Psychiatric Security Review Board hires Harrang et al to sue newspaper

This should be amusing. Oregon’s PSRB – a state agency – is using public funds to pay the Harrang, Long, Gary & Rudnick law firm to sue the Malheur Enterprise, a newspaper.

This is the same Eugene law firm that, in the midst of defending Eugene’s 4-J School Board from a public records lawsuit brought by the Register Guard newspaper, mistakenly emailed the RG reporter a zip file with all the documents the school board had been trying to hide from the public. Whoops.

I have to wonder if the PSRB – which doesn’t have a lot of money in their budget to pay lawyers to sue newspapers – did their due diligence on this hiring decision.

The Malheur Enterprise has the story here:

The state Psychiatric Security Review Board is defying a state order that it release public records to the Malheur Enterprise and intends to sue the weekly newspaper to keep the records secret.

Such a suit would be only the third time in the past 30 years a state agency has gone to court to keep its records secret.

The state board wants to keep confidential certain records it used in deciding last December to discharge from state custody Anthony W. Montwheeler, 49. Three weeks after that decision, police say Montwheeler kidnapped and killed his ex-wife and then killed a Vale man and injured his wife in a collision as he was eluding police.

… Rosenblum’s office subsequently said that the newspaper was entitled to the documents it requested. The public records order issued March 15 and supplemented a week later said there would be some redactions.

In the order, Deputy Attorney General Fred Boss concluded the law didn’t prohibit release of the records. He also rejected the Security Review Board’s claim that secrecy was needed to protect Montwheeler’s privacy. He said the Enterprise “has shown by clear and convincing evidence that the public interest requires disclosure.”…

… Rather than comply, the Security Review Board retained at public expense the private law firm of Harrang Long, which on March 22 notified the Enterprise to expect to be sued to block access to the state’s records. The Security Review Board last week couldn’t produce a contract or any other record showing the cost of hiring the outside lawyers.

Perhaps Harrang Long will put partner Andrea Coit on the case for $290 an hour, and she’ll uncover another Masonic blood oath conspiracy? Although $290 is cheap for HLGR’s work east of the Cascades – when former UO Pres Dave Frohnmayer was working for them back in 2011, he billed Deschutes County $550 an hour for this losing case.

Adjunct activist & Art History instructor killed in crossfire shooting

InsideHigherEd has the story. I’m no art history professor, but the resemblance is a bit unnerving – down to the hair and glasses:

David Wilder, 61, was killed by a shooting in Cleveland when he was caught in the crossfire as three other men engaged in what authorities called “a running vehicular gun battle,” Cleveland.com reported. Wilder was a long-term adjunct at Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College and John Carroll University — and he was a leader in efforts in Ohio and nationally to gain more rights for those who teach off the tenure track. His fellow adjuncts are noting his contributions to their cause — and raising money to help cover his funeral expenses.

That gofundme site is already at nearly twice its goal:

… David was unafraid to speak up about the urgent need to end the disrespectful and detrimental employment practices that prevent adjuncts and their students from experiencing the true promise of education. He was passionate about the art and art history he practiced and taught, and deeply concerned about his students and colleagues. He had a gentle demeanor which did not ever diminish his fierce integrity or his playful and witty sense of humor.  He was an accomplished artist with an eye for quiet and unusual beauty and was ever conscious of the important role of art in advancing social justice.

That’s not the eulogy I’ll get, but it’s probably a more admirable one.

Will Trump’s NASA budget cuts delay Oregon’s 2017 Solar Eclipse?

3/29/2017 update: It’s currently scheduled for August 21. Any delay would be an economic disaster for the state. Christian Hill has the latest in the RG here:

By some estimates, a million visitors will be in the state to gaze up at the total solar eclipse and watch in wonderment as the moon’s shadow makes landfall before sweeping across Oregon in 12 minutes at more than 3,000 miles an hour.

The main event will be brief, but it’s likely to live long in the memories of its viewers.

“It’s the most important two minutes people will witness in August probably during their whole lives,” said Jim Todd, director of space science at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland.

Public agencies throughout the state are preparing for the influx of visitors who already have booked virtually all of the hotel rooms and campsites along what’s known as the path of totality.

My guess is that, with all the plans and hotel deposits, this eclipse has some unstoppable inertia behind it – but then I thought the same thing about Hillary Clinton.

8/29/2016: Duck physicists lose bidding war to Beavers for lucrative 2017 Solar Eclipse

It’s a bitter night down at the UO Faculty Club after NASA’s announcement that Corvallis – not Eugene – will have a place in the lucrative Path of Totality for the August 21 2017 Solar Eclipse. The official map is below.

Continue reading

NYT ignores *increase* in international apps at 35% of universities

The NYT headline, particularly scary for schools like UO that rely on international student tuition:

Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants

Economist Tyler Cowen has the real story here:

… Here is what the opening of the survey itself said:

39% of responding institutions reported a decline in international applications, 35% reported an increase, and 26% reported no change in applicant numbers.

The NYT article does not reproduce the more positive pieces of information, from its own cited study, which may be suggesting international applications are not down at all, or perhaps down by only a small amount.  If you look at all the data, they probably are down, but by no conceivable stretch of the imagination should the 40% figure be reported without the other numbers. …

Here’s the survey:

And there’s more in the WaPo here.

How does Tom Hart do “cyberspace surveillance” of Duck athletes?

Someone wants to know. Here’s the public records request, now more than two weeks old:

Requester:  Snur, Carrie
Organization:  Capital News Service
Initial Request Date:  03/06/2017
Status: Requesting/Reviewing Records

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request copies of the following records:

Documents including or referring to guidelines and/or instructions for university administrators/athletic department staff/coaches to monitor student athletes’ or prospective student athletes’ social media accounts.

Documents including or referring to policies that require students athletes to give university administrators/athletic department staff/coaches access to private social media accounts, either through providing their login information, or changing the security settings of their accounts.

Documents concerning any use of an outside vendor to monitor or investigate student athletes’ private social media platforms.

Documents including or referring to guidelines and/or instructions for university administrators or staff to monitor student or prospective student social media accounts.

Documents including or referring to policies that require students to give university administrators/staff access to private social media accounts, either through providing their login information, or changing the security settings of their accounts.

And the contract for the Duck’s Tom Hart is here:

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Nevertheless, she persisted

Full disclosure: I know and work with many of the people on both sides of this lawsuit, and while I will try to keep my opinions to a minimum, I doubt I’ll be completely successful.

Jack Moran of the RG has the story on the lawsuit by Psychology professor Jennifer Freyd against UO, alleging gender discrimination in pay:

Psychology professor sues University of Oregon, says she’s paid ‘substantially less’ than male colleagues

The University of Oregon is being sued by a longtime psychology professor who alleges that she’s being paid substantially less than several less-experienced male colleagues, in violation of the federal Equal Pay Act.

Jennifer Freyd’s suit, filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Eugene, also includes claims alleging disparate treatment and impact, sex-based discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX violations.

“For years, I have tried to work within my department and the college to help the UO live up to its own policies of non-discrimination,” Freyd said in a statement issued by her attorneys. “Women all over the country and in all kinds of jobs earn less than their male counterparts. It’s past time for the UO to recognize and address this problem in its own salary practices.”

The suit asserts that professor salaries in the psychology department are supposed to be determined by seniority and merit, and alleges that UO officials are aware of pay differences between their male and female psychology professors.

University spokesman Tobin Klinger said UO officials are aware of Freyd’s allegation and plan to “look closely at the case in the coming days.”

“Although professor Freyd’s pay places her in the top 13 percent of all tenure track faculty at the UO, we are committed to paying our faculty commensurate with their achievements,” Klinger said.

Freyd’s current salary is $155,237 and she receives benefits totaling another $70,545, bringing her total compensation to $225,782, according to data provided by Klinger. …

Oh no, Mr. Klinger. A university that is currently paying its football coach $3.6M a year, its former football coach another $3.6M, ~$400K a pop to assistant coaches both drunk and sober, and which has a very well paid President, Provost, and Deans, etc., should probably avoid bringing up the fact that one of its most internationally known professors, in the midst of a long and very successful career of teaching and research at what is probably UO’s top ranked research department, with an admirable record of attracting top graduate students and placing them well, is paid only $155K.  This is not going to help the new Knight Campus recruit top faculty of either gender.

Perhaps Mr. Klinger is just following orders from higher-up, to try and poison the potential jury pool against Freyd by pandering to our state’s anti-education sentiments. Which makes me wonder just how high a price our administration is willing to pay – or should I say make our university pay – to try and win this. So let’s hope that this attack is just Klinger going off the farm.

The RG story goes on to note that Prof. Freyd has gone through many careful steps to demonstrate gender discrimination in her department and try and resolve this without a lawsuit. Her department head (a man, if that matters) has documented this discrimination with a regression that shows that psychology’s female full professors are paid an average of $22K less than males, when accounting for the sort of standard research productivity measure that our administration favors (the H-Index):

Yes it’s a small n, but it’s run on the entire relevant population, not a sample.

The department head’s full letter to the dean’s office is here. He goes on to explain the systematic reasons that gender differences in lives and careers mean that female professors are less likely to pursue outside offers and get retention raises from UO, and that UO has not implemented procedures to address the gender wage gap that can result. He asks the administration to therefore give Freyd the appropriate raise, or at least a fraction of it.

Apparently that request was ignored or rejected. The RG:

Meanwhile, the psychology department completed its own study during the spring of 2016 that addressed a range of topics and found male professors are paid an average of about $25,000 more per year than their female counterparts, according to the suit. That study was provided to deans in the UO’s College of Arts & Sciences.

The UO then appointed a committee to evaluate the psychology department. A report from the group noted gender pay disparities and recommended the department should continue “pressing for gender equity in terms of pay at the senior levels of the faculty,” the lawsuit says.

Ulrich Mayr, the psychology department’s head, emailed the College of Arts & Sciences’ deans in December requesting they address Freyd’s salary, which he characterized as “our most glaring inequity case,” according to the suit. Mayr asserted Freyd’s pay is as much as $50,000 below where it should be, the lawsuit says.

The College of Arts & Sciences announced raises in January. Freyd earned standard pay increases but no additional raise based on requests that she and Mayr had made, according to the suit.

Andrew Marcus, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Hal Sadofsky, the associate dean, met with Freyd on Jan. 18. They told her that they would not address sex discrimination in her pay, and “belittled her comments” by saying that only three men in her department earned more than her, the lawsuit says.

There are those who will argue that this gender gap is simply the competitive market at work. Those people must have failed undergraduate microeconomics. Eugene’s labor market for research active PhD’s is not a competitive market. It’s a local monopsony in which the employer, UO, exercises considerable market power. We covered this in week 8, but if you skipped that lecture check the textbook for the implications for wage discrimination.

Other links: Professor Freyd’s law firm is the well known Johnson, Johnson, Lucas and Middleton of Eugene. They’ve posted the following:

Press Release http://justicelawyers.com/distinguished-uo-professor-files-suit-alleging-discriminatory-pay-practices/

Complaint: http://justicelawyers.com/wp-content/uploads/001-0-170321-COMPLAINT.pdf

Timeline of events showing the efforts by Professor Freyd since 2014 to address the gender gap, without having to take UO to court. http://justicelawyers.com/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-Timeline-UO-Freyd-Discrimination.pdf

Oregonian report: UO psychology professor accuses school of pay discrimination

Klinger repeats his ill-advised comments.

This UO professor has my vote for the Nobel prize in medicine

And for Peace too. Human Physiology Professor Chris Minson’s lab page is here. Discover Magazine describes the research here:

Soaking in a Hot Bath Yields Benefits Similar to Exercise

… The idea that passive heating can improve cardiovascular function received further support when the University of Oregon published a study the following year showing that regular hot baths can lower blood pressure.

In a second study, the same group looked at the mechanism responsible for these improvements. They found that passive heating raised levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. This has implications for treating high blood pressure and improving peripheral circulation in people with type 2 diabetes. As type 2 diabetes is associated with reductions in nitric oxide availability, passive heating may help re-establish a healthier nitric oxide level and reduce blood pressure.

In order to establish the effect of increasing body temperature passively, as opposed to through exertion, another study matched the intensity of heating from water immersion to that of running on a treadmill. Water immersion resulted in a greater increase in body temperature compared with exercise, as well as a greater reduction in average arterial blood pressure. This is important as a reduction in blood pressure is closely associated with a reduced risk of developing heart disease. This study points to the promising effect that may result from passive heating. It also suggests some of the cardiovascular effects of passive heating may be comparable with those of exercise.

Duck student-athletes not to talk to reporters without permission

Update: Reporter Jack Pitcher’s story on this is now up on the Emerald website, here.

3/20/2017: That has been the policy of the athletic department for years. Supposedly it will now change.

This post is related to UO General Counsel Kevin Reed’s investigation of the Duck Athletic Department’s efforts to intimidate student-reporters and prevent student-athletes from talking to the press. The UO Senate called for an investigation back in November, and President Schill commissioned it from the GCO. Jack Pitcher should have a story in the Emerald later today. Meanwhile here’s some history.

Back in 2011, Duck Football spokesperson Dave Williford took to the pages of the NYT to attack a research paper by 3 UO economists that showed a link between Duck football wins and declining grades for UO’s male students. President Lariviere made him apologize. Not clear how Pres Schill will discipline Williford over the Jacoby case.

Then of course there’s Coach Dana Altman’s successful effort to keep his players from talking to reporters after their #BlackLivesMatter protest. The GC’s report doesn’t investigate this. Odd.

Despite what the GC’s report claims, keeping control of the athlete’s ability to speak freely has been “a long-standing policy” for the athletic department for years. Below is a repost from 2012, back when the Senate was debating Randy Geller’s random drug testing policy for athletes. (Sorry the links are broken now, try the wayback machine.)

The GC’s office doesn’t seem to have obtained any emails or documents from the athletic department regarding those incidents that they do investigate – they simply rely on interviews (and one snippet from a Williford powerpoint). That’s a rather surprising lack of due diligence, given how eager the GC was to use the public records law to get copies of my emails with reporters about academic freedom.

That said, the GC’s report does make some helpful if milquetoast recommendations for improvements in the athletic department’s policies. It’s hard to believe they will be enforced however, given the GC report’s failure to hold the athletic department accountable for their efforts to intimidate Jacoby and other reporters – or even accurately describe the athletic department’s actual policies and practices.

10/9/2012 Teach your children well:

Posted yesterday on the UO athletic department’s GoDucks.com website:

There is misinformation about the University of Oregon Athletic Department’s interview policy for student-athletes, coaches and administrators. To provide clarity to this long-standing policy, all interview requests are to be arranged through the Athletic Communications office.

The practice, which is the same at all Pac-12 member institutions, is in place to help manage the interview process for individuals. Student-athletes face the unique challenge of balancing extremely busy schedules involving class, studying, practice, training room and competition. Student-athlete welfare is paramount, and that includes eliminating potentially intrusive situations.

If contacted by a media member unaware of the policy or in blatant disregard for the policy, student-athletes and athletic department personnel are instructed to contact the Athletic Communications office to properly schedule the interview. In no way does the policy require student-athletes or department personnel to refrain from sharing their views or opinions on a topic.

It’s all about protecting the athletes from excessive talking. Orwell would love that last sentence – it doesn’t require they keep quiet, it just makes it real clear that the AD will know what they say and that there may be consequences. I’d interview some “student-athletes” what they think of having big brother Craig Pintens looking over their shoulder, but … .

From what I can tell Rob Mullens and his crew felt the need to re-iterate this policy after the recent public meeting on random duck drug testing, where the lone athlete present refused to speak with Register Guard reporter Diane Dietz:

University of Oregon tennis player Lena Macomson listened intently Wednesday at a sparsely attended public hearing on the university’s new policy to require drug tests on a random basis from student athletes.

And though she appeared to be the only athlete in the room — and so the only one potentially subject to the proposed requirement to give a urine sample — she didn’t take the floor to testify as to how she felt about the matter.

Macomson said afterward that she could not speak to a reporter without first getting the permission of Andy McNamara, assistant athletic director for media relations.

Dietz got one player to speak later on the phone, obviously he caught hell for it. I wonder who tells Craig and Andy what they can say to whom?

NCAA’s revenue “student-athletes” less and less likely to be first generation

It’s a well known fact that big-time college sports exploits the generally low SES minority football players who take the hits and concussions, and gives the money they earn to the generally white and rich golf and tennis players, who get fancy facilities and scholarships that actually leave them time to get an education.  After the coaches take their cut, of course.

But I was surprised to read that even the NCAA’s revenue sport athletes are less and less likely to be first generation students. Tom Farrey has the story here:

For March Madness this year, the NCAA is running a public service announcement called “Opportunity,” which includes images of some athletes from disadvantaged areas who will get to go to college by playing basketball. It underscores the notion that a core piece of the NCAA’s mission is providing athletic scholarships and college educations to student-athletes in need.

But here’s the stark, myth-busting truth: Fewer than 1 in 5 students playing Division 1 hoops, and 1 in 7 in all Division 1 sports, come from families in which neither parent went to college. And their numbers are declining.

Educators call such students “first gens,” or members of the first generation of their family to attend college. It is a closely tracked figure because it’s a key measure of socioeconomic opportunity. First gens are typically from poor and working-class families that have difficulty paying for college without scholarships. For first gen athletes who don’t go onto the pros — the vast majority – an athletic scholarship is their ticket not just to a degree, but also for entry into the middle class.

In 2010, the NCAA began asking college athletes whether they are first gens as part of its little-known GOALS Study, which captures the background and experience of those playing sports at all three levels of competition. In 2015, it did another survey of 21,000 athletes. The Undefeated asked the NCAA to break out a portion of the data on first gens to get a fuller understanding of who gets to play college sports.

Surprisingly, the data revealed that most Division 1 sports experienced steep drops in first gen students. The falloff was dramatic even in the sports most associated with tales of uplift: In men’s basketball, the sport that used to have the highest percentage of first gens, the number plummeted by a third in just five years. Women’s basketball experienced a similar drop. Football fell by more than 10 percent. …