AAU update. RG calls out Gottfredson and Hubin on public records fees and delays.

Update: Can Oregon’s flagship university stay in the AAU? If so what do we need to do? That seems like a question of public interest. But not to President Gottfredson, whose public records office is trying to charge UO student journalists $94 for the records:

Public records fees charged by the UO continue to hamper the newspaper’s ability to get records that student reporters need, Stites said. For example, the UO said the Emerald would have to pay $94 for copies of correspondence between UO President Michael Gottfredson, Provost Jim Bean and the American Association of Universities, Stites said. 

“We haven’t been able to get it yet because we can’t scrape up the money because we’ve already used so much money on other public records,” he said.

At Gottfredson’s previous university, UC-Irvine, these sorts of records would be available at no charge. The University of Nebraska, the last university to get kicked out of the AAU, can charge for the pro-rated cost of the pdf scanner and the electricity it uses, but nothing else. Under Gottfredson UO has *never* waived fees on the basis of public interest.

And for the Potemkin Village press release story of UO’s public records office, check out Friday’s report in “Around the 0”.

6/16/2013: President Gottfredson seems hell-bent on raising journalists’s suspicions about the legislation for an independent UO Board. Diane Dietz of the RG has the latest story, which emphasizes the continued stalling by Dave Hubin and Gottfredson on a Senate Transparency Committee recommendation to give student journalists fee waivers, so that they can get information about UO and keep the students informed:

The debate is happening as the UO asks the Legislature to create an independent UO governing board — on the assumption that the board would govern the university as a public body in an open and transparent way.

So presumably Gottfredson is getting his marching orders to cut back on transparency from the donors pushing for a UO Board. Hubin has a lot of quotes about how complex it all is:

What if, Hubin said, a student wanted to know if faculty travel to conferences was done with the lowest carbon expense, and the student asked for records involving 60 departments? Would that be reasonable?

What if? That’s Hubin doing what he does best – running out the clock. In fairness to Hubin he did a great job implementing public reforms under Lariviere. He got the public records office to respond promptly and cheaply to public records requests. But now we’ve got a new president who hates transparency, and at the most recent meeting of Hubin’s public records advisory group Hubin wouldn’t even let the 3 student journalists present ask questions.

Meanwhile, Hubin is fine with letting his office charge Nick Ekblad of the Oregon Commentator $240 for a copy of President Gottfredson’s official calendar. And now UO won’t even let them use student funds to pay to see it. The RG quotes Frank LoMonte, attorney and executive director at the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.:

“We tell people all the time that if the president won’t sit down and make himself available for an interview, then use your state open records law to get a copy of his appointment calendar and e-mails. If the president would open his door and sit down and make time for you, then you might not need his e-mails.”

Speaking of which, it’s now been more than a month and no answer from President Gottfredson to my question on how an independent UO board will be handled under the public records and meetings law:

The current draft says that most of ORS 192 will apply to “a university with a governing board” but it does not say that the board itself will be. Additionally, the intent is to have the board appointed by September of this year, although it doesn’t have any actual power for another year. Under ORS 192 this means the board’s meetings until then might not be subject to the open meeting rules, even if ORS 192 does apply to the board.

Student reporter Dash Paulson had an excellent ODE interview with President Gottfredson back in January, and extracted this quote:

When asked about transparency at UO, Gottfredson said, “I absolutely support it.” However, he didn’t dive into details. When asked about making public record requests less expensive (or free, as they are at his previous university) Gottfredson said, “That’s something we’ll look into.”

Sure. Gottfredson hasn’t let a student journalist interview him since. As for the rest of the press, Gottfredson told the RG last August that:

In the future, Gottfredson said, his presidential press conferences will be more substantive — and not like White House press briefings, where reporters are reduced to hollering their urgent questions at the president. 

“I look forward to meeting with all of you on a regular basis, and you won’t need to shout your questions,” Gottfredson told the assembly. “I may shout a few answers, but you won’t need to shout questions.”

That’s not happening. He’s withdrawn deep into the JH bunker. It’s sad. We’re a public university, we need a president who is not afraid to talk to the press and who is not afraid to share information with the public.

Update: And the contempt from the administration continues. Want to find out about the secret “Budget Advisory Group” where Gottfredson claims faculty have a chance to weigh in on budget priorities?

From: Jamie Moffitt
Subject: RE: [Econ_faculty_staff] cas-heads: Open Letter from the Deans to UO CommunityDate: June 16, 2013 8:16:07 AM PDT
To: Bill Harbaugh , Brad Shelton

Bill –

I would suggest that you contact the Office of Public Records for this type of document request.

Jamie

Jamie Moffitt
Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO
University of Oregon

 Here’s what Hubin told our accreditors in March:

2.F.3 The institution clearly defines and follows its policies, guidelines, and processes 
for financial planning and budget development that include appropriate opportunities 
for participation by its constituencies.

The UO engages several cross-functional teams to assist with budget preparation and
operational assessment. These teams include:
• Budget Advisory Group – comprised of students, faculty and staff; advises on
general fund allocations
• Tuition and Fee Boards – comprised of students, faculty, and staff; advises on
tuition and fees, and evaluates performance and projections.
• Internal Bank Advisory Committee – comprised of faculty and staff; analyze and
advise on debt-funded projects.
• Senate Budget Committee – comprised of members of the elected University
Senate; review and make recommendations on budgetary policy and long-term
financial strategies.

I’d say the reality is a little different. The SBC website is here – not a lot of consultation going on, much less reporting. The academic plan was drafted by Bean in 2009 and then forgotten about  (the 2011 date is when they located a copy of it – not when it was revised.)

The only link I can find to the “Budget Advisory Group” on the UO pages is to the accreditation report itself. How’s that for “appropriate opportunities for participation”?

However the faculty union did learn a little – see page 4 of this doc, which they were able to extract from Moffitt during bargaining. Basically the BAG deals with the small change that’s left over from Shelton’s budget allocation model. If Gottfredson even has a process for setting long-run budget priorities he isn’t letting the faculty get within a mile of it.

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16 Responses to AAU update. RG calls out Gottfredson and Hubin on public records fees and delays.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! It really is quite astonishing to read that quote from MG about press conferences from last August–and realize where we are now. What a disappointment!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This President’s administration is all about disingenuous spin. He and others like to proclaim their commitment to all kinds of ideals (shared governance, transparency, faculty salaries, students) without actually doing anything in the real world to support those ideals.

    From everything I have seen, he’s a fraud on these issues.

  3. Anonymous says:

    UO is right on the verge of becoming really dysfunctional. A new union at odds with the administration, with both engaging in a public pissing match. A faculty that doesn’t really like the university’s sole hope for financial strength and independence, with both parties being pretty prickly and stubborn. A faculty that will soon be engaged in big-time lawsuits against their employer, the State of Oregon, over pension matters.

    I’ve heard it said that UO is gradually dissolving into chaos. I hope the university doesn’t have another failed president — two in a row would cast a shadow for a long time to come.

    I’d really think twice before coming to UO as a new faculty member.

    • UO Matters says:

      Gottfredson has managed to turn what should have been a slam dunk win-win proposal for an independent UO board into a miasma of fear and distrust.

      What could have been reasonably cordial union bargaining with faculty colleagues has instead become a bizarre series of threats, ultimatums, redacted budget projections, and contemptuous meetings with his hired legal team.

      It’s time for Kitzhaber to sit down and have a serious talk with Gottfredson, and probably start looking for a plan #5, or wherever we’re at now.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was not in favor of the union so don’t expect me to blame it all on Gottfredson now. I don’t blame it all on the union, either. I certainly don’t blame either of them for the fight over PERS, which is going to dominate everything for quite a while, I’m afraid.

      But the piece by Gordon Sayre didn’t help, nor does the RG letter today in rebuttal of Tim Gleason — basically accusing Gordon of lying — help matters.

      All in all, UO is rapidly becoming a very bad scene.

    • Anonymous says:

      At a time when union/independent board issues are hot topics and the R-G is practically begging for viewer columns, why on earth didn’t Gleason, The Dean of Communication, write a guest opinion piece? Of course that would potentially lead to explanation of facts, events and proposals and from both perspectives, if he chose to put the University first over his apparent need to identify as an administrative lackey. Instead, he opts for a short and rather misleading letter-to-the-editor, credentials included. Embarrassing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, Gleason is an embarrassment given his credentials in journalism. Apparently, he can’t tell the difference between a fact and an opinion. (Here’s a hint Tim – one of them can be objectively answered).

  4. Anonymous says:

    Among the primary jobs of a university president is to be the public face of the institution and chart a path for the university that will elevate its standing as a place for higher learning that inspires public trust and confidence. Gottfredson has utterly failed at this. The man is a complete cypher and utterly tone deaf when it comes to public relations. I blame his team of closest advisors (esp. Geller) as much as the man himself. The corporatization of the university started long before Gottfredson’s arrival, but even when measured by corporate standards, Gottfredson’s conduct has been utterly damaging to the UO brand. UO has many constituents (students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors), but Gottfredson behaves as if there is only one: Donor Numero Uno. Unless Gottfredson can turn things around quickly and stop behaving like a marionette with Phil Knight as the grand puppeteer, he will be another failed president and UO will suffer the consequences for decades to come.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Remember, in enlisting the RG on your side — they are also campaigning, although much less furiously than the Oregonian, for drastic pension cuts that would have a much larger effect on UO faculty than anything that is likely to come out of the UO/union negotiations.

  6. Hedgehog/fox says:

    If I were somebody, I would call for a June moratorium on this entire discussion. It’s hard to see how any good can come of it. Professors and Deans doing dirty laundry in the RG and igniting right-populists goes nowhere good. I am as underwhelmed as anyone by MG’s communication skills, but I also recognize that he is focused on legislative action on independent boards–the very thing that got Lariviere fired. Getting that legislation right is the best thing he can be spending his time on. Doing anything to distract from that work–as all this discussion is trying to get him to do–would be foolish. There are all sorts of bad moves he could make that would get him in trouble with one legislator or another. For better or worse, his primary duty is building a strong and sustainable financial structure and process for the UO–i.e. securing money. Let the fur fly–if it must–after the legislation is passed. Or work in a constructive and focused way now to get faculty representation on the board.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you ever wondered if what really got Lariviere fired was not the independent board that the OUS wrote and the governor is fully supoorts, but rather his transparency initiatives, his plan to tax sports, his plan to raise faculty salaries (even though a few more admin salaries were raised first), his desire to create academic excellence, and that his firing galvanized for a time the students and faculty behind the independent board ignoring the actual text of the bill?

    • UO Matters says:

      Hedgehog: That’s a great idea, and it’s why the Senate and so many other people – including me, mostly – kept quiet all spring. Then we started actually reading the legislation that President Gottfredson and Randy Geller and the boosters had but together, and we discovered that we’d gone from two voting faculty to one non-voting, that we’d have no input into who that member or the other Governor appointed members would be, that Gottfredson was pulling a shell game with shared governance, and that he wouldn’t answer simple questions about it all: remember the “asked and answered” fiasco?

      Finally we realized that after 9 months on campus none of us really knew or trusted the guy, and that we had no idea what his priorities were. The Senate still stood up for him – killing Tublitz’s motion for a vote of no confidence, and another motion to publicly remind him that the legislation the faculty assembly supported was very different that what we’ve got now. I went along with those Senate efforts to support him too.

      At this point it’s too late to do anything substantive. We’ve been maneuvered into a corner where we can’t fight against the legislation, and can’t do anything to improve it.

      But we can at least be honest about how were were tricked, and lay down a few markers for the future. Putting Gottfredson’s lackadaisical compliance with the public records law, and his hypocritical statements about his strong support for shared governance and transparency into the record is, really, a pretty minimal response!

  7. Anonymous says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Louise Bishop’s RG piece… what an insulting joke. Among the most astute and committed readers in Eugene? Did she say that? She thinks her PhD grants her reading privileges?

    To the point. It is a sad day when the evidence of Gottfredson’s leadership is drawn from a speech. It scares me even further that his supports don’t see that obvious point before releasing such crap into the media. Again… a complete failure to even manage the lack of success coming from JH these days.

    • Anonymous says:

      Completely agree. The shallow analysis of Gottfredson based on his investiture speech is laughable and troubling. She could have saved herself some time and just said “yo — get your green glasses and kool-aid here!”.

    • Anonymous says:

      It will be sad if this is a respected faculty member drinking the kool-aid on the implied promise of an administrative position. Time will tell. 1st Altman, now this.

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