United Academics Outstanding Contributions Award Winners

United Academics Strong Voice Award Nomination 

We, the undersigned, are nominating our colleagues Elizabeth Peterson, Kate Thornhill, and Ann Shaffer for the United Academics Strong Voice Award. While many union members showed extraordinary leadership and advocacy this past year, we believe that our librarian colleagues responded to this crisis with fierce resilience and sustained support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Like many career faculty across campus during the 2020 spring and summer terms, 15 librarians were at risk of being demoted to 0.1 FTE due to the administration’s perceived budget shortfalls. Additionally, five librarians who were up for promotion were put in the difficult position of proceeding with that process with the risk of demotion or abandoning their promotion at that time to maintain 1.0 FTE for another year. Since librarians are 12-month career faculty, this immediate reduction to 0.1 FTE would have hit us harder financially and it would have added to the workload of other librarians at an already difficult time. 

Lacking strong and vocal support from within UO Libraries’ administration, Elizabeth, Ann, and Kate convened the faculty librarians to self-organize and mobilize calls for advocacy and support. They created the UO Librarians United website to gather testimonials from students, faculty, staff, and non-campus stakeholders, and they compiled metrics and stories that demonstrate the impact that librarians have for the UO community. Their representation highlighted the unique plight of the FTE reduction for librarian career faculty. 

Their advocacy not only made an impact at UO Libraries, but it also demonstrated the collective power that we have through our union to stand against the unfair decision of the University’s administration. Their work caught the attention of Library Journal and amplified the crisis beyond Eugene to further the union’s pressure on UO administration. 

During the difficult times that led up to the MOU for continued employment and throughout the pandemic, they have been examples of fairness and transparency. They continue to be strong advocates and connections between librarian faculty and United Academics, often working overtime to have one-on-one meetings with librarians to gather feedback for the union. As a group, we convene monthly to review bargaining updates, discuss issues and concerns, and outline better methods for shared governance within UO Libraries. 

Their actions in collaboration with the union have been more than award worthy. Elizabeth, Kate, and Ann were much-needed leaders during a time when many of us were worried about our futures. We hope that they will be seriously considered for the Strong Voice Award. Thank you for your consideration. 

COVID Resilience Award

From early on in the pandemic Dr. Clark has been working tireless to aid the Institute for Policy Research and Engagement, the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management, the University of Oregon, and state and local government partners. Ben has been an integral part of several efforts to keep our campus and community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a partial summary list of his activities.

Surveying and Monitoring: Clark has been the lead investigator and manager of surveying and monitoring work that has positively contributed to keeping Oregon safe. He conducted two surveys in late 2020 that provided the most comprehensive evaluation of what Oregonians have done to protect and their communities. The first survey was distributed to 5,000 UO students and the second surveyed residents of the state of Oregon. This work resulted in the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) pivoting its COVID-19 vaccine marketing and outreach campaigns two days after receiving the survey results. He is currently drafting a follow up survey to the same UO students that will better position the university to safely open in the fall. Next, UO and Lane County Public Health called upon Ben and his team to conduct mask wearing and social distancing surveillance work. His team of 40 graduate and undergraduate students gathered data across Lane County in the fall and have been on the UO campus since before the fall term started and will continue for the school year. The weekly reports he produces are a mainstay of weekly situationally operations updates across the UO campus, and have helped keep our community safe.

Planning for Recovery: Ben has been a co-author of produced two policy briefs to guide the state’s response and recovery to COVID. The first brief provided state and local leaders with a framework for a more resilient and equitable response to the pandemic. Next, he was the lead author on a cost and capacity analysis that provided the only known assessment of testing and tracing needs to keep the state and university safe during the pandemic. His work aided UO’s successful grant applications for state and federal aid to fight the pandemic and lead to staffing changes for Lane County’s Public Health contract tracing team.

UO IMT staffing: Ben has been participating in and supporting the UO IMT Community Recovery Branch since it was created in 2020. He has been participating in weekly coordination meetings of public, private, and nonprofit sector actors. His efforts on the Community Recovery Branch has helped to connect UO resources to our community partners in need and has helped to build a more equitable and resilient community response. He has directed provided aid through this team to Lane County, Eugene, Springfield, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Lane Education Services District (ESD).

Classroom Learning: Ben integrated a number of classroom exercises to help students in his graduate public administration courses learn from the pandemic and help them become more resilient leaders in the future? In 2020 a student groups worked with Dr. Clark to help gather information on what was and wasn’t working for Lane County government’s leaders as their employees quickly pivoted from office to remote work. A second group worked to better understand the quickly evolving best practices in returning to work, so that Lane Co.’s government would be better prepared for this eventuality.

He has done this work in service of his community, to build a better future, and  give students learning opportunities despite the setbacks that COVID-19 has produced.

COVID Resilience Award

I would like to nominate Martha Bayless for the COVID Resilience Award – for United Academics members who were bright spots for others in the face of a global pandemic. 

At the beginning of the pandemic when we were all suddenly shifting our work to the computer screen while trying not to get lost thinking about all the vulnerable folks in our families and communities, Martha generously shared with any colleague who was interested tips on how to set up and teach an online course that not only helped me be ready to start teaching remotely last spring term but also, I am confident, contributed to me receiving an Excellence in Remote Teaching Award this past fall. Her guidance has been cited as being essential to developing remote courses that are at the same time engaging and also survivable in terms of workload (I know, dramatic) by one colleague or another in most department meetings in my unit this past year. And, I am sure her generosity extends well beyond Romance languages (given that she is faculty in English). 

COVID Resilience Award

I would like to nominate Kara Clevinger for the COVID Resilience Award. Kara is a senior instructor in the English Department and is currently serving as the English Department’s Assistant Department Head. She been a tireless advocate for both students and faculty within our department and beyond, and she brings an infectious positivity and enthusiasm to every aspect of her work. As the assistant department head, she has gone way, way above and beyond the call of duty to help me and my colleagues prepare for promotion by offering comprehensive, critical, and yet always supportive advice and offering clear, transparent recommendations for navigating this university’s often opaque, frustratingly bureaucratic mechanisms. She is one of the two founding members of the Composition Program’s Online Writing Working Group and has been foundational to developing rigorous, accessible, and engaging fully online, asynchronous writing courses and remote teaching. As a pioneer of online learning within the English Department, she offered invaluable support to our department faculty and GEs last spring as the university transitioned into fully remote teaching and learning. She has recently been formally recognized for her incredible work, having been awarded a UO Remote Teaching award and featured on UO’s Around the O blog. In short, she is and has been one of the brightest, shiniest spots during this COVID-19 pandemic. In my humble opinion, she deserves this award more than anyone else I know.

COVID Resilience Award

I would like to nominate my esteemed colleague Heather Quarles for the COVID Resilience Award. When I came back to teaching in the Department of Romance Languages this fall, I was returning from a two-year leave in Tokyo, where I had been teaching (and living) in a completely new and different context. I felt like a fish out of water. Throughout this year, Heather has generously shared course materials with me — including two entire hybrid Canvas courses she had entirely developed from scratch — and is always available via email, Teams or text to support me or cheer me on with any question or concern I might have. To call her a “bright spot” during the pandemic is an understatement — she has been the sunshine and rain to this here little wilting flower: an incredibly kind, patient, and encouraging mentor. 

I have worked side-by-side with Heather for over 15 years, and my experience with her this year is par for the course. Heather is an incredibly hardworking and dedicated colleague, who consistently goes above and beyond for the good of our academic community (and world). In her 2020-2021 curriculum, I see persistent evidence of how she connects student with other departments, institutions, and events on campus and in the local community — tirelessly working to create connections and build community, an incredible feat during the pandemic. Furthermore, this year, in conjunction with Bronwen Maxon (sp?) from the library, she and her students created a bilingual interactive UO campus map, literally and metaphorically mapping underrepresented voices onto our geography. 

To be honest, if I could have nominated Heather for both the Strong Voice and COVID Resilience Awards, I would have. However, I wanted to underscore how she has been able to take the terrible situation that is the pandemic, and continue to provide nurturing and nourishing educational experiences for both her students and colleagues.

Outstanding Service and Contribution to United Academics Award

Our union is the manifestation of our solidarity with one another. It is the sum of who we are. Our passions, our dreams, our frustrations, and our success. Given the collective nature of a union, no one person can be credited with or blamed for the ever-changing fortunes of United Academics.

That said, there are a vanishingly small number of faculty who can say that there were there at the beginning. Tina Boscha is one of those people. Those who were there, in those meetings in the fall and winter of 2010, know that it cannot be overstated how much we owe Tina for her work, her passion, her energy, her intelligence, her personality, her spirit, her patience, and her friendship. She was often the only NTTF at those early meetings. She had to sit through hours of tenured faculty discussing why they needed a union, what the union could do to improve the lot of the tenured, and how outrageously they were treated. A lesser soul would have been sorely tempted to say a few choice words, walk out, and get on with her life. Not Tina. She was always ready to say, “Yes, we need to fix that, and here’s how it is for the NTT.” First one there, always up, always smiling, always joking, always positive.

She quickly became a leader of the movement because she could speak to what we needed as a faculty, and what she said was always on point. As faculty, we certainly know colleagues who can talk, but we cherish those who can lead. We cherish those who can listen to their colleagues, synthesize disparate viewpoints, and craft a vision for going forward. That is Tina.

There is an iconic United Academics photo of Tina, Deb Olson, and Karen McPherson holding the boxes that contained our union authorization cards before turning them into the Employee Relations Board. These three were selected for that honor because the original organizers recognized that without their work in particular, United Academics would simply not exist.

Tina plans to step away from union leadership for a time, but who she is will always be embedded in the DNA of United Academics.

Administration-Faculty Partnership Award

I nominate Nick Recktenwald for the “Administration-Faculty Partnership Award.” Nick has always exemplified great leadership characteristics: he will lead by doing, he earns the respect of his colleagues time and time again, he stands up to bull-shit administrators that can’t get their head out their ass because they have no on-the-ground-experience, and he knows the damn CBA. All qualities rare to find in leadership positions across our U. I god dang guarantee as Director Reckentwald helms Composition towards a new moment of possibility, he will no doubt fight the good fight as he has done time and again for us. Thank you Nick. It is an honor to know you and work with you.