UO colleges lay off fundraisers as Pres Schill centralizes development

It was a disappointing year for UO fundraising, although you’d never know that from the misinformation Kyle Henley’s PR flacks put out on Around the O:

The University of Oregon posted another successful year of contributions during the fiscal year ending June 30 for a total of $131.03 million.

More than half of this total comes from Oregonians, and the lion’s share — 67 percent — is for academic support. In all, the university received 52,972 gifts, an increase of nearly 7 percent from fiscal 2017. …

For a more fact-based analysis, read RG reporter Saul Hubbard here:

The University of Oregon’s private fundraising slowed in the last fiscal year, following the mammoth $500 million donation pledge from Phil and Penny Knight for a new science campus.

The UO reported receiving $131 million in gifts and other contributions, its lowest total since the 2013-14 fiscal year. It’s only the second time since the state agreed in 2013 to give the UO more independence with its own board of trustees that the university has failed to raise at least $200 million in donations in a year. …

Unfortunately, Saul Hubbard left the RG earlier this month, and GC Kevin Reed’s Public Records Office is using fees and delays to limit access to public records, so now we’ll have to go with rumors.

The rumor is that President Schill is taking control of the fundraisers that have worked for UO’s colleges for years, courting and building relationships with academic donors. Some of these college fundraisers have apparently been laid off, and the others will be moved under the control of Johnson Hall, which will now attempt to direct the generosity of UO’s donors to those causes that our central administration cares about.

Perhaps this centralization is a good idea. Or perhaps not. The only thing for sure is that Johnson Hall doesn’t care what you think, and that Around the O is not going to bother to try and explain it or even tell you that it’s been done.

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29 Responses to UO colleges lay off fundraisers as Pres Schill centralizes development

  1. XDH says:

    I am guessing THIS is why Andrew Marcus quit as CAS Dean. It was the last straw for Andrew, given Schill’s/Banavar’s stupid recentralization scheme….

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  2. Dog says:

    Pretty good guess
    this was the last straw and the new director of the Honors College is now having to deal with this new reality, which really does defeat the purpose of academic program variety …

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  3. Eugene community member says:

    I could be wrong, but I am guessing Marcus feels that CAS is no longer positioned to provide a Liberal Arts educational experience. Furthermore, he feels he is unable to honor the wishes of the Tykeson’s. I mean what is the point of that penthouse suite now that the Johnson Hall runs the show?

    CAS will be dominated by STEM programs and serve at the mercy of the Knight Campus. This could be the end of CAS as we know it.

    **In my opinion the university has failed to build a strong STEM curriculum. Proficiency in computer science and/or data science should be required to graduate in my humble opinion. The CS department should be bigger than the language program.

    Thank god for the Knight gift and the tireless efforts of the faculty who are advancing the STEM curriculum here.**

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  4. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Looks like Schill is heading toward a no-confidence vote.

    As I keep saying, this Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight is also unable to Bring Home the Bacon.

    They came in, failed to live up to past fundraising (except for the Knight albatross) and now want to double down.

    I can’t help but suspect that the Bach Festival debacle hurt a lot. Also, the vandalizing of another beloved tradition, Hayward?

    Personally, I only give money to particular, local efforts. I would never give a dime to line Johnson Hall’s pockets.

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    • uomatters says:

      I’ve never heard any talk of a no-confidence vote. Quite the opposite – I think Pres Schill has broad support across campus. He certainly has mine.

      While plenty of people are angry about particular JH decisions, those same people are very happy about others. The consensus is that he’s a very good president.

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      • uoprof says:

        The central hiring and now this is not sitting well with faculty in my unit. Mike’s lack of engagement with faculty in any format is also problematic. I guess th Knight Campus keeps him busy.

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      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        Seems to me that this abrupt and strange resignation of the Dean of CAS — representing 60% or so of the entire UO — constitutes in itself a vote of no confidence in the senior Administration i.e. provost and president. I have no indication that the resignation was “personal.”

        I don’t know who is “very happy” about much of anything, except for the “Knight Campus” advocates, and perhaps the athletics backers.

        “Consensus” that Schill is very good? Not among people I know. Perhaps my circle is too limited. But in CAS? The action of Marcus speaks for itself. Other colleges? Not among my friends in architecture, music, honors college ….

        I would like to hear from the happy campers.

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        • a faculty member says:

          I know of no happy campers among faculty in professional schools. UO Matters seems to be one of the few pro-Schills.

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          • DiscoDuck says:

            Not sure whether I qualify or not (which schools are the professional ones?), but I think Schill is doing fine. Certainly I wouldn’t do his job for 10x the money.

            Out of curiosity, who would be better? Is there someone in UO’s past or on the current national scene that I should be pining for?

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  5. Dog says:

    As it stands right now, the Knight Campus does not have undergraduate STEM education as one of its priorities so I don’t see undergrad STEM dominating at all because of the existence of the Knight campus.

    Remember, UO is seriously missing the E in Stem and without E, its really hard to scale up.

    The Knight Campus will and should have a large impact on our graduate students and should serve to increase their numbers considerably.

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  6. Skeptic says:

    Isn’t there usually a lot of complaints about more administrators than we need? Don’t dean’s usually hate meeting with Donors?

    Centralizing development seems a good way to cut costs, and to avoid college competing for the same set of alumnai who often have double majors.

    It it not true athletic donations are down and academic donations are up? Why aren’t we cheering about this rebalancing and necessary cost cutting?

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    • XDH says:

      Don’t forget that Andrew’s job description was rewritten a bit when he was officially hired as CAS Dean, so that he could travel a lot more to woo donors for CAS causes. If a not-so-inconsequential part of your job duties gets taken away, why bother staying on as a figurehead? Really unfortunate turn of events…..

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    • Wendell says:

      Centralizing fund-raising is one thing–arguments on all sides there. Consolidating authority over how departments develop their faculty is something else.

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      • Anonymous says:

        One of the things a dean is supposed to do is to protect department from bad hires. I have been involved in about
        50 departmental hires over the last many years and never
        did any CAS dean pay any attention to our candidates aside
        from the pro forma interviews.

        And yes, we made some hires that we should not have.

        So I don’t see department development as any thing the CAS deans and deanlets have ever cared about. They simply have a hands off approach and trust, intrinsically untrustworthy

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        • uomatters says:

          Please use a screen name.

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        • Thedude says:

          I don’t think Deans are well equipped to protect departments from bad hires. They don’t having the staffing or expertise. Maybe they can prevent tenure to bad apples or those who don’t clear the bar but addiing full control to Deans for hiring seems like a recipe for disaster.

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          • Dog says:

            Since all hires require Dean’s approval then they already technically have full control

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            • thedude says:

              Technically yes. But in my experience the deans mostly get involved in the following situations.

              1. Making sure departments don’t engage in out right nepotism.

              2. Making sure departments attempt to recruit diverse pools of applicants.

              3. Coordinating spousal hires.

              4. Retention offers.

              How is the deans office supposed to both evaluate the quality of art history, sociology, biology, psychology, economics, physics, mathematics, and volconolgy, English, other languages, computer science….

              Simple answer. They can’t. The only thing they are looking at is a resume and counting (unless the candidate is in the Deans field but even then fields can be REALLY broad).

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  7. Dog says:

    Red Flags exist in some cases

    I have never seen the deans do due diligence

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    • DiscoDuck says:

      “Dog does deftly deem deans due diligence derelicts”

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  8. Vhils says:

    Lots of guessing without much information.
    Here’s what is known:

    1) Marcus is stepping down because the super centralization going on means the Deans only get to do the shitty work of administering too many with too little, cutting people and budgets, etc. with little of the creative college building decisions that balanced out all the crap. Which particular decision or set of funds was taken away is not public info but this underlying reason is the reason.

    2) Marcus was one of the few Deans that liked all the fundraising, and was decent at it. How centralization of Development will actually shake out remains unknown, because like the centralization of communications, IT, etc. its being done in a vacuum and a half-assed one at that. What is known is that its not truly being centralized, there will still be fundraisers in the units, just more fundraisers being devoted to Schill and his particular projects (which largely means pools of money for him and him alone to decide what to do with). There’s no evidence that this is going to be more efficient or cheaper (see Communications), or that anyone is being laid off, although at least one major gift officer was just fired.

    3) Schill believes he is a very good fundraiser, which is why he’s centralizing fundraising, but there are very few Development officers who have spent any time with him in a room with donors that believe that to be true. The 1/2 billion Knight campus gift was 1/2 billion short, and in any other situation 50% would be a failing grade.

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    • uomatters says:

      I’m no billionaire, but regarding point 3, $500M is not a fail. And the gift does not require a match, although it does seem to have changed UO’s fundraising and state support priorities in some ways that may hurt the rest of campus.

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    • Skeptic says:

      So basically

      Andrew liked going out to free lunches and dinners and talking big about the future. In some ways, who wouldn’t like that job? The hard about being dean, he didn’t want to have to do, in determines of evaluating departments and making plans to improve them, or scale them back.

      And another him he’s had to hire a 3rd associate Dean to actually run the deans office because I guess everything was falling apart when Blonigen was the acting dean in the B-school for a year?

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    • Anonymous says:

      These straightforward comments deserve a response I was never planning to go here in this forum, but now I have arrived here.

      1) I agree completely with sentiment 3 above – I have been in such meetings my self (though not recently now that I have been outcast) and never thought Schil knew really what the hell he was talking about on many issues.

      2) In a speech in June, this is what Schil said about the Knight Campus which to me, reveals a lot of ignorance and opportunity lost:

      We are also adding a new unit – the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact – with the sole purpose of moving discoveries into the market or into hospitals. Again, a way to show a direct connection between research and human life.

      Are you kidding me? This is the “sole purpose” – that is just crap.

      The full speech can be found here in case you want to make up context to justify this characterization:


      3. I have never thought that central admin at the UO has really ever cared to significantly invest in the educational mission of the University as an Academy. Now that things are even more central this investment continues to be ignored.

      4. The building of the Knight Campus, if properly done in terms of infrastructure, personnel and programs, could triple our graduate student population and restore the UO as belonging to the top tier of research institutions. This has nothing to do with markets and hospitals …

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  9. Vhils says:

    Nor are you a fundraiser.

    $500M isn’t a failure in the obvious sense that you now have 1/2 billion you didn’t before. But when the 2B campaign was built on the belief that you’ll get 1B from Knight, where else do you think that 1/2B is going to come from? So the campaign, which as raised approx 1.8B, terrific under any other circumstance, is a failure. Any real fundraiser will tell you, no matter how much you raise, if you don’t make your stated goal you’re a failure (and you usually fire the people responsible, just like firing a coach for a team not making the playoffs).

    That kind of failure doesn’t really make much noise with faculty, in part because the vast majority barely see any direct impact from the money raised, but I promise you it makes a serious difference to both the fundraisers and, more importantly, the donors. A campaign that drags on forever has a serious negative impact with the large money donors, the 1-percenters that provide the huge bulk of the gifts. See the last Register Guard article, donations $ down, spun by UO with the number of small $ donors being up.

    Now ask yourself, is Schill the kind of ego to take responsibility for coming up short, and/or just calling it a day, or is he more likely to centralize Development, and double-down and ‘extend’ a campaign which is clearly at the end of its already long life?

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    • UO Community Member says:

      Knight provided $500 million in seed funding for the Knight Campus and hundreds of millions towards Hayward Field, Hatfield Dowlin, Marcus Mariota and countless other athletic ventures. All in all pretty close to $1B.

      This post is not an endorsement of his athletic gifts.

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    • thedude says:

      Also if Knight really likes Schill, he’d promise have the 500m now, and then dangle potentially more if Schill’s contract is renewed by the Board.

      I personally think fundraising centrally can make a ton of sense if you want to steer the direction of a university. But no doubt, for un individual academic units, we hate it, because central admin (people we barely know and have no relationship with except for a few cocktail parties and group emails) will decide our future as departments and colleges.

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