Bean update

Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost

Message for August 3, 2012


Last week I mentioned I would provide an update on the Tuesday, July 24 Leadership Retreat afternoon session. That session included participatory discussion of academic priorities for the development campaign and a presentation on technologically enhanced education.

Deans Frances Bronet and Scott Coltrane presented academic priorities for the development campaign. The goal of this session was to delineate our shared priorities for the broad, collective initiatives to undergird the campaign. Breakout groups were asked to pick three themes that best represent the UO collectively and individually, from the following list:

Key Themes  

  1. Scientific Frontiers
  2. Sustainability / Environment / Place
  3. Global / International
  4. Creativity / Culture / Arts
  5. Innovation + Entrepreneurship
  6. Civic + Social Engagement

The top two themes chosen by the group were Civic and Social Engagement and Sustainability/Environment, with Scientific Frontiers, Creativity/Culture/Arts, Global/International and Innovation and Entrepreneurship following, respectively.

Several groups of participants suggested the categories should be presented as a matrix, with such themes as Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Global cutting across all curricula.

Next step: We will continue to develop ideas for final approval by President Gottfredson.

Next week I will discuss the final presentation on online education.

In case you missed it, earlier in the week I announced that Interim President Berdahl authorized a cost-of-living salary adjustment (“COLA”) for most Officers of Administration (“OAs”), effective July 1, 2012. Affected employees will see the impact of the adjustment in their late August paychecks. For details, see



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28 Responses to Bean update

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have some serious concerns about the contents of this memo:

    (1) At the UO (and elsewhere) what passes for leadership is the practice of collaborative management, bringing together large numbers of stakeholders and asking them choose a few ‘themes’ for an entire research university. This type of process is fraught with problems of diffused responsibility and accountability, among other things. I wish we just had some real leadership instead.

    (2) Aside from the leadership style question above, I question the value of the task itself. I have witnessed other universities engage in this kind of exercise as well (which is similar to UO picking the 5 Big Ideas a few years ago) and in the long-run it is always a morale squasher with no positive effects. I don’t understand why university leaders persist in engaging in this. By picking ‘themes’ or ‘big ideas’, you invariably elevate some faculty and departments whose work naturally reflects those themes while disenfranchising others. This sorting is not based on departmental excellence or viability (e.g. research records, doctoral program standing, student interest, availability of research funding) but is based on…Well, I don’t know what it’s based on (maybe that’s part of the problem here – the basis for these selections was not explained), but it seems to have something to do with ‘popular vague ideas of the day’ (‘sustainability’, ‘innovation’…). I’d like to see a vote of faculty/research staff as to whether or not they see their work naturally reflected in any way on the list (maybe UOMatters could put up a little poll on this). I don’t. I’m just alienated by the list and naturally conclude that the UO has no use for the work I do.

    (3) Why is the Provost doling out news about one day-long leadership retreat in multiple emails? Is this an effort to keep us continuously engaged in a stream of communication? Is it to build our excitement and interest while we wait for the next installment? Is it to go easy on our attention spans? I can read more than one or two paragraphs at a time and would just prefer to see a whole (concise, articulate) report on the important parts of this retreat.

    (4) Note that in the last sentence, what was previously ‘technologically enhanced’ education has now turned into ‘online’ education (which is what we all suspected anyway).

  2. Anonymous says:

    I second this request. Please do run a poll.

  3. Cat says:

    I agree on all points with First Anonymous–except s/he left out commenting on how banal all the “key” themes are. Who is not in favor of creativity? Who is not already engaged in creativity in some form? Since when does any university need to reaffirm creativity? Oh, and what difference does it make to put it in a matrix?? It’s all quite depressing really. I’m not sure I want to receive any more updates on this retreat…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dog says

    okay, first let’s decide on what to call these things


    And hell, I am not in favor of creativity. Creativity takes too much work. I don’t get a pay raise for creativity; hell, I don’t even get my own personal fire hydrant. But if you put in a matrix, then its cool. All cool things are in matrices. And when it is cool, we can then call it creative like “technology enhanced education” – that’s creative and it even could be cool. Of course, I don’t know what that phrase means – wait, does this mean if i use Blackboard for my course I can get raise? a hydrant? please – its all so confusing to this dog – why can’t we just keep everything the same. – Go Ducks, football is almost here …

  5. Anonymous says:

    and when you get a longer version of nuttin’ much, it’s a beansplanation
    feeling left out of the loop? it’s due to a beanaclava

  6. Anonymous says:

    He should hire McKinsey. They make great colorful presentations with fancy meaningless words. I’d love to see one of their 3×3-matrices with “grow”, “hold” and “harvest” in his emails. But this is just sad…

  7. Robertson Davies says:

    “As the years went on the interim provost would learn that it was easier to get the faculty to make his car payments than to make them show the respect that he believed should come with his title.”

  8. Anonymous says:

    I don’t like the “big ideas” competition either. It rewards those who can be persuasive to people that don’t matter, like attendees of a leadership retreat. Rewards should come to those that compete in forums that do matter–getting a book published, winning an NIH grant, being invited to give a plenary lecture, wowing a classroom. While there is danger in calcifying or letting the rich get richer, I think it is preferable to throw support behind our most successful faculty and centers, figure out incentives to get them to collaborate with other good faculty, and step back and see what happens.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog Says

      actually I think the Big Idea platform is a decent vehicle for facilitating collaborative thinking and planning on large scale issues. Indeed, some of the submitted Big Ideas reflected that. None of those were chosen. Only Big Ideas with a marketing theme were chosen (e.g. sustainability – yeah ignore the Arena, Alumni Center and Jock Box electrical footprints). So I think it was the actual evaluation and selection process that pissed most of the faculty off, as well as the completely unclear BeanSprout guidelines.

    • UO Matters says:

      Someone on the 5 ideas committee told me they just stopped meeting after a while, and Bean then did what he wanted. Sort of like with his academic plan and the 24000 student max. BTW, does anyone know what’s happened with the faculty hiring part of that? The data at does not look good.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog replies

      on hiring – one thing that is limiting us is the Startup fund fiasco. Some requests to CAS for hiring next year by departments were denied for these reasons.

      And it would sure be nice if IR were to add a column to that table which is TTF/student headcount.

      Well I ain’t doing anything today because dogs don’t like hot weather so I will post a the numbers here in a moment, because I don’t think us lowly commentators can actually upload an images in the comments?

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog Data
      Year enroll TTF enroll/TTF

      1992 16719 609 27.5
      1993 16593 639 26.0
      1994 16681 625 26.7
      1995 17138 656 26.1
      1996 17269 661 26.1
      1997 17207 655 26.3
      1998 16780 631 26.6
      1999 16716 613 27.3
      2000 17843 605 29.5
      2001 19008 627 30.3
      2002 20044 630 31.8
      2003 20033 612 32.7
      2004 20339 625 32.5
      2005 20394 635 32.1
      2006 20388 638 32.0
      2007 20376 642 31.7
      2008 21507 646 33.3
      2009 22386 660 33.9
      2010 23389 683 34.2
      2011 24447 696 35.1

    • Anonymous says:

      Doggone Data

      Data is always illuminating – you can draw your own conclusions from the previous posting – but I few things to try an correct the constant revisionist history that JH engages in.

      1. Clearly from 1992 to 1999 enrollment at the UO was basically flat at 17,000 +/- 250 students (1.5% fluctuation). The JTM budget model launched in 1994 assumed enrollment growth and had no contingency when that didn’t happen.

      2. We had a significant ramp up of enrollment from 2000 through 2002 gaining about 1000 new students per year. During this period there were significant faculty raises and the first real response to the senate budge white paper of 1998 (I think).

      3. Importantly: For the next6 years enrollment was again flat at now 20,100 students +/- 200. A LOT OF PEOPLE FORGET THIS PERIOD.

      4. Finally starting in 2008 the Bean Sprouts and clearly the number of TTF is not scaling. There is no way to spin this otherwise.

    • UO Matters says:

      In 2008-2009 Bean worked with the faculty to devise an academic plan that involved substantial new TT faculty hiring. Then he stopped calling committee meetings and broke the deal by spending the money on a variety of pet projects – including his own administrative sabbatical. Now he wants to change the subject with his leadership retreat nonsense.

      None of the 77 administrators and faculty at this leadership retreat called him out on his repeated failures? They just sat their nodding their heads and asking about the matrix? That’s UO leadership for you.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Nothing wrong inherently wrong with any of the themes, but the approach is tired and mediocre: have administrators discuss their big ideas and then set up a log ~rolling collation building competition for resources better used to address fundamentals such as:
    1 accounting for variations in quality of incoming majors grad students facult research expanding grad students esp phd and placing them well having a reliable mechanism fo annual peer comparator pay increases and on and on. In this sense I agree with last anon where’s the explicit emphasis on quality fundamentals? But the modern university admin game is played by using smoke and mirrors quickly and adroitly enough to move on to the next promotion elsewhere before the smoke and mirrors clear. New prez appears a possible exception but we won’t know for a while so best to keep on alert for smoke and mirrors

  10. Anonymous says:

    In order to move on Bean will need to demonstrate some success here. It’s hard to see anything he can list as major accomplishments. Certainly not the academic plan, the new budget model, or his 5 big ideas. It would take a pretty naive search committee not to see through those. On the hiring side, the new B-school dean is reportedly not working out well, then there’s the CIO disaster, the Denis Simon hire, and the Linton/ORSA meltdown which happened on his watch and still has not been entirely fixed.

    And most boards will not look at the faculty unionization as evidence of his ability to work well with faculty. So we’re stuck with Bean, unless Gottfredson is willing to just cut him loose and send him back to the faculty.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or, to look at this same discouraging scenario from a more positive angle: *IF* Gottfredson moved quickly and decisively to hire a new provost, it would double his political capital with the faculty overnight and at the same time put every other top administrator on notice to step up their game.

      Gottfredson’s top priority in any case has to be to address demoralization within the institution one way or another.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog agrees

      with this – the combined “disasters” which have occurred on Bean’s watch are disturbing due to their campus wide implications (i.e. ORSA and Computing Center complete dysfunction) and this was allowed to continue for years.
      The Faculty have noticed this, even if Johnson Hall has not.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Agreed on many fronts. This approach is a tired retread of what Bean did at LCB – right down to the themes and matrix. It’s been a smashing success there – since that point we have had two deans and two “strategic” plans, none of them really implemented in any meaningful way. The latest is a disjointed, uninspiring mess from de Kluyver, who was chosen by Bean despite serious misgivings from many faculty. Turns out the faculty were right and Bean was wrong – de Kluyver has been an unmitigated disaster and his own choice of associate deans have been as well. One would think that someone who had published on the topic of strategic planning could actually practice it.

    I believe this is another example of the attempted “corporatization” of Higher Ed. There seems to be this belief that we are selling a product to a discerning customer base we have to compete for. To do that, we must follow a corporate strategic planning model and develop a Brand. From those efforts come these vacuous themes from which no meaningful activity will occur. Best case scenario, it is all just marketing and nothing much will change. Worse case scenario, significant resources get diverted into these themes.

    This model is bad for Higher Ed on too many fronts to get into here and others have written about it. Too bad we have to follow the masses here. What’s wrong with asserting some serious goals about teaching, learning and research and get serious about accomplishing those? What’s wrong with just being a damn good University – a place of higher learning and research. That would probably be a unique “brand” in the current climate as everyone else chases the corporate model.

    Maybe that is naive but it would be refreshing. I fear that the move toward a local board and privatization will only make all of this worse – faculty, despite its best efforts, no longer determine the curriculum and course of study here.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Two questions.

    Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think that Bean is an incompetent?

    If he is so bad, why doesn’t one of us draw up and circulate a petition to remove him?

  13. Cat says:

    Or just politely but firmly and unanimously ask for a thorough review–of the sort Tomlin got (which worked out very well, even if the hire of his replacement was, in my opinion, all wrong). I know no one who sings Bean’s praises, and now that we’re privy to winners like the leadership retreat, the circle of those who find him incompetent will surely widen.

  14. Old Man says:

    “…faculty, despite its best efforts, no longer determine the curriculum and course of study here.” Please, Dear Anon, bring you curriculum plan to the Senate. If it is well defended, it may well be adopted. Yes, it will take some time — your time to draw it up and time for the Academic Council to evaluate it and make a recommendation to the Senate. Any such plans will have budgetary implications, so you won;t be able to just grow into a better curriculum. Since these budgetary implications clearly are at the heart of the academic mission of the University, they are well within the charge given to the Senate by the Constitution. None of this will be easy, but leaving it to Jim Bean will mean certain failure. Alternative: give new Prexy a bit of time to get us a Provost worth his/her salary who would then organize a faculty effort at curriculum reform. (Petition is a great idea.)

    • Anonymous says:

      We have two standing committees already charged with “governing graduate education” and “Reviewing, evaluating and enhancing The quality of the University’s academic program” in the Graduate Council and the Undergraduate Council. These committees are made up of elected faculty members representing a broad constituency. I’d like to see the Senate affirm the charge and responsibility of these committees and refocus them on the big questions of what we ought to be doing here with regard to teaching, learning and research. They might even invite them to review these “priorities” from the leadership retreat and weigh in. These are the bodies who ought to be seriously involved in this discussion. In fact, they ought to be driving the agenda and the discussion if we are serious about faculty governance and the roles these bodies play in that.

      And the Provost, as the Chief Academic Officer ought to be engaging these bodies in a more systematic and robust way.

      I agree with a previous commenter that it is not clear at all the rationale for these “priorities”, where they came from, how the members of the retreat were selected, why they are the ones making these decisions.

      Maybe the Senate ought to make a formal challenge to this whole process as going against our Constitution and established governance structure. I know, I know….anyone can bring a motion. But we elect Senate members to represent us and more proaction on this front would be welcomed (this is not a criticism of our Senate members – they have valiantly fought important fights of late).

  15. Anonymous says:

    There is one phrase in the Beangram that explains everything: “academic priorities for the development campaign”.

    I understand we live in a world that requires a development campaign. That is not the problem. The problem is that these priorities represent what we think will sell that is somehow marginally or shallowly related to what we actually are about.

    The flaw in this approach is combining a discussion of academic priorities with a planning for development campaign. Our academic priorities ought to reflect who we are and what we do on the ground, as determined by our faculty, not by what we think will sell to private donors. The development plan should then be about convincing those donors why what we do is important and the right way to go.

    I understand this is an oversimplification of a complex issue, but the process we are using is inherently flawed and cannot result in anything meaningful regarding how we will allocate resources and conduct our academic business.

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