UO 2014 Tenure and Promotion list

9/3/2014 update: Apparently the administration tried to keep this year’s list secret too – even from faculty serving the on relevant tenure committees. Bizarre. Keep these “secret” documents coming, I’m happy to post them.

9/2/2014: Curious about who got tenure and promotions this year? Here’s the list. In the past the administration has tried to keep this secret – even from the Faculty Personnel Committee. I promised not to say where I got this year’s list, although it’s obviously a public record.

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10/29/2009: Curious about who got tenure or was promoted to full professor at UO last year? So are the members of the UO’s Faculty Personnel Committee. According to their official report,

That’s right, Provost Bean refuses to say who has been given tenure and promoted. He won’t even tell the faculty who advise him on the cases. I have never heard of this happening at a university before. Never. The report from the 2007-8 FPC (when Brady was Provost) says:

The FPC chair inspected all decision letters sent by the provost. This is a critical step that should always be practiced soon after they are sent.

The UO administration’s contempt for the faculty is just stunning. Lariviere needs to pay some attention to these issues.

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42 Responses to UO 2014 Tenure and Promotion list

  1. Old Grey Mare says:

    Thank you for posting this. Thank you for writing this. Those of us who have spent hours on the FPC and the DAC deserve to be informed.

    • Anon says:

      Why didn’t “Around the O” post the list and the party invitation back in June? People don’t want to hide the fact they got tenure! Or is the Provost trying to hide the fact he gave tenure to people who the committees recommended against? Or vice-versa? In any case this news comes out pretty quickly, why not make it public? I’ll never understand the mushroom treatment we get around here.

  2. Addition says:

    It seems that there were more successful cases than the total number considered by the FPC? Are the numbers supposed to match, indicating a 100 percent promotion rate?

    • uomatters says:

      The bottom numbers are from 2009. I just included that to show the administration’s obsession with secrecy on whether or not they follow the DAC and FPC recommendations is longstanding.

  3. Double Duck says:

    Tenure is an institution that no longer serves the public interest. It is simply a “warm spot by the stove” for the politically correct insiders, those who kow-tow to the administration.

    It’s time to end the tenure system in public schools and universities. The tide is beginning to come in–see California.

  4. Old Man says:

    In a research university, tenure provides the security that permits a faculty member to undertake important, risky research. Of local interest, it is likely that the zebra fish owes its world-wide fame and utility to George Streisinger’s academic tenure. Btw, I doubt that George ever kow-towed to anyone.

  5. Dog says:

    to Double Duck

    Maybe the larger issue is that the research university is PERCEIVED by the public to no longer serve the public interest.

    I am actually in favor of eliminating tenure in some form (to be replaced by say 10-year peer review contract renewals) as I believe that will protect risky research., Risky research also requires infrastructure and resources (funding). For me, those are by far the biggest rate limiting factors.

    For the most part I think academics value risky research and would not hold failures against the researcher. The public would, the legislature would, and these days the NSF would.

  6. Tenure and Freedom says:

    Tenure exists to protect academic freedom.
    Academic freedom exists to benefit society, by preventing society from shutting down what it doesn’t want to hear.
    Tenure protects not only “risky research” (for example, non-applied research) but also risky teaching. And risky public statements. And risky participation in shared governance.
    Research, teaching, public involvement, and university governance benefit society.
    “Old man” can play important roles in our university because of retirement. How many of our untenured faculty will take risks when push comes to shove? How many would if nobody had tenure — or retirement.
    Get rid of tenure and we become a community college – or high school.

  7. Double Duck says:

    As if the public cared one way or the other about zebra fish research. Tenure was supposed to protect professors who operated in the political arena, conducting controversial research that might annoy the rich and powerful. What was the last time a UO professor did that?

    Now if we were talking about Ward Churchill, you might have a point.

  8. Old Man says:

    Dear Double Duck,
    Aaron Novick advocated the view that a professor should lose tenure if she/he had failed to publish something controversial in the previous 10 years.
    You are right that George’s work was not a matter of controversy to the general public. However, among the granting agencies it was a cause of controversy, with the majority opinion being that to support it would be a waste of public money.

    • Andy Stahl says:

      Professor Streisinger took controversial public positions regarding the health and environmental hazards of certain pesticides, in particular, 2,4,5-T (one of the ingredients in Agent Orange). George testified in the EPA’s decertification process and lectured about pesticide hazards at OSU’s School of Forestry, a venue not welcoming of his perspective.

      • Double Duck says:

        And you seriously think that Streisinger’s job would have been threatened by that? A lot of people were very concerned about Agent Orange, notably from its use in Vietnam.

        No, people like Ward Churchill are the sort for whom tenure is supposed to provide protection, and as you pointed out, it was ineffective there.

        So what function does tenure actually serve, other than to help established professors keep their tushies warm?

        • Andy Stahl says:

          Methinks, perhaps, that Double Duck wasn’t around these parts during the herbicide battles of the 1970s and 80s. Yes, without tenure George’s job would have been at risk. Just ask the non-tenured Terry Thatcher, an adjunct UO law professor and co-director of the now-defunct environmental law clinic, who lost his UO appointment when he represented clients challenging some national forest logging. I was there. I, too, “lost” my little law school office (no great loss as the office space sucked) for the same reason.

          • Double Duck says:

            Methinks, perhaps, that Andy Stahl was still in short pants when I WAS around during that time.

            Sorry you lost the little perkie.

    • one eyed pinhead says:

      Correct – AND – George Streisinger was right pushing for zebrafish – in spite of the lack of understanding from colleagues like Double Duck: The public cares more about zebrafish than many think.

      Zebrafish is used world-wide as an extremely popular biomedical research organism. More than 900 laboratories world wide. At the UO, Zebrafish research has been and continues to be a major part of NIH funding. There is a central zebrafish organism database and an international resource center. Espy was all over them to cash in on their overhead (to fund the Prevention of Science Institute?).

      In perceived research importance, zebrafish is surpassed only by man and mice (pun intended). So – when it comes to controversy – tenured UO profs have had a pretty significant impact I’d say.

  9. Andy Stahl says:

    Double Duck cites Ward Churchill as an example of tenure’s merit, which is a bit strange of its face as Churchill’s tenure did not prevent his discharge by U. of Colorado.

    The useful lesson from Churchill’s misadventures is the pivotal role shared faculty governance plays in protecting the integrity of the University’s academic mission. The federal district court relied upon UC’s strong governance mechanisms to sustain the faculty’s conclusion that Churchill had violated academic norms.

    For the UO’s nascent governing board, the take-away lesson is that strong shared faculty governance is the board’s best defense against a disgruntled tenured professor who must be terminated for cause.

  10. Double Duck says:

    I referred to Ward Churchill as someone whose position enraged the political leadership, and a situation where tenure might have had some meaning.

    These cases of someone needing tenure because granting agencies might not fund their work are a bit ridiculous.

    Tenure has become an “employment for life” contract for self-entitled professors–but nobody would claim that professors are lacking in self-admiration and self-entitlement.

    And, if the public is not served by a practice at a public university, the practice needs re-evaluation.

    A professorship is NOT guaranteed life employment, a situation nobody else in America enjoys.

    • Judges have it too says:

      Wrong. Federal judges have lifetime guarantees of employment — and for the same reason as tenured professors. To benefit society through an independence that does not yield to political winds.

      Federal judges can be removed by the Congress.

      Tenured professors can be removed, after a due-process hearing, by a committee of professors (for going to sleep on the job and other reasons).

      These protections against removal by an administrator are crucial for academia — but perhaps not for military academies.

      • Double Duck says:

        Federal judges make decisions that are political in their nature. Deciding to work on one organism rather than another organism seems rather trivial in terms of needing lifetime employment guarantees.

        And just by sheer numbers, there are far more tenured college professors than federal judges.

        No, the public is not served well by the cozy institution of tenure.

        • Dumb Duck says:

          Reducing the argument against tenure to this statement: “Deciding to work on one organism rather than another organism seems rather trivial in terms of needing lifetime employment guarantees.” is nonsensical and demonstrates Double Duck’s lack of understanding. In addition, Double Duck further demonstrates lack of understanding of what happens at a University by suggesting that there is no research done that could not be made political.

          Double Duck has a priori decided tenure is bad and is fitting the “facts” to the argument.

          Arguing against tenure because professors “get a lifetime guarantee of keeping their job, no matter how useless they are.” is also nonsensical without a shared definition of “useless”. By Double Duck’s logic, professors are “useless” because the statement in the first paragraph is true – their work is “trivial”. But then we have to define “trivial”. I guess trivial is defined as whatever Double Duck thinks is trivial.

          If “useless” means the professor has somehow failed in their professorship duties, then, as has been pointed out, there are mechanisms for removal. The standard for that is high, as it should be.

          By the way, I don’t have a tenured position but I am quite self satisfied (infatuated seemed a little strong) with this post of mine.

          • Double Duck says:

            So far the only professor I see around UO who deserves tenure is the professor who runs this blog!

        • Andy Stahl says:

          Double Duck — To the contrary, “deciding to work on one organism rather than another organism” is a high-risk, career-threatening move for a scientist. Especially when the new organism is a complete unknown, not worked on by anyone ever in history. What George did was create, out of whole cloth, a totally new model for studying higher organism development, akin to the first person to study genetics in fruit flies. It takes a considerable commitment to tread untrod ground, years without any reasonable prospect of publishable results to show for the effort. The adage, “publish or perish,” is no where more true than in the basic sciences, which demand a continuous stream of results to justify the federal grants required to maintain the laboratory of graduate students and post-docs on which a research University relies to fulfill its purpose. Most (all?) of his colleagues thought he was crazy to take the risk, as George had already established himself as a world-class phage geneticist, on which he could have coasted the remainder of his career, producing solid, if not occasionally brilliant, results. George would have none of it. To him, phage genetics had become so yesterday; he wanted to understand the next big biologically mysteries of life. His genius was to understand that the powerful techniques of phage genetics could be applied to higher organisms, if the right higher organism model could be found.

          • Double Duck says:

            But nowhere do you provide any evidence that his job was threatened, which is what tenure is about.

            Ward Churchill on the other hand could have used the institution of tenure, but it didn’t protect him, despite his status, when he made inflammatory but arguably not totally incorrect statements.

            So tenure failed to protect a professor who “deserved” it, and has been trivialized to a lifetime employment contract; something that none of the people who pay the taxes to support these professors enjoy.

            It’s just too ivory-tower to be sustainable.

    • anon says:

      Actually, I don’t see much of a difference between my faculty friends and non-faculty friends in terms of self-admiration and self-entitlement. Strikes me as a strange thing to blurt out.

      • Double Duck says:

        For pure self-infatuation, college professors are high on the list, in my experience. Certainly there are others. But very few of those others get a lifetime guarantee of keeping their job, no matter how useless they are.

        • Andy Stahl says:

          Double Duck’s antipathy to college professors suggests s/he should frequent different watering holes. Double Duck should hang with (some, not all) federal career civil servants, if s/he wants to see truly useless self-infatuation protected by lifetime job guarantees.

          • Double Duck says:

            College professors don’t have a monopoly on self-infatuation–certainly the entire parasitic class of government employees has many other examples–but the college professors have refined it to a fine art.

  11. Double Duck says:

    Yes, the privileged always scream bloody murder to protect their privilege.

    No doubt about that!

    • Puppy says:

      Seems petty and shortsighted to focus on University faculty as the “privileged”. I don’t have the data, but the faculty at UO aren’t getting rich being faculty and many here and elsewhere make great contributions to society. Another perspective is that they are a bargain in terms of value.

      Certainly there are others sucking on the teat of the government in much worse ways. We could be discussing the rising salaries of admins whose value is questionable, or the fact that a failed President gets a million dollar payoff to go away, or the many corporations here in our own state getting corporate welfare, or the millionaires/billionaires who just want more, more, more.

      In comparison, tenure at a relatively modest-paying job for many is a drop in the collective bucket of problems in this country.

      Not sure why you are grinding this axe, Double Duck.

      • Double Duck says:

        “Not sure why you are grinding this axe, Double Duck.”

        This thread is about tenure, and the comments relate to that topic.

        Sorry if any discussion of tenure as a unreasonably privileged institution makes you nervous and anxious.

  12. Dog says:

    let’s not lose sight of the fact that the tenure success rate at the UO is extraordinarily high. I know of at least 2 years where it was 100%. The admin spin on this is, well of course its high because we hire the right people initially. Well that’s crap (I got hired here, so it has to be crap …)

    The UO, in its usual reactive way, has been burned/annoyed a few times with high profile law suits filed for a few cases that didn’t get tenure (under the JTM regime) and after some of those cases, the tenure rate started to rise (particularly in CAS and does anyone know of any case in CAS in the last 10 years that didn’t get tenure – no names please, just a case).

    One thing I would really like to see published is how our tenure rate compares with our “comparators”. When the tenure rate approaches 100% then indeed, tenure is de-evolved into an entitlement and some of what Double Duck is claiming results from that. Clearly a 100% tenure rate does not equate to quality control.

    As I said before, I favor successfully longer per reviewed contract renewals in place of tenure.

    Now one can have a lengthy argument about academic deadwood (of which I belong in that group) but my impression and experience is that the integrated deadwood factor here at the UO is actually less than other places. Most all faculty do remain reasonably active here (not me, dogs just nap all day).
    At one of my former institutions the deadwood factor was quite noticeable and a subject of frequent discussion among various deans and administrators – of course nothing was done about it, just talk.

    So if one proposes to get rid of tenure then a credible and workable alternative needs to be proposed and considered.

    • Puppy says:

      This isn’t true in every College – I know of at least one that has a reputation of not easily granting tenure.

      • anonymous says:

        It can be misleading to asses the tenure rate merely according to the number of files submitted and approved. Often those who have a reasonable sense that they’ll be denied, don’t even submit.

  13. dog says:

    to puppy

    yes most of my remarks are concerned with CAS –
    indeed there is one school that has a noticeably lower tenure rate than others – in the cases I am familial with however, many of the submitted tenure portfolios were poorly prepared.

    • XDH says:

      In my Dept in CAS, we have voted negative on two tenure cases during my time at UO, and both decisions have been upheld all the way to the Provost. Similarly, we have had cases for Full held back or denied as well, so I have not observed the rubber stamp of approval Dog is alluding too.

      I must admit that I do agree with Double Duck on some of his/her points. While I do not support abolishing tenure, I do feel we as faculty should be re-evaluated for this privilege every 7-10 years. My Dept has/had an excess of “dead wood” that could have been pruned long ago if such a review policy were in place. As it stands currently, 6th year post-tenure reviews are a joke as these have no teeth for penalizing long-term underperformers.

      Finally, kudos to UO Matters for publishing the list of those that were promoted this year. Such info should absolutely be in the public domain and thus widely accessible. Hell – this should be something we at UO celebrate!

      • dog says:

        thanks XDH,

        this kind of evidence helps.

        Couple of followup questions:

        1) can you provide who was the provost during these cases? – my comments mostly refer to relatively recent tenure rate behavior (like after 2006). Indeed I also know of negative cases prior to that.

        2) Agree completely on the PTR process.

        3) Yes on the Full professor thing – in fact to me it seems that the process here is more aggressive for the promotion to Full than the granting of tenure.

        • XDH says:

          One tenure denial was during JTM’s reign, the other shortly after JTM. Admittedly, with the insane turnover of university admins that we have had over the past decade, it’s hard to keep it all straight… Was it LPB who succeeded JTM, then JB, then SC??? UOM should do a graph of their salaries…

  14. Double Duck says:

    The question in my mind is not whether too many people at UO get tenure.

    It’s whether tenure is sort of a medieval institution that really serves no public interest at the present time.

    When an elite grants special privileges to themselves, and the public pays for it, I say the public can question the value of those privileges.

    Let the professorial jobs be just like other jobs in America–you get to keep your job if you do a good one.

    Not a lifetime sinecure.

  15. Oryx says:

    Dog, Double Duck and others all raise good points about tenure. But the whole discussion misses a key point. Tenure is NOT a guarantee of lifetime employment. When I got tenure I got the standard letter that employment still requires active research and teaching, just like everyone everywhere does. There’s nothing stopping us, or any university, from getting rid of inert faculty. This occasionally happens, not here, and there’s nothing morally or legally wrong with it. I don’t understand why it doesn’t happen more. Note: I agree with Dog that deadwood is rare at UO, which is great.

    So even if Double Duck’s dreams came true and tenure were abolished, would we start eliminating faculty, or would things continue as is? This isn’t unique to academia; corporate America seems to be even more tolerant of poor performance at the top, “failing upward” etc.

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