Cheers — to the Oregon Ducks football team, as it prepares to keep its No. 1 national ranking intact against Pac-10 rival Arizona in Autzen Stadium today. And a belated cheer — yes, a cheer — to Scott Woodward, University of Washington athletic director — yes, the dreaded Huskies — for remarks he made earlier this month about U of O's academic quality.

Cheers — to the Oregon Ducks football team, as it prepares to keep its No. 1 national ranking intact against Pac-10 rival Arizona in Autzen Stadium today. And a belated cheer — yes, a cheer — to Scott Woodward, University of Washington athletic director — yes, the dreaded Huskies — for remarks he made earlier this month about U of O's academic quality.

Woodward apologized for the remarks, once on his own and again at the insistence of UW's president. But we cheer him because he spoke the truth.

"It's an embarrassment what their academic institution is, and what's happened to them as far as their state funding has gone," Woodward said before the Duck-Husky game Nov. 6. Later the same day he told the Seattle Times, "It's embarrassing at the level that the state supports this once-great academic university because it's gone way down in academic standing because of the enormous lack of support over the decades."

The Ducks' stellar accomplishments on the gridiron and their soon-to-be expanded athletic complex courtesy of the ever-generous Phil Knight notwithstanding, the fact is this state has shortchanged all its institutions of higher learning for years. The Legislature should take Woodward's words to heart and give Oregon's university system more flexibility to shape its own destiny.

Cheers — to Sen. Ron Wyden's staff for getting the job done on behalf of Vanessa Driskell, the young Rogue River woman who could not obtain a driver's license or a passport because the U.S. military lost her birth certificate in the chaos following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines 19 years ago. Cheers also to the National Archives staff who kept looking until they found the certificate among base closure documents stored in a warehouse in Illinois.

Jeers — to the rigidity of the bureacracy that made Driskell's life so difficult for so long, insisting that she produce a document she had never possessed in order to be recognized as a citizen. She was born to American citizens at Clark Air Force Base, where her father was serving his country in uniform, but that wasn't good enough for the government.

Cheers — to John Lawson, a cook at the Black Bear Diner who performed the Heimlich maneuver on a customer who was suffering a panic attack, restoring her breathing until emergency crews could reach the restaurant. Lawson downplayed his actions, but he reacted quickly and decisively, applying a technique he had never performed or even been trained to do.

Cheers — to Dakota Garza of Medford, for winning a national $10,000 Beat the Odds scholarship from Stand for Children's Leadership Center and a $6,000 Future First Citizens scholarship from The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County. Garza has overcome tremendous obstacles in her 17 years, works to support herself and lives independently with help from the Community Works' Transitional Living Program, all while maintaining a 3.75 GPA.