necessary footnotes regarding his sources, the student was unable to verify some fact and so, somewhat stymied, quoted Ross’s lecture from his notes. Later, when the paper was graded and returned, next to this hastily cobbled footnote was Ross’s written rebuttal: “I never said that!”

The point was that Ross wanted his students to be as serious in their work as he was in his. Even years after graduation, former students might find themselves facing continued high expectations. Ross never learned to drive and never owned an automobile; his firsthand encyclopedic knowledge of Oregon architecture was gained through the kindness of friends and colleagues driving him around the state to visit building sites. When making his annual summer visits to Europe to observe and photograph buildings from Scotland to Sicily, Spain to Turkey, he benefited from the dense network of rail transportation that made travel relatively easy. On one trip northward through Italy, Ross chanced to cross paths in Naples with his former student Wallace Huntington ’52, by then a successful landscape architect and also a friend. On learning that they both were headed to Rome, Huntington offered Ross a lift in his rented automobile as a chance to continue their conversation. Ross then inquired about the proposed route, ostensibly so he could see what towns they might visit where he could examine Roman ruins or view Renaissance buildings. The road Huntington mentioned followed the Mediterranean coast. Ross disappeared for some moments with the road map, then returned and, with evident exasperation, tossed the map on the table, proclaiming, “Just as I suspected. It’s all nothing but scenery!”

Ross, an active lecturer, often was transported to these events by friends. On one occasion, he was driven to Portland by friends and students to give a slide-illustrated talk at the Oregon Historical Society. While the professor was busy with conversation as they entered the building, a greeter helpfully attempted to relieve Ross of some boxes, suggesting they might best be left in the cloak room. Ross firmly snatched them back, and without breaking stride marched onward, scolding her with the rebuke, “Oh, don’t be such a busy-body!” In his wake, Ross’s escorts explained in embarrassment that he was the evening’s featured speaker and those were his slides.

Ross presented an intimidating figure, intellectually because of his education at Harvard, and architecturally because of his extensive travels to inspect buildings of all ages and places. But there was a hint of perceived physical intimidation, as well. He carried a cane, the legacy of having once been hit by an automobile just off campus, and with the cane, he pointed to buildings when taking students on tours, or smacked the side of the lectern to call for the next slide (in those days when slide projectors were operated by student projectionists). Years later, architect Otto Poticha, a frequent adjunct professor in the UO architecture department who knew Ross well, questioned whether he really needed the cane any longer. Ross equivocated a bit, concluding by saying, “but nevertheless it is still very effective.”

A group of Ross’s former students and professional colleagues—all eminently successful in their respective fields—produced a festschrift of essays on a range of architectural and design topics at the time of the professor’s retirement in 1978, to honor the beneficent impact he had had on them individually. Wallace Huntington began this anthology with a biographical introduction, observing that Ross was an impatient man: impatient of “bad wine, and shoddy scholarship; architects who can’t delineate an arch, and cooks who can’t prepare a simple meal; a misspelled word, an awkward phrase. Against these things he rages with ill-concealed contempt.” Indeed, Ross’s reputation as something of a gourmand seemed to grow with each retelling, and one close friend of Ross’s told me that he was given firm instructions by his wife not to invite Ross to dinner since she was at a loss as to what to prepare.

Outwardly Ross seemed to be a curmudgeon, a misanthrope, and his pithy retorts reinforced that perception, but mean-spiritedness was not in his nature. Impatient, yes, but Ross was kindhearted and generous. If he was sometimes curt with students in insisting on high standards, it was because he cared about them, and how their studies might affect their future lives. One former student told me how she enjoyed Ross’s classes, but in her junior year felt drawn to classes in anthropology. Shortly after she mentioned to the departmental secretary that she was changing her major, she received a summons to the department chair’s office. With trepidation she appeared, and Ross questioned her closely about her decision. She had demonstrated promise, and he was concerned. She did switch her major, went on to earn a PhD, and became the longtime director of an anthropology department and museum at a major university. But what she remembered years later was how Ross called her in because of his concern for her future. He may have been abrupt, even stern, but his deepest concern was that his students reach their highest potential; not just in his classes, but in their future lives. In the way he cared about his students, Marion Dean Ross exemplified the measure of a true teacher.

Web Extra: Listen to Leland Roth's lecture, "Marion Dean Ross: A Man Who Left a Hole in the Water."




Fashion Consultant to the Large and Sweaty
The UO has a long history of offbeat, colorful, and eccentric campus denizens. The tradition continues, as the following profile confirms. The story, written by UO communications specialist Matt Cooper, first appeared under the title “Ooh-La-La’s the name, entertainment’s the game” in Inside Oregon, the UO employee newsletter.

Photo: Mister Ooh-la-la on crutches
PHOTO COURTESY MISTER OOH-LA-LA
Stars in His Eyes Mister Ooh-La-La performs in the gladiatorial glitz that is professional wrestling as a lint brush–wielding sideman who is often drawn into the fray. Above, he’s recovering from several “injuries” suffered in a raucous tag-team bout.

At first, when he gives his name, people don’t believe him.

Some do a double-take—come again? Others just smile, wondering if the joke’s on them. Jerry Springer was so impressed he did a show on him.

Mister Ooh-La-La.

Yes, you read that right. That is the legal name—you can check his driver’s license—of a thirty-two-year-old UO employee who serves up meals with a smile at Dux Bistro in the Living-Learning Center residence hall.

But here’s the kicker: The moniker is only an introduction to the young man for whom entertainment is the real name of the game.

Ooh-La-La—that’s been his legal name for fourteen years and he won’t reveal his given one—sat for an interview recently at the campus-area Starbucks. He sports thick, wavy hair and a trim moustache-and-goatee complement; he’s low-key and unassuming, even self-deprecating.

But his alter ego is something else, entirely.

Ooh-La-La plays a character in DOA Pro Wrestling, a regional entertainment circuit with wrestlers such as “Ethan HD” and “Big Ugly,” who grapple at stops in Portland, Keizer, Willamina, and elsewhere.

In that arena, he is “Mister Ooh-La-La, the ‘faux French fashionista’”—a classic villain with a beret, cheesy accent, and arrogance to spare who parades around the ring area, catering to his wrestlers while trying to whip the crowd into a frenzy of animosity.

“If an opponent is on the ropes, I’ll use a lint roller as a foreign object and stick it in their throat and choke them out,” Ooh-La-La says, matter-of-factly.

According to Garett Fertig, of DOA promotions, Ooh-La-La has developed quite a following on the circuit—which is to say, people thoroughly despise him.

“He’s on the floor, he’ll choke or slap a wrestler, whatever to help his boys win a match,” Fertig says. “I’ve seen people with [anti-Ooh-La-La] signs, I’ve seen people stand up and get in his face. People don’t like him just by how he looks, and then when he opens his mouth people really don’t like him.”

Ooh-La-La, who hopes to make a career out of professional wrestling, says the business walks a line between entertainment and sport. But he wouldn’t call it phony.

“Everyone has figured out by now that wrestling is a show, but a lot of the violence is very real,” Ooh-La-La says. “You get body-slammed on a concrete floor, it’s going to hurt.” Ooh-La-La grew up in Eugene and graduated from North Eugene High School. He was a creative kid, if offbeat—he cheered for Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street horror movies.

Although not athletic—“two left feet,” Ooh-La-La says—he became obsessed with professional wrestling and cheering on his heroes, “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Roy Wayne “Presley” Farris, “The Honky-Tonk Man.”

Entertainment was the obvious career path. Ooh-La-La has done standup locally and appears regularly on Eugene rock radio station KFLY’s The Donkey Show.

And the name?

“I just wanted some kind of moniker I could use in the entertainment world, some kind of gimmick,” Ooh-La-La says. “I just thought it would be good as a promotional tool.”

And it has been. Ooh-La-La is known as a movie writer and director—his Earth Day is a slasher flick and send-up of Eugene’s hippie sensibilities—and he even landed a spot on The Jerry Springer Show ten years ago. Ooh-La-La pretended to be a lust-filled womanizer who boasted of a three-way relationship with two women. (A typical exchange: “I preefur for zee men to call me ‘Meestur’ and zee wee-men to call me ‘Ooh-La-La’”—followed by hoots of derision from a rabid audience.)

Asked whether some might take offense to his characterization of the French, Ooh-La-La says he hopes the character is “so cartoon-y” that he’s not taken seriously.

And the irony is that the real-life Ooh-La-La is quite likeable, according to coworkers at the Bistro.

On a recent afternoon, as Ooh-La-La closed down the lunch shift, wearing a hairnet over that thick, wavy mane, colleagues described him as selfless and fun to be around.

“He’s a great guy,” Bistro coordinator Corlea Sue Martinez says. “He’s great to have at work because he keeps us laughing, but he keeps on task while he’s doing it.”

“I didn’t believe him the first time he told me what his name is,” says John Heilbronner, who is fifty-seven. “I think it’s a generational thing. Today, kids have their unique names—not like in my time, when you were John, Joe, or Fred.”

Ooh-La-La entertains the gang by scheduling group outings and keeping the kitchen rockin’ with music on an iPod. He has also shown a serious side, helping start a memorial fund for a longtime employee of housing and dining services, Chiyoko Chapman, who died in 2009, Martinez says.

Ooh-La-La says the Bistro is a good fit: He’s working with people he likes while enjoying the freedom to “branch out and do other things that I love.”

What those things will be, Ooh-La-La can’t tell you. But one thing the “faux French fashionista” will never be is the suit-and-tie type.

“Being an accountant or whatever, I would go nuts,” Ooh-La-La says. “I’m creative. I like to get reactions out of people.”



Photo: UO cheerleaders and the duck posing in front of the Wheel of Fortune board.
Wheel Rolls into Portland Pat Sajak and Vanna White, with a traveling support team of 160 aided by some 200 local crew members and assistants, taped four weeks’ worth of the Wheel of Fortune at the Oregon Convention Center March 30–April 3. Five “College Week” episodes featured contestants from the UO, who arrived with their own sizeable entourage: the UO cheerleaders, the Oregon Basketball Band, and the Oregon Duck. The “College Week” programs aired May 14–18.



Bookshelf
Expanded web version of Bookshelf, with selected new books written by UO faculty members and alumni and received at the Oregon Quarterly office. Quoted remarks are from publishers’ notes or reviews.

The American Soul Rush: Esalen and the Rise of Spiritual Privilege (New York University Press, 2012) by Marion S. Goldman, UO professor of sociology and religious studies. This book examines the growth of the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, and its influence on spirituality in the United States.

Loowit’s Legend: The Story of the Columbia River Gorge (Parallel 45, 2012) by Erin K. O’Connell, MBA ’98. This children’s storybook illustrates the legend of the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, and Mount Saint Helens with text and watercolor images.

Thinking like a Canyon (Antrim House, 2012) by Jarold Ramsey ’59. In this latest collection, Ramsey’s poems, new and old, are “a delight to read and reread.”

Conjugations: Marriage and Form in New Bollywood Cinema (University of Chicago Press, 2012) by Sangita Gopal, UO associate professor of English. Conjugations will “be of interest to scholars not only in cinema studies, but more generally, those interested in postcoloniality, feminism and gender, and the nation-state in South Asia.”

Tracking Bodhidharma: A Journey to the Heart of Chinese Culture (Counterpoint, 2012) by Andy Ferguson ’73. “Tracking Bodhidharma offers a previously unheard perspective on the life of Zen’s most important religious leader, while simultaneously showing how that perspective is relevant to the rapidly developing superpower that is present-day China.”

No Animals Were Harmed (Lyons Press, 2011) by Peter Laufer, James Wallace Chair in Journalism: News-Editorial at the UO School of Journalism and Communication. The final piece in a trilogy, this book provides “a provocative examination of the fine line between the use and abuse of animals.”

The Large Rock and the Little Yew (Little Yew Tree, 2010) by Gregory M. Ahlijian ’71. Since it debuted last year, this children’s book has raised more than $26,500 for at-risk youths at Jasper Mountain Center, a treatment facility for emotionally disturbed children and their families, where the author volunteers.

Trauma Journalism: On Deadline in Harm’s Way (Continuum, 2012) by Mark H. Massé, MS ’94. Using in-depth profiles of reporters, researchers, and trauma experts, this book provides “a fascinating and fact-filled account of how ‘trauma journalism’ finally is being recognized and treated.”







UpFront
News, Notables, Innovations



UO LIBRARIES
History by the Box
Latino labor organization’s historical documents find new home in UO library archives.

 

Photo: Three children of migrant farmworkers sitting on porch, their mother sitting inside, framed by the doorway.
JOHN BAUGUESS
Documenting History Migrant farm worker family at apartment in Woodburn, 1988

At 2:25 a.m. on Tuesday, January 21, 1992, Carrie Hilger was inside her Woodburn home when she heard a man’s voice outside yelling, “Get down! Get down! Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” Moments later, shots crackled in the night, and a man lay dead in a pool of blood in Hilger’s driveway.

The next day, friends began collecting money to pay for the funeral of the dead man, Luis Calabaren Dominguez, twenty-four, who had fled a convenience store after being confronted by police for trespassing. They were outraged; they felt Dominguez, a migrant farm worker from southern Mexico who had lived in the United States for four years, did not have to die.

Later that week, Cipriano Ferrel, founder of the Northwest Tree Planters and Farm Workers United (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, or PCUN), met with Woodburn police chief Ken Wright to discuss community concerns, including concerns that “the shooting employed excessive force” and “was motivated by a disdain for immigrant laborers.”

“Even though it is a union hall in service of the agricultural worker, the union is also part of the community, and so cannot be blind to the issues that affect their community,” Ferrell told El Hispanic News, the weekly bilingual newspaper serving Oregon and Vancouver, Washington.

This twenty-year-old story unfolds in grim detail for anyone who opens manila folder number seven in box eight of the PCUN archives, with “Police Killing” handwritten on the label in black ink. The folder contains yellowing newspaper clippings from the Salem Statesman Journal, the Oregonian, El Hispanic News, and the Woodburn Independent.

Founded in 1985, PCUN is Oregon’s largest Latino organization; 98 percent of its 5,700 members are Mexican and Central American immigrants. Sorted and cataloged into ten boxes, the record of PCUN’s history can be traced in photographs, radio recordings, video, newspaper clippings, newsletters, documents, and even T-shirts and posters—an archive that is in the process of being transferred to the UO’s Knight Library Special Collections.

“We deeded the archive to Knight Library because they offered,” says Larry Kleinman, PCUN’s secretary-treasurer. “We don’t have the capacity to effectively preserve and make it accessible, and . . . it furthers our vision of broader and deeper bonds of collaboration between the Latino community and the UO.”

Kleinman hopes the archive will increase communication and understanding about PCUN and its members; history underscores the value of such interaction. The 1992 incident was the first fatal shooting in Woodburn since a burglary suspect, also Latino, was killed outside a motel in 1983. That shooting, Kleinman says, also sparked backlash from the community, fueled by simmering anger about perceived discrimination in police patrols (today known as profiling).

The Willamette Valley Immigration Project, an ancestor of PCUN, started an organization called Community United for Justice that worked from approximately 1983 to 1986, documenting police profiling and demanding accountability.

Just two years after the 1992 shooting, Ken Wright of the Woodburn police visited Mexico and noticed the local people hanging out in the town square on Sundays, socializing and taking in the scene. This “triggered an epiphany” about the downtown area back home, Kleinman says. “Wright adopted a ‘community policing’ approach and assigned officers to walk the downtown beat and just talk to people, and he paid attention to profiling.”

Communication between the police and PCUN improved such that a few years later, at the time of the Dominguez shooting in 1992, “when we called [Wright] to share the expressions of concern, he immediately released the investigative files and personally represented the department at the community forum we organized,” Kleinman says. “Not all concerns were resolved, but the community was satisfied that they had been heard and that misinformation was clarified.” Kleinman characterizes PCUN’s relationship with the current Woodburn police chief, Scott Russell, as “excellent,” noting that Russell “has fully implemented community policing.”

In June 2011, PCUN president Ramon Ramirez signed the deed of gift for the PCUN papers at a UO celebration that included music, dancing, and the voices of children—not the kind of activity one expects at a library archive. “There were people at the event who had never been to the UO campus,” says James Fox, head of the library’s Special Collections and University Archives. “Hopefully this is the beginning of a new relationship.”

That gathering and the transfer of the archives was a catalyst to bring together several ongoing initiatives at the UO and in the community to form the Oregon Latino Heritage Collaborative, which had its first official meeting at the UO in December. Its mission: “Opening new avenues to preserve, share, research, study, and narrate Latino communities’ history as Oregon and American history.”

“It’s important for communities that have traditionally been marginalized to know that this is a place where they belong,” says Fox. “This is an effort by many at the University of Oregon to say that this [Latino] history is a long history in the state of Oregon, and it’s an important history in the state of Oregon. The University is strengthening this relationship and creating a welcoming environment—hopefully letting students and families know that their history is important to the UO.”

“The fact that our University takes interest and pride in acquiring these archives sends a clear signal to these communities that the UO is open and willing to embrace the existent diversity in our state,” says Gabriela Martinez, an associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication who worked closely with Fox and PCUN to bring the archive to the UO. “It also acknowledges the fact that these communities are growing, and soon we will have more students in our classrooms that come from those communities. For those students it will be important to have access to a part of their history.”

—Zanne Miller, MS ’97

Dorothea Lange in Oregon

Photo: Neglected baby, parked in truck
DOROTHEA LANGE, FARM SECURITY ADMINISTRATION CAMP, MERRILL, KLAMATH COUNTY, OREGON, OCTOBER 27, 1939.
“Neglected baby, parked in truck in which they came from Mississippi. Father drunk, mother sleeping, 3 p.m., in dirty tent. There is another 5-weeks-old baby. (Attention called to this by camp nurse.)” —Dorothea Lange
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.”

This quotation from Francis Bacon hung on photographer Dorothea Lange’s darkroom wall, and succinctly articulates the philosophy with which she approached her subjects, documenting rural American life in the 1930s in photographs that have become iconic images through which we understand the Great Depression.

Nearly five decades before PCUN was founded to represent the mostly Latino farm workers who are central to Oregon’s agricultural economy, Lange, employed by the Farm Security Administration, turned her lens on the rural families and migrant workers of the Willamette Valley, Columbia Basin, and Josephine, Klamath, and Malheur Counties.

Lange produced some 550 photographs in Oregon in the late summer and early fall of 1939, forty-eight of which were included in the traveling exhibition Dorothea Lange in Oregon, organized by the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission and mounted at the UO’s Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics last winter. “We wanted to examine the policies of the 1930s, the New Deal policies that tried to help people who were unemployed and dislocated,” said Morse Center director Margaret Hallock, who brought the exhibition to campus. Taken during the time when the center’s namesake, Wayne Morse, was dean of the School of Law, the images serve as a poignant reminder of the state’s history and the roles migrant and immigrant workers played in the development of Oregon’s culture and economy.

—Ann Wiens

Web Extra View an annotated slideshow of Lange's images of Oregon.




CAMPUS
Booking Matt Arena
The man behind the curtain at the UO’s 12,000-seat events facility

Photo: Cirque du Soleil performing their touring show Dralion at Matthew Knight Arena, 2011
PHOTO COURTESY MIKE DUNCAN
Off the Wall Cirque du Soleil performing their touring show Dralion at Matthew Knight Arena, 2011

The lights go down inside Matthew Knight Arena in that singular moment of anticipation just before the concert begins—the roar of the crowd reaches a crescendo, an electric storm of excitement howling in the cavernous space.

Watching from a perch somewhere in the shadows, Mike Duncan ’80 feels his own kind of charge as he surveys the buzzing mass, sometimes 12,000 strong.

“Somebody comes out on stage and you see the whole building stand up and start clapping and just explode. The fun part is knowing that you were involved in making that happen,” says Duncan, senior associate athletic director for facilities, events, and operations.

His title is a mouthful, but as ringmaster for the University’s biggest indoor stage, Duncan’s primary responsibility—and the thing he most enjoys—is clear: “Bringing great events to town.”

Since opening in January 2011 as the replacement for historic McArthur Court, the gleaming, metal- and glass-clad Matthew Knight Arena has hosted an impressive roster of major-league entertainment events including rock icon Elton John, gravity-taunting acrobatic troupe Cirque du Soleil, country music chart-toppers Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum, the “Nike Clash of the Champions” tennis exhibition, and adrenaline-pumping displays put on by World Wrestling Entertainment and the Professional Bull Riders series.

The variety and quality of events booked so far are a credit to Duncan and his two decades of experience working in a similar capacity at ARCO Arena (now Power Balance Pavilion) in Sacramento, California.

“We did everything down there, about 200 events a year. Concerts from the Rolling Stones to U2 to Garth Brooks, almost every major artist you can think of,” Duncan says. “We also hosted the NCAA basketball tournament, the women’s volleyball final four, some great NBA playoff games, governors’ inaugurations, all kinds of things.”

Though plans for Matthew Knight Arena don’t call for quite that much activity, expect a similar breadth of events extending far beyond UO basketball and volleyball games. And the arena, which seats 12,369 for sports, can morph to meet most any need. Banks of seats retract to increase floor space; a giant grid of steel rigging overhead supports almost any conceivable equipment load; for smaller crowds, curtains hide empty upper-level tiers to create a more intimate space of about 5,500 seats; and subterranean loading docks allow big rigs access to the main floor for fast event setup and breakdown.

“We can configure it many different ways according to the event,” says Duncan, who joined the UO intercollegiate athletics department in October 2008 and consulted on some design issues before arena construction began in February 2009.

Nonsports events were a long-term priority from the earliest days of planning for the new arena, but the potential financial impact of these events has proved to be a moving target.

“Originally, we were looking at doing around forty [non-UO sports] events a year. We were short of that the first year, and I expect we’re going to be short of it this year, too,” Duncan admits.

In fact, the athletics department announced in February that it had trimmed its initial ticket revenue projections (set in 2010), including a 15 percent reduction for men’s and 25 percent cut for women’s basketball, and more than 30 percent less for concerts and other outside events.

Basketball game attendance was lower than expected, especially early in the first full season of play at the new arena, when it appeared both teams were in “rebuilding” mode. Real and perceived parking and transportation challenges in the arena district may have kept away some people. And, ironically, outstanding back-to-back seasons for the UO football team might have curbed the emotional and financial investment fans were willing to make in basketball. This plus the ongoing weak economy.

Despite the shortfall, Duncan says, “I think everybody was happy with the way things went the first year. I would like to have seen more concerts, and we will as the building matures and as promoters and agents see that people are buying tickets in Eugene.”

The most notable early successes were the sold-out concerts by Elton John and Brad Paisley, and the tennis exhibition featuring Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. Cirque du Soleil’s touring show Dralion also testified to the local market’s viability during its eight-show run in June 2011. “Cirque du Soleil took some convincing that the Eugene market would support its show,” Duncan says, “and we surprised them. They did very well.”

Such hits give Duncan a much-needed sales tool as he urges tour decision-makers to seriously consider Eugene. Even with the appeal of Matthew Knight Arena (“I don’t think there’s another university building in the country that can match it,” he says), his booking work was easier at ARCO Arena.

“Tours were going to play Sacramento regardless and they were calling me,” he explains. “In Eugene, it’s a much smaller market and a new building, and everyone doesn’t know we’re here yet. I’m making a lot more phone calls than I have in the past.”

Still, Duncan says he is thrilled to manage his alma mater’s showpiece facility. “I had always hoped to get back to Eugene at some point, so when there was a chance to be a part of building a great new arena here, I couldn’t pass it up.”

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, Duncan earned his undergraduate degree in public relations at Oregon, where he also worked three years as an intern in the sports information office. After graduation, he returned to his hometown and was hired as sports information director at California State University, Sacramento. This job helped springboard him into a community relations position with the Kings when the NBA franchise moved there from Kansas City in 1985. The Kings relocated to the newly built ARCO Arena in 1988 and Duncan joined the facility management side of the business—a role that prepared him for almost anything.

He recalls the challenge of dealing with a Billy Graham crusade, which drew 53,000 inside and outside the 17,000-seat building. And a malfunctioning hockey rink that required an all-nighter of jackhammers and all-hands effort to get the ice frozen and functioning before a San Jose Sharks game. And the famed monster truck Grave Digger smashing into a section of the arena’s retracted seats, requiring another herculean effort to restore the seats to working order before tipoff at a Kings game the next day.

While so far he has avoided such drama at the UO, Duncan has responded to logistical challenges at Knight Arena.

The Oregon men’s basketball team unexpectedly made the College Basketball Invitational last year, and then kept winning, which set up a championship game at home against Creighton—at a time Duncan had reserved to “load in” a bull-riding event.

“So once the basketball game was over we started taking up the floor and retracting the seats, and then brought dirt in all through the night,” Duncan says. “That was tight.”

Cirque du Soleil made a second Eugene appearance in November 2011, when it brought its Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour to town. The ambitious spectacle of music, acrobatics, and multimedia arrived via thirty-seven semi trucks loaded with equipment. “It was the biggest show I’ve ever been involved with,” Duncan says. “That definitely tested the capacities of the building.”

Pleased with the arena’s performance through everything so far, Duncan now is focused on booking a greater mix of concerts.

“I’ll go after anything that will sell tickets,” he says.

The current Van Halen reunion tour would be a candidate, but such high-profile arena tours typically play only the biggest, most lucrative venues. Van Halen’s initial 2012 tour lineup included about forty shows with just one Northwest stop, the 21,000-seat Tacoma Dome.

“If there’s a tour that’s going to play thirty or forty dates, it’s probably not going to get to Eugene,” Duncan explains. “But there are a lot of acts that will play eighty to 100 dates and are looking for 6,000 to 10,000 seats; those are the kind we can bring in.”

After managing 600 to 700 concerts during his years in Sacramento, Duncan says, “There aren’t many shows I haven’t had the chance to see.” But he’ll still feel the charge the next time the lights dim and Matthew Knight Arena starts to rock.

—Joel Gorthy ’98




Association of Pacific Rim Universities
Going Global
The UO and its strengthening ties with Asia and the Pacific Rim

Photo: JORDAN SCHNITZER MUSEUM OF ART – DETAIL FROM HAPPY BUDDHA BY IK–JOONG KANG, 2007 (JAMES AND HAYA WALLACE ACQUISITION FUND PURCHASE)

JORDAN SCHNITZER MUSEUM OF ART – DETAIL FROM HAPPY BUDDHA
BY IK–JOONG KANG, 2007 (JAMES AND HAYA WALLACE ACQUISITION FUND PURCHASE)

The spectacular cultural and economic rise of China in recent years and the rapid development of other parts of Asia and the Pacific Rim are fundamentally changing the world in the twenty-first century—altering expectations about balances, alliances, threats, challenges, and opportunities in the spheres of politics, economics, environmental concerns, the military, the arts, and, of course, education. The University of Oregon, its faculty members, and its students are participating in and contributing to these global developments in scores of ways, among them, by hosting a high-profile meeting that will bring top administrators from an organization of forty-two Pacific Rim universities to the UO campus to envision and help shape that opportunity-laden future.

The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), an organization that includes the UO along with other leading Asia-Pacific research universities, will hold its sixteenth annual Presidents Meeting in Eugene, June 27–29.

“The overall conference theme is ‘Shaping Asia-Pacific Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century,’” says former UO vice provost for international affairs Denis Simon, a China innovation specialist instrumental in early planning for the meeting. “But it’s really about relationship building and opening up new areas for cooperation. This is an occasion for the UO to sit at center stage, helping enhance Asian-U.S. relations.”

Dennis Galvan, Simon’s successor, sees the presidents meeting as a great opportunity to foster even more of the kind of cross-cultural learning that has become a hallmark of a UO education. “Many of our students immerse themselves in multiple languages,” he says, noting “a quarter of them take advantage of our study-abroad programs, and in 2009–10 we were ranked fifth in the nation for the number of faculty members going overseas as Fulbright scholars.”

This APRU assembly also fits perfectly with the goals of two of the five “Big Ideas” adopted by the UO in 2009 as a framework to guide the institution in a rapidly changing world. Both of the themes—“The Americas in a Globalized World” and “Global Oregon”—are geared to preparing students and the state for a future of increasingly diverse and globalized markets, research priorities, workplaces, and opportunities.

Galvan lists ways a UO education already reflects APRU goals and ideals—a solid lineup of Japanese university exchange agreements, a program allowing UO students to develop fluency in Mandarin while pursuing most majors, and three wings of the new Global Scholars Hall dedicated to language immersion in Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish—a reminder that APRU also represents several eminent Latin American universities. A presentation at the June meeting will explore possibilities around extending aspects of the UO’s Sustainable Cities Initiative (currently focused on one Oregon city each year) in a partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing.

UO Interim President Robert Berdahl is uniquely connected to and familiar with APRU. While serving as chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley in 1997, he was instrumental in helping shape APRU at its inception and was active throughout its developing years.

 “It’s important for Asian institutions to consider the high quality of education at universities such as Oregon,” Berdahl says. “The APRU’s presence here allows us to celebrate the increasing globalization of universities and showcase the many fine qualities that the UO has to offer in this arena. There’s an awful lot of talent here.”

The timing of the APRU event should show Eugene at its best: the three-day meeting coincides with the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in track and field and the Oregon Bach Festival, all under (fingers crossed) sunny June skies. And while attendees may be able to work in a few hours enjoying these cultural and athletic offerings, it is the University’s academic infrastructure that has brought the meeting to Eugene.

Jeffrey Hanes, director of the UO’s Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, explains how the center’s programs have long been cultivating two-way cooperation. “Since 1987, we’ve been arranging for scholars and distinguished figures from the Asia-Pacific region to come here,” Hanes says, “but we’ve also fostered collaborative research overseas, and helped UO colleges train professionals for doing business in East Asia.”

The percentage of international undergraduates enrolling at the UO in recent years has shot up well beyond the national average. This year, approximately 2,700 students from abroad attend the UO, with three-quarters of them coming from Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific region. China is the largest single source of international students with about 1,000 currently enrolled.

The American English Institute (AEI), a longstanding UO fixture, serves as a kind of port of entry for most incoming Pacific Rim students and reflects the trend toward ever more global interaction. The institute helps students learn English and teachers improve the ways they teach English, all in an environment of cultural exchange and increased understanding. The number of undergraduates being served by AEI has increased dramatically over the past several years, from 137 in fall 2005 to 717 as 2012 began.

Another dimension to the UO’s Asian outreach was added in fall 2010 with the inauguration of the Confucius Institute for Global China Studies (UOCI), funded by the Chinese Language Council, in partnership with East China Normal University in Shanghai.

“The China specialist faculty members that make up our advisory board decided to focus its programming on understanding China’s emerging global impact on sustainable technology, international media, and its presence in Africa and South America,” reports history professor Bryna Goodman, who directs UO Asian studies and serves as UOCI’s executive director. “Faculty initiatives across our campus in architecture, geography, physics, and information sciences are building direct links with Chinese institutions.”

On the level of broadening cultural knowledge, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art has been cultivating appreciation of the Pacific Rim for nearly a century. Anne Rose Kitagawa, chief curator of collections and Asian art, explains how in 1921, “Over 3,000 precious and finely crafted objects gifted by Gertrude Bass Warner in memory of her late husband firmly established the UO as a leader in trans-Pacific erudition.” The Murray Warner Collection eventually became the foundation for the extensive Asian holdings the museum treasures and displays today. Augmenting the collection, the museum’s active program of changing exhibitions “reflects both the ever-evolving artistic sensibilities and long-held traditions of East Asia,” Kitagawa says.

As China and other Asian and Pacific Rim countries continue to increase their presence in global economic, social, industrial, and cultural spheres, the UO’s ongoing connections and relationships with students, faculty members, and administrators at the APRU member institutions are likely to become even more important than they are currently. Sharing our successes with a who’s who of Pacific Rim university presidents may go a long way in fostering such relations.

—Joe Lieberman

What’s up for Pac-Rim students and alumni

When Pacific Rim students leave the campus, they’re not just “gone and forgotten,” says Cynthia Stenger Riplinger, MA ’01, assistant director for international outreach at the University Development office. She has been expanding the UO’s alumni relations activities, including the annual International Alumni News, a newsletter currently distributed to nearly 15,000 Ducks worldwide. She expects the publication to evolve into a global electronic e-newsletter in the near future, opening possibilities to even wider dissemination of news from the UO campus.

Upon returning to home countries, students wishing to meet with fellow Oregon graduates have officially recognized alumni chapters in Japan and Korea, two countries with long ties to the UO. But with the large influx of Asian and Pacific Rim students from beyond those countries in recent years, opportunities appear to be broadening. “Informal alumni groups are forming in China, Indonesia, and Singapore,” Riplinger reports.  

And what about opportunities while on campus? Anselmo Villanueva, PhD ’92, a UO ethnic studies instructor, points out that “Currently at the UO, Pacific Rim undergrads have organizations such as the Asian–Pacific American Student Union, Vietnamese Student Union, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans for Higher Education, People of the Pacific, Hawaii Club, and Kultura Pilipinas.”

With the UO Alumni Association’s full support, Villanueva has been developing an “Asian–Pacific American (APA) Chapter” for U.S.-born Asian–Americans and Pacific Islanders to further complement these existing student groups.

“Alumni can do things like recruit more APA freshmen and fund scholarships,” he says. “The UO helped get us to where we are now, and many of us enjoy finding ways to give back.”

—JL

Interested in international alumni news? Visit uoalumni.com/inews.


Power and Light
UO architect manipulates sunlight and shade with energy-saving results

Photo: Ihab Elzeyadi and his innovative, eco-friendly awning.
JOHN BAUGUESS
Catching Some Rays Ihab Elzeyadi and his innovative, eco-friendly awning.

Growing up in Cairo, Egypt, UO associate professor of architecture Ihab Elzeyadi knew well the searing power of the North African sun. As a boy, he also experienced the relief found in pools of deep shade.

“I love the light,” says Elzeyadi, “but when you grow up in Egypt, you really want to be in the shade.”

It’s no wonder, then, that his UO research lies at the intersection of sunlight and shadow.

Collaborating with Frank Vignola, MS ’69, PhD ’75, director of the UO’s Solar Radiation Monitoring Lab as well as its Solar Energy Center, Elzeyadi has developed a solar awning that resembles the gleaming wing of a sun-powered aircraft and is capable of reducing a building’s energy consumption in several innovative ways. Mounted to the outside of a building, the solar awning works in conjunction with a daylight optical reflector (think light shelf) that extends inside the building. The reflector bounces natural light twenty feet into the interior, reducing the need for electric lighting during the day by as much as 80 percent.

“By incorporating the reflector, we were able to avoid a problem common to most fixed shading systems: so much sun is blocked that daylight is diminished and electrical lighting is needed indoors during the daytime,” Elzeyadi says.

The awning’s photovoltaic solar panels generate electricity that powers low-energy LED lights embedded in the optical reflector, providing interior lighting after dark. And on sunny days, the shade provided by the awning lowers the temperature of the building’s exterior by an average of 45 percent, reducing the energy needed for cooling.

This multipronged approach to energy conservation in buildings is especially important in the United States, where buildings of all types gobble a whopping 40 percent of the total energy used (including 75 percent of the total electricity consumed), and energy costs have climbed an average of 2.5 percent annually since 2000.

Thanks in part to a small grant from the Oregon University System (OUS), which was looking for ways to incorporate solar energy generation into campus buildings, the solar awning is now more than just a sketch or research model sitting on a university lab bench; it is a sixty-foot-long operational prototype installed on the UO campus. For two years, the awning has been mounted outside the glass-walled corridor of the Onyx Bridge building. A computer screen nearby displays real-time energy production and consumption levels, indoor and outdoor climate data, lighting levels, and more.

“This awning was exactly what we were hoping to accomplish,” says Bob Simonton, OUS vice chancellor of capital and facilities planning, who helped secure the initial funding. “Faculty designed it and partnered with local companies to manufacture it, students helped test its performance, and now it’s an interactive teaching tool. So it was a perfect project.”

In performance tests, the prototype generates more than 80 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. Factoring in the awning’s shading and lighting features, total energy reduction saves $45 per year for every linear foot of installed awning. And the estimated payback time for awnings installed on commercial buildings is four to five years using current local and federal tax incentives.

The prototype is at the heart of a new UO spinoff company, Innovative Invironments, which is working to commercialize what’s now called the SolarStream Awning.

Paul Clark, MBA ’11, and Doug Anderson, MBA ’11, who worked with the UO Center for Sustainable Business Practices, joined Elzeyadi last March to help the fledgling company negotiate the critical path from lab to market.

The SolarStream Awning was named a Northwest semifinalist in the annual Cleantech Open venture capital competition, commonly referred to as the Academy Awards of clean technology.

Clark, who also holds degrees in mechanical engineering and industrial design, and provides technical consulting to Innovative Invironments, says his UO MBA has been invaluable at the developing company.

“Understanding energy tax incentives is a huge piece of any business involved in green energy, and that was covered at the Center [for Sustainable Business Practices],” he says. “And at the Cleantech Open, we had to explain not only why our product was green, but how it would be manufactured using a green supply chain, so the center’s emphasis on industrial ecology also came in handy.”

Innovative Invironments plans to target an untapped market called façade-integrated solar—energy produced from solar collectors on buildings’ exterior walls.

“Almost as much sun strikes the south and west sides of a building as strikes the rooftop,” says Elzeyadi. “So if you can capitalize on all these areas and reduce energy use through passive systems, you can easily drive a building toward net-zero energy use.”

While rooftop solar is a mature market, façade-integrated solar is wide open because so few products are on the market. The company hopes the SolarStream will change this situation; it is working with the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center, a state economic development engine that helps transform university research into new clean technology “cleantech” jobs, to fast-track commercialization of the awning.

Although small, Innovative Invironments is thinking big. Elzeyadi has plans to develop other façade-integrated products at the High Performance Environments Lab at the UO, including shading devices and building materials capable of changing with the weather by using biomimicry, or technologies that mimic biological functions. Imagine shades based on the constantly adjusting iris of an eye, or a wall that helps cool a building the way skin helps cool some organisms.

As the Earth’s climate continues to change, from Cairo to Caracas to Coburg, innovating smart environments will be increasingly critical. As the SolarStream attests, Elzeyadi and his colleagues are already on it.

—Gregg Kleiner

Web Extra: Learn more about Ihab Elzeyadi, the solar awning, and green jobs in Oregon




THE BEST . . .
. . . Bench

 

Photo: Dillon Pilorget sitting on the north campus bench.
JOHN BAUGUESS

As enrollment rises and construction projects keep pace, the University of Oregon campus is increasingly filled with the roar of Caterpillar bulldozers and the bumping and bustling of sneaker-to-sneaker traffic. For a study-worn student, refuge can be harder to find than an OSU Beavers T-shirt. But in a little-known haven, set off by a grove of ancient trees, a bench awaits that offers an on-campus escape.

The bench can be found in the alternating shadows of Villard and Lawrence Halls, settled against the fern and rhododendron border of north campus. A carpet of soft grass extends out in front and squirrels bound across it like gazelles on a plain. Tall trees block nearby buildings from view and evoke a sense of cradled seclusion.

Participants in a 1999 sustainability conference created the bench and its unusual natural design. The smoothly contoured sitting surface is made of an earthy mix of cement and tiny pebbles with bits of hay. A bamboo lean-to, like the product of some Amazonian carpenter, shields those seeking shelter from both the hot summer sun and the Oregon rain. With its easy aesthetics and organic construction, the bench is functional art; twenty-seven hand-painted tiles are embedded in the seatback, splashing vivid color onto the bench’s neutral mocha. One tile depicts a smiling face, something I can’t help but mirror whenever I retreat there.

The bench invites weary visitors into the wild that waits in the heart of campus. It is a quick transport from the University’s busy blocks to a quiet corner of the forest. Birds chirp cheerily in the evergreen canopy above the bench, while the sounds of Franklin Boulevard drift in from behind, a sweetly muffled midday lullaby that brings on a drowsiness I’ve slipped into on several occasions

—Dillon Pilorget

“The Best . . .” is a series of student-written essays describing superlative aspects of campus. Dillon Pilorget is a journalism major in his junior year.




Image: Around the block, the UO in Portland

Ideas Worth Spreading

Photo: Still image from the video “Finding Portland,” presented at the TEDxPortland 2012 conference.
UNCAGE THE SOUL VIDEO PRODUCTION
Still image from the video “Finding Portland,” presented at the TEDxPortland 2012 conference.
The University and TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) have much in common. Both are wholeheartedly dedicated to the advancement of new ideas; both celebrate big thoughts and exceptional artistry; both are made stronger by the power of inspiration that places such as conferences and campuses can engender. And, it must be said, both know how to party, as was evident at the TEDxPortland launch event, which filled the White Stag Block with local art, great beer, and the sounds of DJ Gemo late into the night.

TED, the nonprofit organization that began in 1984 as a one-time Silicon Valley conference on technology, entertainment, and design, is dedicated to advancing “ideas worth spreading” across the globe. It’s an idea that’s both familiar and inspiring to the University, which teamed up with the second TEDxPortland event as its presenting partner.

TED is perhaps best known today for the “TED Talks” that form the centerpiece of its highly touted annual conferences. Presenters are given a stage, a projection screen, and eighteen minutes in which to give a curiosity-stimulating, awe-inspiring mini-lecture. So when TEDxPortland 2012 chose the phrase “Uncharted Territory” as the theme of its April 21 event, it gathered sixteen speakers from across the city and beyond to share stories and insights into the nature of the unknown, including the University’s own Jessica Green, a TED Senior Fellow and UO associate professor of biology recognized for her work with microorganisms. Also included in the lineup was Mercy Corps’ global gender advisor, two innovative filmmakers, a cubist artist, Portland mayor Sam Adams ’02, a coinventor of wiki collaborative technology, a BASE parachute jumper, and an eleven-year-old skateboard designer.

In the tradition of TED, the talks have been made available online, so audiences well beyond Portland can experience and enjoy them. And enjoy them you should, if only because, in the words of the TED website, “Every so often it makes sense to emerge from the trenches we dig for a living, and ascend to a 30,000-foot view, where we see, to our astonishment, an intricately interconnected whole.”

—Mindy Moreland, MS ’08

See more events at the White Stag Block

Web Extra: View the stunning time-lapse video “Finding Portland” by Portland-based TEDxPortland presenters Uncage the Soul Production

 




PROFile
David Wacks
Associate Professor of Spanish


Photo: David Wacks, Associate Professor of Spanish
JOHN BAUGUESS

For David Wacks, teaching isn’t all that different from scattering seeds in a freshly plowed field.

“Some of them sprout, some of them don’t,” he says, “but when one does, it’s really great.”

One good seed, Katelyn Mason ’09, worked with Wacks on her undergraduate thesis for the Robert Donald Clark Honors College. Intrigued by Wacks’s course Islam in Spain, Mason asked about potential thesis topics. He suggested she look at a story on Christ’s birth as recorded by seventeenth-century Spanish Muslims. 

He told her, “You know, none of this stuff has ever been translated into English. Why don’t you try to do this?”

Mason did and, with Wacks’s guidance, conducted the trailblazing work. The result impressed Wacks who, at an international conference, shared the project with Mercedes García-Arenal, a professor at Spain’s national research institute in Madrid. García-Arenal was, Wacks recalls, “all excited because there hadn’t really ever been interest in that [narrative] before.”

Mason, now a student in the UO School of Law, was similarly thrilled: “Professor Wacks challenged me to do something I didn’t even realize at the time was cutting edge. When I found out that he shared my thesis with the leading scholar in the field, I was completely floored. It’s such an honor.”

Wacks tries to inspire that sort of enthusiasm for research in every class he teaches. His next plan is to build a graduate seminar around a rare collection of approximately 1,000 texts published by Sephardic Jews in Amsterdam and now housed at Knight Library.

“None of these books has been edited since the seventeenth century,” Wacks says. “You ask any specialist [in the field], they’ve never heard of this stuff.”

In the graduate seminar, Wacks will have each student adopt one book to translate into English.

“I want to get them to jump into the trenches with me, recovering this type of literature that’s been completely overlooked for hundreds of years,” he says. “I want to bring it back into the discussion of what we talk about when we talk about Spanish books.”

Talking about books isn’t hard for Wacks; stacks of them surround him in his Friendly Hall office. A 1606 Spanish version of the Koran rests on the far left corner of his desk; a recent translation of Don Quixote claims a spot closer to the computer. As for his future book project with graduate students, Wacks, like any avid reader, “can’t wait to dig in.”

Name: David Wacks

Education: AB ’91, Columbia University; MA ’97, Boston College; PhD ’03, University of California at Berkeley.

Teaching Experience: Joined the UO faculty as an assistant professor in 2003.

Awards: Summer Research Award from the College of Arts and Sciences, 2010; Ernest G. Moll Fellowship in Literary Studies from the Oregon Humanities Center, 2010; Harry Starr Fellowship in Judaica at the Harvard University Center for Jewish Studies, 2006.

Off-Campus: When not teaching or researching, Wacks spends time with his two children, ages five and seven.

Last Word: “If I had students who could talk for an hour, I would listen to them talk for an hour. I really like listening to them react to the text.”

—Elisabeth Kramer



In Brief

Photo: Artist’s conception of the propoesed Oregon Research Institute and the Educational Policy Improvement Center building.
COURTESY TRAMMEL CROW COMPANY
Artist’s conception of the $17 million, 80,000-square-foot building now under construction in the UO Riverfront Research Park. The building will serve as the future home of two nonprofit organizations with strong UO ties, the Oregon Research Institute and the Educational Policy Improvement Center.



Economic Engine

According to a new fifteen-page study by economist Tim Duy, MS ’98, PhD ’98, the UO makes a total economic contribution to the Oregon economy of an estimated $2.12 billion (up $125 million from last year), produces $37.79 in economic impact for every dollar it receives in state appropriations, and accounts for $1 out of every $82 in Oregon’s economy.



High Rankings for Law and Education

According to U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, the UO College of Education remains the number three–ranked program among public institutions (eighth overall). The college’s special education program ranked number three among all schools (number two among public institutions). COE’s faculty was also recognized as tops among education schools—public or private—for funded research per faculty member ($1,096,900, for a total of $35.1 million).

The law school has three top ten–ranked programs: the appropriate dispute resolution program (six), the environmental and natural resources law program (six), and legal research and writing (five). Overall, the UO School of Law tied for number eight on the West Coast, out of twenty-five programs included in the rankings.



New Partnership Update

Oregon legislators voted this spring to create a Special Committee on University Governance. The committee—which will describe local authorities’ powers that could include bonding, hiring and firing university presidents, and controlling tuition—will issue a final report by November 1. The legislature is expected to act on governance next year.



Campus Kudos

Interim UO president Robert Berdahl has been named a corecipient of the 2012 Clark Kerr Award from the University of California at Berkeley, given to individuals who have made “extraordinary and distinguished contributions” to higher education.

Volcanologist Katharine V. Cashman, the Philip H. Knight Distinguished Professor of Natural Science, has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Biologist Cris Niell, a member of the UO Institute of Neuroscience, has won a Sloan Research Fellowship for early-career scientists.

Biologist Eric Selker, a member of the Institute of Molecular Biology, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, joining seven other UO scientists on the prestigious academy’s active membership list.



No Pistol Packing

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education approved a new policy for the public university campuses, including the UO, prohibiting (with a few exceptions) the possession of firearms on university-owned or -controlled property—even for those with concealed handgun licenses.




Web Exclusive
Click here to open Oregon Quarterly's digital edition
SLIDESHOW | View a slideshow of photos from the exhibit “Dorothea Lange in Oregon.
VIDEO | Watch Leland Roth’s lecture “Marion Dean Ross: A Man Who Left a Hole in the Water.
VIDEO | Watch a video about Ihab Elzeyadi, the solar awning, and green jobs in Oregon
VIDEO | Watch the stunning time-lapse video “Finding Portland” by Uncage the Soul Video Production.
ESSAYS | read more Northwest Perspectives Essay Contest winners and finalists.
FLIPBOOK | View one of Ken O’Connell’s sketchbooks in its entirety.
VIDEO | UO business major Simon Blatz talks about Blue Dog Mead, a Eugene company he helped launch.




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