Short version: It was good.
The board listened to the faculty and the students today. More than that, it felt like they heard us. They even responded. They took the administration’s policy-grab motion off the table, until the Senate has had a chance to fix it and restore some semblance of shared governance. Yesterday’s committee meetings were also very positive. It felt like we’ve got the board that we’d hoped we would get, when we supported the legislation to get UO out of OUS.
Here’s hoping Scott Coltrane and Frances Bronet heard us too, because UO is not going to make progress until someone performs a few Johnson Hall defenestrations.
The Board meeting resumes Friday at 8AM with the first item being a presentation from Interim VP for Research Brad Shelton. I expect to live-blog it too.
12/11/2014 Live-blog. Usual disclaimer: my opinion of what people said, meant, or should have said, unless in quotes:
Full house. Triplett has arranged the room, once again, to keep the students, staff, and faculty as far away from the trustees as possible, with a phalanx of tables for admins to limit unsupervised mingling between his Board and the faculty.
I don’t know who had the great idea of a twitter hashtag for UO meetings like this, but it was used for the Wed Senate meeting and again today. #UOCSPAN. Try it out – but my advice is only use it for meetings, or it will become useless. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23UOCSPAN&src=tyah Agendas, dockets, and my erratic live-blog reports from the Dec 10th committee meetings are here.
The list of UO Board Trustees is here.
The “Agenda” links below go to the docket material. However these dockets are not completely trustworthy. At the last meeting Board Secretary Angela Wilhelms did not post the most interesting parts of the dockets, e.g. Chuck Lillis’s power grab on presidential hiring authority. Even the board members didn’t get that until just before they were forced to vote. This secrecy led to confusion and embarrassment for the UO Board, as noted in this InsideHigherEd report by Ry Rivard.
Meeting of the Board
THURSDAY, DEC. 11, 2014
8:00 am (other times approx.) PUBLIC MEETING, FORD ALUMNI CENTER, GIUSTINA BALLROOM
1. Convene, Call to order, Roll call, Introductory comments and agenda review
2. Reports and Public Comment
Carla McNelly, staff union president: Very emotional – she just got chewed out by a Dean, worried about what she would say. She’s talking anyway. So what’s it about? Her love for the university and rebuilding trust between the board, administration, staff via shared governance. Senate has offered a hand to help board, Coltrane with the transition. Even after the disastrous start. Wild applause from the peanut gallery and Ann Curry.
Michael Dreiling, faculty union president: Special shout out to Susan Gary for her work on resolving this. (OK, in response to comments I’ll censor my own strongly held personal opinion about her ineffectiveness on this board, a little.) then goes on about problems with the policy. (Wild applause.)
Lillis: Repeats the tired trope that the Triplett/Park policy motion is all about screening the old policies. But then goes on to hint that they are backing off on trying to take control of academic policies.
Ron Bramhall (Businesss, Chair of Undergrad Council, UAUO VP): Committed to shared governance because thats what universities are about. Critical time. Shared university is the path to being a great university. (Applause). It’s not just a nuisance. Not always efficient, but always vital. I’m committed to addressing any concerns about efficiency that the board has and working to help resolve them.
Lillis: What do you teach? Bramhall: Management. Lillis: I see.
John Bonine (Law):
Statement to Board of Trustees (as delivered)
December 11, 2014
John E. Bonine
B.B. Kliks Professor of Law
[Note: Bonine started with some light-hearted banter with Chair. He noted that he and Board member Allyn Ford had been on opposite sides of battles over the forests two or three decades ago but were now on the same side regarding the university. Then he thanked Pres. Coltrane for withdrawing the proposed policy process.
[He pointed out that, however, the flow chart for the proposed process did not include the Senate in any role whatsoever for months, despite repeated requests, and only included the Senate two days ago after a crisis had erupted.]
The University of Oregon has been through a crisis of governance in the past week. Most of you haven’t been in Eugene during that time. You have only come here after the resolution of that crisis. You may not have known about it because you don’t read our local newspaper, with its front-page headlines. And you certainly don’t know what has gone on behind the scenes, out of the scrutiny of our news media. Are important documents about in your Board packet? No, but I have just handed one out.
The most dangerous crisis is not the one that you read about in the newspapers just as it is being resolved. It is the one that festers beneath the surface until normal resolution is impossible. Like Penn State and Joe Paterno. You need to have your ears to the ground, not just in the meeting rooms. You need to talk with faculty that you seek out – not just those who are presented to you by someone as useful ones to interview. [Note: Bonine also said the Administration needs to reach out better, and thanked those who recently have.]
The University of Oregon has been through a crisis of integrity for the past two weeks. You don’t know about it because you were not at the emergency meeting of the University Senate last night. A distinguished professor of philosophy reported how in response to a strike of graduate students, the Administration put in place mechanisms that resulted in instructors being removed as “instructors of record.” That’s not news. But then some administrators allegedly negotiated with individual students to give them the grades the students wanted – not the grades they had earned, but the grades they wanted to be on their transcripts.
The Senate voted to launch an investigation into this report and other alleged actions compromising academic integrity. Are the resolutions adopted yesterday, which can lead to a public scandal when the investigations are over, in your Board packet? I doubt it.
The University has been through a crisis of sexual assault for the past 8 months, some of it quite public last spring, some of it working continuing below the public radar during summer and fall. The University refused to fund a scientific survey of sexual assault, the researcher found other sources of funds, and the study revealed that 20 students per week, mostly female, are being raped or the subject of attempted rape at this institution every week. Is that in your Board packet for this meeting? [Later, Board Secretary came up to Bonine to say that the Task Force report had been sent to them a few weeks ago when it came out.]
Now a new survey will be done by a politicized national organization for the explicit purpose of helping resist or shape national legislation. What if its different methodology reports that only 10 University of Oregon young women are being sexually assaulted each week? What if it claims only an average of one every day? Will there be no crisis? [Chair Lillis interrupted to suggest that Bonine’s time had expired. Bonine said he was almost finished.]
I’m not going away. [People on the Board chuckled.] I doubt that I will ever retire. Does my viewpoint matter? Does the viewpoint of the professor who is head of the faculty union matter? What about the psychology professor whom a Vice President of this University insulted, demeaning her research to the press?
I mention these because we are not widgets here in some factory. And we are not producing widgets. You entrust us – not the Administration but the faculty – with the education of the next generation of this state and this country. You entrust us to take over where parents and high schools have left off, ushering our young charges into an adult world of living on their own, responsibility, creativity, continuity of American civilization, and democratic ideals.
The University of Oregon is going from crisis to crisis and as far as you are concerned, things are being handled well. They are not. Call us up on the phone. Email us. Talk to us.
You need to trust us. We need to know each other, so we can trust each other..
(Wild applause.) Bonine passes out pop-quiz to board members as applause goes on.
Lillis: Next speaker is Mark Alfano (Ethics). Alfano: On the way over I killed someone. You might want to know if it was intentional, negligent? On your way here, you did a very bad thing. You killed irony. Coltrane’s research is on paid parental leave – but he opposed that leave for the grad students. You are called the Trustees. We don’t trust you anymore. I want to stay at UO, and I want it to be a real university. Asking you to please – show us that you can trust you. (More wild applause)
Gordon Sayre (English, colonial american lit, former Senate Pres.): We appreciate you coming to the Senate two weeks and talking to the Senate. Very important for you to engage in that kind of that outreach. I was part of creating the Senate and the Constitution. These founding documents form the legitimacy of our Senate and shared governance. You said you wanted us to move quickly. I think you’ve seen we can. But keep in mind we are always working behind the scenes, diligently and thoroughly. We need to be able to continue doing this. (More applause.)
Springer (GTF Poli Sci, from Germany): Why did the board let the administration fight with the graduate students. You need to tell the administration their job is to implement the policies that the faculty and the students need. These reforms are needed to fulfill the mission of the university to educate citizens. Puts in a pitch for a university that will produce more Hegels.
Lillis: Your observations were valid, except maybe about Hegel.
Judith Lechner (German): One of the strikebreaking tactics was to threaten international students with deportation. This was hurtful because we are away from our families, so we identify with the university. And suddenly our university was threatening us. Also, I am on the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board, please look into the international student fee and how it is used. (Applause, whistles.)
Jennifer Ellis (Business, Finance, Economics): A grad student alum. I would like to ask the board to reinstate the Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. Just after he found out about the rape allegations Gottfredson took our power away. We want Coltrane to require the athletic department to provide us with the information we need to do our work. Applause.
Looks to me like the board is sort of appreciating the frank statements they’re hearing. Who wouldn’t when you know you’re going to have to listen to Robin Holmes give her give her pablum.
ASUO President’s Report
Two students from ASUO, I missed the names. We are starting campaigns for free STD testing, food bank, cultural competency, counseling services. We’ve been in full support of the GTFF. Petitioning, informing the undergrads about what is going on at the university. We also led a sit-in at Johnson Hall. (Wild applause.)
Senate President’s Report
Senate President Kyr: What been hearing is first person testimony from people who deserve your respect and whom you need to hear. I’m am asking you to reconsider my proposal to create a Senate liason with Board.
You have been hearing profound anger and mistrust with the people that you are charged with leaading. Trust is broken down, other things are in peril. You’ve heard from many speakers about shared governance. We need you to affirm our Constitution today so the university will know we share a joint commitmment to these goals.
I have to say that the Dean who challenged Carla McNeely also challenged me today and said the Senate was “off the rails”. We believe in you, but we need to rebuild trust.
The senate will be investigating the administration schemes for grading plans during the strike, and alleged retaliation.
This is not a witch-hunt. It’s an effort to find out what happened, and then fix it. I would like Amanda to distribute the motion:
2.1 BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the University Senate conveys appreciation to the university community, the Senate President, and the Senate Executive Committee for their vigilance in recognizing and acting decisively in asking President Coltrane to advocate to the Board of Trustees for the full preservation and integrity of the University Constitution and the process of shared governance;
2.2 AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the University Senate commends President Coltrane for his decision to present the concerns of the university community, the Senate President, and the Senate Executive Committee to the Board of Trustees to postpone a vote on “The Policy on University Policies,” and to fully engage in a process of consultation with the University Senate in the fashion legitimated by Section 7 of the University of Oregon Constitution and as outlined in the current Policy on Policies;
2.3 AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the University Senate commits to collaborating with the University President and the Board of Trustees to fully participate in an orderly and efficient review (and reworking as necessary) of all policies related to the academic mission of the University;
2.4 AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the University Senate once again wholeheartedly reaffirms the University Charter, the University of Oregon Constitution, and the Policy on Policies [01.00.01 and 01.00.02], subject to any revision of the Policy on Policies through a collaborative process that honors shared governance.
Mary Wilcox on the euphemistically named “President’s Review Panel“. Coltrane will review our report and the Senate Task Force report and make recommendations.
Coltrane: He’s heard us, but no action items. How about throwing us a bone, like “This university will not hire HLGR again, period.”
Bronet: Stuff about new dorm, sustainability program in architecture. UO’s historical campus is the work of Ellis Lawrence, while he was Dean of Architecture at UO. Bronet explains why the design work will be contracted out this time. Give UO’s excellent faculty a shoutout.
Coltrane: Notes Ballmers’ generous gift for low SES Pathways program, and for cluster hand. We launched the fundraising drive last month in the big-tent.
Kurt Wilcox: Thanks Lillis for the way he conducted this morning’s public comment period. (Yes, very well done.)
Lillis: We are trying to get direct input from the faculty and “academic leaders” about where we are good, and were we can be great. Complicated because we have to raise the money, and put it into budget plans.
Ann Curry: Clear there is a passion for making this a great university. I can speak for the board in saying there is great respect for the faculty, staff, grad students, students. We have a shared wish for a renaissance here. Communicating better will help us get there.
3. Committee Reports / Seconded Motions and Referrals
3.1 Executive and Audit Committee Report and Referrals
‐Resolution: Policy Development Process (Action)
‐Resolution: Repeal of Inapplicable Policies (Action)
Postponed, at the cost of 500 or so hours of faculty time, right in the middle of finals.
3.2 Academic and Student Affairs Committee Report and Seconded Motions
‐Resolution: Sports Product Management Program (Action)
Bean gets his $250K sinecure, doesn’t even bother to show his face.
‐Resolution: University Obudsperson (Action)
Bruce MacAllister, Ombud: The Ombud professional association says confidentiality is crucial in some situations. Works with sexual assault, harassment, whistleblowers. Confidence that we have appropriate staff to handle student complaints. Less true with staff. Compliance environment is rigorous, will work with admins to get them his input on how to improve this.
3.3 Finance and Facilities Committee Report and Seconded Motions
Lillis to Kyr: We’ve now agreed to work with the Senate on policies and fix the Triplett/Park mess. We need to revoke the clearly obsolete policies. Seems OK with Kyr. The Board revokes them.
‐Resolution: Tuition and Fee Process (Action)
Passes with revisions from ASUO.
‐Resolutions: University Bonding Authority (Actions)
Ross Kari presents. See my committee blogging. UO borrowing, $50M in general revenue bonds for EMU, these will be repaid by students, after Robin Holmes hired a political consulting firm to manipulate the students into voting for it. Other than that old history, these are all sensible well thought out finance deals. Or as Lillis puts it, “we’re voting to reduce the cost of past borrowing.”
Kari: Moffitt presented financial reports, it’s all good. (I’m not sure if Wilhelms has put them online yet, if not I’ll scan them later.)
Curry: When we signed onto this board we were told this university was in critical financial shape. I’m not taking issue with this, but We need to establish our real priorities. More buildings, more personnel?
Moffitt: I think about limited resources all the time. We have many pressing needs. (And she keeps letting the athletic department and her husband’s law school take money from the rest of campus, whenever we do get a little ahead.) This particular project is funded with residence fees, and it will be efficient since it can share the GSH dining area.
Curry: Thanks, but funding things which may not have a financial return is critical to the growth and health of UO. How to we protect academic standards as in the mission statement?
Lillis: It would probably be helpful to hear a presentation on the academic strategy again, and also from Mike Andreassen, about what sorts of things donors will support.
(My suggestion: Tax donations to athletics and spend on things consistent with our academic goals.)
3.4 Presidential Factors Committee Report
Ginevra Ralph: Charged with establishing an evaluation process for the president, based on academic plan. We meet at 2PM tomorrow. Their will be an annual evaluation and a more in depth triennial one. We will also establish the president’s compensation.
Lillis: We’re searching for a new president, terms of evaluation will matter. This committee is meant to help the board manage and compensate the president.
(Good news: The UO Board is not going to put up with the sort of secretive review that Gottfredson got away with from OUS:)
And in an admirable bit of transparency (It took months and finally an order from the Oregon Attorney General to get these comparisons for Frohnmayer) they’ve even posted the comparison data showing that UO is quite generous with its presidents, compared to peers with similar budgets etc.:
3.5 Presidential Search Committee Report
Ballmer: We solicited campus input. “High on the list was a new president who would support shared governance and rebuild trust.” (Thank you for saying that, Ms Ballmer!) Search firms suggest quick timelines, final interviews in April. Post-bowl buzz will help. (Me: Not in recruiting a president the faculty will want.) I’ve been humbled in seeing all the hopes people have for this.
Curry: Will candidate have substantial academic experience? Ballmer: We recognize it would be difficult to bring someone without that experience to campus.
Break, back at 11:
4. Invited Presentation – Oregon Education Investment Board
Nancy Golden, Oregon’s Chief Education Officer, will give trustees an overview of the OEIB and
its relationship to universities when it comes to state appropriations for education.
(Full legit journalist disclosure: I’ve got a conflict of interest on this one given my involvement with SAIL. I think Ms Golden is great, she was a big SAIL supporter when she ran the Springfield schools, and I’m mostly listening not blogging. Her usual argument, which the data backs – and she knows her data – is that the payoffs for investing in quality daycare and pre-K are higher than the payoffs from higher education. This is not an argument that a university board is going to like. On the other hand, these investments will increase college enrollment and college student performance. And the payoff to higher education investments are still much higher than most other investments. Or as Ben Franklin said, “An investment in education pays the best interest”)
Outcomes for Oregon students are improving slowly, but the “opportunity gap” for low SES and minority children is not closing. Research shows high payoff to high quality daycare. (She’s right – see the work of economist Jim Heckman):
She goes on to talk about the importance of pipeline projects for Middle and HS students – make them all take college entrance exams. Wants to get college professors to work with HS teachers to give low SES HS access to quality college credit classes. Passing such a class increases college enrollment.
Gov’s budget will double money for Oregon Opportunity Grants. This is the sort of program that Connie Ballmer just gave UO $25M for. They should talk.
Talks about the success of “pathways programs” with coordination between school districts and universities, including UO.
Getting some good questions from the board, but I’ve got to leave, for the day, sorry. Back at 8AM Friday.
12:00 pm – Lunch Presentation
5. Overview of UO’s Information Technology Infrastructure
Melissa Woo, the UO’s chief information officer, will present to the Board an overview of the
university’s current IT infrastructures, challenges and needs regarding IT, and long‐term plans
regarding the UO’s IT management.
Note: Lunch will be provided for trustees and required staff only.
1:15 pm – Break; Afternoon Presentations and Site Visits
6. Overview of Student Housing and On‐Campus Student Life Facilities
Vice President for Student Life Robin Holmes and her team will give an overview of on‐campus
student life systems and facilities.
7. Recess Public Meeting for Site Visits
Trustees will visit on campus housing, food service, recreational and research facilities.