Remember the Hat Day: November 21

2018: Is UO better off now than it was in 2011? Better off than if Kitzhaber hadn’t fired Lariviere? Better off with our independent Board of Trustees? I don’t know. The Board has not delivered yet.

I do know that I continue to be amazed and inspired by how then Senate President Rob Kyr and the faculty, students, and UO supporters handled Lariviere’s firing and the subsequent chaos.

2017:  I think nostalgia for Lariviere peaked under Mike Gottfredson, and has fallen to historical lows under Mike Schill. Here’s the post from 2015, with a few updates:

2011:

Break out your hats and mark the day. On November 21st 2011, three four five six years and four five UO presidents ago, OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner and Board Chair Matt Donegan came down to UO with their ultimatum and told Lariviere to resign, for trying to implement his “New Partnership” plan to combine $1B in state bonds and $800M in private donations to create a sustainable funding model for UO, run by an independent UO Board. The endowment income would have, in theory, produced enough income to more than replace the state’s annual appropriations, and have allowed UO to keep in-state tuition low.

He also ignored the governor’s call for a pay freeze, and passed out a round of secret raises to faculty and staff. Lariviere refused to leave, so they fired him, on instructions from Governor Kitzhaber. Nigel Jaquiss broke the news on the 22nd.

Six years later, where are the principals in this sad event?

UO President Richard Lariviere: Now president of Chicago’s Field Museum, and apparently well on his way to completing a turnaround of that troubled institution.

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Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber: Resigned after getting caught trying to destroy his email archives, and found guilty of violations of Oregon ethics law.

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OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner: Still living at Treetops and using Oregon students’ tuition money to pay for his kids’ maid service. Just kidding, the croissant chancellor went on to a $300K sinecure as president of SHEEO, a little known non-profit higher ed policy group in Colorado. He’s now retired from that, and is on the board at Bridgeport, a scandal ridden for-profit university system.

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OUS Board Chair Matt Donegan: After a very nasty divorce he sold his timber business, then sent out some feelers on restarting his political career. The response was not good, and he’s dropped out of public life to work on counting his money.

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(Bridget Burns and Chuck Triplett at the 2011 Mac Court meeting.)

OUS Board Secretary Chuck Triplett: Triplett’s role in setting up the secret discussions that led to the board’s decision to fire Lariviere may never be fully known, unless I can get my hands on the OUS digital email archives. Meanwhile he has parlayed his $72K job for Pernsteiner into a $130K job for UO, and then a promotion from Scott Coltrane. All without an affirmative action compliant search. He’s currently JH liason to the UO Senate – an appointment made without consulting the Senate with which he is supposed to liase. He’s currently UO liason to the HECC, the putative replacement to OUS.

Pernsteiner’s Chief of Staff Bridget Burns: She and Triplett were quite the team. After OUS collapsed she set up a consulting business, which just got a $9.8M grant from the DoE. According to her website,

… she led the successful legislative effort to free Oregon’€™s seven universities from state agency status, for which she received the national award for innovation in government relations from colleagues spanning the national higher education landscape at AASCU, APLU, AACC, and CASE.

Wow, and to think Mark Haas and Mike Gottfredson have been claiming all the credit for SB 270.

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UO Senate President, Protector and Defender of the University, Slayer of Chancellors, and Professor of Music Robert Kyr: “Mr. Pernsteiner, answer the question as a human being would answer it.”

Kyr is now back at his regular job, composing and teaching music theory.

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16 Responses to Remember the Hat Day: November 21

  1. Old Man says:

    During his presidency, The Hat engaged in serious negotiations with a Senate Committee charged with creating a Constitution that would restore the Faculty’s historic role in university governance. As I recall, the work was completed prior to Pernsteiner and Donnegan’s visit to campus on November 21, 2011. On December 7, the Faculty Assembly unanimously endorsed the Constitution and on the 15th, Lariviere ratified it and its companion document, the Policy on Policies. These two documents ensure that the Faculty’s voice is heard in all matters of academic concern. I hereby request that, on December 15 of each year, UOMatters will remind us of the historic significance of “Constitution Day.”

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    • uomatters says:

      Old Man, you are hereby instructed to prepare a complete report on the history of the UO Constitution and Policy on Policies, of between 2000 and 10000 words (excluding footnotes and bibliography) by no later than Dec 7th, 2015, the 4th anniversary of “UO Constitution Day”.

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  2. Anas clypeata says:

    I was there. Kyr was in top form. He was the only person who came out of the whole debacle smelling like anything but manure.

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  3. Patrick Phillips says:

    The blog that I started to track and respond to these events is apparently still up and running (I haven’t looked at it in years).

    http://weloveourpres.blogspot.com/

    Here’s one quote that I noted: “The scars that may remain for years to come depend heavily on the actions of the next few days”

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  4. thedude says:

    Just think if how much Schill would be endeared if he would say anything about bringing salary up to peers as a key priority.

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    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      I think the measure should be total compensation, salary + benefits. This is kind of hard to ascertain, because e.g. there are at least 3 different pension tiers, and there are also the PERS opt-out versions. It is hard to know especially in the case of Tier 1 faculty just how much the pension benefit is currently worth. But it is almost certainly worth a hell of a lot. That has to be taken into account.

      For the Tier 3 people, it is more straightforward.

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  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Another person who should probably be in the cast of dramatis personae: Phil Knight.

    He and UO under the Hat dreamed up the plan where the state would replace its annual subsidy with a one-time $800 million endowment. Phil would have matched it with $800 million more. This was independent of any later gift, e.g. the new Knight Campus.

    The state under Kitzhaber basically told Phil to forget it. $800 million for Oregon higher education, and they told him to shove off!

    At the time of the Hat’s firing, Phil made a great remark about Oregon committing assisted suicide.

    Imagine: UO with $1.6 billion in additional endowment, no more subsidy for the in-state students. More money, more independence. The state flipped it off.

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  6. What? says:

    What kind of person tries to jump start their career by sitting on the higher education board of a bottom wrung state?

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  7. Miss the Hat says:

    I miss The Hat every day. We’d be a very different, and much more student-focused, institution if he was still here.

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  8. Sun Tzu says:

    Don’t be fooled. The “Hat” was a self-centered autocrat who frequently yelled (yes, yelled) at his JH underlings when they suggested alternative viewpoints. The following true story says it all. The “Hat” was president when the new arena was on the drawing board. However there were questions raised by faculty about how much much debt the university should carry for this project and whether it would preclude the university obtaining state bonds for academic needs. The athletic dept came up with a vastly overly optimistic (some would say knowingly false) 30 yr financial spreadsheet “demonstrating” that the University would be able to carry the arena debt without problem. In response the faculty generated a much more realistic 30 yr financial prognosis which showed that the arena bond repayments would require significant assistance from academic sources for nearly all of the 30 yr period, especially the final 15 yrs. When I confronted the “Hat” about this in a private meeting, his response was and I quote, ” What do you care? You and I will be long gone in 15 yrs. Let someone else deal with this shitstorm”. Nostalgia is a wonderful way of rewriting the past, however in this case, let’s not forget that the “Hat” took us further down the road toward the corporatization of our University.

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    • Empty Hat says:

      Indeed, the hat was an arrogant yeller who mistreated others. He gave professors a raise, and they loved him. But if you were the one who cleaned his toilet, you got no raise.

      “Lariviere’s raises outraged board members, leaders on other campuses, legislators and the governor. “Unlike every other university president in the state, he disregarded my specific direction,” Kitzhaber wrote.” https://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2011/12/the_rise_and_fall_of_richard_l.html

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      • Canard says:

        Kitzhaber canned him because he had his plan to revise the whole Oregon educational system (remember 40-40-20 and other such gibberish?), and Lariviere was the only person in the state likely to stand up to him. He wasn’t perfect, but he was the last president we had who ever listened to anyone who actually understood what was going on around here. Every president since has lived in the bubble, and we have been the unhappy victims of their preconceptions.

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  9. Publius says:

    I thought Larivierre was mentally unstable.

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