Berdahl to ask Trustees to give Gottfredson another chance

6/8/2014: Rumor down at the faculty club is that Gottfredson and Berdahl are closeted in McMorran House, working on a strategy to convince the Trustees to give Gottfredson another chance. From the meeting packet here:

June 12, 12:00 pm: Trustees roundtable discussion with Bob Berdahl Ford Alumni Center, Room 403

Presumably Berdahl will be introduced to the board as former UC-Berkeley president, AAU, etc. A legendary leader in higher education. Then he will explain to the awestruck trustees that any more turnover in the UO presidency would be so disruptive, and the search for a replacement so difficult, that it’s better for the new Board to suffer an obvious incompetent, the last bit of baggage from OUS and Pernsteiner, rather than to do what most everyone hopes they will do: Replace Gottfredson with Scott Coltrane as interim, and get UO off to a fresh start.

Given Berdahl’s role in hiring Gottfredson (closed search, etc.) and the latest from FSU on closed searches and search firms, this all reminded me of an old post:

5/15/2012: Berdahl on his and my conflicts of interest and UO transparency crackdown. (See below for response from Pres Berdahl).

From Insidehighered.com:

Legislation in Illinois would bar public universities from using state funds, tuition revenue or student fees for search firms, The News-Gazette reported. The University of Illinois has spent almost $6 million on search firms over the last nine years, including funds on some searches that did not work out well. Critics question whether the spending is necessary, while board members say that search firms have recruited top talent.

The News-Gazette story is very balanced. We could ask our interim President Berdahl what he thinks about the costs and benefits of presidential search firms, but he seems to have a conflict of interest:

He didn’t report this on his Oregon Government Ethics Commission Verified Statement of Economic Interest – must not have made the 10% income threshold, which I’m guessing would be about $100,000.

After I posted to above, interim President Berdahl emailed me asking that I add the following response from him:

Bill:
The following is a comment that I tried to submit to UOMatters in response to your suggestion that I have conflicts of interest.  Since the comments are limited to 4,000 characters, UOMatters would not accept it.

Despite your campaign of innuendo, I have nothing to hide.

Bob

Berdhal’s comment:

At last week’s Senate meeting, I suggested that Professor Harbaugh had a conflict of interest because, as the largest single requester of public records, he also served as the chair of the Senate Transparency Committee, which has advised the administration on the university’s public records fee policy.  It is a straight-forward conflict of interest: the largest single user of a public service should not be in a position to try to influence the policy on fees for the provision of that public service.

Now, obviously irritated by the suggestion of his conflict of interest, Professor Harbaugh is responding by trying to suggest that I somehow have a conflict of interest. So, let me set out the facts for those readers of UOMatters who may be interested in facts.

Here is a summary of all of my activities and engagements since retiring from AAU, some of which have been compensated, others not.  All of these engagements involve commitments and obligations made prior to my becoming involved at UO, either as a consultant from mid-October to late December, or as interim president after December 28. I have undertaken no new commitments since becoming interim president.

In the summer of 2011, I was asked by AGB Search, an academic search firm associated with the Association of Governing Boards, to serve as a search consultant on their presidential search operations.  I agreed.  After coming to the UO in mid-October, I suspended that association.  I did not serve on any searches.  I received no compensation of any kind.  Because of a potential conflict of interest, I did not recommend that the UO presidential search committee even consider AGB Search to assist in the UO search.  These facts would have been easily determined had Professor Harbaugh been interested in them.

Because Professor Harbaugh has submitted a public record request of South Dakota State University for the details of my consulting there, let me shorten his wait by laying out the details here.  In September 2011, SDSU President Chicoine asked me to come to the campus to meet with faculty, students, administrators, and donors to assist in their strategic planning efforts leading up to a capital campaign.  He also asked that I deliver a public lecture.  In late November, I spent three days there.  I was paid $4,000. Knowing that I had graduated from Augustana College, President Chicoine arranged with Augustana President Oliver for me to spend two days there, again meeting with students and faculty and delivering a public lecture.  Augustana provided a $2,000 honorarium which I subsequently donated to the college.

In September 2011, I spent a week consulting with faculty and administrators at the University of Chile.  I received no compensation other than my expenses.

In my economic interest statement I also disclosed, as I had to Chancellor Pernsteiner and the OSBHE before accepting the interim presidency, that I have served as a member of the Board of Directors of Lam Research Corporation, a semi-conductor equipment company in Fremont, CA, since being elected to that board in 2001.  In 2011 I received a retainer of $60,000 and restricted units of stock.  I am the lead independent director and chair of the nominating and governance committee.  I was also elected to the Board of Directors of ACT, a non-profit academic testing service, in 2011.  I received $11,500 in 2011 for service on that board.

In April 2012 I spoke at the annual meeting of CASE, the organization of university foundation directors and development officers.  This was a commitment that I made last fall prior to my coming to UO.  I received no compensation for this address.

I am a member of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This commission has met three times since the summer of 2011, once, last month, since I became interim president.  I am also a member of the Policy and Global Affairs Commission of the National Academy of Sciences.  My schedule has not permitted me to attend the meeting of this group.  Neither of these assignments is compensated.

I do not believe any of these activities involve a conflict of interest.

[Interim President Bob Berdahl]

I’ve got nothing against people making money – far from it – but for completeness, the Forbes.com report on the LAM Directorship is here. The “restricted units of stock”mentioned by Berdahl above total about $800,000 from 2007-2010, total payments about $1 million, 2011 is not yet listed.

Berdahl says of my participation on the Senate Transparency Committee:

It is a straight-forward conflict of interest: the largest single user of a public service should not be in a position to try to influence the policy on fees for the provision of that public service.

But Berdahl has no problem with AD Rob Mullens and GC Randy Geller trying to influence this policy, just to mention a few people on the supply-side of UO public records. Yet one of the reasons President Lariviere removed responsibility for public records responses from the General Counsel’s office and set up a new office with direct reporting to the president was the conflict of interest between the job of making public records public and the job of providing legal advice and defense to the university. This conflict of interest led to the firing of Melinda Grier, and the $2.3 million Bellotti payoff, to provide one well documented and expensive example.

I don’t think making a lot of public records requests and posting the records online constitutes a conflict of interest. I’ve been transparent about explaining my role in those few public records complaints that have come before the STC. The STC’s policy recommendations on the $200 fee waiver were enthusiastically supported by Dave Hubin, the recording of the meeting is here. I’ll also add that I receive no compensation for running UO Matters, except for the all-to-rare bottle of donated scotch.

The real issue here is very simple. I’ve posted a lot of public records about UO and UO athletics, many of them pretty embarrassing to the central administration. Richard Lariviere’s September 2011 public records reforms made it easier for me to do that. Rob Mullens and Randy Geller want to make it harder, and they’ve found a helpful partner in Bob Berdahl.

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6 Responses to Berdahl to ask Trustees to give Gottfredson another chance

  1. uomatters says:

    I mistakenly deleted all comments to UO Matters from 5/12 or so til now. I’m very sorry, there were some good ones too!

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  2. Old Man says:

    In order not to dilute my message, I’ll refrain from commenting on the substance of the above. The GREAT thing about this bout is that it represents open dialogue of the kind needed for proper operation of UO governance. Our Constitution was designed to maximize interaction that can lead to shared understanding. If Senate and Prexy become deadlocked on an issue, StatFac Assembly meets then enters a period of on-line dialogue followed by on-line voting. This Blog is demonstrating that on-line discussion can facilitate oen, two-sided, vigorous participation. THREE CHEERS for UOM and PREXY (and Duck baseball).

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  3. Anonymous says:

    gotta love how this guy lists the $2000 SDSU donation to the dollar, but leaves out the largest part of his LAM Research earnings – a sale of $1.7 million in stock he received from serving on the board. http://www.nasdaq.com/quotes/insiders/berdahl-robert-m-658519 Looks like he sold pretty near the historical high too. Maybe some options, so this may not have been his net profit.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe you. Gottfredson hates his job. Part of the reason he’s so bad at it. Hasn’t been comfortable in it since day one. He wants out.

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  5. hmmm says:

    how likely is it that the Board will actually consider outing Gott?
    are there confirmed board members that want to bring it up at the meeting?

    I keep hearing rumors of the board firing him, but i just want to know how likely it is that a conversation of that type may actually occur…

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    • nonny says:

      Think it’s more likely that during the summer, he’ll be offered the job of a lifetime that he just can’t turn down. Poor UO. (cough)

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