Board of Trustees to perform due diligence theatre March 4-5, EMU Redwood

Back in 2013, under pressure from Phil Knight and other Duck boosters, the Oregon Legislature passed SB270, which allowed UO to set its own independent board. The hope was that, free from the shackles of state bureaucracy and control, and with a board of wealthy and politically well connected trustees, UO would thrive.

Things have not worked out well. Tuition is up, undergrad enrollment is down, grad enrollment is flat, the board has failed to persuade the state to increase appropriations, and state support for capital expenditures has been modest except for Knight Campus and the IAAF Championships. Nor has the Board been able to limit state micromanagement of the university’s academic decisions, e.g. with SB160 this year.

Private philanthropy appears to have increased a little, although even with the Knight gift the $2B campaign fell short and had to be extended. In addition, the care and feeding of the Board eats up about $600K a year.

Here’s the board’s schedule for their Monday and Tu meetings. (Note the move from the Ford Alumni Center to the EMU’s Redwood Auditorium.)

The only items of substance on the agenda appear to be rubber-stamping decisions on out-of-state tuition, minor revisions to the Student Conduct Code, a new PhD program, and something about new Zebrafish facilities. And a secret meeting about the labor negotiations with the GTFF.

Board of Trustees | Academic and Student Affairs Committee
Public Meeting | March 4, 2019 @ 10:00 a.m.
Erb Memorial Union | Redwood Auditorium
Convene – Call to order, roll call – Approval of December 2018 minutes (Action)

Meeting materials here.

Provost’s Quarterly Report

1. Data Science Initiative Update: Bill Cresko, DSI Director and Professor of Biology

2. Student Conduct Code: Proposed Change and Update Regarding 2018 Changes (Action): Kris
Winter, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students; Katy Larkin, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards.

3. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives and Updates: Yvette Alex-Assensoh, Vice President for
Equity and Inclusion; Victoria DeRose, Associate Vice President and Director, Center on Diversity and Community; Leslie-Anne Pittard, Assistant Vice President for Campus and Community Engagement.

4. New PhD Program Approval – Ethnic Studies (Action): Laura Pulido, Professor and Department
Head; Lynn Fujiwara, Associate Professor

Meeting Adjourns

Board of Trustees | Finance and Facilities Committee
Public Meeting | March 4, 2019 @ 1:30 p.m.
Erb Memorial Union | Redwood Auditorium
Convene – Call to order, roll call – Approval of December 2018 FFC minutes (Action)

Meeting materials here.

1. Quarterly Financial Reports: Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO

2. Tykeson Hall Terrace Naming Proposal – Slape Terrace (Action): Bruce Blonigen, Interim Tykeson Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

3. Quarterly Audit Report and Update on Research Audit Management Plan Update: Trisha Burnett, Internal Auditor; Cass Moseley, Sr. Assoc. Vice President and Chief of Staff, Research and Innovation

4. Capital Construction Project – ZIRC (Action): Cass Moseley, Chief of Staff and Sr. Associate Vice
President for Research and Innovation

Meeting Adjourns

Board of Trustees
Meeting Agenda | March 4-5, 2019
Erb Memorial Union | Redwood Auditorium

Executive Session re Labor Negotiations
The Board of Trustees will meet in executive session pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(d) for purposes of
conducting deliberations regarding labor negotiations with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation. This session is closed to members of the public and the media. The meeting will be called to order and adjourned. No other topics or matters will occur on March 4. Notwithstanding the location listed above, this March 4 executive session will occur in Johnson Hall.

– Call to order, roll call, verification of quorum – Approval of December 2018 minutes (Action)

Meeting materials here.

– Public comment

1. ASUO and University Senate Reports
-ASUO President Maria Gallegos
-University Senate President Bill Harbaugh

2. President’s Report

3. Tuition and Mandatory Fees (does not include resident, undergraduate tuition) (Action):
Michael Schill, President; Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO;
Kevin Marbury, Vice President for Student Life
Recess for Lunch: Estimated 12:30-1:30 p.m.

4. Resolutions from Committee (pending March 4 committee action)

4.1 Seconded Motion from ASAC: Student Conduct Code

4.2 Seconded Motion from FFC: Slape Terrace Naming

4.3 Seconded Motion from FFC: ZIRC Renovation Project

5. Academic Area in Focus – Comic Studies: Ben Saunders, Professor of English

6. The UO’s Economic Impact Report: Tim Duy, Professor of Practice, Economics
Meeting Adjourned

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9 Responses to Board of Trustees to perform due diligence theatre March 4-5, EMU Redwood

  1. UOgrad says:

    Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of the history of U.S. public higher education governance could have predicted the outcomes for the UofO described herein. OSU president Ed Ray possessed the foresight and wisdom to oppose separate boards. UofO administrators and many faculty foolishly thought Phil Knight and his sycophant trustees would be their savior. It certainly hasn’t worked out that way. The lesson, probably not yet learned: “as ye sow, so shall ye reap”. Am I correct in assuming the agenda item regarding “comic studies” pertains to a trustees’ self study?

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      UO should think big and start a Ph.D. program in Comic Studies. Now that would really get some good attention!

    • OMA says:

      UOgrad: and as I recall one of the things that Dr. Ray was very concerned about–which has not come to pass but probably will someday–was not so much our current model of disengaged board members being coddled and spoonfed fluffernutter powerpoints, culminating in a soiree replete with backslaps and congratulatory adulation on yet another rubber stamp well placed; but rather, the micromanagement board, who believes it is their duty to investigate, change, and approve not only institutional governance but also every administrative as well as ever academic and pedagogical aspect as they deem is their charge.

  2. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Seriously, people (including me) were very naive about the “Independent Board.” The idea was — what? — it would produce mucho money for operating expenses? But from where? Certainly it hasn’t been forthcoming from private giving. From out of state students? But we are effectively capped at about 50% out of state. That was being milked just as effectively under the old setup as it is now. From jacking up tuition on in-state students? But that is still controlled by the state, perhaps more than ever, now that they are more wary of the “independent boards.”

    Has the Board improved UO governance? How? Are they perhaps the rather mysterious impetus behind the proposal to split up CAS? Behind the “metrification” of the university? Have they somehow improved UO budgeting? Fostered a turn back toward academics? As far as I can tell, there is far more crazy stuff coming out of the Administration these days than ever. Stuff that was undreamed of 10 years ago. To be fair, some of this is being forced by the state. (Mandatory cultural competency training for everyone?) But that just shows how there is more control of important stuff than ever.

    Am I missing something, or has the independent Board been kind of a bust?

    • uomatters says:

      If you gave me a month I might be able to come up with an example of something positive our Board has done for UO …

      OK, here’s one thing:

      UO’s board ran a secret closed search for a new president to replace Mike Gottfredson, and they came up with Mike Schill. I hated the closed search on principle, but it seems to have helped us hire a pretty good president. And as much as we all love to criticize some of Schill’s decisions, he’s certainly not a disaster.

      PSU’s board, on the other hand, ran an open search, brought 3 finalists to campus, and hired Rahmat Shoureshi as their press. And according to today’s story in the Oregonian by Jeff Manning, he is a disaster:

      Read it all, here’s the start:

      The story of the Shoureshi era at Portland State goes far beyond another #MeToo account of male privilege and gender inequity. Dozens of interviews with current and former employees and internal Portland State documents reviewed by The Oregonian/OregonLive allege Shoureshi has used PSU cash and staff time for his own gain, violated state ethics rules and launched new initiatives and international partnerships that exposed the college to significant financial risk.

      All the while, university records show, Shoureshi has made lavish demands of the financially strapped institution while its students faced steep tuition hikes.

      The internal furor over Shoureshi’s conduct could be dismissed as typical campus politics — except that members of the Portland State Board of Trustees clearly share the critics’ disquiet.

      “We have serious concerns about your ability to be successful at PSU,” wrote Gale Castillo, board chair, in a bombshell Nov. 14 letter to Shoureshi.

      Castillo’s memo went on to accuse Shoureshi of chaotic leadership and of mistreating his staff, putting his own financial interest above the university’s, and misleading the board. The board gave him a stark choice: Resign or agree to a “performance plan” and executive coaching intended to make him a more effective administrator. He refused to step down.

    • OMA says:

      HUB, I do not think the old state system would be doing/mandating governing many of the things that are now coming down from ‘the state’. I wonder if since before the states Neil board the fix was already in to remove the old system and the chancellors and even subsequent UO presidents (hat, Berd, Gott) hired were to that end by the state board whose purpose was to remove the system? I think I have seen research where State systems done well save money and reduce overhead… I wonder if there are any economists/ed leadership people doing the analysis to see if Oregon made the right decision… Aw who am I kidding getting that kind of data from the schools (UO in particular) would be almost impossible and the HECC does not seem to have any of the open data that OUS IR used to maintain. Side note: I saw that the Oregon Chief Education Officer/Office is no more so I wonder how much longer HECC will be with us.

  3. Canard says:

    I too deeply regret my prior enthusiasm for an independent board. The precipitating selling point was that they wouldn’t be as subject to political pressure as the state board, and so wouldn’t do something as stupid and corrupt as firing a strong president who had the support of the vast majority of the faculty.

    The more general selling point was that the state board, a group of volunteers overseeing seven institutions, could not possibly have the time to devote to understanding the dynamics of any one of them (much less all seven), whereas a local board would be able to truly delve into the issues and make decisions based upon that knowledge. Unfortunately, this has not been the case, as the board’s understanding of the issues has been limited to the information that is doled out to them by the administration, and by their general lack of understanding of what academia is all about. In the corporate world there is the well-known phenomenon of the board being captured by the managers, and in our increasingly corporatized university, that has happened here too. Mirroring the current tendency towards “strong man” governments, we find the same thing here, with all critical decisions being made by the president and board chair, and meaningful shared governance a thing of the past.

    I disagree with your assessment that the president is not a disaster; he may not be a corrupt and vainglorious president as may be the case at PSU (or perhaps he is paid so well that he doesn’t have to resort to more nefarious demands on the institution’s coffers), but his administration has made many terrible decisions that will have profound consequences in the not-so-distant future. Previous administrations made some terrible decisions too, but at least then there was an attempt to talk to the parties involved, to try to understand the issues on the ground. The UO now is a completely top-down institution, where the ever-increasing number of administrators (many of them with no actual experience in academia) are convinced they know what needs to be done, and to hell with what the faculty think.

    And this is where the lack of a state board comes into play; there used to be some political accountability with the state board. If one could make an argument that the policies at a university were not in the interests of the citizens of Oregon, there was a chance that pressure in Salem could lead to a review of those policies. But our independent board is not accountable politically, and decisions that reflect the preconceptions and preoccupations of our administration get passed with a nod.

    Faculty provide the institutional memory, and many of them have decided to make their whole careers here. That dedication used to give them some clout, or at least respect. Our students, and the citizens of Oregon, used to have some sense that we cared about the values and long-term interests of the place. Now, those who are truly invested in this university have no say in what happens, and administrators who are generally here polishing their resumes on the way to the next job call all the shots, and are more responsive to the demands of the donor class, rather than the actual constituents of this (nominally) public institution.

    • OMA says:

      It could be a function of changing times, and if the old state system where still around they too would function more like the HECC, but I remember the long term academically focused employees of the state system acted as a bulwark against some questionable ideas from the legislature (Weeks, and a time clock for professors) at the same time supporting the institutions ideas and initiatives like: capital funding; tuition policy; and (perhaps someone with more legacy knowledge could jump in here) but was the RAM funding model if not proposed by the UO highly desired? In the end this is probably what led to the sound byte of the UO getting less funding, since PSU blew open the doors on instate students (easily in the metro margins), OSU had all the high cost (in state) students, subsidies would and will always be given to the regional schools unless a legislature wants to close them down, leaving UO with their ‘low cost’ programs and out of state students giving up state money.

  4. UOCM says:

    The Board got Gott if you you know what I’m saying.

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