Trustees to meet 110 miles off campus, 4 weeks before students return

You wouldn’t know it from Board Secretary Angela Wilhelms minimalist website, but rumor has it the Sept 5-6 meeting of our Board of Trustees will be in Portland. Classes in Eugene start October 1. Maybe they have something urgent to vote on, like another round of raises for the coaches and administrators, or more tuition increases:

Or maybe they just want to go through their due-diligence charade in peace and quiet, then make it down to President Schill’s skybox in time for the football game on Saturday:

 

Remember the Hat Day: November 21, 2011

8/15/2019:  Former UO President Richard Lariviere has just announced that he will retire from his job as Pres of Chicago’s Field Museum next year after completing what seems to have been a successful rescue mission, if you’re into dinosaurs.

If you are interested in public higher education and what happened during Lariviere’s brief two years at UO, you should start by reading this article from Brent Walth in the Oregon Quarterly, about why he came to UO. The Around the O link is broken, but here’s the gist:

Lariviere recalls having dinner one night with two major UO supporters, who were then trying to woo him to accept the University’s presidency. Lariviere says he was intrigued about coming to the UO but was not yet convinced. At one point, one of the donors turned to the other and asked, “Shall we talk to him about the freedom movement?”

Lariviere perked up. His dinner companions told him the UO’s current relationship with the State of Oregon—the very relationship that spawned and fostered the University for more than a century—was a wreck. The state’s repeated cuts to Oregon’s public higher-education system and the UO in particular had gone so far that the University might as well be private. Lariviere says he told his hosts he didn’t want to take the UO private. They told him they wanted to keep the UO public but find a way to bring it the financial stability it now lacked. “That,” Lariviere says, “was something I could get behind.”

 … The plan has already run into opposition in the legislature. That’s not surprising, given that the plan—at its core—is about power. Lariviere’s plan would give the University more power than it’s ever had to control its own fate. Under his plan, the UO would be overseen by its own board, appointed by the governor. The board would have final say over major UO decisions, such as hiring top officials, its budget, and setting tuition.

This did not work out well.

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.

“university again mediated with the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation”

No they didn’t. The Administration *bargains* with the GTFF. The Mediator *mediates* between the Administration and the GTFF. That’s pretty much the whole point of mediation.

And while I’m on it, why is the Administration still claiming they are “the university?”.  I thought Frank Stahl won that one. And while it’s nice to hear that the Administration has finally abandoned its painfully quixotic plan to rationalize the GTFF’s health insurance, why are they still proposing just 5% in pay increases spread over 3 years, when the western U.S. CPI increased 3.1% last year, and the Fed’s target rate of inflation is 2% per year?

That works out to a 4% decrease. Didn’t the BOT just give Pres Schill a 17% raise?

In any case here’s the latest email from Provost Phillips:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,
Just a note to share with you the latest economic offers exchanged at the most recent mediation session with the GTFF bargaining team. I’m forwarding a copy of an email update from the ELR bargaining team that was sent today to academic leadership. I wanted to make sure all faculty members have the most current information. An overview of the package is available on the GTFF bargaining webpage. If you have questions, contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.
Thanks and I hope the summer is treating you well. Take care.
Patrick
**Sent on Behalf of Missy Matella**
Dear Colleagues,
On August 1, the university again mediated with the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation (GTFF). While both parties passed important economic offers that are detailed below, I want to start by explaining a significant change in the university’s latest offer. AAU peer analysis has shown that the University of Oregon spends nearly twice the average of public AAU institutions on health insurance coverage, but slightly less, on average, on graduate employee stipends. The UO had been looking to rebalance the GE compensation package by shifting some of the investment in health insurance into student stipends. This would give GEs more salary and help the university be more competitive in attracting graduate students. However, as it has become clear through negotiations that this concept is not one that the two parties can agree upon, the UO is no longer seeking to shift compensation from health insurance to increase take home pay.
The university’s current offer retains the existing health insurance structure—with the university paying 95 percent of health insurance premiums at the existing academic year 2018-19 rates. We remain dedicated to ensuring that GE health insurance includes reasonable cost containment measures to create opportunities to increase GE stipends in the future, which is critical to GE recruitment and retention.
Here is a comparison of the latest salary and health insurance offers:
Salary

GTFF offer:

Increases GE salary minimums by 5.75% each year of the contract.
The previous proposal was 6%.
UO offer:
Increase salaries of GEs each year of the contract:
  • Year one: 1.65% (up from 1.45%)
  • Year two: 1.65% (up from 1.55%)
  • Year three: 1.75% (up from 1.65%)
Other employee group salary increases
  • Service Employee International Union (SEIU): 1%
  • Faculty—TTF: 1.25% across-the-board + .75% equity pool
  • Faculty—NTTF: 2% across-the-board
  • Officers of Administration: 2% merit pool
Health insurance
GTFF offer:
University pays 100% of health care premiums for the academic year and the summer to the extent health care premiums increase between 0 and 9.9% (increases for next academic year are currently projected at 7%).
Currently 95% for the academic year and 80% over the summer.
The proposal also includes a tiered cost sharing model based on the size of premium increases.
UO offer:
The university is no longer pursuing a reduction in its contribution to health insurance in order to increase salaries.
The latest offer provides the same level of contribution under the current contract, which is 95% of the 2018-19 academic year insurance premiums.
The university and GTFF bargaining teams exchanged proposals on other key issues including summer support and family and childcare support. A detailed chart comparing current proposals is available on the HR website.
We will continue to bargain in good faith to reach a resolution that meets the needs of our entire university community. Keeping academic and administrative leadership informed during on-going negotiations with the GTFF remains a priority. Our next mediation session will be on August 21. Additional updates will be provided as information becomes available.
Shortly, this update will be shared with department heads, and the provost will email this update to faculty members to keep them informed, as well.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please visit the GTFF bargaining webpage or contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.
Best regards,
Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University Human Resources

Why professors shouldn’t sign petitions

Specifically philosophy professors, but the argument is more general. In the NYT here:

… Whether you call it a “petition,” an “open letter” or a “public statement,” this type of document is distinguished by the fact that after stating and arguing for a position, it lists the names of people who endorse the position. The petition aims to effect persuasion with respect to what appears in the first part not only by way of any argument contained therein but also by way of the number and respectability of the people who figure in the second part. Such a document tries to persuade you to believe (that it is right to do) something because many people, some of whom are authorities, believe it (is the right thing to do). It is not always wrong to believe things because many people believe them, but it is always intellectually uninquisitive to do so.

The problem here is not that what many believe can be false, though that is a problem. The problem is that even if it’s true, the fact that many believe it doesn’t shed any light on it why it’s true — and that is what the intellectually inquisitive person wants to know. Is this problem mitigated by the fact that the list is not about sheer numbers because authorities appear on it? I think intellectually inquisitive people do gravitate toward those with expertise, because they are in an especially good position to answer our questions. But this goes only for experts taken severally. One expert is a learning opportunity; being confronted with an arsenal of experts is about as conducive to conversation as a firing squad. …

Agnes Callard is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago and the author of “Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming.”

 

 

Steve Raymund to replace Chuck Lillis as BOT Chairman

That’s the rumor from yesterday’s match down at the Faculty Club’s polo grounds. Lillis’s 2nd 3-year term as chair of UO’s Board of Trustees is up in December. Raymund is an Econ grad, a wealthy self-made businessman, the current chair of Paul Weinhold’s secretive sports-obsessed UO Foundation board, and a generous donor to UO’s academic mission.

New “Free Speech Skybridge” perfect place & manner for protest banners

The Eugene Weekly’s Bob Keefer pans the Knight Campus’s still under-construction “bridge to nowhere”, here. While I agree it’s not up to the architectural excellence of, say, the Hayward Field Phallus, it will provide the perfect location for students and union members to hang protest banners from – with none of the issues General Counsel Kevin Reed raised regarding Time, Place, and Manner, when he had the Divest UO banners removed from Johnson Hall:

 

HR Director & VP for HR caught trolling union on twitter, “resign”

That would be at OHSU. From the Portland Business Journal, here:

In a bizarre turn of events, Oregon Health & Science University President Dr. Danny Jacobs apologized after the head of human resources resigned amid a Twitter trolling incident targeting an employee union.

Patrick Frengle had made anti-union posts on AFSCME Local 328’s social media channels under several aliases, Aanus McFadden and Roy Vragina, according to AFSCME Local 328, as first reported in Willamette Week.

Frengle, a strategic financial analyst, “included information about the cost of dues being higher than they were,” said Matt Hilton, a switchboard operator at OHSU and president of Local 328. “It was a coordinated campaign to get individuals to drop their membership.” …

A statement OHSU issued Tuesday said, “this behavior does not reflect our core value of transparency.

But wait, there’s more:

AFSCME noticed another suspicious Twitter account — “PeterPumpkinEater” — that “liked” many of Frengle’s posts, according to a blog post on the union’s website by Jennifer Barker, a member of Local 328’s bargaining team.

On Monday, AFSCME took its concerns to Dan Forbes, OHSU’s vice president of human resources, who had sat across the bargaining table explaining the merits of OHSU’s proposals during contract negotiations, Barker said.

Yes, it was Forbes:

The union then shared information about the “Peter” account with a member of the OHSU administration, and Forbes resigned the next day, according to Barker.

Jacobs issued another apology on Wednesday evening, first reported in The Lund Report. He said Forbes would remain at OHSU until Nov. 1 to help with a smooth transition.

 

UO Provost finally gets a Chief of Staff, Tim Inman

His name is Tim Inman. He comes to us from the Oregon Legislature, where he was chief of staff for Speaker of the House Tina Kotek. He was hired by former provost Jayanth Banavar back in December, but he was busy with the legislative session that led to UO’s 7% tuition increase, and just got to campus this week. Banavar is now out, so Inman will work for our new provost, Patrick Phillips – for as long as he satisfies Chuck Lillis and Angela Wilhelms.

I know nothing about him beyond the buzzwords in this hagiography from our PR flacks at Around the O:

Since 2015, Tim has been the principal advisor to the speaker where he is responsible for translating the values and priorities of the leadership of the House of Representatives into strategic plans that will have an impact on Oregonians statewide.

Tim works to build and maintain strong relationships between all levels of the legislative branch, state agencies, and the wide range of stakeholders who engage in state policy and budget development in order to achieve outcomes. He has experience overseeing many key administrative, fiscal, and policy projects that span the state capitol. He has helped negotiate budgets, policy proposals, and important legislative packages in a complex and fast-paced environment.

During his time in Salem, Tim has earned a reputation for being hard working, thoughtful, and for having the utmost integrity as he navigates through controversial and complex initiatives.

RG’s Jordyn Brown obtains public records detailing layoffs

In the RG here:

Departments that saw the most job cuts, according documents received through a public records request, were Campus Planning and Facility Management with five positions impacted, the School of Music and Dance’s Oregon Bach Festival with four jobs eliminated, and the Business Affairs office and the Lundquist College of Business with three positions cut each.

Document here:

University-of-Oregon-impacted-jobs-list

Admin hits up students for $800K for Black Cultural Center overruns

That’s the rumor from a generally reliable source, who reports the ask to ASUO is coming from VP for Student Life Kevin Marbury. Pres Schill got a donor, but apparently CPFM low-balled the construction estimate and they don’t want to go back to that well.

No word yet on whether the ASUO Senate will go for this. UO’s students already pay unusually high fees, which support EMU operations, student groups, the Rec Center, and of course ~$2M to Duck VP Eric Roedl for “free” student tickets to Duck games – say, there’s an obvious place to take the money from.

The last time I recall student fees were raised was for the EMU renovation bonds, in 2012, when VPSL Robin Holmes got in all sorts of trouble for using student money to hire RBI Elections Consultants to manipulate the student vote. That post is well worth reading, though as a regular at Falling Sky I have to admit I’m now glad she did it.

Internal Auditor Trisha Burnett leaving in 3 weeks

From Around the O, here. If she has another job lined up they don’t mention it.

When UO left OUS, it became exempt from oversight by the Secretary of State’s Audits division. The Legislature does not trust the university leadership, which it believes is obsessed with pleasing Phil Knight, big-time sports spending that hurts the legislators’ beloved Beavers, and vanity projects. I can’t imagine where they get that impression – maybe they read Around the O.

In any case they are unwilling to give UO the funding it needs as a state school without state oversight. While the HECC has done some of this, I’m told that the next legislative session will likely condition increased state support on a rigorous outside audit process, not one that relies on an internal auditor who serves at the whims of our Board of Trustees and President.

UO’s first internal auditor, Brenda Muirhead, asked too many questions and was forced out after 18 months. One or two of her staff left at the same time. I don’t know the real story on why Burnett is leaving. I met with her several times and heard her present to the Board regularly – she seemed remarkably incurious for an auditor, and I figured she’d keep the job for life.

Our administration could do a lot to improve its credibility with the legislature and the UO community by appointing a strong internal auditor who would make detailed public reports. I’m guessing that’s not going to happen – not when there’s already so much to sweep under the rug, and with the 2021 IAAF championships coming up.

UO administration proposes cutting Grad Employee pay by 5%

You wouldn’t know it from today’s Around the O post on the administration’s bargaining proposals, but the US Western Region CPI-U has been increasing at about 3% for the past few years:

Assuming that continues, the “salary increases” the UO administration is offering the GTFF union will amount to about a 5% real pay cut over the 3 years of the contract:

  • Proposed salary increases for all graduate employees in each year of the contract. Year one: 1.45 percent, up from 1.25 percent; year two: 1.55 percent, up from 1.25 percent; year three: 1.65 percent, up from 1.25 percent.