UOMatters tries doing something constructive

6/14/2009: Taken from the official web biography of which chronically insecure leader: Dave Frohnmayer, Kim Il-Jong, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? “No president has served so long nor, many would say, been so admired—even loved.”

Frohnmayer is leaving soon, and we hope a few of his cronies too. While we think it’s important and amusing to “keep the big boys honest” by making sure there is a permanent googleable record of what they say and do, it’s not enough. Exposing wasteful spending is one place we have a comparative advantage over … well, no one else even bothers – certainly not the UO administrators, who benefit from boondoggles like Bend.

Roughly speaking, it takes $1 million to raise the average faculty salary $700. We’ll start with some digging into the Bend program, which we think is losing about $1 million. Please add suggestions for other boondoggles in the comments – we’ll need to find a few more!

Bend Profits?

6/13/2009: We’re building a list of things to cut to get more money for the academic side. The $3 million Frances has spent remodeling Johnson Hall offices is sunk – but Bend is an ongoing expenditure. We are trying to find out how much. Please use the comments to nominate other programs or projects and we’ll try to get documentation on them.

Dear UO Counsel Doug Park:

At the 4/14 Furlough town hall meeting, Provost Bean stated that UO’s Bend programs “operate at a slight profit, very slight, but in the black.”

On 4/16 an Associate Dean sent Provost Bean an email disputing this claim, saying:

“The costs on the books for running Bend as you know are around $1 million dollars. This is an underestimate, of course, because many costs of running the campus are borne directly by the Eugene campus. For example, the AV tech at the library who helps beam courses to Bend is not counted towards Bend and it looks like some of the TRP (tenure reduction program) monies for faculty is also not included as costs. The revenue generated by the campus is also hard to figure exactly. However, at its maximum, Bend enrolls 100 students and graduates 15 annually. A significant portion of those students are part-time, nearly all are in-state, and there is very little auxiliary income from these students. Even if they were full time, however, the revenue generated from those students would fall approximately $500,000 short of the known costs of operating the campus. Thus, unless there are significant sources of revenue that are not related to students, the Bend campus is significantly in the red.”

At the 5/13/09 Senate meeting Provost Bean’s claim of profitability morphed into “we have lost several million over the past 4 years but we are now in the black” or something to that effect.

Given these contradictory statements, this is a public records request for copies of the memos, budget statements, and or forecasts that Provost Bean used as background for his statements to the Furlough meeting and to the Senate, including any supporting material. I am particularly asking for the following supporting material, should it exist:

a) any information itemizing the details of the expenses and revenues for Bend that were included in these budgets or forecasts, including information on which OA’s, staff, and Faculty (including TRP) had time that was included in calculating the costs of Bend.

and

b) any information itemizing revenues, whether from tuition or from other sources such as OUS.

I am not asking that any new documents or BANNER reports be compiled, just for the documentation Provost Bean already has. I expect that these documents can be obtained with a quick email to Provost Bean, and I am ccing him on this request, in an effort to speed that along.

I ask for a fee waiver on the grounds of public interest: UO’s Bend programs have involved the expenditure of millions of dollars of public money, and Provost Bean’s 4/14 statements were made during a public meeting at which he also encouraged voluntary furloughs and solicited charitable contributions.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

Where does the money go?

6/12/2009: BTW, the Union has a new web site, here. After posting this we got a comment asking if UO Matters is going to become a Union site? Never. Our only loyalty is to skepticism.

Rumor has it that Frances Dyke has now spent $3 million on her Johnson Hall remodeling project, and that a good chunk of the money was taken from funds originally budgeted for faculty offices. Yesterday we sent UO Counsel Doug Park a public records request asking for:

a) information on how much has been spent over the past 2 years, or is budgeted through June 2010, for remodeling and renovating Johnson Hall.
b) information about what happened to the funds that Frances Dyke and Linda Brady had budgeted for faculty office remodeling.

We’ll post results when we get them.

Pay and benefits

6/11/2009: One thing that will inevitably come up when discussing the fact that UO’s pay is last in the AAU and 10% below that of Missouri is benefits. Administrators claim that UO’s benefits are better than average. What they really mean is that UO pays more for benefits than other places do – very different from having better benefits! In particular, looking at costs does not account for things like regional differences in health costs, or more generous but not fully funded (hence cheaper) retirement programs at other schools. We’re not aware of any study that makes an accurate comparison. Also keep in mind UO’s retirement program is now much less generous than it was (although more expensive) and that cuts in health benefits are on the way. Administrators will also argue that Eugene has low housing costs. Maybe back when they bought in, but Eugene is no longer a cheap place to live.

A reader just alerted to me to a good table that includes pay and pay+benefits, posted by the AFT/AAUP Union people, using the same data as the Maneater article. Personally I think the AAU comparisons are not justified: we are not in that league anymore. But if we use all PhD granting the basic result that UO full profs get 81% of peers while UO senior administrators 120% is depressingly robust and controls for all these factors.

How did we get to this situation? Easy: For the past 15 years President Frohnmayer has been in charge. He determines how to allocate money between instruction and administration. He is not an academic and he could not have cared less about our ability to hire and keep the top faculty needed get UO back to Carnegie VHR status. But he was willing to pay top dollar for sycophant administrators and a raft of inane pet projects. We hope Lariviere does care and if he doesn’t prove it right away UO needs a union.

"Big Ideas" or better pay than Missouri?

6/10/2009: Update on Frohnmayer’s Foundation slush fund: Apparently he has been in a mad rush to spend $1 million in leftover money as quick as possible. Anyone with details, post a comment. We’re guessing this money is not going to Faculty!

Provost Bean has now selected UO’s next “Big Ideas” which will … well, we don’t really know what it means to be a big idea. All of Bean’s revolve around green/sustainability/diversity. While President Lariviere has said that his own #1 priority is getting faculty salaries about the bar set by Missouri, at least one “Big Idea” proposed that UO take steps to increase faculty salaries and research support. This did not make Bean’s cut. More in the comments.


The Daily Emerald now has a news blog. They’ve posted a story on UO .lt. UM.

According to this Kansas newspaper, incoming President Lariviere will be paid $540,000 in salary and deferred compensation. Adding in the usual perks and ORP, and this will probably add up to about $600,000 using the Chronicle.com definition of total compensation. The average for all PhD granting schools will be about $500,000 next year. OUS Secretary Ryan Hagemann tells us that he and Lariviere are still negotiating, and that there is no final contract yet. We’ll post the contract when Hagemann approves it.

UO: lowest salaries for faculty – and administrators at the trough

6/8/2009: After a year on the job Provost Jim Bean discovers – from a news article in a Missouri student newspaper we posted here – that UO’s faculty are the lowest paid in the AAU. This is after he wasted a huge chunk of IR and Senate time trying to defend UO’s excessive salaries for administrators – including his own. Better late than never. The good news is the Lariviere quote – but of course Frohnmayer has promised the same thing ever since the Senate white paper came out in 2000: faculty salaries were his “top priority”. Right.

(A comment points out that Bean knew this already – he’s writing this email to make it sound like he is “shocked to discover…”. )

From: James Bean [mailto:jcbean@uoregon.edu]
Sent: Sunday, June 07, 2009 12:26 PM
To: Deans Working Group
Subject: Faculty Salaries

The Missouri article stating that UO has the lowest salaries in the AAU has caused quite a stir (we have since verified that they were correct). Low salaries were always thought of as just Oregonian. But 34 out of 34 is a whole other thing. We cannot have this. Richard’s reaction was “this is job #1.” Richard will likely have an announcement on how we are attacking this when politically feasible (after last gavel). Please communicate to your faculty that the Missouri article really got our attention. This may require disruptive solutions.

Thanks, Jim

_______________________________
James C. Bean
Senior Vice President and Provost
202 Johnson Hall
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1258
T 541-346-3186
F 541-346-2023

Steve Duin at the Oregonian has a post about this. In related news, on Friday the OUS Board approved emeritus status and a new contract for Frohnmayer. We’ve requested the contract, and should soon know how much we have to pay Frohnmayer to finally get him to stop being President.

6/2/2009:

OSLC has now released its latest IRS form. Page 20 shows that UO Diversity VP Charles Martinez has continued with his second job there, working 25 hours per week off campus – I think this makes 3 straight years, ranging from 25 to 29 hours per weak. This blows way past the 1 day in 7 rule that the administration applies to the faculty – but so far Martinez seems to have a free pass from Provost Bean. The NIH guidelines also seem to forbid this: his FTE is about 17 months per year. You have to wonder how he gets away with it.

The Daily Emerald has been doing good reporting about UO politics again. So far it hasn’t risen to the standard of Ryan Knutson’s Bernsteinian investigative pieces on the arena, but reporter Alex Tomchak Scott seems to know how to do an interview. See this story on the UO Senate’s version of Florida 2000. (Not in story: the Senate minutes show there was no quorum at the meeting that elected van Donkelaar either!) Check out Frohnmayer’s quotes on Tublitz – I hope Scott brought a handkerchief to wipe off the spittle:

“If anything,” Frohnmayer said, “I’ve made efforts to revitalize the Senate. If (demoralizing the Senate has) occurred, it’s occurred because of many other demands on faculty members’ time, and because frankly some people have attempted to use the Senate for their own personal agendas, including a couple that I’ve named, and that drives people away. But I don’t think it’s my doing at all. I really don’t. I’ve a clean conscience and an uninhibited mind on this.”

UO has now posted a job announcement for the new VP for Planning and Budget. Provost Bean created this position because VP for Finance Frances Dyke hasn’t been able to figure out a new budget model for UO, and just does not understand UO’s actual financial position. This was convincingly and embarrassingly demonstrated at the Furlough meeting, when she didn’t even know the faculty payroll sum. There are two obvious problems with this 1/2 FTE job, which is aimed at current faculty – apparently to give us a voice. Great idea, but as we learned from the recent Senate meeting there are just not that many people who are acceptable to the administration and trusted by the faculty. Second, Frances will still be in charge and will do everything possible to hide her mistakes and make sure this VP fails. Better to bite the bullet and just hire a new VP for Finance, and quick – IMHO.

UO < Missouri

6/3/2009:
Quoting from this story from Missouri:

A recently released study done by the American Association of University Professors reports University of Missouri salaries for professors ranked second to last out of 34 public institutions studied, ahead of only the University of Oregon.

How far is Oregon behind Missouri? According to this study, $8,300, or more than 10%. (A reader points out this ignores possible diffs in benefit packages. True.)

Nathan Tublitz will be Senate President for 2010-2011. This email from current President Paul van Donkelaar explains the situation:

Dear Colleagues:

I write to let you know that I have heard a number of concerns regarding the manner by which the election process for Senate vice-president was postponed until the October meeting. I have sought counsel from a number of respected colleagues including Paul Simonds, the Senate Parliamentarian; Gwen Steigelman, the Secretary to the Senate; John Bonine, a Senator from Law; as well as members of the Faculty Advisory Council. I trust the judgment of this group of colleagues and although they provided differing opinions on the matter, the consensus was that based on parliamentary procedures as applied in the context of the meeting last Wednesday the vote taken should stand. In discussions with Senate Parliamentarian, Paul Simonds, the following two issues became apparent:

  1. The election became final once the votes were taken and announced.
  2. My assertion that the election was out of order because of a lack of quorum was incorrect because the absence of a quorum is generally not permitted to affect prior action.

Therefore, the decision to postpone the election until October is not valid. From a procedural point of view, my decision today does not appear to be subject to appeal, thus, there is no need to hold a meeting at which such appeals could be discussed and voted upon. As a result of this counsel, I hereby announce the winner of the vote, Nathan Tublitz, as the next Senate vice-president.

Let me add that I have learned this year that trust is something that is often in short supply in matters of internal governance at the UO. I am not an unethical person nor do I wish to be viewed as such. It truly saddens me that, despite my efforts to build trust across many constituents, my actions last Wednesday were apparently viewed with suspicion by some present at the meeting and in the broader community. All I can say is that the goal of my original assertion was not to deny Nathan the vice-presidency, but simply to ensure that a sufficient number of people voted. I would have made the same decision had the vote totals for each candidate been reversed.

Yours, Paul van Donkelaar

6/1/2009:

ODE reporter Alex Tomchak Scott reported that the Senate has decided Tublitz did win the ballot and will be President after Gilkey. Story here. The alternative candidate does not have tenure and in our view a Senate president without tenure would be too beholden to the administration and unable to provide the necessary check and balance. The latest news is that the FAC has “confirmed” this decision.

5/31/2009:

Greg Bolt has an article in the RG on overcomittment problems at UO. He mentions Edward Kame’enui’s $400,000 from Reading First, but not the $200,000 of UO money Melinda Grier spent lobbying the congressional committee (one invoice here) to get that investigation closed. Or so the timeline suggests. Charles Martinez comes in for special attention: he refuses to answer questions, but Provost Bean says he’s doing a heckuva job as Diversity VP, and it’s fine for him to ignore the 1 in 7 day rule, not run his grants through UO, have two jobs, and pull in over $250,000 – these rules aren’t for administrators! OSLC’s latest 990 form came out 5/15, but they’ve been ignoring our requests for it. As usual with Greg’s articles, you wish he would follow up on the quotes: “Really, Provost Bean – you think it is appropriate for one of your VPs to have a 29 hour per week job on the side? Would you offer the same deal to a professor?”

In fairness to Provost Bean he inherited Martinez from Provost Moseley, who had to hire a diversity VP on the quick, after he lost a discrimination lawsuit. So quick that UO didn’t even do an affirmative action compliant search. Rumor is that Bean and Lariviere intend to replace Martinez soon, hence all Bean’s effusive praise. One of the biggest problems with UO’s current administrators is they can never admit to the smallest mistake or tolerate any criticism. I’d think it would be hard accomplishing anything productive in an office where no one ever tells anyone the truth, but they really seem to enjoy it that way.

But probably the biggest conflict of interest at UO is Frohnmayer’s. Oregon law seems pretty clear:

… a public official … may not solicit or receive, directly or indirectly, any gift or gifts with an aggregate value in excess of $50 from any single source that could reasonably be known to have a legislative or administrative interest in any governmental agency in which the public official holds … any authority. (ORS244)

But half of Frohmayer’ pay from comes big time donors like Phil Knight, who certainly has a large interest in the UO President’s decisions. Phil apparently sends another $1 million or so a year to the Fanconi Foundation – except when Dave misbehaves. That’s a serious and very sad conflict of interest, in every sense.

5/30/2009:
Daily Emerald article says that at the 5/27 UO Senate meeting President Paul van Donkelaar decided after he knew the outcome of the voting for the 2010-2011 Senate President that there was no quorum and that the vote would be done over in October. The obvious interpretation is that Nathan Tublitz had the most votes, and that Paul made this decision to increase the chance of the election of an alternative he preferred. This is not a pleasant conclusion, so if someone knows more or has an alternative interpretation of what happened, please comment.

Just to be clear, we think the biggest problem with the Senate is that it has no input into basic budgeting decisions: like how much money will UO spend on academics, how much on administrators, how much on CAS, how much on Bend and Portland. The Senate doesn’t even have any credible information about current expenditures, because Frohnmayer, Bean and Dyke lie with impunity to the Senate and to the Senate Finance Committee about how they spend UO’s money. This problem needs to be fixed. Until it is the Senate does more bad than good, because it lets the administration claim their most bizarre and self-serving decisions have the consent of the faculty.