UO Senate motion on financial transparency

5/14/09 Update:

Nathan Tublitz’s UO Senate motion for a bit of financial transparency passed on an unanimous voice vote with a few minor amendments. The argument was over when a Senator said to Frohnmayer: “You are asking us to give up our pay to help out UO. We deserve to know how you are spending our money.” Somehow that didn’t sink in with Frances, who kept on arguing. The motion as passed is here.

Professor Nathan Tublitz has introduced the motion below, calling for UO to follow the OSU lead and provide public access to all accounting information. This simple change would mean the faculty might finally learn how UO spent the extra $12 million in tuition money that came in last year.

Rumor control says Frohnmayer has told the Johnson Hall dwellers that they are to say publicly that they don’t oppose this motion and try and move the Senate to a compromise that would only apply to transactions that occur after President Lariviere takes over. Now why would that be so important? Anyone who’s been at UO for more than a few years knows Frohnmayer’s code of omerta. Perhaps the most vicious recent example was what happened to PPPM Prof. Jean Stockard. But remember, she fought it and won.

UPDATE 5/5/2009: Frances Dyke has now caved on Nathan Tublitz’s motion to require UO to post accounting info on the web. A bit late. Rumor is that Bean is going to hire a new VP for Finance, with responsibility for all the parts of the job Frances hasn’t been able to figure out. She of course will keep her $212,493 salary – hey, it’s not like the state is short of money or anything.

Motion US 08/09-8 Concerning Transparency of University Financial Transactions

MOTION TO ESTABLISH AN ON-LINE BUDGET REPORTING SYSTEM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

SPONSOR: N. Tublitz, Department of Biology

BACKGROUND: The University of Oregon releases general financial information regarding expenditures on an annual basis. However detailed information on specific expenditures is not easily available. For example, it is currently nearly impossible to ascertain how much did the Biology Department spend on frogs for dissections last term or what were the monthly fax charges accrued by the Romance Languages Department last month.

Our colleagues at Oregon State University have developed a user-friendly, on-line budget reporting web site where users can track expenditures, transaction by transaction, by clicking on specific budget lines in an academic department or administrative office, from the President’s office on down (https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/). The OSU system easily tracks individual line items and shows for each how much was budgeted, actual expenditures and available balances. A video demonstration of the OSU system can be viewed at http://oregonstate.edu/~dennisb/videos/nacubo/demo1.html

The OSU on-line budget reporting system has received national exposure and praise (e.g., http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/03/07/financial). A State of Oregon legislative bill (House Bill 2500; ) has been introduced in the current legislative session to establish a similar type of searchable budget reporting website for all executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government. This motion proposes to establish an on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon similar to that already in place at Oregon State University.

MOTION: The University Senate directs the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 1 September 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website ( https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/).

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: OSU’s VP for Finance and Administration, Mark McCambridge, states that their cost of developing a web site to interface with their existing budget database (BANNER) cost less than $10,000. Given that OSU has already produced the interface, the cost to the University of Oregon should be significantly less.

Accounting secrets at OSU and UO

At Oregon State there are none.

OSU’s VP for Finance Mark McCambridge has posted all financial information to the web – every single transaction. See https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/ (10/7/2009: now apparently restricted to OSU IP addresses.)

Quoting from the Inside Higher Ed news story:

Since the university already maintained a central database storing transaction information, the process of bringing it into public view took just a few months, with a price tag below $10,000.

“It’s pretty basic, but it is very transparent. Everybody in the institution can see everything that goes on everywhere,” says Mark McCambridge, vice president for finance and administration at Oregon State.

At UO, VP for finance Frances Dyke has been busily instructing her employees to remove what little accounting info is available from her website. (See update here.)

Quoting from the email we were sent by an employee of Ms Dyke’s and written at her instruction:

… we removed the information from our publicly-accessible website and restricted access to personnel with a “demonstrably legitimate need for particular information in order to fulfill their official, professional responsibilities.” Those personnel include those who perform business and budget transactions within the BANNER enterprise accounting system (i.e. campus budget and business officers and core-office personnel.)

You can be sure uomatters.com is making every effort to find out exactly what Ms Dyke is trying to hide (legal disclaimer: if anything) and that we will post it publicly as soon as we do.

UPDATE: Soon after we sent her the URL for this post, Ms Dyke sent the email below to all UO faculty and Staff. She sends this out 6 months after the policy is adopted? How does she expect people to report “financial irregularities” when they can’t get any of the accounting information? Oh, wait, I get it – she’s afraid that…

To: University of Oregon Community

From: Frances L. Dyke, Vice President for Finance and Administration

Date: May 4, 2009

Subject: Financial Irregularity Reporting Hotline

All of us share responsibility for ensuring that the university conducts its financial transactions in ways that are ethical, honest, and reflect sound fiduciary practices. Because the University of Oregon and the Oregon University System (OUS) take this obligation seriously, a revised Financial Irregularities Policy was adopted in November 2008 by the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. This revised policy encourages employees to report any suspected financial misconduct to the appropriate university office, the OUS Internal Audit Division, or through the Financial Concerns hotline.

The OUS has contracted with EthicsPoint, an independent, third-party vendor, to provide a confidential and anonymous telephone and Internet system for reporting your financial concerns. The OUS Internal Audit Division administers the hotline system and will follow up on reports.

Additional information concerning the hotline and related policies and procedures can be found on the OUS Reporting Financial Concerns webpage (www.ous.edu/financialconcerns). A link to the OUS Financial Irregularity Reporting Hotline has been provided on the UO Business Affairs (http://baowww.uoregon.edu/) and VPFA (http://vpfa.uoregon.edu/) web pages.

Your commitment to integrity and honesty is an important element in maintaining an ethical and secure workplace environment for everyone. Your help in calling attention to unethical or irregular financial practices is greatly appreciated.

Furlough Bottom Line:

The question on the table is should you take the furlough? The senior administrators who are pushing the furlough earn 100% of their peers and recently spent $2.4 million remodeling their own offices. Our president who just got a $150,000 raise, has signed up his retiring VP’s for golden parachute retirements, and is trying to finagle OUS into giving him the same. They haven’t told you the truth about UO’s admin expenses, about Bend losses, etc. So, no, I don’t think you should. It’s pretty clear where your money will end up.

People are concerned about the classified staff they work with. Here’s how to help them out. Get together with other department faculty. Decide how much extra money the department wants to give staff. Divide that total up among the faculty, asking more from those with higher incomes. Then ask for donations. Tell people your goal, their share, and announce that if you do not meet the goal you will give the money back to the donors. This makes every person’s donation “pivotal” and substantially increases the incentive for each faculty to give. These donations are not tax deductible, but at least you will know who is getting the money!

UO does lots of good work, and we all know a lot of those programs are badly underfunded. So, you can also go to UO Foundation website and earmark a donation for those programs you particularly care about.

UO’s Bend programs lose $1 million per year.

Update: 5/14/2009 : Provost Bean’s claims on Bend have morphed from “we are slightly in the black” when asking the faculty for furlough contributions to “we’ve lost millions but we will almost break even next year – if no one notices we are keeping everything possible including Moseley’s salary off the books.” Uh, but he’s the Director, Jim. And what about Leahy and Seitz? You are going to lose your last shreds of credibility over this. Everyone including the CAS Dean knows you haven’t been telling the truth and still aren’t. Sunk costs are sunk – as it don’t use them to justify digging a deeper hole. You are paid enough to do hard things, this one is easy.

At the 4/14 furlough meeting Provost Been told us that UO’s administrative expense ratio was 38% of peers. See his reply to the question at 50:20 in the video. The 38% number is simply a fiction as the post here demonstrates, and the administration apparently just has no idea what the actual ratio is.

So what about the claim Bend makes money? See 32:18 into the video above, where Provost Bean says “A slight profit, very slight, but in the black”. It turns out that this is not true either. I recently was forwarded the email below from a UO administrator to Provost Bean who was not happy that the true cost of Bend had not been presented accurately to the faculty. The gist is that Bend has only 15 graduates per year and the program is losing about $1 million a year. The subtext is the rumor that Frohnmayer is planning on retiring to Bend and administering the UO Program there, or perhaps the entire OSU – Cascades effort. He already owns a $1.05 million dollar home there.

So that’s two false statements so far. What’s left? The claims that Portland is not costing Eugene money and that athletics is self-supporting (48:50). Regarding the first, I’ve already heard from someone that the money for the White Stag sign was not an earmarked donation but will come out of general foundation funds – i.e. funds which could have instead be used to plug the budget gap. Thanks for that, but we really need the documentation, so keep those emails coming to uomatters@gmail.com!


Text of original email:

Jim,

I have been asked by a number of persons in xxx and elsewhere about the Bend campus. Since part of my job is xxx I thought I should look into the questions myself. Ultimately, this pointed me to the need to have a budget summit, which I will explain below.

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.

However, this really does not express the full cost of the campus, because there are opportunity costs associated with running the campus in the sense that it directs resources away from Eugene that could be used more efficiently on the main campus. For example, the TRP faculty teaching in Bend could teach more students in Eugene than they could in Bend where the average class size in 9. In a time where student demand is exceedingly high and we short of instructional faculty, this cost is substantial. There are many other places you could make this type of opportunity cost argument that make Bend a really poor investment.

Finally, there is a lot about the Bend campus that just does not “feel right”. For example, while no one really wants to put find a point on it, the fact that John Mosley is collecting a six figure salary while being retired in Bend (even if it is legit) does not look right and perceptions are important – particularly in economic hard times when you are asking faculty to give back.

Thus, the resistance you are getting from the numerate persons on campus for Bend, etc. is not misplaced and ultimately I hope you are willing to listen to their very sound advice on Bend and other similar types of expenditures. While I understand that there were other (e.g., political) reasons why having a presence in Bend was important, the recession provides us the opportunity to allocate resources based on sounder economic principles and we should not waste this opportunity.

This exercise points more generally to a need for a deeper and broader consideration of “how we spend our money”. I am on board with the voluntary salary reduction plan this time because I do believe that we did not have sufficient time to respond to the ever changing financial picture. However, in the next biennium, we will have time to plan and we should begin now with a budget summit that includes all the leadership. The essential component to such a summit is the presence of detailed data for all the academic and central units on campus (and off – e.g., Bend and Portland). Before I would agree to take another voluntary cut in pay myself and before I would ever recommend that other faculty participate in such a pay reduction, I think we need to understand what the tradeoffs are and I believe we have an obligation to be more creative with our finances than we were able to be at the end of this biennium. In order for me to understand such tradeoffs and to be able “with a straight face” ask my faculty to pitch in, I am really going to need to understand where the money is going and not take it on faith that, for example, “Bend is breaking even” and “Portland is not costing the main campus anything”.

Thus, I think it is time to start considering some serious tradeoffs between a number of “sacred” elements on campus which include “salaries”. Let me give an example that does not involve Bend – library serials and OIED program grants are both things we value on campus even to the point of being “sacred”. However, we are letting one sacred cow be gored without possibly considering a reallocation of funds from other sacred cows being held harmless. I think we need to be prepared (not afraid) to ask this tough question “Are the current allocations appropriate and consistent with our “Academic Plan”. Careful consideration could involving taking funds from OIED program grants in order to help fund the library. Obviously, there are other places we can go to examine tradeoffs – I picked these two because they are something our campus has shown commitment to and represent choices that people would find hard.

In the end, I think we owe faculty, staff, and students more over the next biennium in terms of a careful consideration of how to address the economic crisis. xxx We are at a critical time where we have the opportunity to examine our priorities and the campus will be willing to listen because of the economic crisis. Thus, we do have an opportunity in this crisis.

I would love to talk more about this idea of a budget summit.

Portland campus expenses and funding sources

UPDATE: As of 5/15/2009, no response from Provost Bean on this:

Sent to Provost Bean 4/19/2009:

Dear Provost Bean:

At the Furlough town hall you asked faculty to email this address if they had questions. This one regards the budget for UO-Portland.

At the meeting you explained that much of the White Stag renovation was paid for by the developer, with money from federal redevelopment funds. You said that UO had made lease specific improvements, but that these had been paid for, so far, using proceeds from the sale of another building. Paraphrasing, you also said that the cost of buying the WS sign, and presumably redoing it, would not come out of general funds, but would be paid by Foundation money. The implication was that these funds therefore were not available to deal with the current crisis.

I am hoping that you can explain two aspects of your statements in a little more detail:

First, how much did UO get from selling other Portland property, how much of that has been allocated to the WS renovation, and what will be the likely net surplus or uncovered cost. What purpose will any surplus by reallocated to, or any shortfall made up from?

Second, that sign again. In your remarks at the meeting I don’t think you said there was an (earmarked donation) specifically for the sign or specifically for WS remodeling. I realize donations to the foundation are exempt from some of the disclosure rules, but I am hoping you can explain how much money has been given to the WS project, with earmarks of what type.

For example, if the money comes from funds earmarked for WS renovations generally, couldn’t that offset other funds which could then be reallocated back to some project with more importance, given our current budget crisis?

This sign has a lot of significance – sort of the point of a sign I guess – and this question comes up time and time again in the debates of UO’s spending priorities. Letters to the editor has focused on this repeatedly. I this it would be good to present a credible evidence based argument that the money that is about to be spent on the WS sign could not legally be redirected to other UO projects, should such an argument exist.

Thanks for your time, and I will post these questions and any reply from you at http://uomatters.com

Comments and news tips:

Why is this Blog anonymous? Because people who speak up at UO get hammered down. Bang, bang, bang and bang. So post all your comments and news tips here – they are completely anonymous, even to us.

Please post all your comments at the link at the bottom. Comments don’t appear until we approve them so be patient. If you don’t want your comment to be on the blog – even anonymously – we don’t even know who sends them – say at the top of your comment: “DO NOT POST”. We may use any info you provide but will not post your words. Note that there is no way we can respond privately to comments unless you give us an email address.

Info:

A link to the latest UO Foundation IRS 990 form is below. The 07-08 form is full of interesting info we haven’t yet figured out – like $1 million plus payments for “UO President’s Office”, whatever that means. Anyone got a clue read here: 2007-08

(We’ve now heard that these payments were authorized by former Foundation head Karen Kreft, but that the new Interim head Jay Naymet thought they were inappropriate and stopped them this year.)

We’ve had some very helpful tips about Lorraine Davis’s questionable “job”, Frances Dyke’s replacement/replication, Frohnmayer’s golden parachute contract, Bend and Moseley (damn is that a popular subject!) Martinez’s double dipping, the ICC return grab-back, … Thanks!

Several readers have asked about Frohnmayer’s upcoming asian junket. Apparently he is taking a few aides on a tour of Asian universities. Macau has been mentioned – perhaps because of the lack of an extradition treaty. (Nope, saw that movie – you’re thinking Venezuela, friend.) If you’ve heard anything more detailed – as in who is going, where, and most importantly who is paying (just so we can help out with a contribution, of course) drop an email to uomatters@gmail.com

UO’s administrative expenses 38% of peers? Not true.

At the furlough meeting Provost Bean told us that UO’s administrative expense ratio was 38% of peers. See his reply to the question at 50:20 in the video. This number was repeated in Greg Bolt’s RG story about the meeting. This issue matters because the admin need to have some justification for asking the faculty and staff to take cuts when administrators are making such small sacrifices themselves. It turned out that Bean did not actually have a copy of the study from which he quoted, but simply remembered hearing the number somewhere. A group of curious faculty got on the question, and with the help of a local reporter tracked down the source, on page 38 of this document:

http://www.ous.edu/state_board/meeting/dockets/ddoc081003.pdf

The data on the page does not even remotely support Provost Bean’s 38% claim – for example, it compares the total administration and *facilities* costs of schools. Further, each of the comparators has a med school, engineering school, etc. All have, for example, at least one nuclear reactor. The cost of operating those reactors – think fuel rods – is included in the number Bean was using to argue that UO’s costs for *administrators* are relatively low. Unless UO is now fielding nuclear powered Vice Provosts, (heads up guys: notify the UN inspectors first) we can dismiss this 38% number as a convenient fiction, designed to justify asking faculty to make sacrifices that administrators will not make themselves. I have asked Provost Bean to issue a formal retraction.

Next up, his claim that we are making money in Bend. He has promised to make a complete accounting report. Meaning that he made the Bend claim without actually understanding those numbers either. UPDATE: Those numbers were made up too.

Furlough Town Hall

UPDATE 5/11/2009: Nearly a month later, this furlough program seems to have vanished. A few hundred people signed up – many pressured into it by the senior administrators. Provost Bean has stopped answering email, and the administration website hasn’t posted any updates since the meeting. Meanwhile, those few faculty who, I’m sorry – got tricked into this – are still giving up their pay, and no one knows or will explain why.

On 4/14/2009 UO had a town hall meeting at which President Frohnmayer asked UO faculty to take voluntary pay cuts.

I am astonished he could do this with a straight face. He got a $150,000 raise last year, and his total compensation is now over $700,000. Plus he gets another $50,000 from Umpqua Bank, for going to their board meetings (on UO time.) His furlough will cost him maybe $10,000. He’ll still be $140,000 ahead of last year!

Here is the uomatters.com handout from that meeting. I have a lot of additional info on these issues, and will post it next week.

Tough times call for shared sacrifices. Shared sacrifices require shared information. Here is some information interested faculty been able to get on administrative expenses at UO. M

Q: President Frohnmayer often says low faculty pay is “his highest priority.” How have President Frohnmayer’s recent compensation increases compared to pay raises for UO faculty?
A: See the chart. By the standard Chronicle of Higher Ed compensation measure President Frohnmayer has done very well. UO faculty have barely kept up with inflation.

Q: UO faculty pay is 83% of our peers. What’s President Frohnmayer’s?
A: In 2007 OUS paid a consultant $45,000 to answer this. His report said Frohnmayer got about $80,000 more than median compensation for president’s of peer institutions. The OUS board then gave Frohnmayer another $150,000.

Q: How much salary will Frohnmayer give up with his 6 day Furlough?
A: We don’t know. He hasn’t said if he will pro-rate his Foundation add-on, stipends, and $150,000 deferred comp. So, from about $6,000 to $12,000.

Q: I’ve heard salaries for other UO administrators are way below peers. Is this true?
A: You have been misinformed. Most UO senior administrative salaries match the Chronicle averages so closely that it is clear that UO policy is to pay administrators 100% of peers. Our General Counsel is paid $184,710, the average is $183,100. UO’s AA Director gets $99,814 vs. $99,908. Our VP for Students gets $181,125 vs. $180,262. Some exceptions are OIED VP Charles Martinez who gets $187,614 compared to the $130,050 average, (FTE basis – he also gets about $150,000 from another job) and UO’s Provost who gets $320,700 vs. $420,000 (but he gets to keep his salary if he goes back to the B-School) and our VP for Finance who gets $212,493 vs. $191,981. (Comparisons are to the mean for doctoral institutions and include the stipends mentioned below.)

Q: In October I got an email from the Provost announcing “… the University will be awarding a 4% raise for all eligible officers of instruction or research …, and a 3.5% raise for all eligible officers of administration … effective November 1, 2008.” Is it true that faculty got a bigger raise than OA’s in 2008?
A: No. This November raise was on top of another raise in July – which was only for OA’s.
Q: How big was that July raise?
A: The Provost will not tell us, and since the administration has pulled the old salary books out of the library we can’t figure it out. UO did offer to sell us the old books for $350 – only after we petitioned the Attorney General.
(see reverse)

Q: Many administrators receive “administrative stipends” on top of salary. For example, the OIED VP gets a $23,306 annual stipend. What are these stipends?
A: They are add-ons to salary, are paid and taken as salary.
Q: What’s the justification for these stipends?
A: We don’t know. The UO handbook says faculty can be paid stipends for taking on extra administrative work – e.g. FPC, FAC, DAC. This seldom if ever happens, and instead the money is going to administrators. It appears this started as an end run around the 2000 salary freeze and is now out of control. The state auditors have said this was technically legal.

Q: I heard retiring UO administrators are taking advantage of the “600 hours” program which was intended for retiring teaching faculty. Is this true?
A: Yes, UO is now paying more than $500,000 a year to a small group of administrators who have signed 5 year “golden parachute” contracts with President Frohnmayer, paying them half their salaries and giving regular raises in return for poorly specified administrative duties – including attending away games and proctoring athletes’ exams.
Q: Will more administrators be allowed to take advantage of this program this year? Will President Frohnmayer use it himself?
A: We don’t know. Ask him.

Q: Last year I taught a class of 30 students in a room with 20 desks. As I walked to class I noticed a lot of construction going on in Johnson Hall. What was that about?
A: UO spent more than $2 million last year renovating and remodeling Johnson Hall. This included new AC and new luxury wood paneled office suites.
Q: How much is UO spending on the Bend and Portland programs. Where does the money come from?
A: We don’t know. The Provost tells us we are making money on both, but he won’t provide detailed accounts. Some money comes through the UO Foundation, which will not tell us if the money (say for that infamous $1 million sign) comes from an earmarked gift, or from general fund donations that could have been used for other things.

Q: Where can I get more information?
A: If this were Oregon State, you could go to https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/ where any interested person can look at all university expenditures without charge. The University of Oregon not only refuses to do this, VP for Finance Francis Dyke has recently begun to remove what little public information is available at the UO site http://baowww.uoregon.edu/FinMgt/finmgtCOA.htm
This is probably illegal under the states public records laws, we have petitioned the Attorney General to tell her to stop it, and the legislature has a bill (House Bill 2500) which would require all state agencies to follow the Oregon State model by the end of the year.

Public Records how to

In theory it’s easy to get public records from UO. Public records includes every paper or electronic record – including emails – produced with university resources. State law is very clear: these are public property and are to be given to anyone who cares to see them, though agencies can charge actual costs.

Assistant Counsel Doug Park – email him at gcounsel@uoregon.edu or dougpark@uoregon.edu is specifically tasked with implementing this law and with helping provide documents to the public. Just send Doug an email saying “This is a public records request for ….” and describe the document or accounting information. You don’t need to say why you want it. If the public is likely to have an interest in the document – e.g. it documents expenditure of public funds, illegality, or might end up in the newspapers – add “I ask for a fee waiver on the grounds of public interest because …”

In practice, here at UO, President Frohnmayer has given Mr. Park instructions to make it as difficult as possible for you to get these records. OpenUpOregon has some advice on how to get them from him anyway. Remember, be nice to Doug – he is just following orders from Herr Frohnmayer.

Union?

6/5/2009 update:

The Union effort seems to be gaining momentum. They have hired additional organizers and that suggests they believe they have the potential to win an election.

During Frohnmayer’s years faculty salaries have gone nowhere, while administrative salaries, spending, and distractions like athletics, Bend, Portland, and so on have ballooned. The only transparency has been the clear contempt with which Frohnmayer and his cronies have treated the faculty and the Senate.

If Lariviere does not take quick steps to repudiate Frohnmayer’s decisions and replace senior administrators, I think UO may well go Union pretty quickly.

Older:
An AAUP-AFT collaboration is pursuing the idea of a UO faculty union. Their website is here.

I think a union of UO faculty members is an interesting idea that should be seriously debated. People I know in the UC system are pretty happy with theirs. But at other places it seems to be followed by a shift away from incentives for research and towards mediocrity.

My own take is that the administration needs to take the possibility seriously and credibly explain how they propose to reallocate UO’s scarce resources away from themselves and their pet projects and back to UO’s core mission. Where does that $12 million in new tuition go?

Oregonian Op-Ed on UO President’s Salary

PRESS CLIPPINGS:

Margaret Soltan, a frequent commenter on academic issues and a contributor to InsideHigherEd.com writes about us on her blog today:

The pun in the blog’s title points to matters of importance on campus (an overpaid president, too many administrators, a sports obsession, a budget crisis, anti-intellectualism, etc.) and the basic attitude of concern among the blog’s authors — their university matters, and its betrayal of fundamental academic principles is so severe that these people have gone public.

She includes a long list of her own previous posts on UO’s administrators. Always appalling, sometimes hilarious.

Ted Taylor has an excellent post on UO matters in this week’s Eugene Weekly:

Underlying nearly all of the discussions on the blog are larger questions of governance and transparency. With Frohnmayer on the way out, this is a critical time to resolve some long-standing equity and fairness issues that are keeping the UO from being as academically strong and competitive as it can be.

Steve Duin of the Oregonian had a column Tuesday on “the bizarre, paranoid and problematic culture of secrecy at the University of Oregon” (his well-turned phrase, not ours.) WWeek provides a link to us as well. UO’s PR office’s E-clips service will email you a daily synopsis of press stories on UO. They play it straight with the good, bad, and ugly, as you can see in this one with a Ryan Knutson story on the USDOJ’s investigation of UO’s Minority Recruitment Plan, and a Greg Bolt story in the RG on Frohmayer’s unusually high pay (before his recent $150K raise.)

An earlier draft of this Op-Ed was published as an Op-Ed in the Oregonian on Dec 8 2008. In this letter OUS Attorney Ryan Hagemann disputed the numbers, and Oregonian columnist Steve Duin posted this rebuttal, showing that OUS was attempting to underreport the true amount of President Frohnmayer’s compensation.

I’m a professor of economics at UO. It’s a great job. I love the research and the teaching, and I earn more than most of the Oregonians who help pay my salary. Maybe I should just keep my head down. But there are big problems at UO. The Carnegie Institution says we aren’t top tier in research anymore, and our prestigious AAU university affiliation is in danger.

One reason for UO’s decline is that faculty are now paid 83% of what they can earn at comparable universities. Last year my department lost 2 out of 20 faculty to offers we couldn’t come close to matching. Other universities also offer the best graduate students – whose efforts are the heart of most university research – fellowships worth twice the $13,000 a year we can offer.

We’re told this is because the state doesn’t give us enough money. But since 2000 the Oregon University System Board has somehow found the cash to increase UO President Frohnmayer’s pay by 325%. His total compensation is now $717,000. Last year presidents of comparable universities got $469,000, and the president of UC-Berkeley – a much richer, larger, and more complex university, was willing to work for just $486,000. After paying a consultant $45,500 for the 10 page report showing this, they gave Frohnmayer another $173,000. No wonder that the OUS hid this report until the Attorney General finally ordered them to give it up.

Here’s another problem. Last year I taught a class of 30 students. In a classroom with 20 desks. That same quarter UO was spending $2.8 million renovating Johnson Hall. Great news! – except that Johnson Hall doesn’t have classrooms, just the offices for UO’s senior administrators. Really nice, big, well air-conditioned offices. My classroom still has 20 desks.

Then there are the “golden parachute” contracts for retiring university administrators, which The Oregonian wrote about in March. UO gave 3 top administrators retirement contracts that explicitly say the intent is to allow them to collect PERS retirement on top of half pay from UO for 5 years. Their job responsibilities are often trivial, and they earn more than when they were working! Sweet deal. President Frohnmayer signed and then vigorously defended these contracts. He’s probably hoping the OUS board will write him one too. Can UO afford this? No.

This year UO enrollment was up 4%. Despite this, department budgets were cut 2%. UO’s administrators will not tell us where they spent the missing money. No wonder. Fat executive pay, golden parachute contracts, executive perks, and a raw deal for the rank and file doesn’t just happen on Wall Street – this is going on at UO too.

Just as with the banks, UO could be saved if the state threw a big bag of money at us. Enough so that we could remodel the administration’s offices, give Frohnmayer his golden parachute, and run a good university too. I’m not counting on this! Instead, the OUS board must take charge of the situation and recognize that UO is about students and the faculty and staff that teach them, not the administrators. Tell administrators that big salaries, perks, and parachutes only come after they’ve prepared a plan to bring UO back to its glory days, implemented it, and got some results. That’s their job, after all.

Meanwhile, it sure would be nice for our President Frohnmayer to take a pay cut, as the presidents of UW, WSU, Stanford and others have recently agreed to do. If he gave UO back $200,000, he’d still be better paid than a lot of his peers in richer states. And my students could finally all have desks!

Frohnmayer pay and Ray Cotton’s ML Strategies Report

Back in 2007 University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer’s friends on the Oregon University System Board wanted to give him a raise. So they hired Ray Cotton of the higher ed consulting firm ML Strategies to prepare a report comparing Frohnmayer’s pay with that of his peers.

The report is 11 pages long, including the cover. It’s almost entirely cribbed from data available online to any subscriber from the Chronicle.com online reports on presidential salaries. Mr. Cotton’s report is here. Mr. Cotton and ML Strategies charged Oregon an incredible $45,572.03 for this report. The invoices are at the end of the pdf.

The OUS system was so embarrassed by this episode that their legal counsel Ryan Hagemann spent months trying to hide the report from public view, and months more trying to hide how much they had paid for it. In the end the Oregon Department of Justice ruled they had to make both public, and then that they had to pay the DOJ another $3,000 or so to cover the DOJ’s expenses in making the report public.

Ironically, the information in the report suggests that Frohnmayer was actually overpaid, to the tune of $100,000 or so. But, of course, his buddies went ahead and gave him another $150,000 anyway.

UO pays Lorraine Davis $197,278 to proctor exams?

Quoting from an email we received from an anonymous reader, regarding a student asking about doing their midterm while traveling to an away game:

The team will have to win two matches this weekend to
continue in the tournament. I’d like to plan as if they will do so.

We have tentatively arranged for Lorraine Davis, Special
Assistant to the Vice Provost and former Vice President of
Academic Affairs, to travel with the team to proctor exams. I
am happy to be a contact regarding the facilitation of preparing
those exams to be sent with Lorraine and your preferences for
how the exam is administered.

UO pays Lorraine Davis $197,278 FTE – and perhaps travel expenses to away games – to proctor undergraduate exams?