Provost search campus forum on Oct 10

Dear Colleagues,

As we embark on a search for our next provost and senior vice president, the Provost Search Committee is eager to hear from the campus community about the qualities and attributes you would like to see in our next provost.

My fellow committee members and I invite you to attend a public input session on the provost search from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. on Monday, October 10, in 123 Pacific Hall. We will discuss the process, review the proposed position description, and take your comments.

In the coming days and weeks, the committee will share additional information with campus, including the formal position description. We encourage you to share your nominations and ideas with us now. Please nominate those whom you believe would be strong candidates, whether or not you believe they are open to considering a new opportunity. Search firm Russell Reynolds Associates has been hired to help us aggressively recruit a strong pool of provost candidates, and they will assist the search committee in taking your nominations at Oregon.Provost@russellreynolds.com. Additional information about the search is posted on the Office of the President’s provost search webpage. 

If you have any questions or comments, now or at any time during the search process, please feel free to contact me or any member of the search committee. You may also submit comments to our dedicated search email, Oregon.Provost@russellreynolds.com.

The search committee is extremely excited about moving forward with this process. We encourage you to attend the public session and look forward to hearing from you throughout the search process.

Sincerely,

Geri Richmond

Provost Search Committee chair, Presidential Chair in Science and professor of chemistry

What did Professor and Exalted Cyclops Frederick Dunn know, and when did he know it?

9/29/2016: 

In response to questions about how likely it was that Professor Dunn was duped into becoming the leader of the Eugene KKK in the early 1920’s, I asked Elizabeth Peterson, the cinema studies librarian and film archivist in the UO Libraries, about local showings of “The Birth of a Nation”,  the infamously racist and KKK promoting DW Griffith film of 1915. It turns out she knows a lot:

My article about early Eugene and Springfield movie theaters has just been published in the Oregon Historical Quarterlyhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5403/oregonhistq.117.3.0452. I discuss the local screening of “Birth of a Nation” on p. 459-460:

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The Eugene Theatre (later the Heilig Theatre) showed the film for three days in the summer of 1916. The Eugene Theatre had a capacity of 760 seats and was in direct competition with three other large movie theaters in Eugene: the Oregon, the Rex, and the Savoy. The Eugene Theatre management ran ads for “Birth of a Nation” for a month in the Eugene Daily Guard leading up to the event. Both the Daily Guard and the Morning Register ran stories about the film’s production (these were likely placed there as PR items), and the Daily Guard’s theater reviewer wrote an enthusiastic piece in praise of the film: https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fk9XAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FvADAAAAIBAJ&pg=4877%2C1815761.

I wasn’t able to find any other evidence of local reactions to the film, although there was a large outcry against it in Portland, led by Beatrice Morrow Cannady. There is an article in the Oregon Historical Quarterly about that protest (Kimberly Mangun, “‘As Citizens of Portland We Must Protest’: Beatrice Morrow Cannady and the African American Response to D.W. Griffith’s ‘Masterpiece’,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 107:3 (2006): 382-409).

Here is a link to a page from the Eugene Daily Guard that has a half-page ad for the film, and an article just below encouraging people to see the film and which mentions its representations of black people (“Master Picture of Civil War Period is to be Here Monday”) https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=fU9XAAAAIBAJ&sjid=FvADAAAAIBAJ&pg=6066%2C1766027

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I have also attached two items from the Eugene Morning Register that were published prior to the Eugene screening of the film. One has a tone of praise for the depictions of the Klan, while the other seems to express concern for a resurgence of Klan activity:

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I did a quick search of the Oregon Historical Newspapers database (http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu) and “Birth of a Nation” played all over Oregon in towns of all size during this time.

Whether or not Frederic Dunn saw the film when it played in Eugene, the publicity for it in local media was such that he was likely aware of it and its subject matter.

9/28/2016 Professor Frederick Dunn was not tricked into leading the KKK in Eugene

Earlier this month President Schill recommended denaming Dunn Hall, on the basis of Dunn’s position as Exalted Cyclops of the Eugene KKK chapter during the early 1920’s. The Board of Trustees agreed, despite the arguments of David Igl during the public comment period that Dunn was misled about the true nature of the Klan. At the time I praised Igl for his courage in taking an unpopular stance in defense of a dead man who could not defend himself. The RG has now published his defense of Dunn in an Op-Ed here:

Dunn was tricked into leading KKK in Eugene

Frederick Dunn, a University of Oregon professor of classics, was tricked into accepting the position of exalted cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan in Eugene for what probably amounted to a short period.

Ironically, it was because of the very fact that Dunn was an honorable and moral man of high standing that he was targeted by the Kleagles — the marketing reps for the Georgia-based financial scam that was the Klan fraternal organization — for this position so that they could use his standing in the community as a cover to make themselves appear legitimate.

It’s an interesting argument, read it all. I don’t believe it.

The 1920’s Klan was spawned by the notoriously racist 1915 D.W. Griffith film “Birth of a Nation”. The movie was very popular, and it sparked well publicized protests across the country over its insidious racism and its positive portrayal of the Klan. Here’s the infamous scene of the knights of the Klan riding to protect southern white women from a horde of black union army veterans. Dunn could hardly have been unaware of this controversy, or of the original Klan’s role in lynchings and terrorism against Blacks, or of what it meant to be a leader of the new Klan.

Newly promoted Vice President pleased with President’s leadership

As he should be. Diane Dietz has the report from VP for Everything Roger Thompson, on UO’s class of 2020 here. It’s mostly good news, and for once there’s no BS about how students come to UO for the winning Duck football team and our big-time sports party-school brand. And take note, freshmen. You’re the class of 2020, not 2021, so take 4 classes, not 3.

Duck athletes to sport officially authorized diversity apparel

You can’t make this shit up. Coach Dana Altman berates his players about their #BlackLivesMatter protest, AD Rob Mullens has a policy allowing athletes to be kicked out for failing one piss test for *legal* pot smoking, former cop Tom Hart is paid to monitor how players use social media and PF flack Craig Pintens regulates which Duck is “made available” for what sort of interview – and #BlackLivesMatter is not on his list.

But it’s all OK. The athletic department supports diversity, so long as they can control it. They’re now distributing an officially approved line of “diversity apparel” to their athletes:

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KEZI has the story here:

EUGENE, Ore. – University of Oregon student athletes will be sporting new attire this season…on the field and around campus. And if it gets you talking, that’s actually what the initiative aims to do.

BEOREGON is an initiative two years in the making and it comes at a very appropriate time with the current political climate. The objective is to spark a conversation about the atmosphere of inclusion for all demographics including race, sexuality, religion and more.

Athletic officials say BEOREGON is a “call to action for all ducks to be their most authentic selves.” It was first introduced at the student-athlete kickoff event for the 2016 academic year this past Sunday at Jane Sanders Stadium …

Dana Altman, on the other hand, wants his “fine young men” to toe the line:

12/10/2014: Coach Dana Altman thinks National Anthem is the wrong time to protest racism

Our fool of a basketball coach thinks he owns those players. They shouldn’t protest when he’s trying to collect his $2M paycheck, off their free labor. Fortunately we’ve still got people who hear someone sing “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave” and actually understand what it means.

Want to ask the players what they think? No. Duck AD Rob Mullens and his PR guy Craig Pintens have a rule about players talking to reporters without permission, and “Benjamin and Bell have not been made available to comment.”

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Quite a contrast to University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds, who released the following statement, supporting the #BlackLivesMatter protests by his football players:

“I have served in the military. I understand love of country and love of the flag and I know that freedom is not free. Many Nebraskans have expressed their opinions about the actions of our student-athletes on Saturday night. Some are supportive. Some disagree, even passionately so. That all are free to state their opinion is the beauty of living in a country like the United States. The same freedoms that protect their speech also protect our students’ speech – whether they’re kneeling during the national anthem, holding a flag on the field, praying after the game or expressing their opinion during class. All of that speech falls under the same category. All of it is protected by the First Amendment.

“The University of Nebraska’s position on free speech is abundantly clear. As explicitly stated in Board of Regents policy which has been in place for almost a half century: ‘Members of the academic community have the right to extensive latitude in making their opinions known … The public exploration and resolution of differing views can be successful only when groups and individuals discuss the issues in forums where the right to disagree, speak freely and be heard is preserved.’

“Our nation is dealing with difficult issues today, as we have for virtually our entire history. Each of us will react differently. College campuses, as much as any space, must be places where robust, even uncomfortable, debate is welcomed and encouraged. Our students, faculty and staff absolutely enjoy the right to participate in these dialogues in the manner they choose under the First Amendment and Board policy.”

Provost gives union full credit for raises and emphasis on merit

Just kidding, I don’t know why our provost didn’t give United Academics any credit for these raises in this email, sent round today. One of the more unexpected aspects of both this and the 2014 bargaining was that it was the *union* that kept pushing for merit increases, while the administration wanted across the board. The union won. For the record, here’s my final post on the 2015 negotiations: Bargaining XIX: 12:55 AM Friday, and we’ve got a deal. 8% + $650 + a look at equity.

Today’s email:

Dear William,

I am pleased to share important information about compensation. Faculty salary increases this year are effective January 1, 2017.

The 2017 salary increases for eligible faculty will include both a 0.75 percent across-the-board increase as well as a 2.25 percent available merit pool. Additional details about the salary increase process are available on the HR website: FY17 salary increase overview.

Last year, the university transitioned its annual faculty salary increase cycle from the beginning of each fiscal year (July) to the beginning of each calendar year (January). With this change, faculty received their last salary increase in January of 2016. Based on the new cycle, the next opportunity for a salary increase is the start of the next calendar year, which is January 2017. We expect that the January 1 increase cycle will continue in future years.

Please contact Human Resources with questions by email at hrinfo@uoregon.edu or call (541) 346-3159.

Sincerely, Scott Coltrane

Provost and Senior Vice President

University Board may sue Foundation for refusal to provide public records

The Student Press Law Center has the latest news here (from Kentucky, not Oregon):

But even the university has taken issue with the foundation’s records-request compliance practices. In a 14-1 vote earlier this month, UL’s Board of Trustees decided that it may sue the foundation if it does not turn over financial documents.

“That pathway towards restored confidence for our community is critical at this most vulnerable time for the reputation of our university, which quite frankly has been damaged severely because of the secrecy and the veil of secrecy and the shenanigans… that have gone on at the University of Louisville Foundation,” Larry Benz, the chairman of the university’s board of trustees, told Insider Louisville.

No correlation between students’ course evaluations and learning

InsideHigherEd has the report on a new meta-analysis, here:

A number of studies suggest that student evaluations of teaching are unreliable due to various kinds of biases against instructors. (Here’s one addressing gender.) Yet conventional wisdom remains that students learn best from highly rated instructors; tenure cases have even hinged on it.

What if the data backing up conventional wisdom were off? A new study suggests that past analyses linking student achievement to high student teaching evaluation ratings are flawed, a mere “artifact of small sample sized studies and publication bias.”

“Whereas the small sample sized studies showed large and moderate correlation, the large sample sized studies showed no or only minimal correlation between [student evaluations of teaching, or SET] ratings and learning,” reads the study, in press with Studies in Educational Evaluation. “Our up-to-date meta-analysis of all multisection studies revealed no significant correlations between [evaluation] ratings and learning.”

These findings “suggest that institutions focused on student learning and career success may want to abandon SET ratings as a measure of faculty’s teaching effectiveness,” the study says. …

President Schill’s reorganization of Johnson Hall moves on to VPSL

Dear Campus Community,

By now everyone knows that I am focused on three pillars for achieving excellence and preeminence at the University of Oregon—building academic quality and research, improving access and success, and enhancing the student experience. So it should come as no surprise that these priorities are driving my decisions to fill the leadership needs for our student life programs and services. As I announced last week, after nearly 25 years at the UO, Vice President for Student Life Dr. Robin Holmes has accepted a new job with the University of California System. Her last day with the UO is October 18.

Maintaining strong and consistent leadership within the student life portfolio is my key objective. We have a world-class student life division that does an amazing job supporting students’ social, emotional, health, and residential needs on campus. But we also must recognize that the demands placed on student life here and nationally have changed dramatically over the years. Today it includes much greater responsibility to address conduct issues, sexual assault, and a myriad of student health and welfare issues, ranging from the needs of fraternities and sororities to the aspirations of many of our multicultural groups. Student tastes and expectations of the basic services provided by a university have evolved and the housing, dining, and recreational offerings are also vastly more sophisticated as a result. Our Division of Student Life budget is more than $110 million per year and the division employs about 850 professional staff members and more than 1,500 students. 

While our departments and infrastructure are world-class, there are always opportunities for growth and improvement in an organization of this size and complexity. Recognizing this evolution in student life and our need to continue to create an exceptional student experience, I have decided to build upon the strengths of the departments and reorganize several of the division’s auxiliary business functions to a different administrative portfolio, which I’ll address in a moment. 

The Division of Student Life will remain one of our largest and most complex units on campus, providing services through the Career Center, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Erb Memorial Union, Department of Physical Education and Recreation, and the Holden Center for Leadership and Community Engagement. I am delighted that Kevin Marbury, director of physical education and recreation, has agreed to serve as interim vice president for student life.  

Kevin has a strong background in higher education administration and student life. Prior to joining the UO in 2012, Kevin was director of recreation and wellness at Old Dominion University and he has served as vice president for student life at Edward Waters College. Under Kevin’s leadership, recreational programs and facilities at the UO have become the benchmark of excellence for universities across the country. Equally important, Kevin has time and time again demonstrated that he is a trusted advisor to our students, always placing their welfare above all else. I am confident in Kevin’s ability, with the support of the already outstanding team of directors, to maintain the exceptional student experience at the UO while we conduct a national search for new vice president for student life.

In addition, I am promoting Roger Thompson to the position of vice president for student services and enrollment management. In doing this, I will move some key pieces of student services under the leadership of a talented and capable administrator. In this new structure, Roger will continue to oversee Enrollment Management, but we will add the auxiliary services of University Housing, Academic Extension, the University Health Center, and the University Counseling and Testing Center to his portfolio. This move is permanent and takes effect October 19. 

Since joining the UO in 2010, Roger has helped make tremendous strides in our student recruitment and retention efforts, including significant growth in the diversity and academic quality among incoming students. Roger and his team know our students well and understand their needs and aspirations. Putting housing, health, and counseling and testing services under Roger’s leadership creates strong alignment between the expectations we set for prospective students and their families during the recruitment process and the experience we provide those students on campus. Having these services under one administrative roof also creates real opportunities for operational efficiencies, while supporting our student success priorities.

Likewise, having Academic Extension housed within this organization offers tremendous opportunities for growth and enhancement of programs that extend our teaching and research mission beyond traditional campus boundaries. This includes distance and online education, summer session, continuing education, and lifelong learning courses. I expect this closer relationship among student recruitment, student services, and academic extension will result in new ideas and entrepreneurial efforts that support local, regional, national, and international engagement. Roger will work closely with academic partners across campus and the provost’s office to deliver a successful implementation of this change.

Kevin and Roger will quickly create a transition committee that will work to ensure the reorganization efforts are a success. Please join me in thanking both of them for their willingness to take on these new responsibilities. I know each will be supported by the excellent existing employees and departments, and each is committed to our shared vision for the UO, to supporting student success and experience, and to maintaining the strong upward momentum we have built together. 

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill

President and Professor of Law 

$16M donation for education scholarships

Around the O has the good news here:

Thanks to a $16 million estate gift for scholarships, scores of high-achieving UO students on the path to becoming public school teachers will be spending less time worrying about debt and more time focused on becoming outstanding educators.

The R.H. and Jane Logan Scholarship program is for students with financial need who seek a degree in education and intend to teach in public schools. The endowment will generate $640,000 annually in scholarships for freshmen and sophomores majoring in pre-education, juniors and seniors majoring in educational foundations (a focus area for elementary education), and graduate students in both the UOTeach licensure program and special education.

President Schill on UO, excellence

From his “Open Mike” emails:

Dear Colleagues,

As I look at my calendar, I am excited about the start of the new academic year and eager to welcome our students back to campus. While every fall brings a fresh opportunity for us to build upon our high aspirations for the university, this year is especially thrilling. We have a year of strong momentum at our backs—fueled by the arrival of new academic leadership and brisk faculty hiring; the launch of the Oregon Commitment for student success and on-time graduation; strong research collaborations reported almost daily in Around the O; the creation of new diversity and inclusion initiatives; the opening of the renovated EMU; the achievements of our athletes on campus and in Rio; and our passage of the halfway mark in our $2 billion campaign. The enthusiasm on campus is palpable.

In my “sophomore year” as president, I will not slow the pace of progress. In fact, we must accelerate our work to ensure that the new initiatives we have begun are successful and fully realized. As many of you may remember, in my investiture speech last June I talked about how important it was for our university to constantly strive for excellence in everything we do—particularly in our work to create new knowledge and to pass this knowledge on to our students.

But what do I mean by excellence? Some members of our community hear the word “excellence” and yawn—treating the word as a noun with no content. However, I strongly believe that while it may be difficult to define in a few sentences, excellence does indeed mean something and must guide us as we move our university forward. I was once told by a very wise mentor to be careful of people who believe that there is only one type of excellence and that they know what that is. Excellence in an educational institution can take many forms and be found in virtually all of our disciplines.

Indeed, at the UO I see excellence around me every day. With respect to research, I see faculty members in the humanities and social sciences filling my bookshelves with extraordinary books that examine the history of religion and gender, the determinants of social movements and language, or the economics of trade and the politics in the United States. From our professional schools, I read books that probe environmental legal issues, analyze global markets, illuminate media trends, display wonderful art and design, and I listen to CDs of beautiful music—all created by members of the UO faculty. I read (or try to read) articles authored by our faculty on genetics and molecular biology, green chemistry and high energy physics, algebraic geometry, and exercise physiology. I host dinners with faculty members who have earned early career research grants, been inducted into the national academies, and earned recognition and honors for their books and publications. Their accomplishments take my breath away.

I also get to celebrate excellence in teaching. I sometimes have the opportunity to sit in on a lecture where I can hear firsthand a faculty member’s mastery of a subject. I have also had the privilege of surprising faculty members in their classrooms with distinguished teaching awards to the applause of students. And perhaps most significantly, I have talked one-on-one with so many students about faculty members who have changed their lives by opening them up to new worlds and insights.

Does the fact that there are different types of excellence mean that all scholarship is equally important or that excellence can only be found in the eye of the beholder? Of course not. Our profession guards excellence with peer review. While we at the University of Oregon certainly get to weigh in on what is excellent, we also look externally to our disciplines and our peers to ensure that we have sufficiently high aspirations that are undistorted by personalities, politics, or self-interest. The surest way to mediocrity is to tell ourselves that the metrics widely adopted in peer review don’t apply to us. While objective indicators such as those provided by the AAU, Academic Analytics, or the National Research Council may not always put us in a flattering light, the appropriate response isn’t to ignore or disparage them. Instead, where the indicators are appropriate we should redouble our efforts to get better. And where the indicators are inapt, we should strive to understand where they fall short and supplement them with other indicia.

As for me, as many of you have come to understand, I hold traditional academic values. Academic excellence is built on research faculty members who are ambitious and productive scholars like so many I have met over the past year. Excellence is reflected by peers who read what we write and find it valuable. Excellence is reflected in productivity, in the striving to create knowledge, and in the desire to transmit knowledge to the next generation. Excellence is reflected by success in getting peer-awarded research grants, recognition, exhibits, and lectures. As we build our faculty, it is this excellence that I will seek to encourage and promote.

One way that we will build academic excellence is to retain our outstanding scholars and recruit more extraordinary professors, researchers, and graduate students to the university. In the sciences we need to provide the facilities that will make possible discovery and invention. In the nonscientific fields, we need to find ways to expand seed support for research, summer support, and, where possible, teaching relief. We need to make sure that merit-based compensation truly rewards merit. And we must break down any barriers that exist to doing what we have always done best—interdisciplinary research.

In short, we need to incentivize excellence throughout our university. Last year we made a number of decisions that reflect this commitment. The Graduate School allocated new graduate fellowships to departments that had strong records in on-time degrees, placement, and student satisfaction. New faculty hiring was focused in departments with high productivity and clusters with strong academic leadership. In the coming year, the new financial model will reward departments that both attract students and reflect excellence in research productivity.

Our state deserves a world-class flagship university devoted to the principles of academic excellence. I will do everything in my power to make that happen. I invite all of you to join me in that endeavor. If you have further ideas about what we can do to support this mission, please send an e-mail to pres@uoregon.edu. I look forward to the coming academic year and wish you a wonderful start to the fall term.

Sincerely,
Mike