Genetics proposal aims to build research on the mystery of life

9/1/2014: Diane Dietz has the report in the RG:

The university is floating a proposal to hire a “cluster” of three new professors to rebuild the classical genetics and genomics program at the University of Oregon and to launch a Center for Genome Function. … “You could think of it as re-establishing our eminence in this field,” said Eric Selker, whose work in epigenetics mirrors fundamental genetics research.

Researchers are likely to find out beginning this fall whether donors are ready to help with their cluster proposals.

The UO’s success in genetics in the 1960s and ’70s was built on just such a “cluster hire” as the university now contemplates, [Frank] Stahl said.

8/24/2014: Systems biology cluster hire proposal

Diane Dietz has the report on a real cluster of excellence proposal:

The theory is “there might be some common principle that can be used to understand interactions of networks, whether it’s neurons or microbes or genes,” UO neurobiologist and assistant professor Cris Niell said. … Cresko and a half-dozen other UO researchers are proposing a “cluster hire” of five new faculty members — “two luminary senior researchers and three junior faculty,” he said. … “We’re in the realm of Harvard, Stanford, University of Washington. That’s the rarefied air that we’re in. We’re on the cutting edge in ways that are right up there with the best universities in the world,” he said.

8/17/2014 update: Mediocre former Provost Jim Bean on “spires of excellence” and sports product design

Diane Dietz has a report on Jim Bean’s “Sports Product Design” cluster spires culture of excellence in the RG:

Bean: “There are different measures of excellence in the academic side and in the athletic side, but there are also commonalities of how you progress from mediocrity to spires of excellence to a culture of excellence.”

I agree with Bean that sports product design is a natural fit for UO. Yes, it’s another distraction from our research mission, and it’s sure to get a lot of giggles at the AAU’s next meeting. But it’s time to get realistic and focus on doing applied work for industry and training our students in how to use a glue gun.

On the other hand, if this is so important for UO, why would we ever put Jim Bean in charge? He’s been back from sabbatical for years – shouldn’t he be teaching classes by now?

6/20/2014 update: The fix was in for Jim Bean’s Sport Product Cluster ****

The call for cluster hire proposals went out on March 22, due May 1. Provost Scott Coltrane announced the winners June 6, after review by President Gottfredson’s Faculty Advisory Committee. Not a very important review, UO had already posted the request for bids for Bean’s new website, with a deadline of April 30th – before the proposals were even due:

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 1.47.09 AM

6/11/2014: Department Heads respectfully criticize “Clusters of Excellence” decisions

Letter from Department Chairs to Provost Coltrane:

This initiative apparently originated with Kimberly Espy. The March call for for proposals is here. The “Around the O” press release said:

The provost’s office has set aside $2 million for initial hiring. The university will likely repeat the process every two years, he said. After the session, Coltrane said faculty response to the initiative has been “uniformly positive.”

Page down for the Provost’s selection of clusters, released on June 6. Thirty-six department heads and directors, mostly from the liberal arts, have now written this response:

June 11, 2014 Scott Coltrane Senior Vice President and Provost University of Oregon

Dear Provost Coltrane:

We are writing to respectfully convey our collective sense of disappointment regarding the result of the Cluster Hire competition your office organized to select valuable initiatives that could “achieve national or international pre-eminence,” “build on and connect existing strengths,” and help “improv[e] academic benchmarks.” Judging by the titles of, and the faculty involved in coordinating, the ten proposals selected from the pool of 34 submitted by faculty from a wide array of disciplines, it is apparent that not a single one represents the humanities, liberal arts, social sciences, and arts (with the exception of architecture). The reaction of surprise and dismay from faculty in these areas has been swift and widespread. Wasn’t there a single proposal from these disciplines that would help the university achieve the stated goals? It may be that some of the chosen proposals include a social science component, but overall, and unless it is proven otherwise, the humanities, liberal arts, social sciences, and arts are severely under- represented.

We are not judging the quality of the selected proposals, nor are we suggesting that they are not worthy of support. But the message coming out of this process is clear: the administration plans to invest almost exclusively in the natural sciences (plus a few proposals from other areas, such as architecture, education, and sports business). Other proposals, according to your memo, may still be funded “through specific philanthropic gifts.” But the truth is, as you well know, that philanthropic gifts do not tend to support the humanities or social sciences (or do so in very limited ways). Indeed, the internal cluster hire competition seemed to offer the best hope for advancing excellence in these areas because it would be judged by those best positioned to understand the critical contributions of the humanities and social sciences, their strengths, and their potential for pre-eminence if adequately funded. Instead, the practical translation of these decisions is that university investment in new faculty resources over the next 5 to 10 years will almost completely ignore the humanities and social sciences.

There are, in addition, troubling signs concerning the lack of diversity and gender balance among the chosen proposals, despite the articulated criterion emphasizing “building a diverse and inclusive faculty and student body.” Without having access to the entire list of proposals we cannot state for sure whether this reflects a paucity of proposals that included women faculty or that addressed issues of campus diversity, or if the outcome of the competition is the (intended or unintended) result of a realignment of university priorities. In either case, the lack of representation from certain groups of faculty and areas of excellence among the chosen proposals is striking.

This is a very serious issue, indeed. Without strong investment in the humanities and social sciences our chances of improving our academic standings are limited. No major research university in the country can afford to de-invest in their humanities and social sciences programs. The Cluster Hire initiative should have been (and we certainly hoped that it was going to be) an opportunity for vision and creativity in the use of limited resources to improve the quality of our teaching and research in a way that was broadminded and fair across the disciplines. Instead, the humanities and social sciences have been largely ignored, undermining the credibility of the process itself. As former Dean of CAS, you know very well the quality of our departments and programs, the energy and productivity of our faculty, and the enormous contribution we make to the university’s visibility, research portfolios, instruction, and diversity. There is plenty of excellence to build upon in our departments and programs. We hope that your office, in consultation with relevant units and groups of faculty, will engage in immediate and meaningful action to reverse what seems to be an unfortunate and even dangerous trend.

Respectfully (in alphabetical order),

Carlos Aguirre, Director, Latin American Studies Program Lowell Bowditch, Head, Department of Classics Ken Calhoon, Head, Department of Comparative Literature Mark Carey, Associate Dean, Clark Honors College Scott DeLancey, Head, Department of Linguistics Matthew Dennis, Interim Director, Environmental Studies Program Daniel K. Falk, Acting Director, Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies Lynn Fujiwara, Head, Department of Ethnic Studies Lisa Gilman, Director, Folklore Program Amalia Gladhart, Head, Department of Romance Languages Bryna Goodman, Director, Asian Studies Program Deborah Green, Director, Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies Jeff Hanes, Director, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies Ellen Herman, incoming Head, Department of History Jocelyn Hollander, Head, Department of Sociology Mary Jaeger, Director, Humanities Program C. Anne Laskaya, Director, Medieval Studies Program John McCole, Head, Department of History Greg McLauchlan, Acting Head, Department of Sociology Daisuke Miyao, Head, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures Dorothee Ostmeier, Acting Head, Department of German and Scandinavian Paul Peppis, Director, Oregon Humanities Center Jenifer Presto, Director, Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies Program Elizabeth Reis, Head, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies George E. Rowe, Director, Creative Writing Program John Schmor, Head, Department of Theatre Arts Priscilla Southwell, Head, Department of Political Science Carol Stabile, Director, Center for the Study of Women in Society Leslie Steeves, Interim Director, African Studies Program Lynn Stephen, Director, Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Ted Toadvine, Head, Department of Philosophy Mark Unno, Head, Department of Religious Studies Peter A. Walker, Head, Department of Geography Anita M. Weiss, Head, Department of International Studies Frances White, Head, Department of Anthropology Reuben Zahler, Director, General Social Sciences Program

6/6/2014 Clusters Of Excellence Announcement from Provost Coltrane:

I am extremely pleased to announce the outcome of the 2014 Cluster of Excellence Faculty Hiring process.  In addition to congratulating the authors of the ten proposals chosen to form the high priority funding list, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of the groups who submitted proposals and helped with the review process.

There were 34 proposals submitted to the Cluster Hire process, representing a very wide swath of the university.  The proposals were reviewed independently by three groups: the Research Advisory Board, the Faculty Advisory Council and the Academic Leadership Team.  Proposals were evaluated primarily on the basis of:

  1. Ability to achieve national or international pre-eminence
  2. Potential to build on and connect existing strengths
  3. Strong likelihood of improving academic benchmarks.

Proposals were also reviewed on the basis of:

  1. Enhancement of cross-disciplinary collaboration
  2. Building a diverse and inclusive faculty and student body
  3. Quality of hiring plans and potential to meet stated goals and priorities
  4. Enhancing campus leadership in a field of study.

Based on the three independent reviews we have identified ten proposals as the highest priority list for Cluster of Excellence Faculty Hiring over the next three years.  There was substantial concurrence across the reviewers that these ten proposals had the highest potential for fulfilling the objectives for this first round of faculty hiring.  We will pursue funding for these proposals using all available sources and expect to fund several of them through a combination of philanthropy and institutional sources. The ten highest priority proposals, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Center for Genome Function. Primary coordinator: Eric Selker.
  • Faculty Cluster in Chemistry and Physics to Amplify Excellence in Energy and Sustainable Materials. Primary coordinators: James Hutchison and Andrew Marcus.
  • Health Promotion, Obesity Prevention, and Human Development. Primary coordinator: Elizabeth Stormshak.
  • Integrated Analysis of Biological Networks. Primary coordinator: William Cresko.
  • Life at Nanoscale. Primary coordinators: Brad Nolen and Ken Prehoda.
  • Neurons to Minds. Primary coordinator: Ed Awh.
  • Prevention and Intervention Sciences in Special Education. Primary coordinator: Christopher Murray.
  • Securing National Prominence in Volcanology, Volcanic Hazards, and Geothermal Energy. Primary coordinator: Paul Wallace.
  • Sports Product Initiative. Primary coordinator: James Bean.
  • Sustainable Cities Initiative Research Hub. Primary coordinators: Nico Larco and Marc Schlossberg.

The review committees and I found substantial merit among the proposals that did not make the high priority list.  Not making the top list does not mean those ideas for cluster hiring will be ignored.  Cluster Hire proposals not on the high priority list may still be funded through specific philanthropic gifts and we will be working with the Office of Advancement and individual schools and colleges to make sure that those ideas are part of our larger fundraising campaign goals.  The full list of cluster of excellence submissions will be an invaluable asset to us as we move forward.

Please join me in thanking all of the contributors to the process, as well as the many people involved in the review process.  And please join me in congratulating the ten excellent proposals that were chosen for high priority listing. Sincerely, Scott Coltrane Senior Vice President and Provost Former Provost Jim Bean is, of course, already pulling in the pork for his work on sports products: Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 12.35.39 PM

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67 Responses to Genetics proposal aims to build research on the mystery of life

  1. word choice says:

    Every time they use “cluster,” I think of something else.

    And Jim Bean continues to be propped up? Really?

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  2. bean counter says:

    The 10 chosen proposals all sound important, serious, and good for UO’s image, except that 9th proposal…The fact that that proposal then happens to be coordinated by a certain James Bean makes me wonder how it made it to the top 10.

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  3. Severinus de Monzambano says:

    There being so little external funding available for research in the humanities and social sciences, I guess the latter didn’t really stand a chance.

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  4. Diogenes says:

    At least we know where the Humanities stand in the New Regime. Wait! Maybe Sports Products are the New Humanities. O Brave New World!

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  5. Natural scientist says:

    I know several of the people on this list. They are excellent scholars doing great work and I would not want to take anything away from them. They deserve this fully.

    But: Based on the titles and coordinators, I see no social sciences and no humanities. And 20% awarded to senior administrators (Stormshak and Bean). BEAN, for chrissakes.

    As a scientist, I obviously want to see the sciences get well-deserved support. But I also want to see the university succeed with a balanced portfolio. And if I were in the social sciences or humanities I would be feeling demoralized.

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    • social scientist says:

      I think Natural scientist has articulated what many on campus will think about the list.

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  6. Bear says:

    Someone explain to me how *I* can fail upward into multiple golden parachutes a la Jim Bean, because I’m looking for a lucrative career being an incompetent administrator.

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    • nom says:

      I suspect a full explanation would fall victim to the Euler Rule.

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    • Cluster Headache says:

      Bear, I believe you’ve explained the rationale behind the Bean cluster. Look for a line of apparel touting the sport of failing upward, and imagine the possibilities for branding knee pads, ass covers and redacting pens. I predict domination of the rankings – JH has a bunch of ringers.

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  7. Dr.Funkenstein says:

    You know, you’d think they would at least make an effort to include somethingfrom the Humanities, at least for appearances sake. “Sports Product Initiative”? You have got to be joking.

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  8. Anon says:

    Is it possible that no one in Johnson Hall is aware that “cluster” has become a highly unflattering term for a massive multifaceted SNAFU?

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  9. Clustered says:

    Scott Coltrane is putting Jim Bean in charge of hiring people again? What in fucks sake is he thinking?

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  10. dog says:

    The provost states this:

    “There were 34 proposals submitted to the Cluster Hire process, representing a very wide swath of the university.”

    hopefully those 34 proposal cover pages are released at some time to actually test this assertion. I for one, am interested in how many proposals got submitted by the professional schools as, arguably, they might be more efficient at cluster hires – and I said arguably.

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    • Jules says:

      When one reads that a Sports Product Initiative (by a former Provost) trumps all of the Humanities, it’s almost as if one is reading the Onion. It sounds so real, but it’s soooo absurd. I completely agree about the demoralizing of the folks in the Humanities. How self-destructive! I guess it’s good for the corporate metrics–but, when things become this out of balance and counter-mission, really, what’s left of the idea of a university?

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      • Anonymous says:

        The university is perhaps increasingly veering towards becoming a monoversity.

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    • Old Grey Mare says:

      Yes, I wonder how many humanities faculty felt that trying would be a waste of time. I’d like to see how many proposals came from CAS and how many from each division.

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      • Jules says:

        It’s not only that they thought it would be a waste of time. People were actually discouraged from applying. There was a certain amount of pre-selection coincident with the process of developing the CF idea.

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  11. Senior faculty member says:

    Administrators–like Coltrane–from the weaker areas of the social sciences (sociology) invariably fall head over heels for the natural sciences, partly to show that their own work is really “science” after all. Real scientists don’t have such hang-ups, which is why the best deans/presidents for the humanities at the U of O have been scientists. I haven’t heard Coltrane ever mention a book he’s read, though for that matter I haven’t heard him say much of anything since he came to the U of O. (He looks the part, though.) Top notch universities like Michigan and Berkeley invest in the humanities because, among other things, it costs comparatively little to create world class programs. But it’s hard to explain this to people whose brains are stuffed with Talcott Parsons, and who think that what the U of O needs is more sports products programs.

    One of these days the U of O will get administrators who were born after the Truman presidency, who have heard of W.H. Auden, Thomas Pynchon, and Zora Neal Hurston, and whose idea of a good time is not guzzling beer with the good old boys at Autzen Stadium. Until then, we can expect more clusters like this one.

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    • dog says:

      Care to speculate on the time scale over which “one of these days” might actually occur?

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      • SmartA says:

        Hey, I’ll do some surveys and interviews about this and get back to you. I promise that the prompts and questions and their delivery will in no way influence the outcome and that no confirmation bias whatsoever will arise from my interest in the study. No, wait, OK, there are reasons why we social scientists feel a little insecure: Instead, I’ll do some brain scans and molecular neuro-analysis which will show clearly, with a little interpretive push and reductionist chutzpah, that… No, OK, pretty far-reaching to draw conclusions there…But wait: I’ll design a Sports Product, using my Great Initiative, and the marketing of that product will actually bring the awaited “One of These Days” to pass! See the people cheer? And drink? And behave freely and wisely?

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        • cat says:

          And then someone will write a poem and someone else will analyze it.

          (There you go again, SmartA, leaving the Humanities out.)

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          • Hedgehog says:

            Geez, and I thought comedy was a kind of poetry. The comic features of science are not apparent from within the sciences themselves. Limits there are just limits, at least in strict science. It’s when they force the implications, the “significance,” that they start to express human fallibility in a comic manner. It takes a better comedian than I to get at this.

            With the Sports Product Initiative any comic account finally fails before the Thing Itself–at least in any sane universe.

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    • disqualified says:

      That’s a good idea, Senior fm. In addition each administrator should mention

      (i) what music s/he listens to: Dizzy Gillespie, Rolling Stones, Stravinsky, Vanessa Carlton, which ones are acceptable?

      (ii) what art does s/he like? O’Keeffe, Pollock?

      (iii) who’s his/her favorite poet: Newman?

      I had bacon for breakfast this morning, and I’m afraid that disqualifies me.

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      • anonymous says:

        Would you care to explain the remark about your breakfast? It may be a little too postmodern for some of us.

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        • disqualified says:

          I’m afraid bacon does not meet the refined standards of Senior fm.

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  12. Gott mit uns nicht says:

    Also demoralizing: “Cluster Hire proposals not on the high priority list may still be funded through specific philanthropic gifts.”

    Right. Translation: humanities and social sciences are screwed.

    If it’s not natural science, sports, business, or undergraduate education, our philanthropists won’t give a penny. Not that there are a lot of pennies to be had in the first place.

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    • Pollyanna says:

      On the last go-round, the same assurance was published: “Cluster Hire proposals not on the high priority list may still be funded through specific philanthropic gifts.”
      Anyone posting here aware of projects left off the Big Ideas list that actually were funded by special philanthropic gifts?
      I’m skeptical, but willing to be educated.

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      • Senior Professor says:

        Nothing will go to the humanities as long as the “social scientist”, Coltrane, is in charge. During the last capital campaign, CAS did not even fill the position for humanities fundraiser. Hence CAS reported no donations for that category, out of millions given. Coltrane was probably afraid that someone might ask him about authors he’d never heard of, like Herman Melville.

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        • Hannah Arendt says:

          This is the funniest parody of a bumbling humanities professor I’ve seen yet!

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  13. village idiot says:

    The sports product idea must be a Nike chastity belt and mouth guard for all incoming female students to offset the “just do it!” mantra.

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  14. Anon says:

    We’re paying Jim Bean $245,000 a year for this shit. It’s so pathetic.

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  15. anonymous says:

    It’s probably inevitable, but one thing that is so disappointing about almost all the science proposals is how utterly predictable they are, how utterly mundane.

    Wouldn’t it be something if UO actually pitched something surprising in science, something that might actually tried to lead to something unexpected?

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    • Oryx says:

      Are you basing this on the actual proposals, or just their titles?

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      • anonymous says:

        just the titles, I don’t have access to the actual proposals.

        I assume there’s good stuff in most of the proposals, but like so much pitching of science these days, it just sounds like hype in the name of getting money and/or positions.

        Let’s just roll through some cliches:

        Center
        Excellence
        Sustainable
        Health
        Integrated
        Nano

        “Neurons to Minds” — now that sounds kind of interesting — even if every neuroscience department in the world is probably using it!

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        • dog says:

          I can attest that at least 5 “science” proposals were not at all anything traditional or predictable. None of those 5 were selected, presumably because they were perceived as too
          disruptive or too impure or just too expensive.

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  16. anonymous says:

    Having noted the mundane quality of the science proposals — it would be interesting to see the titles of the rejected humanities proposals.

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  17. uomatters says:

    I think the sniping about the science/humanities/social science proposals is pretty silly. You can’t evaluate these proposals on the basis of the title. You can, of course, look at the credentials of the people behind the proposal. Bean’s are easily available:

    http://uomatters.com/2011/12/provost-bean-is-unacceptable-as-interim.html

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    • astonished says:

      Hold it! UOM is accusing the rest of the blog of “sniping”?!? AND of being “silly”?!

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  18. Fullprof says:

    How inept the UO administration is. Any decent provost would make sure that there were strong initiatives in the humanities and social sciences, by stirring the pot if necessary. Your comparative literature department is one of the few nationally competitive departments at UO, but you can’t build something around that?

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    • ScienceDuck says:

      If the academic benchmarks include producing a jump in external funding, as one of the AAU criteria, then things were slanted to the sciences from the start.

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      • Gott Direction? says:

        Benchmarks?

        That’s the problem with this whole mess – there is no direction. Twice now – Big Ideas and Clusters – there has been a call for proposals with no underlying strategy or plan (at least none that have been communicated clearly. “Excellence”, “sustainability” “blah, blah” aren’t strategic choices.)”

        Folks were asked to throw things at the wall and a group got together and tried to craft a unifying approach post hoc with no real criteria driving the choices. So, we get an unfocused mess driven by…I don’t know…Squeaky wheels? Popular “brand” ideas? Keeping up with the Joneses? Fads? Donors? Who knows – but I have yet to see any real vision about how we ought to focus our resources. We can’t be everything to everyone so let’s stop pretending.

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  19. A professor without an axe to grind on this issue says:

    The outcomes would inevitably be contentious, no matter what they were. The process was very bad though. Delayed for more than a year, many fits and starts, and then ended with a mad rush to make decisions. Not UO’s greatest hour, and certainly not confidence inspiring.

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    • dog says:

      agree on most of these points

      While its too late for this, I wish commentators would hold off judgement until the full list of proposals is published to judge what was *not* selected (that might increase or decrease outrage.)

      As far as I can tell, none of the selected proposals direclty
      involve cross-school collaboration (tho some where submitted) and that seems to have been one of the evaluation criteria”

      “Enhancement of cross-disciplinary collaboration”

      this probably just means physics+chemistry or
      biology+pyschology

      and not science+law+humanities …

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      • anon says:

        I think the sports product initiative had several schools involved.

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  20. anonymous says:

    They threw in one token female. left out diversity, humanities & social sciences “Barely balanced”. It would not be the U of O without having a sports-centric element, now would it?

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    • Token female says:

      Even worse than having a single token female, the one they picked is an icon for conflict of interest. She is the director of the Prevention of Science Institute, formed overnight the image of Espy’s own research program and used to take space for Espy’s postdoc. But that’s what our admins do here; they reap handsome rewards at the end of the day regardless of the “competition” (c.f., Jim Bean’s sinecure awarded following a laughingstock performance as Provost).

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  21. anonymous says:

    Off topic– but was looking forward to your comments on this http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/31707981-75/bank-university-cash-levear-board.html.csp

    eez! The Bank of U of Oregon?

    Now they’ve gone “1%’er” for sure–

    “The thought process can be really University of Oregon-centric. We don’t have to think about the good of all seven (Oregon) public universities,” said Karen Levear, the UO’s new director of treasury operations. “We control our own cash. Our cash will only be used to benefit this university.”

    They can invest up to $5 million, without alerting the board of trustees!

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    • uomatters says:

      I went to the trustees committee meeting on this. Standard good finance stuff. I you want to get outraged look at what the UO Foundation does in secret!

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  22. Old Man says:

    The Institute of Molecular Biology was founded in 1959. Ten years later, the UO was admitted to the AAU. No one doubts that the events were related. It is instructive to recall the factors that were central to the success of the IMB. The cluster mode of creating the IMB was certainly critical, but, by itself, would not have done the trick. The early hires in that cluster, who were in demand at Universities with stronger science departments, looked for evidence that the UO was an interesting place. The climate and geography certainly checked out, but so did the strength of the Humanities. That strength, a reflection of earlier economic decisions, provided an environment in which the Sciences were viewed as critical components of a liberal arts education, partnered with the Humanities in a common search for understanding. I can personally attest to the importance of this view of the Eugene campus as a beacon for those who seeded the UO’s success in Molecular Biology. (The support of nonscience departments by early IMB members is documented in Lotte Streisinger’s “From the Sidelines”.)
    Understandably, then, the signal success of Molecular Biology at the UO has not been the establishment of genetic engineering ventures. It has, instead, been its role in the invigoration of the University’s studies of Neurobiology. Through George Streisinger’s wildly imaginative development of the zebrafish as a model organism, entirely new and powerful doors to the study of understanding (“cognition”) were opened. These studies, along with the brain-scan studies by University Psychologists, affirm the unity of the Humanities and the Sciences. The academic reputation of the UO rests on such unity, which is dependent on the strength of both disciplines. It is essential that the UO not chase technology at the expense of the Humanities and the curiosity-driven Sciences.

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    • Gott Grit? says:

      Well said old man. I’m afraid those in charge now lack such insight as evidenced by the ad hoc approach to academic “planning”,and the proliferation of strategic communicators to help us with our “brand”.

      Our leadership lacks depth and courage, having neither the wisdom to know what strategic stand to take nor the balls to take a stand on anything. Until that changes, we will continue to be buffeted by the whimsical desires of our “customers”, shallow trends and I’ll-advised donors.

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      • About the private UO says:

        A new article in the RG by Diane Dietz on the board, the clusters, the donors, the AAU and more:

        ” As a defensive move, the university hopes to embark on a program of hiring new, top-of-the-line faculty.

        It identified 10 promising research areas on campus that it calls “clusters of excellence” — and it proposes adding acclaimed faculty to each in order to boost the programs to national preeminence.”

        http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/31723929-75/university-donors-board-faculty-lillis.html.csp

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        • dog says:

          well this is good as apparently there are already no acclaimed faculty at the UO …. so we have to go out and “buy” excellence.

          Surely recruiting 10 external acclaimed faculty without a corresponding investment in support infrastructure will boost
          us to National Preeminence, over-fucking-night.

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          • pup says:

            It’s a bit surprising that nobody here is talking about this since the implication is that being dropped from the AAU is solely the result of faculty performance.

            Isn’t anyone concerned which programs will be cut to make room for more “acclaimed faculty”? Surely, faculty didn’t think they were just going to add these folks in and not get rid of the supposed dead weight?

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          • dog says:

            exactly
            instantaneous conversion of dead wood into
            academic brilliance and national preeminence

            this is a well know chemical reaction

            what could go wrong?

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  23. pup says:

    Pups know about wood conversion. Usually it ALL goes wrong!

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  24. FWIW says:

    First, I am not part of the faculty for this program, but I am in the B-School. Second, I share some of the same concern regarding Bean being all over this, but that aside, I would ask that folks really look at what is being implemented here. This initiative was fully vetted by the B-School Academic Committees, went through lots of information sessions for faculty in the College, responded to questions provided by the faculty, and was unanimously approved at the most recent faculty meeting. It was going to go ahead with or without the cluster hire proposal. I assume something similar happened in AAA.

    To imply that the Sports Product Initiative did not have rigorous review by the faculty is specious and false. IMHO it is one of the first few interdisciplinary efforts that are less than stellar dean has embraced and fought for. There is a well planned out set of academics and application experiences, notable international cooperation from other universities, and it can actually go a long way to giving the UO a substantive Portland presence — one of this blog’s ongoing (and correct) beefs with previous JH initiatives. Having Dean Bronet really behind it has significantly enhanced the faculty’s confidence that this is something that can be a notable program for the UO.

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    • uomatters says:

      Sports Product Design is not the sort of thing that helps a university stay in the AAU, which seems important to the Trustees, among others. This is a diversion of resources, which we can’t afford at the moment. The well is dry.

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    • Anonymous says:

      A notable program for UO, or a notable pipeline for U of Nike?

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      • uomatters says:

        I’d have no problem with this if it was funded entirely by Nike, Adidas, or whatever. But it won’t be.

        We’ve already paid a fortune for it, including Bean’s exhorbitant pay and the $2.4M a year rent for the White Stag. I wonder if Bean’s charging us expenses for his trips between Eugene and his Portland condo, as he and Moseley used to do with Bend. But the real cost is in more JH distraction from research that will matter to the AAU.

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  25. Jim Bean's genie in a bottle says:

    I thought it would be suspicious if I granted that wish about never having any accountability ever again no matter how badly Jim screwed up, misled, grandstanded, or generally bloviated his way up to the highest positions of power and privilege at the university. But I went along.

    Only later, I realized that all admins already have this superpower. To all of you non-admins: Get used to it.

    The fact that the sports product initiative was a foregone conclusion is less egregious than Jim’s current sinecure anyway.

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  26. Oryx says:

    Please… Being able to predict the future _proves_ how excellent Bean is.
    But seriously, forming a hiring cluster around something you’re already planning on doing isn’t actually a bad thing. There are worse things to be upset about, like the omission of the humanities from the selection. And, in my opinion, the elevation of “sports products” to a category that a university aspires to excel in.

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  27. Old Man suffers says:

    Numerous Department Chairs write, “Judging by the titles of, and the faculty involved in coordinating, the ten proposals selected from the pool of 34 submitted by faculty from a wide array of disciplines, it is apparent that not a single one represents the humanities, liberal arts, social sciences, and arts (with the exception of architecture).” As the Old Man peruses the proposal titles, it appears that more than half appear to be in the natural sciences. He also notes that the typical dictionary definition of “liberal arts” is “the academic course of instruction at a college intended to provide general knowledge and comprising the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social science.” Would one of those Chairs who object that the “liberal arts” are not represented please explain their apparently deviant usage of “liberal arts”.

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  28. still chuckling says:

    “Bean: “There are different measures of excellence in the academic side and in the athletic side, but there are also commonalities of how you progress from mediocrity to spires of excellence to a culture of excellence.””

    Uh … huh?

    Since this field is so apparently wide open, it seems like a good proposal for all Oregon’s Community Colleges with Bean as Commissioner in Charge of Central Spiraling — you know, here’s how we bring our culture up to speed from mediocrity to some sort of clustered forking with jobs at $65-$75K for selling shoes and gym gear, along with the bloggers who have become “journalists” writing about star athletes and their overpaid coaches. Maybe Phil can pony up a few million for ALL the campuses?

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  29. Leporello says:

    Why are you making fun of his wonderfully phallic imagery?

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