Bargaining MMXX-VIII: Admin counter on raises is a 4% real cut

Synopsis: The administration came back with a proposal for annual 1.65% raises, all merit, no COLA. With Western US inflation running at about 3% a year, this amounts to real annual pay cuts of about 1.3% a year, or 4% over the 3-year contract. There are also cuts to post-tenure review raises, and a very small internal equity pool. The proposal also takes some of the merit money away from departments and gives it to deans to distribute at their pleasure.

The reception from the union bargaining team, and the many faculty in the room, was predictably chilly. Matella repeatedly backed off, saying this was just their first offer. Presumably the union will give a counter proposal soon.

Matella also said that this low-ball proposal was conditioned on the. administration’s estimates of the costs of the union’s other proposals, so those might need to be resolved before there’s any real progress towards equilibrium. But the administration didn’t counter those today, presumably out of a desire to drag this thing out til summer.

MMXX-VIII live-blog. My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets or Facebook page. Usual disclaimer: This is my opinion and interpretation of what the bargainers are saying, thinking, or should be saying or thinking. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

The room is packed with faculty – and a small claque of well paid senior admins.

The session starts with VPFA Jamie Moffitt giving the administration’s take on the budget and “cost drivers”. The Union team has to drink a shot every time she says “bucket”. Also, there’s Bingo! Must be present to win.

Moffitt gives the usual powerpoint presentation, which we’ve heard many times. She’s getting better at it, sprinkling in folksy phrases like “a pretty scary number”.  Among the things she does not mention:

UO’s overall annual budget is about $1.1B. The E&G (Educational and General) bucket is about $650M. Faculty salaries and benefits are about $200M, or less than a third of that. Plenty of ways to reallocate money.

$2.5M subsidy for the Jock Box from the E&G fund. $500K for Matt Court. $350K for Autzen skybox.

$10M subsidy for the law school.

Declining number of faculty, increasing number of top administrators.

Payments to consultants such as Brad Shelton’s Academic Analytics, Kevin Reed’s outside law firms, the new “Hearts and Minds” PR campaign, Ellen Herman’s Faculty Tracking Software, Yvette Alex-Assensoh’s expensive custom Campus Climate surveys, etc. I’ll have more on these costs later – because Moffitt, who is ostensibly in charge of them, won’t.

Taking ~$2.3M from the academic side to pay for the Hayward Field utility tunnel and wire up The Phildo, while claiming Knight is paying for it all.

Borrowing money to build new dorms in time for the 2021 Track & Field championships.

Sending UO’s lobbyists to the legislature to ask for $40M for the championships, and $110M for Knight Campus, instead of money for UO’s core academic mission.

Moffitt does deliver some actual good news, on PERS. UO’s PERS costs are down this year. The legislature has already taken steps to stretch out the amortization period, and if they do the logical thing and stretch it out to 30 years, the problem goes away.

She mentions the new guaranteed tuition scheme. If the BoT adopts this, it will lock in each class of students at a constant *nominal* tuition – i.e. declining real tuition. If enrollment or state funding goes down, this will create a real budget crisis. Or, from the administration’s point of view, an opportunity to lay-off faculty and eliminate raises for the following round of union bargaining.

Moffitt’s done, Union team caucuses.

They’re back. No questions for Moffitt, since everyone already knows exactly how she’ll avoid answering them.

Moving on the the Administration’s Salary counter-proposal:

Matella: It’s a risky world. And the Union put all kinds of expensive stuff in other articles. (I’m guessing she doesn’t mean the proposal to create a Teaching Professor title.)

Their counter:

1.65% pool for merit increases, each year. 0.25% of that 1.65% will be held back from departments by the deans, to be allocated at their discretion to their buddies. to the exceptionally meritorious, as determined by the deans.

Keeps the 8% promotion raises. Cuts the 4% post-promotion review raises to 1.5-3%.

Establishes a one-time $450K pool for internal equity raises. (i.e. about 0.1% of salary over the 3 years.) Administration decides who gets it. Seems to be nothing to prevent them from giving it all to faculty outside the bargaining unit i.e. PI’s, law professors, department heads. But’s it’s so little money, who cares.


The Administration can cancel these raises if the state cuts the amount the state gives to the PUSF fund (which supports all the public universities.

Cecil: Ignoring the cuts in real pay you are proposing, why are you being so petty about taking control of part of merit raises away from the departments?

Sinclair: You really want departments to do a full merit review for everybody, every year, for merit increases of 1.4%?

Matella: Yes. And we’ll be cutting your base pay 3% a year, after inflation.

Henry, normally the best-behaved member of the union team, can’t take it any more. Eleanor has to take him out of the room, over his vocal protests.

Epstein to Matella: How do you suggest we spin merit raises that are less than the cost of living to potential new hires?

Matella: What’s the Portland Metro CPI increasing at?

Random Economist: They no longer compile it. Western US is running at about 3.1%. Cecil: Shut up Harbaugh, last I looked it was 2.9%.

Matella: This is just our first counter. “I’d prefer to have more money to recruit and retain our most meritorious faculty”.

Rosiek: “So, overall you’re proposing a 4% cut in real pay over the 3 years. That’s not a question.”

Cecil: If you don’t have money to pay current faculty, why are Schill and Phillips still hiring new ones? What went on in the room of really smart people, when they asked Brad Shelton how this would impact raises for current faculty? Did he actually believe that Chuck Lillis and the Board would come through with the funding they promised when they got the legislature to pass SB270?

Matella: This is just our starting proposal. But I believe 1.4% a year will be enough to recruit and retain excellent faculty. Besides, we have no problem offering good starting salaries, and we think new PhD’s are too dumb to read the contract before accepting an offer.

Moving on to Section 4, on promotion etc.

Cecil: Why are you cutting post-tenure review raises at the same time you’re threatening full profs with a quickie way to take away their tenure?

Matella: Yeah, that was a mistake. We’ll be back with something less nuclear.

Cecil: Current senior faculty have been able to go through 2 cycles of 4% post-tenure raises. You’ll introduce inequities.

Random Economist: Even with those raises, at UO full profs are only paid 87% of our comparators:

Green: The Oregon Equal Pay Act requires you to make equity adjustments, even without the union contract. So you’re going to be legally required to pay more than this anyway, as soon as someone wins a lawsuit. Why do you think we’d bargain over your legal obligations.

Matella: Right. But remember, last year we spent $120K on an external consultant who told us we didn’t have any big equity problems. [See 6/3/2019: UO pays equity consultant ~$120,000 to give 12 faculty $4,700 raises] We need. your help taking the fall again.

Cecil: The Faculty didn’t start a Union to give the Administration carte blanche control over faculty raises. As in past CBA’s, our proposal gives the departments the power – write clear policies, use them to give raises. Why do you want to take that away?

Matella: Kevin Reed is freaking over the OEPA, or at least we’re hoping you’ll believe he is. Can you help us write criteria that would give the Provost control of raises?

Cecil: We gave you a proposal. You ignored it when you wrote this.

Epstein: Section 5 is about retention raises. If you really have no money, how can you afford this? Matella: That’s money we have to spend. And we won’t tell you how big that pool is.

Moving on to Section 8: Funding Level.

[One of the more obvious problems with this poorly written section is that it activates when the statewide PUSF is cut. Suppose the state closes EOU, SOU, WOU, takes 1/2 their money out of the PUSF for OSAC scholarships and redistributes the rest to UO and the remaining universities. Triggered.]

Cecil: So, if state funding is cut, you can cancel all the raises? Matella: We’d bargain with you for 90 days. It might not be a freeze. Cecil: If we don’t agree in 90 days, then you get to do whatever you want?

[On the budget matter, Moffitt’s E&G bucket is about $650M. Faculty salaries and benefits are about $200M.]

New admin proposal on University Distinguished Teaching Faculty:

This is a bizarre Admin counter to the Union’s proposal on “Teaching Professors”. The Administration won’t let distinguished teaching NTTF’s title’s include the magic word “professor” or give them job security. Would give them shot at a 3-year appointment with a $3K stipend (not a permanent raise) and 2 course releases per year for TEP service. So the administration is proposing to *reduce* the amount of teaching our best teachers do? Why not give them a better title and a raise instead?


The Admin is back with counters on Notices of Appointment and Career Faculty Review etc. But I’m done live-blogging. See you next week.

2/24/2020: VII recap – Here’s what the union proposed back on Jan 9th for pay:

Continue reading

Eugene Weekly calls it as they see it: The Phildo

Per the UO Constitution, the official naming ceremony requires pro-forma approval by Pres Schill and his Faculty Advisory Committee. But the Eugene Weekly has spoken:

We loved all the responses we got for naming the Hayward Field tower — and Phil’s Phallus Palace was a strong runner up. The “weiner” is: The Phildo. Come get your Eugene Weekly T-shirt. And University of Oregon: Please take note, and also the UO and Nike should rethink possible future designs that bear distinct responses to parts of the anatomy that don’t involve footwear.

Rumor has it that 3-D printed USB powered versions will be for sale soon in an array of sizes at, for far less than the ~$2.37M the academic side had to pay to wire up this egofice.

The naming call was easy. As UO’s Hayward website notes “Its perforated metal skin and steel form flare upward and outward to resemble a …”

Well, you get the idea. And what will be under the foreskin of this “heroic wood” egofice? A living room:

Every morning I try, Lord how I try, not to backslide

into the simplistic libertarianism of my youth. Some days are harder than others.

Today Nigel Jaquiss and Rachel Monahan reported in Willamette Week that the State of Oregon is losing money on its new sports lottery. How the hell do you lose money running a sports book? And if you did, who the hell would trust you to run a carbon cap-and-trade scheme?

Oregon Lottery Director Barry Pack will present some unwelcome news at the Lottery Commission’s monthly meeting on Feb. 28. Scoreboard, the agency’s new mobile sports betting app, will lose money for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

“Lottery will have a loss of $5.3 [million] from the program for the first nine months of FY ’20,” Pack said in a memo prepared for that meeting.

Prior to launching Scoreboard last October, lottery officials presented lawmakers with projections showing the agency expected sports to be profitable in its first year—making $6.3 million—and pick up speed after that. …

Board hid financial troubles from students, collected tuition, then closed

Rob Manning has the story on OPB here. While falling enrollment was the biggest problem, it appears Concordia’s homophobic financiers at The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod got mad about the university’s support for LGBTQ students, and suddenly cut their bond funding:

Last August, dozens of prospective students and their parents toured the Northeast Portland campus of Concordia University. They saw dorm rooms and a recently dedicated central quad, the glass facade of the administration building and the new turf athletic fields.

Questions about the school’s financial problems, driven by lagging enrollment, were quickly downplayed by university officials.

“We’ve had a residential community of about 500 for the last few years, and we expect that to continue,” Madeline Turnock, a spokesperson for Concordia, told OPB last August. “If anything, our number of traditional ‘on ground’ incoming freshmen is growing.”

Yet within six months, Concordia leaders announced the university was closing.


But the university’s approach to the LGBTQ community — including the mere existence of Concordia’s “Queer Straight Alliance student group — has been an irritation to church leaders in St. Louis.”

“A club advocating homosexuality is not possible, under the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod, on a Concordia campus,” the Synod’s president, Matthew Carl Harrison, said at a February 2018 meeting, according to board minutes. …

But the Synod also pressed the university on issues of gender and sexual identity.

“Resolved, that the chairman of the board inform the leadership of the Concordia University System and Concordia University, Portland,” read the November 2019 minutes, “that it will not again approve any financial action for the benefit of the university until the university has substantively addressed the issues regarding the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and brought its articles and bylaws back into conformity with the requirements of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”

Years of work by lobbyists Bernard and Batlan to pay off with $20M?

Unfortunately that would be $20M more in funding for the 2021 Track and Feld Championships, not for UO’s academic bucket.

HB 2047 passed the Oregon House by one vote, and goes to the Senate tomorrow. OLIS link here. It seems Hans Bernard and Libby Batlan were being paid out of the academic budget, but working for something or someone else:

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Schill cuts tuition to $0, angry students say he just wants to make it harder to organize for Bernie

OK, so that’s not exactly what went down at tonight’s Town Hall on the guaranteed tuition plan. The Emerald’s Ryan Nguyen has a more nuanced report here.

As for the plan itself, it goes against what both the neoclassical *and* behavioral economic models predict about student enrollment decisions. So I’d give Roger Thompson a 50/50 chance of pulling it off.

As it happens there’s a good Economics undergrad honor’s thesis about guaranteed tuition here, by one of my former students.

Legislature to increase Hotel Tax to pay for Uncle Phil’s 2021 party?

Ken Goe in the Oregonian has the short version and links to additional stories:

A bill expected to provide enough state funding to honor Gov. Kate Brown’s pledge of $40 million for the 2021 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships squeaked through the Oregon House on Friday.

The bill passed by a vote of 37-18. It needed 36 votes to pass. It now heads to the Senate.

The measure would keep in place the state’s elevated lodging tax. The bill’s passage overcame vocal opposition from advocates for affordable housing and critics of the salaries of executives of Travel Oregon,. Revenue raised by the tax goes first to Travel Oregon, which is expected to pass it on to Oregon21, local organizing committee for the World Outdoor Championships.

The World Outdoor Championships are scheduled next year from Aug. 6-15 at the University of Oregon’s rebuilt Hayward Field in Eugene. More than 200 countries are expected to participate.

This will be the first time the World Outdoor Championships have taken place in the U.S.

Here is The O’s story on the bill’s passage and issues raised in debate.

And here is the R-G story: Bill for state funding of the World Outdoor Championships passes the Oregon House.

Trustees to roll dice with guaranteed tuition plan

From President Schill:

University of Oregon community members,

I have received recommendations from the students, faculty, and staff who comprise the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board (TFAB) and am now ready to receive campus input on an innovative guaranteed tuition model for undergraduates that deserves serious consideration. This tuition plan is a change from past practices, and I encourage the campus community to look closely at the new tuition model proposed by TFAB. I am strongly inclined to support the guaranteed tuition concept because it addresses a persistent challenge within higher education and provides real benefits to both current and future University of Oregon students.

I am asking the campus to offer feedback on the details of this plan so that I can make an informed and thoughtful recommendation to the UO Board of Trustees, which will set tuition rates at its regular meeting on March 17. I will be hosting a student forum on the plan this Monday, February 24, at 6:00 p.m. in the EMU Ballroom. Pizza, salad, and refreshments will be provided. If you cannot make the forum, please take time to leave electronic feedback on this form by 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 28.

A tremendous amount of uncertainty is built into our current tuition-setting model and this new approach is about eliminating that uncertainty for students and families so that they can more easily navigate planning and paying for college. It is a noteworthy departure from the traditional system that has been around for decades. Every year at the UO we go through the same process—we analyze how much university operating expenses will increase, determine how much will be covered by state appropriations, and come up with a tuition rate that will generate enough revenue to cover all or most of the difference. Annual tuition jumps have ranged from nearly 20 percent in conjunction with state budget cuts during the height of the recession to under 3 percent in years when state funding has been more abundant. The one constant has been that tuition always goes up—an average of 5.4 percent annually for residents over the last decade, 4.4 percent for nonresidents during that same period. We have an opportunity now to end that cycle of tuition uncertainty for students who enroll at the UO.

The guaranteed tuition model recommended by TFAB locks in a tuition rate for incoming students that they can count on for five years. No increases. No surprises. Students will know the cost of their education at the UO—one guaranteed price for tuition and all administratively controlled fees that does not change from the time a student enrolls to the time they walk across the stage at commencement (assuming they graduate in five years or fewer). Higher education is one of the most important investments many people make in their lifetime, and this eliminates the guesswork of predicting how much tuition will cost. It is a model used at peer institutions such as the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Arizona. In fact, the ten-campus University of California System is also considering a similar proposal.

Here’s how it would work at the UO under this proposal. For the first year of the new program, TFAB is recommending a tuition increase of 10.75 percent for new resident undergraduate students and 7.5 percent increase for new nonresident students. After the rate is set for that cohort of students, tuition would not go up for five years—the per-credit-hour rate would be locked, frozen for half a decade. We would also lock all fees for the EMU, recreation center, health services, buildings, technology support, and international student fees (if applicable), as well as differential tuition for the Clark Honors College and Lundquist College of Business. The only fee not included in the model would be the incidental fee set by the student government. If this model is approved by our Board of Trustees, we would set a tuition rate for the incoming class each year and make the same five-year guaranteed tuition promise to every cohort of new students that enters the UO. We expect the increase for future cohorts to be similar to past annual increases, under 5 percent.

Transfer students would also benefit from the program, paying the same tuition rate as the freshman cohort in the year they enroll and that rate would be locked for the same five-year period. What about students who take longer to graduate than five years? In the sixth year, those students would pay the tuition rate of the class immediately behind them. If they were to take seven years, the rate would bump up to the class immediately behind that, and so on if it were to take longer. Students who are called away from school to serve active duty in the military would receive an exemption on their five-year guarantee window, meaning that they could return to the UO under the guaranteed tuition program the year after they end their military service.

Additionally, this would have no impact on the PathwayOregon scholarship program, which pays 100 percent of tuition and fees for qualifying Federal Pell Grant-eligible Oregonians. For students who receive other scholarships and grants, the guaranteed tuition plan would benefit them because the real value of their financial aid packages would stay consistent during their enrollment instead of diminishing every year in the face of tuition increases.

What about current students? TFAB has recommended that we provide a higher level of assurance and confidence around tuition rates for our continuing classes. For current students, both resident and nonresident undergraduates, the advisory board has recommended that we lock tuition increases at 3 percent per year for the next four years. I am comfortable with this proposal given that such increases are much lower annually than what students at the UO have seen on average over the last decade.

I want to be clear that this program is not without risk. The difference is that, in the past, students and families bore the brunt of that risk, particularly as it related to the strong correlation between state funding and in-state tuition. Under this new plan, the risk would shift to the institution, which must manage financial resources to account for year-over-year fluctuations in state support, potentially dramatic swings if, for instance, the state or nation were to experience a recession. For that reason, we are building a reserve of $20 million, mostly funded through philanthropy, which will be dedicated to hedging against potential state budget fluctuations and ensuring that we can continue the guaranteed tuition program for generations of future students.

I want to thank the entire TFAB for its hard work and dedication. This innovative new idea is the product of nearly a dozen open meetings and hours and hours of analysis and work by a group of volunteer students, faculty, and staff who care deeply about the UO and our ability to deliver quality, affordability, and accessibility. Please take time to review the TFAB recommendations and find out more about the proposal on a frequently asked questions page. That page also has information about the TFAB’s recommendations on graduate tuition rates and fee levels.

I look forward to hearing your feedback and insights.

Thank you.

Michael H. Schill, President and Professor of Law