6/13/2014: [UO Matters: Because of the importance of this meeting to the UO community, I hired freelance reporter Dash Paulson to report on it. His summary is below, followed by a detailed report on what happened at the meeting. His summary is below, followed by a detailed report on what happened at the meeting. As usual, things in quotes are quotes, otherwise it’s the gist of the conversation. I have edited Mr. Paulson’s report a little, but have not made any substantive changes. Paulson’s report on the June 12 session is here.]
As at yesterday’s meeting, the Trustees were fully engaged and asked many questions, including some tough and skeptical ones.
Randy Geller began by briefing the board on their ability to call closed executive sessions, the potential pitfalls of FERPA, and their basic powers to discuss records.
President Gottfredson made extended remarks, first addressing sexual assault and saying campus safety for students and was the top priority. “There are students on our campus who feel unsafe. Like you I believe that’s unacceptable. As I believe, as you believe, any instance of sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault isn’t acceptable. Not even one…There is nothing more important for ourselves to concern ourselves with.” He concluded those remarks by saying “We’re going to lean into this as much as we can. This is a big, important problem for us.”
He went on to speak about the dramatic changes that have occurred at the University and how important it is for the University of Oregon to change its governance model, “On my own checklist of things to do, having this board checks the first box. And the first box is we have to do things differently at the University of Oregon.”
Provost Scott Coltrane spoke about the new Clusters of Excellence hires and the process that went into selecting the top ten areas for cluster hiring. “We have buy-in from the faculty on this. But you’ll see the final list is very heavy on the sciences and applied sciences.” The list highlights the ten areas that will be a top priority for hiring. “I’ve gotten a little feedback on this … last week I got letters from faculty about how social sciences and humanities weren’t included here, and of course as former dean of College of Arts and Sciences they were unhappy with me.
Coltrane will be working with those faculty whose proposals weren’t picked and “who are a little cranky right now.” [Editor: The faculty objections are about the process as much as the specific proposals that were funded. See post with Department Heads letter here.] Some nearly made the top ten, such as environmental humanities and Geospatial revolutions. “We’ll be funding some of those also” but not at the same level. Cluster funding doesn’t replace other hiring, just different. We can refigure and reshape [this process] in future years with your help.”
Finally there was a long explanation to the board on the current status of the capital campaign from Mike Andreasen, Vice President of Advancement.
At the end, President Gottfredson paid tribute to Sam Dotters-Katz, who will be graduating, and to Randy Geller, who will be retiring this year.
Lillis: Randy is going to give us some reminders on our responsibilities as Trustees.
Randy Geller: “What we’re first going to talk about is the executive sessions.The legislature has provided a list of times when you can go into executive session…and what those are. What executive session means is that you clear the room of everyone who’s not necessary to be there. That would generally include most staff,” only the most important. “You’re not allowed to talk about things that should be talked about in the open session.” Part of the chair’s role is to make sure of this. It is best practice if you’re going into a meeting to leave a notice about that. You can have a meeting that is exclusive the whole time.
Oregon does have laws saying that the media can be present. The chair in that case will brief the media on what the media will and won’t report.
Trustee: Who consists of the media?
Geller: I have no idea
Curry: Me neither [laughter]
Geller: I think the legislature will have to take that up. I have no idea how they will, but that’s up to them. You can exclude the news media if you want, if I were here I’d advise in some cases you do exclude the news media. The second significant area for this board to have executive sessions is where it is beneficial to the public that a seller or purchaser doesn’t learn what the public funds will pay for certain properties. It’s a very narrow extension. Consultation with counsel is a permissible subject for an executive session.
And then the final thing to do in executive sessions is discuss records that are exempt from public disclosure. That’s a pretty narrow list of items. “If you ever want to understand some degree of state politics look at the exemptions from the public records law and you will see things like related to wheat forecasts,” so that’s a key thing to keep in mind.
“Now I’m going to switch to federal legislation” and FERPA. “It’s a 1974 law that was amended a number of times. FERPA was designed around the Vietnam era when colleges and universities were giving information to the government in an unfettered way and students didn’t have accesses to records about them[selves].” Abding by these laws critical for federal dollars. Thinks there’s only one college in the country that doesn’t receive federal funds. “The key thing about FERPA is its constantly interpreted and defined [by the federal government]…the rules are short, the guidance is long.” You can have two pages on one rule. In many cases the guidance is more important than the rules because it tells how the federal government will see cases.
“The latest interpretations and court cases are around what is personally identifiable as personal information and what is an education record.” The courts are clear that an education record is what can be related to a student. “That’s a really broad definition.” According to 6th circuit of appeals that includes disciplinary information and pretty much anything associated with the student
“Sometimes the media might have information that when combined with certain records we have can lead to the identification of a student.”
Sometimes you have the same record that’s held by the university and we can’t disclose it, but another body might hold it and they are required to disclose. That’s just the way it is.
That’s really a challenge for us to know what will be personally identifiable. FERPA issues must be discussed in your sessions because you’re all school officials, and it has to be discussed in executive sessions.
“There’s an interesting question over whether to exclude news media in those circumstances. As far as I know it hasn’t been discussed” in Oregon yet.
“So one of the things we’ve done and in response to new media is expand what can be seen as personally identifiable.”
Geller’s view is that news media should be excluded when FERPA information comes up, too sensitive, but board will “cross that bridge when you come to it.”
I’m sure you will have discussions on that issue [labor negotiations and bargaining]. We have three major bargaining agreements that represent many of our employees. As discussed you will want to have information on those matters so in my view you should always do that in executive session.
Lillis: Any questions? I thought it was just useful to remind us about these issues.
Connie Ballmer: Do you have any sense when these labor issues might come to the boards attention?
Geller: My impression is that representatives from the bargaining units do come to board meetings and other sessions and make public comment and that’s usual and appropriate. You will see that and whether you want to talk about it later in the meeting is up to you. If you want to hear more about the specifics, that’s up to you. “My sense is that the focus of issues you may want to hear about are related to the budget” and economic issues and you might want to hear about that or discuss it.
Gottfredson: The board as you all realize sets the budget. And since personnel costs are our principal cost
Ford: [from his experience] In general The chancellor had a responsibility to report back on labor issues, but we had little involvement with details.
Lillis: My sense is we are new to this and the board does need to know about the issues and be aware, “but not expose yourself to negotiating.” We need information, but “I think Mike’s very willing to share that with us. Shall we move on? Apparently a number of us have the need for access to email and the Internet. In this world you need to change your password every 30 seconds. The IT people who will be helping us with those issues are here today.”
Gottfredson makes remarks on sexual assault:
“First I think we ought to be, I am, extremely pleased with all the progress we’ve made over the last three days, over the last three months. As we’re sitting in this room students and professors are preparing for commencement and I think our board should think about having a commencement as well.” We have gone through a lot of training and a lot of processes getting ready for this. I think it’s fitting for us now to look more to the future than the past. As you know there was a lot to do to get ready to assume the mantle of authority. Let’s talk about how to start doing that. I want to talk about the tools we have for doing that and how we might go ahead. Our next meeting will be a strategic session in September.
“We are now set for a new era, a new undertaking…and that is to attend to this university, its needs, its aspirations….And so with real great appreciation I welcome you to the new era.” Let’s talk about how we can do that, but first I want to talk to you about a topic of great concern. “It’s the issue of sexual violence on our campus. It’s a very real and angerous problem for our campus.”
“This issue has drawn very strong feelings of concerns from among campus, among you, from me.” It has created strong feelings for everyone, for me deep anger, and great sadness. “There are students on our campus who feel unsafe. Like you I believe that’s unacceptable. As I believe, as you believe, any instance of sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault isn’t acceptable. Not even one.” As you know from the national statistics this is not an issue that just affects our campus, it’s all over the nation.
“The level of misconduct of this sort is disquietingly high. There is too much sexual assault, harassment and intimidation and it needs to stop. There is nothing more important for ourselves to concern ourselves with.”
“Let me say, in the general case, the university cares deeply about its students and it also deeply cares about abiding law. We also care a lot about transparency. Our foremost interest is the protection of our campus community…” Gottfredson says this is a premier residential research university, but these kinds of problems hurt that status.
“We’re going to lean into this as much as we can/ This is a big important problem for us. I’ll stop here on that topic.
Lillis: I think this is a good chance to talk more about this
Lillis: This kind of situation produces agony for everyone. Let’s hear some questions.
Sam Dotters-Katz: I feel it’s my duty, as someone who is on this campus every day, to talk about this. “I think anyone who says this president, or this athletic director, take winning a basketball game more seriously than student safety, is flat out wrong.” No one should think this board isn’t involved with this. I worked on this every day in ASUO.
Dotters-Katz says many members of the campus community, including the UOPD and the administration have been unfairly blamed in the light of recent events. He says that though it was an unpopular position to take, that this administration made the hard choice not to violate student’s rights.
Genevra Ralph: Not to take away from the current topic, but I think it’s important for everyone here to get emailed the procedures around this and student conduct code.
Gottfredson presents long term strategic vision to board [condensed]:
The president praises the incoming freshman class this year and last, “As you know the University has achieved remarkable things with each new incoming freshman class” in reaching new benchmarks.
Gottfredson says, “On my own checklist of things to do, having this board checks the first box. And the first box was we have to do things differently at the University of Oregon.”
Gottfredson says that “the game has changed, financing has changed.” The public mission wasn’t being served because the state wasn’t financing higher education at previous levels. “We didn’t ask for it, I don’t agree with it, I’ll never put up with it. There’s an important public obligation for the state to support public education.” This year, the state was only funding 5 percent of the UO budget.
“The thing we needed to do, the thing we have one, is create a new governing board. The old one wasn’t working.”
“You’ve heard me say this, say around the country, and it’s been echoed back to me across the country from University Presidents everywhere, ‘you guys did something that’s not been done.’”
“We want to do a better job. We want to reenergize our outstanding faculty, staff, and students and show the path forward by which we solidify our claim as one of the nations premier research public universities.”
He stresses repeatedly that the University needs to provide the best education and also make it accessible to all Oregonians. “Oregon for Oregonians and making sure that when students wan to come to the best university in the country they come here, and they can come here. We have a great urgency to do that.
One of the challenges Gottfredson highlights is that “We’re the worst financed of all the AAU universities. A couple things we need to pay immediate attention to include the lowest endowment in the AAU.” Gottfredson wants to double the size of the endowment.
“We’re too small on our tenure track faculty.” It sets us apart from our peers in the AAU. We need to set about increasing those numbers. “There are particular pockets of distribution where we need more attention.”
“We will talk later this morning about our strategic capital campaign. The campus has been involved in a capital campaign for four years now. The last capital campaign [under Frohnmayer] lasted about 6 years.” We’re looking to refinance ourselves. “Something pretty big happened two years into that campaign, a certain leadership change, and then something else happened, the board changed. We’re not going to start over.” Too much good work has gone on, we don’t want to start over. “We have a mission that can’t be put off.”
Lillis: I think the best question opportunity will be after Scott talks.
[With a moment’s repose everyone rises to get coffee]
Lillis: “I knew we needed a two minute break because all the trustees left.” [laughter]
5 minute break
Scott Coltrane makes Provost’s report:
The provost greets the board and proceeds to brief the board on new dean searches. Successful picks for libraries and education. New Deans were first choices. Aiming for two more hires this year.
Moves into speaking about cluster hires.
“This was designed to really move the needle on those metrics that really measure performance.” You can see details in those in the packets. What could we add to with a hiring of 2 to 5 faculty something we’re already really good at.”
Lillis: This idea that you can hire 2 or 3 or 5 faculty in a specific area is a really insightful idea.
Curry: Last night Ralph and I were at dinner with a young woman who said she came to UO because she wanted to work with certain people. This is a good idea.
Coltrane: Yes, we’re very interested in it. We have buy in from the faculty on this. But you’ll see the final list is very heavy on the sciences and applied sciences. The list highlights the ten areas that will be a top priority for hiring. I’ve gotten a little feedback on this, last week I got letters from faculty about how social sciences and humanities weren’t included here and of course as former dean of College of Arts and Sciences they were unhappy with me.
The list on the back shows the other proposals. Coltrane will be working with those faculty “who are a little cranky right now.” Some nearly made top ten like environmental humanities and Geospatial revolutions. “We’ll be funding some of those also” but not at the same level. Cluster funding doesn’t replace other hiring, just different. “We can refigure and reshape [this process] in future years with your help.”
On hiring new science faculty, “It’s very expensive. The average science hire? One million dollars.”
Gottfredson: “Each of these are worthy expenditures, but what we’re doing to finance these is align resources with needs and incentivize excellence.” Did a whole new space plan, and have aspirations about [lab] space. “To be the best in the field we will have to do things differently.” We’ll need to house the best labs.
Wilcox: I’m curious, what’s going to happen now with proposals?
Coltrane: “So what we’re doing right now is going back to these proposal writers and telling them what needs to change.” Some proposals will need entirely new labs. What we’ll do is be clever with donations and financing “My sense is we’ll launch the ones we can, when we can, and be opportunistic about it.”
Moffitt: “As you know our budget is very tight so to invest in this in the long term we’ll be able to do some of the financing ourselves, but the campaign will be critical”
Coltrane: “I can’t emphasize enough how decentralized this university is. We’re one of the the most decentralized, decision making public research universities in the country…By in large though we have huge buy in from the faculty because they see we need to be competitive.” I think we’re doing this along with feedback.
Gottfredson: “Any university with a list of quality of proposals like these would fund them immediately, absolutely. They’re that good.”
Curry: ”I have a question. So after the last couple days after listening to Bob Berdahl and now to you … It does feel as though we need focus. He [berdahl] said health sciences, applied sciences are what we need to keep our AAU position. They don’t need a hospital. We need investigators who can get funding from health services, from NASA. We can have that and be in a good standing with AAU. We keep talking about engineering. “It all comes down to what do we want to be? How do we see what we really need as a team? I think all of these ideas are really exciting, and would be great for our team, our team being the university, but if we want to get to the world series, we need to if we can see what we really need as opposed to what we want.”
Gottfredson: Let me comment on that, thanks for the references because it’s absolutely right. Many of these proposals have come from that idea of leaning into the sciences more. Not away from liberal arts programs necessarily, because that’s part of what we do.
Lillis: I think Ann raises a good point, I think we have to find a way for this board to hear the comprehensive idea of what our intent is. It’s one thing to hear it in this, but we’re talking about a pretty unique situation where we’ll have to act like a private school to launch any of these initiatives. We need to be really fully informed about How these ideas go together.
Gott: which is what we need to focus on this September.
Coltrane: One of the things we’ll be doing is to have you [the board] work with some of these research clusters. We have to trust them to make good decisions in their areas. We have to trust faculty to do a great job by themselves. This process fundamentally relies on the faculty to show us the next big thing.
Lillis: It’s a great opporuntiy Let’s hear from Mike, he’ll tell us more.
Michael Andreasen with report on endowment and capital campaign:
Michael Andreasen: Thanks! Yes, everything we’ve been discussing relates well to our development mission. This campaign will be about making room to get the best faculty. The campaign is really about bringing all our relationships together. We’re going ahead with same model as before. We just hired, you might have seen it, just yesterday our new associate VP for advancement.
We need to figure out how do we become more Alumni centered? Corporate relationships need to be rethought. Shouldn’t be just about how much money we make, but about relationships. What kind of internships are we getting for our students? What kind of corporate sponsorships are we getting for our researchers?
“One of the other exciting comments we’re working on is how do we tell our story? What part of the communications apparatus can do that consistently? You cannot go anywhere in the world without someone seeing the O and saying Go Ducks! “We know a lot of that is because of our athletics but we need it to be tied to our academics.” Hired 160over90 PR firm to help us. This PR firm will be funded through alumni donations.
Tim Clevenger: Thanks for the minute notice. We reviewed a number of firms; 160over90 is the one we selected. They are here for a week and we’re trying to meet with every group we can think of. Just listening and hearing about the Oregon story. They are a tremendous team. About half of their accounts are higher education and the other half are private. So that’s a good mix. The second reason we picked them is because they take a very creative and strategic approach to each client. We prefer this because a lot of times when you work with firms like this you end up with a cookie cutter approach to multiple clients.
I’m exited about the opportunity that lies before us that will allow us to talk about our story. We’re on a fast timeline and soon unveil it.
This is an integrated communication effort (same Oregon story for everyone to share). “[speaking as alumnus] We are the only constituency group that has a permanent interest in this institution. We have our degrees for life and our inextricably linked to this institution. We have an obligation to spread our story everywhere we go.”
Andreasen: We have more proposals and more potential for major gifts at a major level despite being down on our fundraising staff by 20 percent I think.
Not all good news, the market was a little softer than I had hoped. The market often is an indicator of giving and it was pretty soft in the third quarter.
Other updates include how the development office is trying to secure funds from donors who committed money in their wills to the University, a large gift to the Oregon Bach festival, $10 million for a new softball stadium, and a projected $100 million in funds raised for the year.
Gottfredson: How big is the campaign now? $600 million. Going to get better. We’d like to get a lot more in the next two years. We’re actually doing better than many universities.
Lillis: How much does a million dollars produce for the university every year?
Andreasen : 4 percent. So $40,000 every year. We will declare a new goal soon, a goal that will scare us, but will also inspire us and that we can reach. Fall 2014 we’re going to unveil the new PR push with the Oregon story and a commercial.
Ross Kari: How are you staying in contact with alumni?
Mike: Yes, we’re getting better at that. We can distinguish between land lines and cell phones now. We’re better at telling what our Alumni are like.
Ginevra Ralph: As you do that launch around the country and the world I would encourage you to make use of us because we’re all over the place. We’re very useful.
Mike: very useful thank you. If there are any more “ducks or donors” who could be reached that would be great.
M Wilcox: So I now it’s going to be a national, international effort, but most of the money still comes from Alumni in Portland. What are you going to do to reach Portland?
Andreasen: We believe 45,000 alums live in Portland but we only know what about 7,000 of them are doing. That might sound small, but it’s important to know their interests. We are going to put new staff in Portland, being more intentional about how we look at Portland.
Lillis: When you talk to us again in Sept. please bring us a little package we could all understand. “If we have as our penultimate goal to improve our position as an AAU institution, there are many other goals, but if that’s our first priority, I think it could be great to have a piece of paper” we could all digest so we can share that with everyone.
Andreasen: In fall we’ll discuss what these endowments really mean for students, for faculty, so we all have the same story.
Lillis: Want more details. We need specifics that we can react too. You may not have those on the top of your head, but bring them next time.
Curry: At what point would we have to start thinking about ourselves as a private institution? At what point if we lose support from Salem, do we start acting that way?
Gottfredson: What you’re saying has importance. Our board is appointed by the governor, approved by the state. We still have really important links to the state, “but we have to start pursing the state’s mission in a different way in how we finance ourselves. There’s no question what is happening. Like private institutions we are increasingly tuition and endowment drive. We’re very concerned about how tuition drive we are.” Time was public institutions didn’t need to worry about it, but no longer.
Lillis: Let’s move on.
K Wilcox: Regarding having a live web cam for these sessions. I think it’s easy to do that with technology. I want people who cant make these meetings to have access.
Lillis: I think we need to consider it, do we have the kind of kind of IT network we want for the future? Starts talking about using new technology over old technology.
K Wilcox: I think we should explore this more.
Lillis: We should explore that another day. We have some more business.
Gottfredson: Yes, we do. He goes on to pay tribute to a Susan? at the table for her hard work.
Gottfredson: This is Sam Dotters-Katz’s last time here. He’s just graduated from law school and we appreciate everything you’ve done for the UO. Thanks for being the first student trustee.
Sam: Thanks everyone. I’ve been here for about a 1/3 of my young life and I’m very grateful, especially to end it by serving on this board.
Gottfredson: Also, Randy Geller is retiring despite best attempts to keep him. “One of nation’s best general counsels.” He’s worked tirelessly and diligently to help craft the language to transform governance. “This is the most important change in our history.” Reminiscent of the very early days of the University. The passion of Randy Geller finds itself represented in this bill. “It’s a great tribute to his intellect and passion. To say that we thank him doesn’t go far enough. This University owes him a debt.”
Geller: “I have always preferred to operate by stealth. This has been a great career and a great place to be. I’m not a duck, I was hired, but I think I’ve become a duck, hard as that is for me to imagine. I am pleased that all 7 institutions have seen this as a useful model to adopt. I am really pleased solely for the University of Oregon.” Geller’s a little choked up. When he finishes he gets standing ovation from all present (minus journalists).
Lillis: OK, with that let’s adjourn.