Provost Banavar appoints Bruce Blonigen to lead CAS, and Karen Ford to work on whether or not to split it up

The August 17th post about Dean Marcus’s resignation is here.

Sent on behalf of Provost Jayanth Banavar

September 24, 2018

Dear College of Arts and Sciences Faculty and Staff,

I am pleased to announce that Bruce Blonigen has agreed to serve as interim dean of the University of Oregon’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). He will succeed W. Andrew Marcus, who announced that he will step down from his role as dean in December.

As you know, Bruce is the dean of faculty and operations. Previously, he served as interim dean of the Lundquist College of Business in 2016 and was the CAS associate dean of social sciences from 2013 to 2016. Prior to that, he was the head of the Department of Economics for five years. He is uniquely qualified to fill this interim position, and I am grateful that he is willing to step forward.

During the interim period, Karen Ford will serve as a senior divisional dean. In this role she will serve the Humanities, but also take on certain college-wide responsibilities, such as promotion and tenure, diversity and Diversity Action Plan implementation, assessment, and the reporting line for the American English Institute.

The college will be in good hands with Bruce and Karen in these interim roles, Hal Sadofsky and Philip Scher continuing as divisional deans, and Carole Stabile in the associate dean for strategic initiatives position. This team has worked very well together under Andrew and we know that there will be a smooth transition as we move forward.

CAS and its success are critical to the success of the entire University of Oregon. More than 60 percent of what happens in our classrooms falls under CAS; it represents dozens of varied departments, and CAS faculty members deliver the majority of courses that fulfill our core education requirements. We must all work together to maintain the stability and forward progress of the college while we continue toward our shared goals of fostering undergraduate and graduate student success, diversity and inclusion, and excellence in research, teaching, scholarship, and creative work.

This interim period provides us with a good opportunity for reflection, but one which must be undertaken with great care. President Michael Schill and I have decided to form a task force to analyze the current structure of the college – and whether that structure makes sense for the academic mission and success of the three divisions and the departments therein. This is not a new question, but we feel now is the time to find the answer. Over the next several weeks, the president and I will articulate the specific charge for this group, as well as its leadership (faculty co-chairs) and membership. We will actively consult with faculty and staff throughout CAS as we formulate the plan and committee membership for this group’s inquiry.

It is important to note that we have no preordained outcome in mind. This is not about trying to find efficiencies, and it is not a move to silo some divisions in an attempt to focus elsewhere. This is about having a robust examination and discussion of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and the right structure to advance the academic mission of the institution.

Given this discussion, we do not intend to launch a search for a permanent dean until we have a sense of what the long-term structure will be. We are grateful to Bruce, Karen, and the entire CAS leadership team for graciously agreeing to maintain this interim structure through the duration.

We look forward to sharing more information with you as it becomes available. Thank you for all that you do for the University of Oregon, and good luck with the start of the term.

Sincerely,

Jayanth Banavar, Provost and Senior Vice President

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51 Responses to Provost Banavar appoints Bruce Blonigen to lead CAS, and Karen Ford to work on whether or not to split it up

  1. Thedude says:

    “The Knight Campus won’t suck any resources away from CAS”…

    This statement never rang both more false yet more true at the same time.

    CAS is dead. Long live CAS.

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  2. Dog says:

    The College of Science is Coming,
    three cheers for that ….

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    • uomatters says:

      Economics is a science, right?

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      • dog says:

        not according to the Biologists which are likely to be leading
        this secession

        Besides, it is well known that scientists and their students do really need any part of the real world of noise and ambiguity , just ask them, or rather be told by them

        The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers

        What a ridiculous quote … can’t build a bridge that way …

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        • Thedude says:

          Replication be damned psychology will call itself a science too….

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        • uomatters says:

          “impel man to unfold his powers”?
          Please, no more quotes from Kavanaugh’s yearbook page.

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      • econoduck says:

        Sure. Though restricting the discipline to the study of rational humans seems a poor choice in retrospect.

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    • XDH says:

      “…we do not intend to launch a search for a permanent dean until we have a sense of what the long-term structure will be.”

      I read this email and immediately thought CAS’s days are numbered.

      “It is important to note that we have no preordained outcome in mind.”

      Bull$h!t – they already know what they want. Prediction – College of Pure and Applied Sciences and College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Former will receive the lion’s share of resources and the latter will wither on the vine….

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  3. oldtimer says:

    If ever there was a time for CAS faculty to take the initiative in trying to determine their own fate, this is it.

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    • Canard says:

      Good luck. We have so many successful examples of the faculty having any say in determining their fate here in the past three years.

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  4. Hedgehog says:

    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a task force

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  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Probably they are out of phase, as usual in most institutions.

    STEM did well in the recession. Probably receding now, though I don’t have much data.

    Watch for hum + ss to come back, science to fade, just in time for the reorg.

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  6. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    I have to wonder, was THIS why Marcus quit so abruptly?

    Also — what problems do they think they will be solving?

    They supposedly are concerned about the “core” — how will fragmenting things completely help with this?

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  7. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    One final thought — dividing CAS will fit perfectly with the insane centralization and micromanagement.

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    • Dog says:

      The college of science is viewed by some as removing some of the “distractions” that science students are exposed to by having to take other “irrelevant” courses.

      This is of course nuts, and also shows those who have this view don’t really care about the Academy.

      But there are a non-negligible number of faculty with this view.

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      • hardnosedduck says:

        Not sure it’s so much not caring as not having much faith in what’s currently being taught. Picking through the group requirements, I see that students can replace a fundamental course in humanities or philosophy with “How to Watch TV”, or any of an array of critical theory courses.

        I suspect that an impromptu quiz of graduates over the basic significance of Plato, Mill, or Smith would elicit quite a few blank looks.

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        • Dog says:

          ah yes
          the sciences definitely teach more relevant stuff …

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          • hardnosedduck says:

            If someone would make my job to attend each and every science course offered here, I’d be in hog heaven. There’s hardly a course in the catalog that doesn’t look fascinating to me.

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        • Pollyanna says:

          For that matter, they can major in philosophy without any language study, ever. Which would generate quite a few blank looks from the philosophers you mention

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    • Canard says:

      HUB is correct. This really has nothing to do with curricula or academics. Look at what has happened to the other colleges that have been reorganized. It is mainly about centralizing power in the hands of administrators and staff. Faculty, including department heads, have almost no power to effect decisions. The system has been tested in the smaller colleges, and now they are going for the big kahuna. In two years, you will all be working for the staff, with a direct line of command and control down from Johnson Hall. Talk to your friends around campus and learn what is coming your way.

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      • Hedgehog says:

        Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy confirmed again.

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  8. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    I think you are right about a certain type of science faculty.

    They may be surprised when they learn that a lot of other units would be happy to lower the (already low) science requirements for their students, thereby undercutting the science student credit hours. Tit for tat.

    I also have to point out, some science faculty, to the extent they notice the “soft” subjects at all, don’t especially like what they see being taught there, or hear is being taught.

    But mostly, I think they would just like to have more time and money for themselves, their programs, and their students.

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  9. I don’t understand many of the comments here. Aren’t the general education requirements, like Arts & Letters group requirements and Science group requirements, set by the University and not Colleges (https://registrar.uoregon.edu/current-students/bachelors-degree)? And aren’t specific requirements of particular majors set by Departments and not Colleges? How would the science requirements of a history major, or the humanities requirements of a physics major, be affected if CAS split into a College of Sciences and College of Arts, since these requirements aren’t presently being determined by CAS? (This isn’t to argue for splitting, just to point out that I can’t understand what’s been written above.) If I’m wrong, corrections are welcome!

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    • uomatters says:

      You are correct.

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    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      It may well be true that the formal procedures would not change. But that is not what I was getting at. It’s more about the different areas of CAS becoming even more disconnected from each other than they already are. And there’s also the “disdain factor” sensed by many people, rightly or not, as being part of the push (if it really exists) to split CAS apart. I think part of what sentiment for a broad-based curriculum there is, comes from so many of us being sort of forced into this one big organizational structure. I think that sentiment will be diminished from its already not so high state if CAS is broken up.

      I will ask again, what problems would be solved by splitting CAS apart? What opportunities would be gained? (If the answer is for the sciences to get more money at the expense of hum +ss, as XDH suggest, expect a lot of people not to be bowled over).

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    • Dog says:

      when you create even more silos then there is even less of a possibility that outsiders well be allowed, so perhaps students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences won’t be required to take science courses at all? (of course they can if they want, but they might not be required).

      And what does “set by the University” mean in the context of the UO?

      And I do agree that the end game of this is not clear and I don’t think its particularly advantageous to anyone or thing.

      I remember CAS before the Deanlet reorganization by Risa Palm –
      I believe that CAS functioned a lot better in those early years
      in the 1990s. All the deanlet structure has really done is to reinforce the silos – each silo gets a Dean, and eventually we will have the Dean of Silos …

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      • uomatters says:

        The UO Senate sets core/general ed/breadth requirements for UO students, regardless of college.

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        • Anonymous says:

          so what does the UOCC do?

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          • uomatters says:

            submits motions to the Senate

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          • name says:

            Approves courses.

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            • uomatters says:

              Submits lists of courses to the Senate, which votes on whether or not to approves them.

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              • Please read the instructions says:

                The Committee on Courses shall be responsible for: (1) Screening all proposals for course changes and reporting its recommendations to the University faculty through the Faculty Senate; (2) Directing the University editor on the content and structure of the University Catalog; (3) Consulting with the Undergraduate Council and the Graduate Council on curricular patterns of concern; (4) Participating, on behalf of the University faculty, in planning the development and improvement of the instructional program of the institution; (5) Reviewing courses not taught on a regular basis; (6) Determining whether courses satisfy the multicultural requirement; (7) Monitoring adherence to the approved curriculum, standards, and policies on an as-needed basis; and, (8) Providing advice and assistance to schools and departments in the planning of the curriculum.

                The Committee on Courses shall report to the University Senate in the fall, winter and spring academic terms. Each report shall be in the form of a preliminary report of curricular changes which shall be approved by the University Senate before implementation.

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                • pedanticduck says:

                  Summarizing, it sounds like the CoC has a veto over any course it doesn’t like, and that the Senate does also. Does the Senate also have the power to override the CoC’s veto of a course?

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  10. Please read the instructions says:

    The charge/reports produced says that the Senate gets a preliminary report of curricular changes, not a course by course list to vote on, and the report “shall be approved by the University Senate before implementation”. Can’t see anything else on https://senate.uoregon.edu/committees/committees-a-z/

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  11. Old woman in a shoe says:

    They have been trying to pull apart CAS for over 20 years – I believe they may actually succeed this time. It has always been the largest college and the most innovative. It has threatened central administration for years, warranted or not.
    Humanities has been subsidizing the other colleges for years. Maybe its time to see where the money really comes from (and it isn’t the sciences)

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    • Environmental necessity says:

      I find this statement implausible in the extreme so please elaborate: “Humanities has been subsidizing the other colleges for years. Maybe its time to see where the money really comes from (and it isn’t the sciences)”

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      • Cowgirl says:

        The way I always hear this explained is that Hum and Soc Sci faculty teach a lot of SCH, which is what students pay tuition for and UO is almost entirely tuition dependent; their regular load consists of more classes and larger classes. And by contrast with the sciences, salaries are low and there are no start-up/lab costs. And grant money doesn’t fully cover the expense of salaries and labs. Ergo, the non-Sci teaching faculty are subsidizing the Sciences.

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        • Deplorable Duck says:

          Follow the money. The Powers That Be aren’t trying to hugely grow the STEM departments because of their heavy losses.

          In fact, the subsidy runs in the opposite direction. But probably better to imagine the University as a multi-faceted team, all working toward a worthy goal.

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          • duckduckgo says:

            Is your premise correct? The 18-19 hiring plan has 5 CAS-HUM hires, with 1 being Data Science, and 18 CAS-Natural Science hires and 7 Social Science hires.

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            • XDH says:

              HAD 18 CAS-Natural Science hires, as in past tense. From what I have heard, start-up $$$ dried up and therefore nearly all searches that required significant start-up $$$ and/or $$$ for lab renovations have been canceled for AY18-19.

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              • Dog says:

                XDH is largely correct

                we have done extraordinarily bad over the last few years
                about having a sensible startup fund strategy

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                • uomatters says:

                  Bark out some details, Dog.

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                • XDH says:

                  How about we take one year of $$$ from the KC4ASI ($50M) and instead direct it to the main campus (everything south of Franklin Blvd). That $50M will fund a LOT of start-up packages AND fix a significant portion of the “deferred maintenance” in Huestis/Streisinger/Klamath/Onyx/etc. Oh wait – that’s not very sexy/headline grabbing!!! scratch this idea!

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                • Dog says:

                  Ah, the details, well I don’t want to that specifically without knowing direct proof, but I can do so in a general way, and others can contribute.

                  The basic question is where does start up come from?

                  –Departments
                  –Institutes
                  –Endowment Funds
                  –Research Overhead
                  –other

                  This has never been resolved – indeed it is idiotic that the Knight Fund can not be redirected somewhat for startup – how the hell do we hire the right people?

                  In the cluster searches approved by Coltrane, startup was an issue as, at the time the cluster proposals were initiated, the startup money had not been identified yet.

                  For the most part, departments have not been on the hook for startup money for a long time, because, at least in the sciences, the Institutes had more resources for this than its member departments. That is not a sustainable approach for escalating startups.

                  For experimental scientists, startup funds of 1M per hire are not uncommon. Although we have improved, we still do not do a great job of using shared facilities.

                  So 18 potential new NS hires might mean 20 million dollars for startup and often times the source for that startup is not specified in advanced.

                  In my view, it is also mostly inappropriate to horde Overhead dollars as a startup fund, Those overhead dollars should be spend on improving the research infrastructure for us all. But if no other source is identified, then de facto,
                  boom.

                  By the way, for those reading this that are outraged at the thought of 1M in startup – if a University can’t make this kind of offer, that faculty profile will just go somewhere else. It’s the nature of experimental science startup – like college football coaches, it has been allowed to spiral out of control.

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                • XDH says:

                  Dog echoes what I know/have directly experienced as a former DH/have heard about the current environment. Ca. $1M for a Nat Sci hire’s start-up package is typical now. The bidding war for top candidates continues to spiral upwards out of control, and even more so if the candidate is not a white male ( i.e., intense competition for the extremely limited pool of diversity applicants in STEM fields). I do not know what the solution is, but as Dog alludes, appropriate planning for such large expenditures has been noticeably absent from Johnson Halls vague plans to hire 100 more faculty. With what? Bread crumbs?

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            • Deplorable Duck says:

              All of my premises are always provisional. If you can work out something better, I’m all ears. I had imagined that some of those humanities hires were made possible due to the Knight Campus money (i.e., the $500G). But as with most ducks, I could be all wet.

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      • Dog says:

        they may be talking from the SCH (student credit hours writing 121, etc) perspective, and therefore might have been true at some point in the distant past.

        Humanities, in general, do not understand what research overhead dollars are and how that can contribute to other forms of subsidy

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        • Dog says:

          Indeed I have been involved in more than one search with candidate visits only to find out later that the search has been
          cancelled.

          so, indeed, we sometime look for people knowing that we don’t have sufficient start up money. I guess it is hoped that such people will just come here for free …

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  12. Demographic Duck says:

    Re XDH comment on higher offers for desirable demos (i.e., not white males), I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me, but it still does a bit. As a free market guy, I’m completely okay with this. But I wonder how those who believe comp should be gender- and race-blind justify it.

    (Or alternatively, perhaps we’re all capitalists under the skin…)

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  13. Dog says:

    startup competitiveness = recruitment

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