UO: ‘We will not be a bubble in your neighborhood’
“The partnerships are just beginning,” Jane Gordon vowed March 2 at the Concordia
Neighborhood Association (CNA) general meeting.
The University of Oregon (UO) vice provost for Portland spoke to more than 50 online participants, and noted she is assigned to oversee the university’s new campus planned for the former Concordia University site.
One day earlier, UO announced its intent to purchase the CU campus to house most of its Portland academic programs and to launch the Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health.
‘We will not be a bubble in your neighborhood at all,” Jane said, adding that connecting with the community is a priority. UO staff, faculty and students on the campus will look for ways to engage in the community, she said, on “issues you’re working on, or ways in which our presence enhances the neighborhood.
“Anything you want us to be thinking about early on, let’s make sure that we know them in the next few months,” she added. “We expect to be in conversations with you.”
Matt Roberts, UO assistant vice president of community relations, said the question he receives most is whether Concordians will have use of the campus recreation and athletic facilities.
“We hope to have an open door, providing it’s not in use by our own students, or facilities are being used for the university’s purpose,” he said. “This will all evolve over time, but we hope to have facilities available to the community in much the same way Concordia did.”
Aside from hosting occasional events, he explained, the new UO campus won’t have its own athletic programs there. So he believes those facilities will be available to local groups.
Jane added that she believes residents will be allowed to use the campus library. “Some of us have completely fallen in love with the children’s library,” she said of what CU left behind.
Meanwhile, principal Karmin Williams of Faubion School – located across Dekum Street from the university campus – said UO representatives have already reached out to her, and she’s enthusiastic about building a partnership.
“There were many parents squealing in delight,” Faubion PTA president Tracee Johnson
added about the previous day’s announcement. “You’ll have a generation of Duck fans for sure.”
Matt expects school districts will be able to beef up their pre-k through high school mental health services with future graduates of the campus’ Ballmer Institute for Children’s Behavioral Health.
“This whole program will be developed over time with best practice research.”
He added that UO expects to form partnerships with Portland and Mount Hood community colleges, and others across the state.
UO estimates the institute will enroll about 200 people on the Concordia neighborhood campus.
Meanwhile, the plan calls for 500 students to move from their academic programs in Old Town at the White Stag Building to the new site. Those programs include master’s degrees in executive business administration, journalism and more, including third-year law classes.
As for a timeline of campus development, Jane said she couldn’t offer one because the university still has to actually purchase the property – with a vote of the university’s board of trustees this month – and then undertake such tasks as facilities inspections.
“It will be a move that makes sense,” Jane said. “We’re not going to rush into moving sooner than we should. Faculty, students, staffs will be smart about the way we occupy space.”
She added that she expects some course offerings this summer, and more this autumn.
“And growing and growing after that.”
– Nancy Varekamp, March 6, 2022