UO faculty union brings back Bunsis, Thursday 6PM

Howard Bunsis is a lawyer, CPA, and professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan, specializing in “forensic accounting”. He’ll be giving a presentation next week on the true state of UO’s finances, extracted from UO’s audited financial statements and the data that UO is required to report to the feds. The Bunsis presentation in 2011 persuaded me and a lot of other faculty to sign union cards.

UO’s VP for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt has told the United Academics union that the university is broke, and can only afford to give faculty a 1% raise over the next 2 years. Now she’s going around telling the department heads the same story. But after 5 years of Brad Shelton’s ever shifting budget model and the many special exceptions Johnson Hall deals out to their friends and relatives, there’s not much trust.

During the 2013 bargaining, the administration’s take-it-or-leave-it offer was 4.5%, spread out over two years. Bunsis showed up at the bargaining session and ran circles around Moffitt. A few months later Sharon Rudnick agreed Bunsis was right, and that there was enough money in the well for 12% cumulative raises. Then Tim Gleason threw in $350 in goat money. Deal.

In short, Howard Bunsis is a dangerous man with a powerpoint. Expect some high-powered bullet points. Show up Thursday May 28, 6-7:30 PM in 115 Lawrence Hall to see if UO is really broke. Open to the public.

Bargaining XII: Parking for jocks not profs, harassment, still no raises

5/21/2015: Bargaining XII

Live blogging will be light, so check the UAUO facebook blog here.

They’re on parking. Check out this classic Daily Emerald story on how UO parking fees from faculty, staff, and students subsidized the Matt Court underground parking garage, here. Then there’s the athlete only parking lot Phil Knight made UO build as part of the Jock Box “gift”. More here, here, ad infinitum.

Now it’s Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Article 36. This was one of Sharon Rudnick and Tim Gleason’s favorite articles last time around. They wanted a loose definition of harassment, which would allow the administration to discipline faculty at their discretion. Cecil and Mauer insisted on using the standard definition of “illegal harassment”. Now Bill Brady and the admin team are trying to bring back the looser definition. What would count? Incivility – as defined by whom? Inappropriate sighing during faculty meetings? Don’t go after me for being ironic, it’s happened:

[Professor of English] Thomas Docherty was banned from the University of Warwick in January for allegedly giving off “negative vibes” and undermining the authority of the former head of his department.

The case against him included “inappropriate sighing”, “making ironic comments” and “projecting negative body language”.

In other news, the administration will make a response to the union’s raise proposal at next Thursday’s session. Be there.

5/14/2015: Bargaining XI: The admins have been telling President Schill that the *union* opposes merit pay?

Cocktail party version:

The faculty union’s initial proposal for 2015-17 pay included 6% for merit. The administration’s bargaining team response was 1%. And yet yesterday President Schill told the Senate that his understanding was that faculty union was opposed to merit pay. I wonder which administrator spun it that way?

Today the union came back with a proposal for 3% for merit. I wonder what the the admins new spin will be.

Overall, including ATB and equity, the union proposal is 5% for 2016 and 5% for 2017. Details at bottom.

5/14/2015: Bargaining in the Knight library collaboration room, 2-6PM Thursday. Check Luebke’s blog too.

Live-blog of the faculty union’s initial salary proposal from Feb is here,  It would have got faculty pay to the Lariviere target of the average AAU-public – with plenty of allowance for merit variation.

Our administration’s response was “sorry, we spent all that money on administrators”:

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The pdf of the union’s February proposal is here. The NTTF and TTF proposals were similar, I’ll focus on the TTF:

July 2015:
2.5% ATB
2.0% Merit
1.0% Internal equity pool for each department
1.5% External equity pool, to be allocated across rank and dept. based on AAU public averages. No external equity raise from this pool to exceed 5%.

July 2016:
2.5% ATB
4.0% Merit

As you can see, the union put a substantial weight on merit. The largest weight. Over the two years, 6% for merit, 2.5% for equity, and 5% for across the board.

Based on his Senate comments yesterday, someone on the administration’s bargaining team seems to have drastically misinformed incoming President Michael Schill about the union’s objectives. He’d apparently been told it was the union that was opposed to merit. No.

On April 10th, the administration’s bargainers came back with a counter-proposal. It would eliminate all but 1% of the union’s proposed merit increases, and delay even that 1% until the last 6 months of the contract. PDF here:

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The administration also eliminated the ATB, and all the equity pool, replacing it with a onetime flat $600. What does that reveal about the administration’s supposed focus on merit?

On equity, the union’s proposal in February was focused on getting faculty to the AAU peer objective laid out by Richard Lariviere and Jim Bean, years ago. Here’s the TTF language:

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2:35 PM today. Cecil presents the union response to the administration’s 0%/1% counter:

Bill Brady says something odd about theApril 0%/1% not being a counter-proposal. He seems upset. Anyway, here’s the union counter to the admin’s counter:

Jan 2016:
2.5% ATB
1.5% Merit
1.0% External equity pool, to be allocated across rank and dept. based on AAU public averages. No external equity raise from this pool to exceed 10%.

Jan 2017:
2.5% ATB
1.5% Merit
1.0% Internal equity pool for each department

Cecil does a great great job explaining all this. The UAUO proposal should be on the website here, soon. (It’s article 26. It also includes 6 year review raises, floors for NTTF’s, etc.)

The admin team leaves for a brief caucus, comes back but with no response. WTF?

I’ve got to go, bargaining XII will be next Th at 2PM, meanwhile check Luebke’s blog.

PAC-12 bosses make millions off unpaid athletes

Steve Berkowitz has the story in USA Today, here. $3.5M for Larry Scott – not bad for running what the IRS still considers to be a non-profit organization:

The conference reported just over $374 million in total revenue for a fiscal year ending June 30, 2014 — a figure that includes income from the wholly conference-owned Pac-12 Networks; the conference’s marketing and media arm, Pac-12 Enterprises; and Pac-12 Broadband Network. (Under IRS rules, a non-profit must report its revenue and expense data based on its fiscal year; but it must report compensation data based on the calendar year completed during its fiscal year).

While the Pac-12’s payouts to its schools have grown substantially during the past two years, the expenses associated with its television and marketing ventures mean that in 2013-14, Pac-12 schools continued to get smaller shares of conference revenues — about $21.2 million per school — than did schools in the Big Ten, which distributed about $27.6 million per school receiving a full share.

Audit of athletic dept risks due this fall – and another cut to Duck subsidies?

The last audit cut the subsidy for the Ducks by $555,227, recurring. How much will this one save?

Back in 2009, two weeks before leaving office, Dave Frohnmayer gave the Ducks a special deal on their overhead assessments for costs like insurance, police, lawyers, etc. They were to pay just 3% versus 6-7% for the rest of UO’s auxiliary operations. After some digging into public records, a petition or two to the Oregon DOJ, a whistleblowing complaint to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Audits Division, and a story in the Oregonian by Steve Duin, in 2012 VPFA Jamie Moffitt finally raised the rate for athletics, and cut it for ASUO student government, etc. Here’s my post from back then:

11/9/2012: UO Matters cuts athletics subsidy by $555,227 a year

Forgive me for bragging a bit: I want this in my service report for post-tenure review. Starting last fall I posted a series of stories on the UO athletic department’s overhead rate, using documents obtained with public records requests and petitions.

While athletics had originally been scheduled to pay 7%, instead they were only paying 3%. Eventually I traced this to a secret agreement between Dave Frohnmayer and his athletic director Pat Kilkenny, signed 2 weeks before Frohnmayer stepped down as Pres. Steve Duin had a good column about it in the Oregonian. Jamie Moffitt knew about this deal, but she and AD Rob Mullens kept the Senate IAC in the dark until the public records requests made her reveal it.

I started digging into overhead after hearing Mullens and Moffitt (at the time in charge of athletics finances) tell the IAC that the athletic department is “self-supporting” – and then finding out their math depended on sticking the academic side with the bill for the Jock Box and the NCAA lawyers. Made me wonder what other crawly things were hiding under that rock. Overhead turned out to be one, though there are plenty of others.

Bob Berdahl tried to shut down the IAC over these sorts of questions. But now UO has a new president, Mike Gottfredson, who has as of today gone up several points in my book, though not a full letter grade. OUS rules forbid overhead subsidies and require that overhead rates be established using an “auditable” procedure. So Moffitt had no choice but to revisit the calculations – especially with a president who wouldn’t look the other way. Today her report came out, here:

Athletics will have to pay $555,227 in new money to UO every year – funds now available for the university’s other functions. Yippee. Of course, this means that they owe us $1,665,681 for the past three years. Not to mention the other millions in subsidies we have paid them and are still paying them. The Mac Court deal, for example, is costing us $467,000 a year. Jock Box tutoring $1,830,000. And there are some other expensive problems with how the new rates are calculated, and what they exclude – mostly things that benefit athletics and cost other units. But this is a start. And a big payoff for UO’s academic side. So next time you hear Dave Hubin complaining about the $50,000 that my public records requests have supposedly cost UO – he still won’t let me see that list – ask him about the benefits.

As the Duck budget has grown from $88M to the current $98M, so has this assessment – it’s now $2,525,825. Is it sufficient to cover the many risks, the legal fees, and other costs they impose on UO?

I don’t know, but on 9/14/2014 the UO Board adopted an plan for internal audits, including one of athletic department risks, estimated to take 300 hours:

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Makes sense, a big-time sports operations includes lots of risks. So are the Ducks paying enough to cover these costs? I emailed UO’s Director of Internal Audit Brenda Muirhead asking for this risk assessment, and received this response:

On Wednesday May 20, 2015, at 7:18 PM, Brenda Muirhead <brendam@uoregon.edu> wrote:

Bill –

The dates on this audit plan are estimates. The project you are inquiring about will begin in June. Once audits are complete, the public records office handles requests for reports.

Brenda Muirhead
Office of Internal Audit

I’ll let you know when I get that information, presumably this fall. Of course this won’t cover all of the costs the athletic department imposes on UO, but it’s a start.

Senate meets on fac-student engagement, policies, diversity

Senate Meeting Agenda – May 20, 2015

115 Lawrence, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

3:00 pm    1.   Call to Order

3:00 pm    2.   Approval of Minutes

3:05 pm    3.   State of the University

3:15 pm    4.   New Business

4.1       US14/15-86: Motion to Amend Policy on Faculty-Student Engagement in UO Courses; Alison Schmitke (Undergrad Degree Program Dir, Education Studies), Chair of the Undergraduate Council

Amended to rescind the entire policy, send back to committee, then passed unanimously.

4.2       US14/15-93: Repeal of Policy on Academic Procedure and Credit (Bonine #495); Monique Balbuena (Associate Professor, Honors College), Chair of the Curriculum & Program Matters Workgroup

Repealed.

4.3       US14/15-94: Repeal of Policy on Guidelines for Foreign Study Programs (Bonine #503); Monique Balbuena (Associate Professor, Honors College), Chair of the Curriculum & Program Matters Workgroup

Repealed

4.4       US14/15-95: Repeal of Policy on Accreditation Reports (Bonine #632); Monique Balbuena (Associate Professor, Honors College), Chair of the Curriculum & Program Matters Workgroup

Repealed

4.5       US14/15-82: Repeal of Policy on Textbooks and Curricular Materials (Bonine #243); Jane Cramer (Associate Professor, Political Science), Chair of Discrimination Policy Workgroup

Current language: Nothing herein either prohibits or requires the use of any particular textbook or curricular materials. If, however, materials are found upon investigation to exert a discriminatory impact on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, national origin, race or religion, the institutions and divisions shall make a reasonable effort to make available supplemental alternative nondiscriminatory materials.

Senate votes to delete this policy on the basis of academic freedom.

4.6       US14/15-88: Revision and Adoption of Appointment Policy (Bonine #284, 294); Deborah Olson (Instructor, Special Education and Clinical Services), Co-Chair of the Employment Matters Workgroup

Postponed for cleanup, along with others below, to give time for Equity and Inclusion plan, below.

4.7       US14/15-89: Adoption of Policies Related to Employment Matters (Bonine #s 42, 44). Deborah Olson (Instructor, Special Education and Clinical Services), Co-Chair of the Employment Matters Workgroup

4.8       US14/15-84: Adoption of Policies on Conditions of Service and Academic Freedom (Bonine #     270, 271, 275, 278, 288, 289, 290, 293, 295, 296, 297, 399, 301, 349); Deborah Olson (Instructor, Special Education and Clinical Services), Co-Chair of the Employment Matters Workgroup

4.9       US14/15-85: Revision and Adoption of Employment Policies (Bonine #s 268, 269, 272, 274,     276, 277, 279, 280, 281); Deborah Olson (Instructor, Special Education and Clinical Services), Co-Chair of the Employment Matters Workgroup

4:55 pm    5.   Open Discussion

4:55 pm    6.   Reports

6.1       Report on IDEAL Framework for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Yvette Alex-Assensoh, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion

The website for the IDEAL plan is here. I’m going to add a few numbers. The budget for Equity and Inclusion has grown by about 50% over the past 5 years. Administrative spending has doubled:

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The university also spends about $780K on Penny Daugherty’s AAEO office:

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IR has some pretty good data here:

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After her presentation, VP Alex-Assensoh answered questions from senators:

Q: Jane Cramer asks about how Affirmative Action fits in with the plan.
A: I have no authority over AA, but they will have to implement parts of the plan.
Q: Wouldn’t it be better to have AA under Equity and Inclusion, instead of reporting to the VPFA?

[Obviously this is a touchy issue – rumors of some sort of AA reform are going around.]

Q: John Bonine asks: Would you have any professional objections to moving AA under your office?
A: We need to think about it.
Q: Gina Psaki: If you could do anything to improve equity and diversity here, what would you do?
A: Focus on helping one another.

Senate gives an enthusiastic round of applause for Yvette and her work, and adjourns. Next meeting next Wed 5/27, and the last Senate meeting will be Wed 6/3.

4:55 pm    7.   Notice(s) of Motion

4:55 pm    8.   Other Business

5:00 pm    9.   Adjournment

NOTE: The Policy Tracker may be viewed here.

5/18/2015: Senate Elections to resume 5/25 after software fix and nominee checks

Last week presidents Kyr and Coltrane postponed the Senate elections, due to errors in the election software. Myself and others pointed out that the software let people vote for committee members outside their own colleges and constituent status, and also that there was no confirmation screen showing who you had voted for and asking you to confirm your choices. The plan is for elections to restart Monday May 25th, I’m sure there will be an email with the details.

Meanwhile Kyr has asked the deans to email nominees and ask them to confirm their interest in serving. One thing missing from the the elections this year is the opportunity for people to add a statement to the Senate website explaining why they are running. This was tried last year, I thought it was pretty useful.

UO Foundation Board tells staff to drop EWEB redevelopment scheme

5/19/2015 update: 

Ed Russo has the story in the RG, here:

In a shock to Eugene’s civic leaders, the University of Oregon Foundation has dropped out as master developer for the Eugene Water & Electric Board riverfront property.

A foundation board on Monday unanimously instructed foundation staff to stop pursuing acquisition of the 17 acres owned by the utility on the east edge of downtown, said Jay Namyet, the foundation’s chief investment officer.

The board made the decision because there are too many financial questions about the redevelopment, he said.

“There are (financial) risks that we identified over time, none of which is serious enough on its own to cause us alarm,” Namyet said. “But because there are numerous ones in aggregate, they cause us to feel that the risks are too extreme.”

I can understand why Eugene’s leaders would be shocked by a sensible decision from the Foundation, which this is. The Foundation’s job is to manage donations to UO, not get sucked into Eugene’s land redevelopment and politics. I wonder what the real story here is – the Foundation staff apparently got way ahead of the board on this. Good for the board for reigning them in.

FWIW the foundation finally released their IRS 990 report for the FY ending June 30, 2014 on Friday, here. It was the last possible day the IRS allowed, after two extensions. They’ve cut way back on the information they put in their annual reports as well. This salary information is a bit dated, as of Dec 31 2013:

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So will the Foundation also now cut themselves off from supporting the IAAF Track Championships too? See below for the few public details on that sketchy deal.

4/16/2015 update: IAAF sells 2021 Track Championships to Eugene w/o public bidding

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The big dog Phil Knight puts his mark

on what the NY Times calls “Oregon’s Jock Box”. RG photographer Chris Pietsch catches him in the act, here.

Does this mean that the big donation is coming soon? Will it just be for Hayward field and other 2021 Track Championship construction, or will new President Michael Schill insist that Knight toss the academic side a bone, in exchange for signing off on the IRS declaration that there’s an academic purpose to the madness?

And while we’re on metaphors: To the left, the sleek, overflowing infinity fountain of the Jacqua Jock Box, symbolizing purity, strength, and athletics. To the right, the empty, broken, debris-filled fountain in front of the Knight Library, symbolizing the messy, shallow, underfunded, and filthy life of the mind.

Help UO Matters compile list of UO’s largest donors

I’m trying to compile a list of UO’s academic and athletic donors – work in progress, these are mostly guesses, please post corrections in the comments.

ACADEMICS:

  1. Lorry Lokey: See below for a long list. Total = $140M.
  2. Phil Knight: ~$10M towards $27M Knight Library renovation,~$15M towards $36M Knight Law School, ~$30M towards $60M Knight Professorships. Total = ~$55M.
  3. Connie Ballmer:  $25M for PathwayOregon scholarships for low SES Oregonians, $20M for obesity prevention research. Total = $45M.
  4. Chuck and Gwen Lillis: $14M towards Lillis business school building (OUS here.)
  5. Don Tykeson: $10M towards $34M CAS building.
  6. Phyllis and Andrew Berwick: $7.25M to Oregon Bach Festival in 2014, $1.7M in earlier OBF gifts. $10M total.
  7. Jordan Schnitzer: ~$3M towards $14M art museum renovation, ?$M for endowment.
  8. Hope Anstett: $5 million towards Lillis business school building.
  9. Tim Boyle: $5 million for business case competition and architecture programs.
  10. Ronald & Patricia Peterson: $4 million towards Lillis business school building.
  11. Jean Pedersen; $2.5M for Natural History Museum, 2012.
  12. James & Shirley Rippey: $1 million for Lillis + funding for new professorship.

ATHLETICS:

  1. Phil Knight: ?M for Autzen expansion, $40M Jaqua jock box, $160M Football operations building, $100M Athletics Legacy Fund, $5M for 2010 soccer field etc., +$5M for 2013 Autzen zen garden.
  2. Robert and Jane Sanders: $10M towards $16.5M softball stadium in 2014, followed by $6M in 2015.
  3. Pat Kilkenny: $3M for old locker room renovation, $5M towards PK Park, $1M for the Matt Court floor.
  4. Robin Jaqua: $5M endowment to help athletics pay the jock box electric bill.
  5. Alan and Jean Pedersen; $2.5M for Football operations, 2012.

This was motivated by this Around the 0 report on Lorry Lokey: Taken together, Lokey’s support for academic programs at the University of Oregon alone totals nearly $140 million. Currently, the Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library is under construction thanks to a lead gift made by Lokey in memory of Price, his friend and a former UO vice president for advancement. In 2007, the UO named its entire science complex for Lokey in appreciation for his transformational gift of $74.6 million to advance teaching and research in several disciplines, especially the sciences. Lokey also established the UO Fund for Faculty Excellence and provided significant support toward the total renovation of the historic education quad, expansion of the music building and creation of the UO’s state-of-the-art underground nanoscience research facility, the Lorry I. Lokey Laboratories.

General Counsel search committee soliciting anonymous comments

We’ve now got the full slate of 5 candidates: Thomas Dorer (University of Hartford), Doug Park (UO), Keith Kutler (OR-DOJ), Alison Kean (Portland Metro), and Sharyl Kammerzell (WSU).

Candidate info is below the break. The search committee is now soliciting comments about the candidates, due by Tuesday, at https://president.uoregon.edu/content/general-counsel-search-information. I was surprised to see that these are anonymous – in fact the form doesn’t even have a place to add your name.

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Desperate Dana Altman has players call season ticket holdouts – paid with NCAA student assistance funds?

5/17/2015: 

Dana Altman’s contract is for $1.8M a year and a plethora of bonuses including 15% of the gate over $4M:

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With AAD Eric Roedl predicting $2.9M for 15-16, that’s way out of the money. Last year Altman was trolling the frat parties, trying to get the brothers to go to some games. Didn’t work. And after the alleged basketball gang rape, well, as Duck PR flack Craig Pintens says, this year will be “uphill sledding”:

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A lot of Duck fans have no stomach for Altman, and have been canceling season tickets. So the Ducks have hit on a new scheme – have the basketball players call up season ticket holders and try and get them to renew. Duck flack Rob Moseley is so excited by this idea he tweeted it:

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Hmm, you gotta think maybe these student-athletes should be studying, instead? Or enjoying the sunshine? After all, while Altman’s getting $1.8M and a chance at 15% of the ticket gross, this is the NCAA. The players get nothing from ticket sales. So maybe the time on the phone banks comes out of their 20 hours of mandatory team time?

Or maybe Altman is giving them brownie points to get a bit of that limited NCAA Student Assistance Fund money? Get 10 ticket renewals and we’ll bring your parents out for a game?

I don’t know. Mullens and Roedl really don’t want to share that SAF data:

Subject: Public Records Request 2015-PRR-233

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “all documents, including correspondence, related to the use of the NCAA’s Division I Student Assistance Fund during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. This request encompasses all correspondence with the Pac-12 related to the Student Assistance Fund” on 03/31/2015, attached. The office has at least some documents responsive to your request. By this email, the office is providing you with an estimate to respond to your requests.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $351.25.

Interestingly, Rob Moseley isn’t denying it:

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5/15/2015:  UO could save $3M a year by shutting down basketball, mothballing Knight Arena

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RG turns over more rocks, uncovers more of UO’s bloated branders

5/16/2015 update: 

Two new stories to add to the three printed Saturday in the Register Guard about UO’s branding efforts. These are all online now, new ones in print Sunday. I’ve posted extracts with a few comments for all five stories below. Follow the links to the stories, and please consider leaving your comments on the RG website, where they will be read by many more people than here.

This series of five stories is another tour de force for Diane Dietz and the RG’s Higher Ed reporting. Rich Read at the Oregonian must be a little green.

I’m no journalism professor, but I’m gradually learning a little bit about how reporting works. The UO administrators that Diane Dietz quoted in these stories really didn’t want to have to answer questions about where the money was going. But they knew they would have to respond if Dietz had documents. So they tried to stonewall her public records requests. Once the District Attorney made Dave Hubin’s office produce the public records, the administrators had to give interviews, or be embarrassed with “no comments”. And so Dietz got these revealing quotes from Chuck Lillis, Tim Clevenger, and others.

There are tens of millions of dollars and UO’s national reputation or “brand” at stake here.  I know that at least a few UO donors have been questioning the wisdom of the road that the UO administration and the new Board are taking us down. These news stories are going to help fuel those questions. Once again the RG has done the University of Oregon a great service with their reporting. I’m guessing those UO administrators who worked to keep the basic facts secret are going to see it a little differently, of course, and that they’ll keep trying to hide public records as well.

With its scores of communicators, UO tries to find one voice. Diane Dietz, here

Dietz goes through UO’s long and expensive history of failed branding efforts:

The UO already employs platoons of communicators, marketers and public relations specialists — and it farms out millions of dollars to outside contractors for the same kind of work.

The UO’s marketing and PR machinery, in fact, has become so costly and unwieldy that top UO officials are taking steps to figure out if it’s working well.

Citing a need to coordinate the extensive effort to sell the university, interim President Scott Coltrane in mid-March imposed a hiring freeze on communications and marketing-type jobs, except with special approval.

…The hiring of the top-flight 160over90 firm about a year ago under a three-year $3.4 million contract marks the second major branding effort the university has undertaken.

In 2008, the university signed a three-year, $1.2 million contract with global firm Fleishman-Hillard for a “branding, positioning and media strategy” to make the UO sought after.

… Still, on staff, the UO has more than 100 marketing, public relations, strategic communications and digital communications employees, a review of the UO’s personnel records shows. All work largely in the service of the UO’s image-building. The total salary and benefits cost the UO about $10 million a year.

A hiring spurt added as many as 20 new marketing and communications employees to campus over the past 18 months. And, despite Coltrane’s recent freeze, the hiring continues.

… Separately, UO schools and colleges have launched their own self-promotional efforts, spending at least $3 million in recent years on marketing, advertising, public relations and branding contracts.

Four years ago, the UO School of Journalism and Communications — SOJC — sought to define itself as a “destination” school for journalism students nationally, said Tim Gleason, dean at the time.

… Alumnus Tracy Wong’s A-list agency, the Seattle-based Wongdoody, put his staff to work for the college. The staff helped write the SOJC slogan: “Ethics. Action. Innovation.” … Wongdoody did the work at cost — $20,000, Gleason said. “If we had taken it out to an open bid, it was several hundred thousand dollars worth of work,” he said. “We were very fortunate.”

… In 2013, the Lundquist College of Business hired Songlines Communications of Bend — for $36,000 — to create a unifying “brand story” that “succinctly, elegantly and emotionally communicates the unique identity of the Lundquist College of Business,” according to the contract. Next, the college bought $12,000 worth of marketing advice from Fixx Consulting of Portland. … De Kluyver also OK’d a $100,000 contract with White Horse Productions in Portland in fall 2013 to redesign the college’s website with a “lightweight, forward-thinking” touch. De Kluyver is featured on a website video — wearing trademark suspenders — playing a banjo and explaining that teaching business management is like improvising in jazz.

Two years later, 160over90 is refashioning the Lundquist brand, writing brochures and ads to promote MBA programs; eventually, the firm will redo the college’s website, Clevenger said.

UO’s ever helpful 160over90 branders even provide the administrators that sign their $3M check with talking points on how to fight off faculty who think it’s a waste:

The UO’s agency, 160over90, warns its university clients about likely opposition to their branding plans from “a disgruntled tenured professor in the humanities department with a dull ax to grind,” according to 160over90’s humorously written manual for university administrators.

… At the UO, Clevenger fretted about which faculty should be invited to talk with 160over90 to help discern the essence of the UO, according to an email obtained by The Register-Guard through a public records request. Let deans select four to five professors to participate, Clevenger wrote. “I don’t want any open call to faculty,” he wrote.

Yes, best to get that essence from the usual brown-nosers. Not that it matters, Chairman Lillis has spoken:

Chuck Lillis, president of the UO Board of Trustees, built a $60-billion-plus empire on his background in marketing. Lillis earned a doctorate in marketing at the UO in 1972. …

Lillis, the inaugural chairman of the UO board — and $14 million donor to the UO business college — is squarely behind the 160over90 campaign.

“We can’t spend $3 million more intelligently than this,” he said recently.

Actually, I think it’s more like $20M over 5 years, plus the $10M per year in internal salaries. But whatever, here’s Sunday’s second story, on how little this branding crap can do to counteract reality:

Blizzard of bad news may be tough for UO to sweep aside. Diane Dietz, here:

As the University of Oregon tries to boost its image nationally, one measure of success UO executive Tim Clevenger touts is the number of times a single story — favorable to the university — appears in newspapers across the United States. An Associated Press story about the UO’s $20 million branding initiative, for example, ran in 230 newspapers, Clevenger recently told the UO Board of Trustees.

But Google searches show that bad news can travel farther and faster, underscoring the difficulties UO marketers face.

When a Duck football tight end dumped a bucket of snow on a hapless UO professor in 2013, the story appeared in 225 media outlets, rolling out as far as TV 2 in Norway. A video of the incident drew 4.7 million YouTube hits.

A Duck running back punched an opponent on the football field in 2009, and the story rocketed through 2,136 newspapers and other media outlets. Even a UO effort to engineer good national attention — by giving The New York Times and Sports Illustrated an exclusive first look at its new football operations center in 2013 — wasn’t an all-out success. Of 311 online comments on The New York Times article about the center — ‘Oregon Embraces ‘University of Nike’ Image’ — negative reactions outnumbered the positive, three to one.

… The UO’s leadership can choose to ignore negative media reports in the hopes that the branding campaign makes a bigger noise, [Some PR guy named Forrest Anderson] said. … The pressing challenge for universities now is sexual violence …

For the UO, the subject has led from one black eye to the next.

First, the UO chose to release little information about the incident. The UO responded to records requests from newspapers — including The Register-Guard and The New York Times — with color-coded redactions that concealed the text of most of the documents. Publications ran photos of the colorful redactions. [Coffee cups and t-shirts available at UniversityofNike.com.]

That looked like a cover-up, Anderson said. “It just looks like (the university has) something to hide. It’s my take as a general consumer. ‘Oh, they must be hiding something’ if they don’t want to let us know.”

University lawyers typically advise in favor of blacking-out information, Anderson said. “One of the signs of a good CEO is that sometimes they ignore their lawyers. They say that might be the legally prudent thing to do, but is that the right thing to do? And they do the right thing,” he said.

5/15/2015: RG analyzes UO’s “What the if?”  branding campaign and JH’s trust destroying secrecy

The stories below were posted Friday and in the Saturday printed paper. Read them all, and please consider leaving comments on the RG website, where they will be read by more people than here. I’ve just posted extracts with a few comments:

1) UO’s $20 million national branding campaign holds promise, faces steep challenges. Diane Dietz, here:

Chuck Lillis thrills to the sight of the University of Washington rising in the top 100 best-colleges rankings.

But Lillis, the current — and first — chairman of the University of Oregon Board of Trustees, frankly doesn’t like what he sees in the rankings when it comes to the UO, where he also went to school.

“I want us to see our rankings and have goosebumps,” he told the UO Senate recently. “I don’t like these rankings that are 92nd, 104th, 86th. That just isn’t good enough.”

So in May 2014, a month before the Board of Trustees formally won control of the university, the UO quietly started a $20 million, donor-funded plan that included hiring an edgy Philadelphia branding firm — 160over90 — to elevate the university’s stature.

To put this in perspective, the $20M the board has decided to spend on PR would have paid for start-up packages for 10 to 20 top research professors. They are gambling instead that “What the If” TV ads will encourage enrollment of out of state students willing to pay full tuition – meaning not academically gifted enough to get scholarships from other schools:

But in recent decades, the UO found itself at the bottom of the AAU pack in key academic excellence measures, says a report by interim UO President Scott Coltrane.

For a research university, the UO is short on tenured faculty, doctoral students, research spending, research production and high-achieving students, says the report. Bringing all those measures up to snuff would take an endowment of billions, says Lillis.

“We’re financially weak,” Lillis told the Senate. “We’re very weak if we want to be a great university.”

Unexpectedly, it seems our 160over90 branders agree with my analysis of how this $20M campaign is in some ways needed to counteract the pernicious influence of Duck football wins on UO’s national reputation. After all, what parent wants to spend $200K sending their child to a big-time football party school for 4 years?

The sports success has been an asset and a drawback for the UO’s new academic branding initiative.

The university’s academic side, in adopting the Bakas-designed “O” as its logo, tapped onto the sports brand that Nike built. The UO president at the time, Dave Frohnmayer, wanted the “O” to represent the whole university. “If you’re not represented by something,” he said, “people don’t know what you stand for.”

Some faculty saw that as a takeover of the university’s image by Nike and the football team — a contention the UO’s new branding firm assumes is true.

“Obviously the university has a big problem getting out the message that we’re a serious academic institution,” Bill Harbaugh, economics professor and publisher of the uomatters.com blog, said recently. “The football program has co-opted the university’s message; it’s all about the Duck brand.”

A key UO image challenge, according to the brand strategy recently developed by 160over90 for the UO, is the “unbalanced national perception of the university, currently dominated by athletics.”

So, instead of spending $20M on academics, we have to spend it on advertising. How convenient for 160over90 – that just happens to be the business they are in!

Will it work? Even PR flacks like UO’s $209K Chief Strategic Communicator Tim Clevenger seem to think it might make more sense to spend the money on science instead:

The university needs academic substance to be great, said Tim Clevenger, a long-time private sector ad man whom the UO put in charge of the new branding effort.

The university needs the academic corollary of a Rose Bowl or a national championship — a scientific breakthrough, a Nobel Prize win, a reinforced perch among the nation’s pre-eminent schools.

“A brand can have a really cool logo and neat ads,” Clevenger said, “but if there’s no substance behind it, it doesn’t mean anything.”

2) The RG’s second story, here, goes on to explain some of the ways Clevenger is spending his $20M. 

Let’s just say it’s not on substance.

3) UO slow to release records on its cutting-edge branding effort. Diane Dietz, here.

This last story goes into the enormous difficulties the Register Guard had in dealing with Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office to get the branding documents. When UO wants to spin reporters about something that makes the administrators look good, they’ve got plenty of well paid PR flacks like Clevenger, Tobin Klinger, Craig Pintens, etc. Money is no object. Not enough flacks on staff? Hire Anna Richter-Taylor from Gallatin Public Affairs to consult, at about $300 an hour.

But when a reporter wants some documents that might have some actual facts, and might actually inform the public about what’s really going on in Johnson Hall, they send them to Dave Hubin’s black hole of transparency and trust. Dietz reports:

The University of Oregon is breaking a sweat telling the nation about the benefits of a UO education.

But it has moved at a crawl to disclose basic public information about the cost and other aspects of that branding campaign. It took an order from the Lane County District Attorney’s Office to force the UO to produce some records.

When the Legislature granted the UO independence from most state oversight in 2013, lawmakers required it to remain a public university and to continue to obey Oregon public records and meetings laws.

In June and September 2014, The Register-Guard submitted records requests seeking documents on the work that 160over90 and other branding and marketing firms were doing for the UO. Tim Clevenger, the UO’s associate vice president for communications, marketing and brand management, in May had established 160over90 as the “ad agency of record.”

The university charged the newspaper $800 for the June request and $500 for the September request to supply hundreds of pages of documents.

Then, in both cases, the UO took more than three months to begin releasing documents.

And in both cases, the UO heavily blacked out some documents and simply neglected to provide many others that were in its possession, even though they were clearly covered by the newspaper’s request.

…  [UO Economics Professor Bill Harbaugh] said the UO’s redactions and delays in this case are typical of the UO.

“Most university public records offices are very business-like. They try to help you find the documents and they try to get them to you as quickly as they can,” Harbaugh said. “They don’t waste your time with trivial fees and they don’t waste your money with big fees.”

By comparison, the UO public records office is known statewide for its delays, high fees and heavy redactions, Harbaugh said.

“The University of Oregon is as prompt as molasses on a really cold day, or a really cold winter, because a day is too short a time period to capture the full extent of their slowness,” he said. “It’s best measured in geologic time.”

At a recent meeting of the University Senate, Harbaugh told UO interim President Scott Coltrane that delays in providing public information is hurting relationships at the university. “Without that transparency, you’re not going to get trust,” Harbaugh said.

Coltrane’s reply: “It’s getting better. It may not appear that way to you, but we are working on it.”

But Harbaugh said he’s seen no evidence the public records office is improving. “If anything, things are getting worse,” he said.

But don’t trust me on Johnson Hall’s obsession with secrecy – read what the RG has to say about how they had to go to the District Attorney to force UO to release the public records:

The Register-Guard determined that the UO failed to provide at least 20 key branding-related documents. The newspaper knew the documents existed because they were referenced in emails that the university did release.

For example, the records the UO released mentioned numerous advertising and public relations conceptual and strategic papers and presentations, including slides, Powerpoints and other documents, that 160over90 and the UO had recently developed and were at the heart of the branding initiative. But the UO failed to provide those to the newspaper, even though they were clearly covered by the newspaper’s request.

In February, The Register-Guard petitioned the Lane County District Attorney’s Office, asking it to order the UO to provide the omitted documents and undo the redactions.

In mid-March, before the District Attorney’s Office ruled, the UO suddenly provided the newspaper with many of the missing documents, and also with previously redacted documents that the UO decided should not be blacked out after all.

On March 30, the District Attorney’s Office ordered the UO to un-redact a significant number of additional documents.

In his ruling, Assistant District Attorney Spencer Gwartney said the UO could black out parts of records based on federal student confidentiality law, and on exemptions to Oregon public records law in matters of trade secrets and personal privacy.

But Gwartney said the UO erred in claiming many documents could be blacked out under state public records law’s “internal advisory communications” exemption.

Gwartney ordered the UO to disclose all 34 pages that UO lawyers had blacked out, in full or in part, under the “internal advisory communications” claim. Gwartney said the UO had failed to establish that the UO’s need for secrecy outweighed the public’s interest in openness. The UO obeyed the order.

No transparency, no trust. Unfortunately that’s now a large part of the legacy of Scott Coltrane’s brief interim presidency.