Portland Tribune editors interview President Schill about – lawsuits.

Online here. I’ll take a guess that he was hoping to talk about his “Oregon Commitment” initiatives, instead of having to rehash and defend Doug Park’s lousy decisions for the nth time:

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… University of Oregon President Michael Schill defended the university’s actions regarding a December 2014 transfer of medical records from the counseling center to its General Counsel. Schill spoke during a Wednesday, Nov. 11, meeting of the Portland Tribune editorial board.

Schill says he is open to criticism “that is constructive criticism and that isn’t demonization criticism or criticism which is based upon salacious details. Or, alternatively, actions that are really just designed to generate money for the complainants. There’s a big business out there of lawyers doing this sort of thing.”

… Morlok says her supervisor, Shelly Kerr, also asked her not to respond to a request from the Jane Doe sexual assault victim for a summary letter of her medical treatment after the victim had filed a notice to sue with the University. Morlok says she felt uncomfortable with the request to provide “nonstandard care” to a student client who intended to sue the university so wrote the letter anyway. Morlok says her employment was threatened as a result.

Schill, however, says none of the university’s actions was illegal. Morlock and Stokes, he says, “ ‘whistleblowed’ on something that was legal, but that’s fine.”

Schill, who was Dean of the University of Chicago Law School until his July 1 appointment to the UO presidency, says the lawsuit was not a surprise.

“Everybody knew that she was setting it up this way,” he says.

… “We’ve gone out of our way to get better and we’re going to continue to get better,” he says. “We’ll learn and do better.”

Here’s what I wrote last week, when Jennifer Morlok resigned. Her amazing letter to President Schill is here.

11/2/2015: Ms Morlok was Jane Doe’s counselor at UO. Her decision to fight General Counsel Doug Park’s efforts to get her client’s counseling records has led or will lead to improvements in state and federal law and UO policy. UO needs more people like her. She’s a hero.

But the UO administration has treated her like a pariah. She took it for a year, at great personal cost. Now she has resigned, after a year of retaliation from UO. It’s heartbreaking. We can’t afford to lose people like this.

As for people we can afford to lose – Doug Park, Sam Hill, Shelley Kerr, Robin Holmes – the people who made the decision to get Jane Doe’s records, and who led UO into more than a year of expensive national embarrassment? (Legal costs and Jane Doe settlement alone ~$1.6M). They are still here, still making decisions, still collecting their paychecks, still due for their next raises.

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9 Responses to Portland Tribune editors interview President Schill about – lawsuits.

  1. Dumpster Fire says:

    Good to see pres calling these frivolous lawsuits out

  2. Neat article says:

    Schill claims in the article that nothing illegal was done. Maybe so, but UO sure got lawmakers to scramble to make sure it never happened again. Pay the good people for the needed legislation that only came to light out of their ruined careers.

  3. just different says:

    The Doe records incident even got picked up by Lifehacker, of all places:
    http://vitals.lifehacker.com/colleges-don-t-always-keep-medical-records-private-1741956704

  4. Schill a Problem says:

    “There’s a big business out there of lawyers doing this sort of thing.” As a lawyer wringing a million bucks a year in total compensation out of a public institution that continually hikes tuition on poor students, he’s one to talk. Schill is clearly part of the problem, not the solution.

    • uomatters says:

      UO is indeed raising tuition rates, but Schill is using state and donor money to increase the number of low-income Oregon students in the Pathway Oregon program. It’s take from the rich, give to the poor. What’s not to like?

      As for his pay, yeah, it’s a lot.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Well, maybe the trustees will fire him and get someone who will do the job for a lot less. I’m sure plenty of people would do it for $500K, or $300, or even $100K. Is that what the trustees should do?

  5. AL says:

    UO’s funding comes mainly from two sources: taxpayers and student tuition. According to UO’s Mission Statements, the university president and his/ her leadership team are charged to be good steward of this money, the primary purpose of which is to educate students.
    President Schill is an attorney and former dean of two law schools. The majority of the citizens of the State of Oregon do not have the legal training that Mr Schill had. Perhaps Mr Schill can enlighten the citizens of this state in simple English his view of the outcomes of the several recent lawsuits or complaints filed by the little people (either former or currents students or former and current low level employees). So far UO Administration did not have a very good track record. They either lost or settled. It would be informative to the citizens of this state if UO Administration lists the amount of money that UO paid to outside lawyers per case including the amount of money spent on settlement, as applicable.

    Lawsuit by Former Graduate Student Keith Appleby (2011) Appleby alleged UO Dean and Associate Dean of Students used trumped-up charges to discipline him. He was prevented from continuing enrollment in the PhD program. Appleby filed a racketeering lawsuit against UO. The case was settled out of court (payment unknown). In addition, Appleby was exonerated. He finally received his PhD from UO in 2012.

    Complaint by James Fox, former archivist (2014) Provost Coltrane (interim president prior to the arrival of Mr Schill) announced that the release of a large electronic file containing confidential UO presidential communication (by achivist James Fox) was a criminal act. James Fox maintained he was never provided with instructions and adequate resources to review and redact these documents. No confidential information was leaked by the faculty member who requested this file. James Fox was fired in spite of a petition to re-hire him (signed by over 100 faculty members). Fox threatened to file a lawsuit against his former boss, VP of Library Administration, Interim President Coltrane and UO . Administration. This case was settled for an unknown amount of money and no lawsuit was filed.

    Lawsuit by Former Campus Safety Officer, James Cleavenger (verdict recently announced) James Cleavenger filed a lawsuit against the UO Police Chief (Carolyn McDermed) and UO. He claimed that his termination was unlawful and sought compensation. The judge awarded him ($755,000, almost twice amount he requested). UO is pondering whether to appeal.

    Lawsuit by Jane Doe The outcome of this lawsuit is well known. UO settled by paying Jane Doe $800,000 plus free tuition for four years. The amount paid by UO Administration to outside legal counsels has not been disclosed by UO Administration.

    Lawsuit by Karen Stokes and Jennifer Morlok These two individuals believe in the rule of law. The lawsuit has been filed and the plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial. If their wish is granted by the judge, ordinary citizens who have been chosen to serve their civic duty will decide whether UO Administration is right or wrong.

    Lawsuit by Brandon Austin, Former Student Basketball Player Ditto

    UO already has incurred huge amounts in legal expenses for the completed cases. There are two more lawsuits to go. It is perfectly rational for the citizens (who pay taxes) and students (who pay tuition) to request the leadership at UO to explain “what went wrong” and “why the negative outcomes so far”. A key question is whether tuition will be raised to pay for these lawsuits and whether the taxpayers will be asked to contribute more.

  6. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    I think the best thing for UO for Schill to do is: Avoid such lawsuits as much as possible in the future. Avoid spending time and energy rehashing stuff that happened before he came and which is water under the bridge anyway. Spend his time and energy on positive things moving UO forward. There is little time to waste, and nobody has a surplus of the needed energy.

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