Bad financial news from Oregon State University

Forwarded by a reader. Bargaining with their new faculty union starts in Feb, and bargaining with the legislature and governor has started already. So some “the sky is falling” messaging is to be expected, as when Sharon Rudnick told the UO faculty that we could have raises or wifi, but not both.

16 January 2019

Dear OSU faculty and staff,

You likely are aware that Oregon State’s fall term undergraduate enrollment in Corvallis declined for the first time in many years even as we had projected for a very modest increase. We had both fewer resident and non-resident undergraduates enrolled in fall term classes than we forecasted. Our forecast was not met as significantly lower numbers of admitted students enrolled, fewer international students applied and enrolled, and fewer students returned to OSU than had been the case in recent years. Underlying factors include changing student demographics nationwide and in Oregon and rising regional and national competition among universities for all students—resident, non-resident domestic and international.

As a result, the university’s revenues from tuition for fiscal year 2019 are $7.2 million, or 1.9 percent, short of our projections. Meanwhile, OSU also faces difficult budget cycles this year and next due to state-mandated increased contributions to Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System; uncertain levels of future legislative funding; possible continued declines in undergraduate enrollment in Corvallis; and a slowdown in the rate of Ecampus enrollment growth. This all occurs at a time when tuition revenues continue to fund the vast majority of OSU’s education and general expenses, while the state’s share of funding proportionately declines or remains constant.

In response, significant work is underway throughout the university to change OSU’s budget trajectory. This work—which includes new enrollment management strategies related to financial aid and scholarships, more proactive recruiting, and transfer student support; the streamlining of business processes; improvements in research administration to reduce management and compliance costs; and investments to better serve our Portland-based students and collaborative partners in the metro region—will put the university in a better financial position. It is worth noting that all of these actions are among the priorities articulated in OSU’s 2019-23 (SP4.0) strategic plan, Transformation, Excellence and Impact.

In addition, we are revising our enrollment projection processes and models to improve our forecast accuracy in an increasingly unstable and competitive enrollment climate. Of course, our leadership, students, and stakeholders also are advocating actively in Salem for the importance of state support for OSU and Oregon higher education in general.

During this time, it is vital that the university’s operating budget is balanced. That means we must reduce FY19 operating budgets through June 30 by the $7.2 million in unrealized tuition revenues. Nearly all major university budget units have been assigned a share of this reduction, and senior university administrative and academic leaders are responsible for distributing the budget reductions to units within their organization as appropriate. The reductions are permanent, as the actual tuition revenues realized this year establish the university’s base revenues for next year.

We will continue to support our faculty, staff and students by maintaining our commitment to competitive salaries; improving our support of research and instruction; investing in public safety measures; and budgeting additional capital renewal funds to repair our aging infrastructure, particularly those that advance the university’s research mission and protect the safety of our community.

In keeping with those priorities, FY19 budget allocations for enrollment management, research office, and public safety will not be reduced. However, other central administrative functions will absorb a larger relative share of the reduction than academic units. Budgets for the units within the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office, the vice presidents of Finance and Administration and University Relations and Marketing will be reduced 1.8 to 2.7 percent. Budgets for colleges and academic units throughout the university will be reduced by 1.1 to 1.7 percent.

We regret having to take these actions and we realize these are challenging times for higher education in Oregon and across the United States. Yet, we firmly believe that our university’s outstanding faculty and staff, quality academic programs, research and engagement excellence, outstanding online programs, and presence throughout the state and the world will enable Oregon State University to succeed and contribute to the ongoing success of OSU’s faculty, staff and students.

We plan to hold campus meetings in Corvallis and Bend in the near future regarding these changes and will continue to share additional updates with you.


Edward Feser
Provost and Executive Vice President

Mike Green
Vice President of Finance and Administration

Provost announces 1.1% pay cut for UO faculty

I’m no economist, but I can subtract. Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the cost of living in the western US increased by 3.1% over the past year. And this week our Provost reported that UO faculty would get an average 2% raise:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I want to remind you that January is the month when fiscal year 2019 salary increases kick in for both represented and non-represented tenure-track faculty (TTF) and career non-tenure-track faculty (NTTF) at the University of Oregon.

The fiscal year salary increases are provided to faculty members who meet the eligibility criteria, which requires an appointment as of December 31, 2018.
Faculty members currently in the tenure-track classification received a 1.25 percent across-the-board increase on January 1, 2019, and that will appear on the January 31 paychecks. There’s an additional pool of 0.75 percent to address equity that will be distributed after an internal study currently underway is completed. Funds from this equity pool will be distributed as soon as they are available, consistent with the United Academics collective bargaining agreement and the related memorandum of understanding. For more information on the equity study, please refer to the Faculty Salary Equity Study webpage.

All increases provided from the equity pool will be retroactive to January 1, 2019. If there are funds remaining in the equity pool after equity decisions are made, those funds will be applied as an additional across-the-board increase to TTF.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, career NTTF members received a 2.0 percent across-the-board increase on January 1, 2019, with those increases appearing on the January 31 paychecks.

For more information on faculty salary increases, please refer to the Annual Salary Increases webpage. If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources by email at or call 541-346-3159.

With warmest regards,
Jayanth Banavar
Provost and Senior Vice President

Next year the faculty union’s MOU with the adminstration calls for average raises of 2.125%: 1.625% for merit, and 0.5% for external equity, so exceptionally excellent faculty in departments that have been underpaid for years may actually get small increases in real pay. The rest will get another cut.

How are we doing in comparison to other universities? I don’t know, the annual update on UO’s IR page from the AAUDE data is now 4 months late, and Director JP Monroe has stopped responding to my emails.

University seeks new chief PR flack

As documented in this Eugene Weekly report on the demise of the Register Guard, there is now no regular reporter with a higher ed or UO beat left in the state. Diane Dietz was the last. The Daily Emerald does a great job, but has trouble scraping up the money to pay Kevin Reed’s public records fees. The Oregonian is focused on Portland public schools.

The journalists are being replaced with an army of PR flacks, paid for with public money but answerable only to university administrators, and not bound by journalistic codes of ethics – you know, things like presenting both sides of a story.

UO has now posted an ad for a replacement for former spokesperson Tobin Klinger, who explained his job here, in an ill-considered letter to the editor of the RG, complaining about their coverage of the Bowl of Dicks lawsuit:

Eugene is access to independent film, unique foods, outdoor activities, cultural happenings and community pride.

I don’t know that this shines through on the pages of The Register-Guard, particularly with the sophomoric “reporting” of Diane Dietz.

I admit to having a bias. Dietz covers my employer, the University of Oregon. In my role as head of UO public affairs communications, it is my job to defend the integrity and the reputation of the university. I advocate for faculty, staff, students, administration and athletics. I advocate for the Ducks.

The official job description is less pithy:

Director of Public Affairs and Issues Management

Apply now Job no: 523381
Work type: Officer of Administration
Location: Eugene, OR
Categories: Communications/Public Relations/Marketing

Department: University Communications
Appointment Type and Duration: Regular, Ongoing
Salary: $98,821 – $115,000 per year
Compensation Band: OS-OA11-Fiscal Year 2018-2019
FTE: 1.0

Application Review Begins
January 31, 2019; position open until filled

Special Instructions to Applicants
Complete online applications must include:
1) A cover letter describing how you meet the minimum qualifications, professional competencies, and, if applicable, preferred qualifications
2) Resume/CV
3) Three professional references
4) Answers to the following 2 supplemental questions (Please limit the response to 300-500 words per question):
• What is your approach to issues management?
• What is your philosophy on brand journalism?

Department Summary
The department of University Communications is charged with telling the University of Oregon’s (UO) stories to a broad range of audiences and positioning the University to succeed and thrive. The department utilizes and manages a comprehensive suite of communications tools, including public relations, branding, storytelling, advertising, licensing, digital media, and more for the benefit of the University.

Position Summary
The Director of Public Affairs and Issues Management serves as the primary University spokesperson and is responsible for leading media relations, public affairs communications, issues management, and digital news operations. This is a fast-paced, high-profile position that manages daily internal and external communication needs as well as develops and executes long-term strategic communications objectives. This position must combine an understanding of strategic public communications and brand journalism with public policy, higher education policy, and government and community affairs.

The Director will work closely with the UO’s administrative units, government affairs offices at the federal, state and local levels, athletics, public safety, and schools/colleges to effectively communicate the UO’s position on public and university policy issues and respond to inquiries from public officials and their constituents and other stakeholders. This position will also work closely with the UO’s academic and administrative leadership to implement the UO’s internal and external communication objectives, proactively communicate the University’s position on a variety of topics and aggressively advocate on behalf of the UO with media and stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, community leaders, lawmakers and the general public.

The Director will work closely with the Vice President and other members of the University Communications leadership team to create a progressive, unified, creative, metrics-driven organization dedicated to serving the UO’s interests, including those of the students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and other stakeholders. The Director will demonstrate and inspire a team-building work environment, motivating staff and cultivating productive relationships across campus to innovate, collaborate, and reach or exceed identified goals.

The Director reports directly to the Vice President for University Communications and supervises a group of classified, unclassified, and student staff.

Flexibility, excellence, and passion are vital qualities within University Communications. Inclusion, collaboration and cultural sensitivity are valued competencies, and this position must effectively interact with a dynamic population of internal and external partners at a high level of integrity. We are looking for someone who shares our values and who will support the mission of the University. This position plays a central role in achieving UO’s goal of ensuring effective engagement with the University’s many core constituents and helping UO retain and improve on its position as an innovative and leading public research university.

Minimum Requirements
• Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, public relations or similar field.
• Ten years of experience working in communications and/or public policy, which must have included experience as an institutional spokesperson and managing issues and crisis communications.
• Five years of management experience.
• Five years of writing and/or editing for media and/or public relations communications.

Professional Competencies
• Demonstrated ability to assimilate complicated information and speak, write, and edit for a variety of audiences, media, and contexts.
• Demonstrated ability to create strategic communication plans and strategies.
• Demonstrated ability to work in a complex organization, manage people, and work effectively with a wide variety of people across multiple units and agencies to develop strategies to achieve operating goals.
• Ability to demonstrate tact and diplomacy, and the ability to manage confidential or sensitive information and issues responsibly.
• Commitment to and experience with promoting and enhancing diversity and equity, and working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Preferred Qualifications
• Advanced degree in journalism, communications, or public relations.
• Higher education communication experience.

Click the Concur link, or just pay for this damn trip myself?

To click or not to click?

I’m trying to go to LA for a meeting on university business. Back in the day this was easy. Buy a cheap ticket from expedia or wherever, make a hotel reservation, then submit the conference program and get reimbursed at the per diem rate for whatever meals the conference fee didn’t include.

But now, after several hours clicking through Concur’s poorly documented help pages – which, no shit, start with a “Legal Notice” – and a few phone calls to very helpful UO staff, I’m getting emails like this:

I’m pretty sure I don’t have a Company Card. And why would UO trust me with one, when they no longer trust me to buy my own airplane ticket? Is this legit, or has someone hacked my Tripit account?

OK, I did the smart thing and instead of clicking, I typed the url into my browser and logged in. Apparently this update was to tell me that UO’s travel agent had tacked a $9 fee onto the ticket that I could have bought myself with way less hassle:

I just hope someone’s getting a decent kickback for signing the contract with Concur. And if anyone knows how to add a hotel to this trip, or a good bridge near USC to sleep under, please post a comment.

CAS Structure Task Force meetings on Jan 22

Email from the Task Master:

There are TWO meetings on 1/22.

The morning meeting 10-noon, 260 Condon Hall, is not a typical Task Force meeting. This was scheduled based on questions that arose at the December meeting regarding budget, structure and organizational decision making. We felt it was important to hold this session prior to our regular Task Force meeting.

Angela Wilhelms and Brad Shelton will lead this session.  The agenda is:

  • Welcome and introductions – Karen
  • University structure overview – Angela
  • Academic structure and budgeting overview – Brad
  • Q & A

This, as with all meetings, is open to the public.  Please forward to your colleagues with an invitation to attend.

Our regularly scheduled Task Force meeting is 1:00-3:00 Miller Room EMU. You will find documents and minutes from the Dec meeting on this webpage:

Along with the meeting schedule.  We will post additional documents to this page following our regular TF meetings.

The meetings are 2 hours in length.  We recognize not everyone will be available to attend full meetings.  Whether you need to arrive late or leave early, please join for whatever period of time you do have available.

Faculty Club reopens after unprecedented shutdown

Word down at the faculty club is that Chairman Harper has finally relented to Senate pressure and agreed to reopen the Faculty Club tomorrow:

Dear Colleagues,

The Faculty Club opens its doors again this week for the Winter Term, and will continue in operation while university classes are in session.  We meet in a convivial room at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, with free hors d’oeuvres and reasonably priced drinks.

Wednesday, expect a bunch of senators to come over after the meeting of the University Senate.  If you’re good & sick of hearing about those lousy legislators in Washington DC, cheer yourself up by rubbing elbows with and getting the scuttlebutt from senators who have actually managed to avoid any sort of “shutdown” here on campus.

On Thursday, we will enter through the south portico of the museum (Marché entrance) rather than our usual front door.  This is because the JSMA is holding a patron’s preview of their new exhibitions, which will have their public opening the following evening.  Rumors that we may get a sneak preview of our own are as of yet unconfirmed.

So come one night or both, bring a friend if you like, and swap tales of winter break adventures (intellectual and otherwise) with your colleagues. Perfect Hope to see you there!

Yours, James Harper
Chair of the Faculty Club Board


WHO: The UO Faculty Club is open to all UO faculty—tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty, library faculty, and OAs tenured in an academic department, as well as people retired from positions in these categories.

GUESTS: Eligible people (see above) may bring any guests they like.

WHAT: Cash Bar with beer, wine, liquor and non-alcoholic beverages; complimentary hors d’oeuvres.

WHERE: The Faculty Club meets in a designated room on the ground floor of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.  Enter at the museum’s main entrance and turn right; the club room is right off the lobby.

WHEN: Wednesdays & Thursdays 5:00-8:00 pm.  We will meet through the last week of classes in Fall Term (i.e. through November 29); activity will resume in the Winter and Spring terms.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Faculty Club Board Chair James Harper (Dept. of the History of Art and Architecture),

Colleges Are (finally) Getting Smarter About Student Evaluations

That’s the news from the Chronicle of Higher Ed today here by Kristin Doerer (gated if off campus, some clips below) complete with a photo of some squirrelly looking economist:

Well, economists do have some experience with the misuse of metrics. From the article:

Emily Wu and Kenneth Ancell, two students at the University of Oregon, approached their honors research professor, Bill Harbaugh, a few years ago about studying the relationship between student evaluations and grade inflation. Harbaugh, a professor of economics, was enthusiastic. Wu and Ancell dived into the university’s extensive data on evaluation and transcripts, focusing on its two largest schools, journalism and business.

What they found surprised them.  Having a female instructor is correlated with higher student achievement,” Wu said, but female instructors received systematically lower course evaluations. In looking at prerequisite courses, the two researchers found a negative correlation between students’ evaluations and learning. “If you took the prerequisite class from a professor with high student teaching evaluations,” Harbaugh said, “you were likely, everything else equal, to do worse in the second class.”

The team found numerous studies with similar findings. “It replicates what many, many other people found,” said Harbaugh. “But to see it at my own university, I sort of felt like I had to do something about it.”

He did. In the spring of 2017, Harbaugh assembled a task force on the issue and invited Sierra Dawson, now associate vice provost for academic affairs, to join.

The UO Provost’s website on the reform process is here. We are piloting new surveys now and the Senate expects to have them in place by next fall. Back to the Chronicle article:

Legal Pressure

Doing nothing to revise or phase out student evaluations could be a risky proposition not just educationally, but also legally.

In August, an arbitrator ruled that Ryerson could no longer use student evaluations to gauge teaching effectiveness in promotion-­and-tenure decisions. The Ryerson Faculty Association brought the arbitration case and argued that because of the well-documented bias, student evaluations shouldn’t be used for personnel decisions.

“This is really a turning point,” said Stark, who testified on behalf of the Ryerson faculty group. He thinks the United States will see similar cases. “It’s just a question of time before there are class-­action lawsuits against universities or even whole state-university systems on behalf of women or other minorities, alleging disparate impact.” …

Academical Tools

#1 is this Rawlsian maximin clamp:

“Tested”? And rejected, according to Harsanyi.

My experience was more positive. This cost $6 at Bring Recycling and did its job. If you are in need of a clamp, philosophical or otherwise, you should also check out Lance’s Used Tools just down the street, for their excellent prices and the large slices of german chocolate cake Lance’s wife gives every shopper, at least on Saturdays.

Suggestions for additional entries are welcome.


University releases regression results for gender equity raises

That would be the University of Texas at San Antonio, and they were released by their Provost, Kimberly Espy.

Here at UO, interim HR director Missy Matella spoke to the general membership meeting of the faculty union about UO’s pay equity study tonight. Several faculty asked about why the administration had not released the regression results from the consultant’s report, which they are now using to decide who gets how much in equity raises.

Matella’s response was that we could always make a request to Kevin Reed’s Public Records Office. I pointed out that this office does not have a good track record when it comes to transparency, and that this would hurt trust in the gender equity process. She then suggested that we talk more about this offline. I don’t like having conversations about transparency offline, so I’m posting this online.

UO cutting deal to save historic showroom, and make some money

1/8/2019 update: 

No, I’m not talking about the historically ugly money pit that is Collier House. Around the O has a speculative rendering of the new plan to redevelop the fabulous Lew Williams car showroom and the Romania lot. Looks pretty good to me. And some money for the academic side to boot.

2/2/2018: UO wants to redevelop historic “Googie” building and Romania lot

The Lew Williams / Joe Romania car dealership on Franklin at Walnut was the Jock Box of its day – but with tail fins:

I’m not sure how UO ended up owning this priceless architectural treasure, but we’ve certainly let things slide:

Photos and much more in the National Park Service report granting the building historic landmark status here.

My first experience with this exemplar of Googie architecture was in 1995, when as a newly hired assistant professor I was shown my office in PLC. I asked if it might be possible for me to have a desk and a chair. The department manager told me to go down to the “Old Romania Lot” and pick out whatever I wanted from the surplus pile in the back. I’m still using that desk.

UO would like to generate some money from this property. Would that we could do the same with Knight Arena. Last year we got city permission to use it for Matt Court parking, but lets face it – nobody wants to watch Dana Altman coach basketball.

So now they’ve got an RFQ out, looking for qualified developers:

Was Duck sports crap made in a Chinese forced labor camp?

Seems quite possible. The AP, here:

HOTAN, China (AP) — Barbed wire and hundreds of cameras ring a massive compound of more than 30 dormitories, schools, warehouses and workshops in China’s far west. Dozens of armed officers and a growling Doberman stand guard outside.

Behind locked gates, men and women are sewing sportswear that can end up on U.S. college campuses and sports teams.

This is one of a growing number of internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where by some estimates 1 million Muslims are detained, forced to give up their language and their religion and subject to political indoctrination. Now, the Chinese government is also forcing some detainees to work in manufacturing and food industries. Some of them are within the internment camps; others are privately owned, state-subsidized factories where detainees are sent once they are released.

The Associated Press has tracked recent, ongoing shipments from one such factory inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear, a leading supplier in Statesville, North Carolina. …

And from

Thanks to an anonymous reader for the links.

Meanwhile Josh Hunt’s “University of Nike” book gets a positive review in the National Review here. When The Nation and the National Review are on the same page, you have to wonder if Hunt might be onto something.

How long will it take Kevin Reed’s PRO to find Trustee evals?

Or at least make an inflated estimate of the cost of finding them? Given that Reed is also the Board’s attorney, you’d think this would be a pretty easy public records request.

UO’s federal accreditors require the Board of Trustees to conduct a self-study evaluation every two years:

2.A.8 The board regularly evaluates its performance to ensure its duties and responsibilities are fulfilled in an effective and efficient manner.

OSU’s board posts their evaluations on the internet. Four weeks ago I filed a public records request for the UO Board’s evaluations. Still no response:

Faculty union releases CAS reorg survey results

Committee Chair Karen Ford says they aim to make a public report in April. That will presumably kick off a campus wide discussion on whether or not to – and if so how to – divide up CAS. Ford has said that she believes the Senate should vote on any reorganization. President Schill and Provost Banavar have said that the final decision will be up to them.

The faculty union ran a quick “what do you think” survey on this a few weeks ago. The full letter from union Pres Chris Sinclair is here. A snippet:

The results of our recent survey on the potential division of CAS into multiple schools are in. There were 93 responses and you can see numeric responses and a tally of repeated themes in narrative responses here.

The central theme in the narrative responses was of deep concern for the future of the humanities at the University of Oregon. While some respondents were cautiously optimistic, most of the respondents were humanists and, for the most part, they were the most concerned. People worry that splitting CAS may weaken our liberal arts educational mission and hinder interdisciplinary work. Some respondents believe that such a change will result in the proliferation of administrators, though the counter point is that these dedicated administrators may improve advocacy to Johnson Hall on behalf of their units.

There were fewer concerns about the process, except the prevalent question of “why?” or “why now?” Some see the process as opaque or don’t feel they have enough information to comment.

Some members in the professional schools held their newly organized schools up as cautionary examples.

Again, some members are hopeful, and many are cautiously optimistic that the process will be thorough and come to the right conclusion. Many, however, worry that the conclusion is foregone.  …

And here’s a screenshot from the report: