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Students disrupt speech by University of Oregon president


    University of Oregon President Michael Schill speaks at a rally at the university in Eugene, Ore. Schill is announcing a new anonymous gift of $50 million in his annual State of the University address in Eugene.

EUGENE, Ore. >> A chanting group of students disrupted a speech Friday by the University of Oregon president, who was set to announce a new anonymous gift of $50 million.

The students stormed the stage as President Michael Schill was to give his annual State of the University speech. The students, some holding signs, including one that said “Take back our campus,” were protesting Schill’s leadership, including the treatment of minority students and tuition increases, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

UO officials left the event after the protest began.

Schill was going to provide details about the donation from donors who did not earmark the money. It will be provided over the next five years to be used at Schill’s discretion.

Before the speech was interrupted, Schill had told the Eugene newspaper the money would be used exclusively for “strategic investments,” not for ongoing university operating costs.

“It’s an amazing gift from people who love the university and want to elevate it,” Schill said. “It’s philanthropy that allows us to reach new heights.”

The first five initiatives that will receive money through the donations:

— Nine new endowed chair faculty positions;

— Partial funding for eight new faculty positions for a data science degree program that UO hopes to create;

— The permanent embed of education faculty in 10 Oregon public high schools to provide ongoing training for teachers in the latest theory and research;

— Funding for a tutoring and support staffer at the Black Cultural Center for African-American students and a new media center for science and technology, designed to train students to better write and communicate about scientific subjects.

Schill declined to specify how much the five initiatives will cost, in part because some of them still are under design. But in total, the initiatives will use less than half the $50 million gift, he said.

For the remaining funds, Schill said he’s open to suggestions.

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