An Op-Ed in the RG today, full text here:
During February’s legislative session, the University of Oregon’s top lobbying priority was to increase the state hotel tax to get $25 million to subsidize TrackTown USA’s 2021 championship games. There were no visible efforts to work for new funding to improve UO’s academic side or reduce the need for tuition increases.
This is not the sort of leadership we expected from the new, independent UO Board of Trustees.
Meanwhile, in Eugene we have seen a whirlwind of decisions resulting in cuts of instructional faculty. These cuts are concentrated overwhelmingly in humanities and social science departments. More than 80 dedicated people will now be unemployed: Some were recent UO graduates just beginning their careers; others had long, distinguished careers; many, frankly, did not receive the appreciation and respect they deserve.
Instead of allowing the university community to fully participate in developing the academic priorities for use during what has been labeled a “strategic realignment,” we saw the administration announce these cuts just in time for a meeting of the Board of Trustees. Furthermore, the hasty announcement of these cuts did not allow for reflection on their academic, much less their human, effects.
… We pointed out in a petition over the summer numerous financial contradictions at UO: inexplicable transfers between colleges; disinvestment from core academic divisions; further cuts to library resources; and tours by administrators describing impending budgetary doom. At the same time the Athletic Department faces no call for austerity or shared sacrifice.
Cutting faculty without a transparent, long-term plan to maintain excellence in academic programs jeopardizes the values of an institution that bills itself as the state’s premier liberal arts research university. Faculty need to be consulted to help determine the priorities that inform this “strategic realignment,” and what the long-term plan for this realignment includes.
Securing millions for new athletic programs — again — while cutting academic expertise to teach students new languages, improve writing, or support innovative undergraduate programming looks too much like an old habit around here.
Cristina Calhoon, a senior instructor in classics, is executive vice president of United Academics, the union representing faculty and other academic employees at the University of Oregon. Michael Dreiling, an associate professor of sociology, is president of United Academics. Karen McPherson, a professor of French, is United Academics’ vice-president for tenure track faculty affairs.