Oregon Law School Deans failed to convince Supreme Court to increase Bar exam pass rate from 58% to 78%.

For years the cut score has been 284, and in 2016 that produced a pass rate of 58% – the same as the national average.

The Oregon Deans wanted a cut score of 266, which would have produced a pass rate of about 78%. The Oregon Supreme Court gave the Deans a cut score of 274, which should increase the pass rate for the students who just took the July exam to about 68%, making Oregon one of the easier states in which to get a law license. This in turn will boost the law schools’ US News rankings a bit, bring in more law students, and perhaps mean that UO won’t have to spend quite so much undergrad tuition subsidizing our law school. Just kidding, that last part will never happen.

This post was updated on 8/7/2017, 8/8/2017 and 8/10/2017 below, with info on my efforts to get public records on this order from the Oregon Supreme Court. Given that the Court is ultimately responsible for enforcing Oregon’s public records law you’d think they’d work a little harder on their own compliance, if only to set a good example.

Instead, as explained below their website lists a defunct email address for public records requests, they have a pdf form with a submit button that doesn’t work, their email responses are incomplete and uncommunicative, and they are either unaware of the law on fee waivers or they hope those asking for public records are. I’m still waiting on them, apparently the only person at the Oregon Supreme Court with the authority to waive a $3 public records fee is out of the office.

So I also asked the Oregon Bar Examiners Board for their public records. In contrast to the Oregon Supreme Court, their response was very professional (although they could use a new scanner). They provided their public records in less than a week, at no charge. Click the link for the full pdfs, I’ve only posted snippets:

1. Supportive letters to the Court on lowering the cut score from Jeff Howes of the Board of Bar Examiners (274), from Law Deans at UO and Lewis & Clark, and Willamette (266), and from the Oregon Student Bar Associations: http://uomatters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Official-letters-to-Court-BBX-PubRcrdsReq-Aug-17.pdf:

2. Emails between the bar examiners and the various helper deans: http://uomatters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Bar-examiner-and-Dean-emails-BBX-Records-JH-Aug-17.pdf:

I have no idea why they went into executive session for a vote on something like this. Is that legal?

And while I do not have an informed opinion on what the cut score should be, I was surprised at how superficial the discussion in these documents is, given the obvious disagreement between the Board Examiners and the Deans. Maybe they saved the substance for the executive session? Why did the Deans lose in court?

8/3/2017: Oregon Supreme Court quietly dumbs down Oregon Bar exam requirement:

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2.5 months after public records request, UO gives Emerald faculty hiring proposals

Thanks to the Emerald for sharing this with UOM.

So far as I am aware previous UO administrations have never been willing to share this sort of information with the Senate – but maybe that will change, and the day will come when shared governance will no longer have to rely on the kindness and curiosity of UO’s student journalists, or the whims of Jim Bean’s 4.25 big ideas and their ilk.

Or maybe the PRO is just trying to clear up their backlog before Oregon’s new PR laws make them improve their response times. 207 pages worth with some light and appropriate redactions, and all provided to the Emerald by UO at no charge – remarkable.

You can find the Provost’s Institutional Hiring Plan, i.e. the outcome of these proposals, here.

The full pdf of the proposals is here: http://uomatters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/2017-Hiring-proposals_Redacted.pdf

I haven’t had time to read through these, I’m hoping others will and leave comments. Page 1:

 

Duck fans won’t pay to watch concussions or listen to control-freak coach

Ryan Thorburn has the data on pathetic Duck ticket sales in the RG here;

According to data provided by the athletic department, the average renewal price of a season ticket is down by 3.9 percent, with 65 percent of seats decreasing in price and the other 35 percent remaining flat at 2015 rates.

As of Monday, Oregon had sold 36,840 season tickets, which is down from last year’s total of 37,404. The program’s record was 43,295 in 2011, the season after Chip Kelly’s Ducks played for a BCS national title.

Apparently Eric Roedl is having a hard time finding people who want to watch Willie Taggart get paid $3.5M to churn his players brains to mush, or listen to Dana Altman berate his players for supporting #BlackLivesMatters during his national anthem. Roedl has already put the screws to UO students for another $10K, but that’s petty change across the river. Looks like these coaches and Rob Mullens locked in their fat long-term contracts with UO just in time.

Meanwhile there’s a great interview with UCLA QB and Econ major Josh Rosen, here. Rosen puts the lie to all the crap we’ve heard from the Duck athletic department and its “Faculty Athletics Representatives” over the years about how its OK we don’t pay the players, because they’re getting such a great education:

Rosen: “Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t.”

Rosen: Don’t get me started. I love school, but it’s hard. It’s cool because we’re learning more applicable stuff in my major (Economics)—not just the prerequisite stuff that’s designed to filter out people. But football really dents my ability to take some classes that I need. There are a bunch of classes that are only offered one time. There was a class this spring I had to take, but there was a conflict with spring football, so…

B/R: So football wins out?

Rosen: Well, you can say that.

B/R: So that’s reality for student-athletes playing at a major university?

Rosen: I didn’t say that, you did. (Laughs.) Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they’re here because this is the path to the NFL. There’s no other way. Then there’s the other side that says raise the SAT eligibility requirements. OK, raise the SAT requirement at Alabama and see what kind of team they have. You lose athletes and then the product on the field suffers.

Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. — Josh Rosen

B/R: Wait, some players shouldn’t be in school?

Rosen: It’s not that they shouldn’t be in school. Human beings don’t belong in school with our schedules. No one in their right mind should have a football player’s schedule, and go to school. It’s not that some players shouldn’t be in school; it’s just that universities should help them more—instead of just finding ways to keep them eligible.

Any time any player puts into school will take away from the time they could put into football. They don’t realize that they’re getting screwed until it’s too late. You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they’re more interested in helping you stay eligible. At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There’s so much money being made in this sport. It’s a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.

B/R: But those same players go make money in the NFL after being prepared by their college programs.

Rosen: Some do, absolutely. What about those who don’t? What did they get for laying their body on the line play after play while universities make millions upon millions? People criticize when guys leave early for the NFL draft, and then rip them when some guys who leave early don’t get drafted. [They say,] “Why did you leave school if you weren’t going to get drafted?” I’ll tell you why: Because for a lot of guys, there is no other option. They were either leaving early (for the NFL) or flunking out. To me, that’s a problem within the system and the way we’re preparing student-athletes for the future away from football. Everyone has to be part of the process.

B/R: How is it, then, that some guys graduate in three years? Deshaun Watson graduated in three years from Clemson. So did his roommate, Artavis Scott.

Rosen: I’m not knocking what those guys accomplished. They should be applauded for that. But certain schools are easier than others.

B/R: It can’t be that simple.

Rosen: If I wanted to graduate in three years, I’d just get a sociology degree.

Of course football and school go together real well for Willie Taggart and Rob Mullens. If it weren’t for the school part, they have to pay their players.

Admins responded to last year’s heat emergency by banning new PLC window AC units

8/3/2017 update: 

That’s not a rumor, it’s a fact. Meanwhile, reports from staff survivors are that the inside temperature hit 92 an hour ago.

Here’s the report from last year:

8/19/2016: Faculty Union to sue university over cruel and inhumane lack of AC in PLC

The NYT has the story here. Just kidding about the faculty union, it’s about Louisiana inmates suing the State Department of Corrections. Interestingly, Texas law requires jails be kept between 65 and 85 degrees. (Fahrenheit, I hope.)

Here in PLC, the administration has dealt with the heat problem with this list of helpful suggestions, including “sit forward in your chair instead of leaning against the backrest” and “wipe your face, neck and arms with cool water”:

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 1.52.17 PM

Panicked UO communicators spew nonsense in basketball allegation response

8/3/2017 update: No charges filed against former Dana Altman player

Dylan Darling has the latest in the RG here:

Police at a small college in Wyoming have closed a sexual assault case involving a member of the University of Oregon’s Final Four basketball team and no charges will be filed. …

Presumably this means the UOPD and NWCCDPD police reports will soon be released.

6/22/2017 update: And don’t get me started on their grammar. I’ve made a few notes on the response below, the official version is posted on Around the O:

The university issued the following statement June 22:

Recent media coverage of an allegation of sexual assault by a former member of the UO’s basketball program has created some questions about the university’s response. The University of Oregon takes very seriously any allegation of sexual assault or misconduct regardless of whether [or not] it involves a student athlete.

In most cases involving accusation[s] of sexual assault, it is impossible [perhaps you mean to claim it is illegal?] and inappropriate to publicly disclose details to protect the rights of victims [and yet police departments and prosecutors do this all the time by using pseudonyms – see for example the Jane Doe documents for the last basketball rape allegations] and those who report violations under Title IX, to comply with federal student privacy laws [say, don’t athletes have to sign the FERPA release?], and to provide those accused with appropriate due process. [Uh, so then why did the UOPD (eventually) release the police report to the Emerald? See it here.]

This was a scenario [scenario is the word when you’re play-acting crises and responses, not when you’re responding to an actual event] that stemmed from a law enforcement inquiry by the Northern Wyoming Community College [District] police.UO police have no jurisdiction in Wyoming, [thanks, good to know] and it would be inappropriate for the UO to provide details on an inquiry led by another law enforcement agency. [Even if doing so might protect UO students? Did the UOPD ask the NWCCDPD if they cared?]

The UO Police Department was contacted in the fall of 2016 to assist the NWCCD police in an interview with Kavell Bigby-Williams. UO athletics assisted UOPD in contacting Bigby-Williams, who declined to be interviewed through his attorney. [It’s OK, we know what you were trying to say here.] That information was provided to the NWCCD Police Department. 

Information detailing allegations was not shared with the coaching staff to protect [the] integrity of the inquiry. [We can understand why the UOPD wouldn’t trust Dana Altman, but why wasn’t it shared with AD Rob Mullens and President Mike Schill? Does the UOPD not trust them either?] The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics’ only role was to provide contact information for the player and to coordinate with the university’s Title IX coordinator. [What does coordinate mean here? Was a Title IX investigation started?]

University processes, then as now, involve communication between campus police, the Title IX office and athletics administration to determine whether there is a risk to the campus community that requires immediate action. In September 2016, there was insufficient information to warrant interim action. Since September, UOPD has received no further information or requests for assistance from the NWCCD police suggesting the inquiry had advanced in any way. [Did they ask? And did any new information develop? Was anyone alerted to look for it?]

6/22/2017 update: Dana Altman brings UO more of that national publicity money just can’t buy

Now in the Washington Post here:

Kavell Bigby-Williams played one season for the Oregon men’s basketball team, helping the Ducks to the Final Four in 2016-17. For the entirety of that season, he was being investigated for sexual assault by police in Wyoming for an incident that took place in September near Gillette College, the junior college from which Bigby-Williams transferred to Oregon.

According to a report by the Emerald’s Kenny Jacoby, a woman accused Bigby-Williams of sexually assaulting her at an apartment near the Gillette College campus sometime between 10 p.m. on Sept. 17 and 3 a.m. on Sept. 18, about a week before fall classes began at Oregon. The Northern Wyoming Community College District (NWCCD) campus police then began its investigation, which according to Jacoby remains open, though NWCCD police refused to comment about it. Bigby-Williams has since announced his intention to transfer to Louisiana State.

It remains unclear whether Ducks Coach Dana Altman, Athletic Director Rob Mullens or other school officials were aware of the specifics of the investigation. …

For the nostalgic, here’s video of Duck Coach Dana Altman, AD Rob Mullens, and former President Mike Gottfredson pretending they didn’t know anything about the previous allegations:

6/21/2017: New Duck basketball sex assault allegations

Reporter Kenny Jacoby has the latest in the Emerald, here:

Former Oregon forward Kavell Bigby-Williams played the 2016-17 men’s basketball season while under criminal investigation for an alleged sexual assault, the Emerald has learned.

… UO President Michael Schill did not know about the sexual assault allegation involving Bigby-Williams and declined to share his thoughts on it.

“I don’t have any awareness of that,” Schill said. “In any event, I can’t comment on an individual student. What if I was asked by another reporter about you being obnoxious? Would you want me to tell them that?”

… Bigby-Williams played 37 games for Oregon this season, averaging 9.8 minutes and 3.0 points. He played increased minutes off the bench during the Ducks’ run to the NCAA Tournament Final Four, after center Chris Boucher went down with an injury.

He recently asked for and was granted a release to explore a transfer to another school. On June 20, Bigby-Williams committed to transfer to LSU.

For the record I’ve had many conversations with Kenny Jacoby, and I’ve always found him to be polite, smart, calm, well-informed, and curious. I hope my saying that is not a FERPA violation, because I doubt that Emerald reporters sign the same release form that Dana Altman’s student-athletes must sign, before they can get their scholarships and play ball:

Has ex-Duck Mark Helfrich finally found gainful employment?

We can only hope so. Under the porky contract that AD Rob Mullens negotiated, and Chuck Lillis and the UO Board of Trustees Executive Committee approved in Feb 2015, UO is still on the hook for $10M or so in salary payments to Helfrich, even though Mullens fired him last winter.

Helfrich is supposed to make reasonable efforts to find new employment, the earnings from which would offset what UO is paying him. So a new job is a net negative for him – he’s gotta work, but it adds nothing to his millions in take home. And Lillis thinks *faculty* deadwood are the problem?

Of course, if UO was willing to threaten cutting his payments if he couldn’t demonstrate some job search efforts, that would change his incentives a little. And today the Oregonian’s Andrew Greif reports that Helfrich may have found temporary work this fall, for Fox Sports.

UCF football player won’t bend the knee to NCAA cartel, loses scholarship

I wonder how long before one of Rob Mullens’ unpaid student-athletes stands up to the system. Probably a while. They are pretty scared, and with good reason. The Washington Post explains:

… The NCAA released a statement of its own, saying the kickoff specialist could have kept making the YouTube videos so long as he didn’t mention his status as a football player. NCAA bylaw 12.4.4 states that an athlete “may establish his or her own business, provided the student-athlete’s name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation are not used to promote the business.”

“You know the NCAA monsters, man,” De La Haye said. “If it don’t benefit them, they don’t want it.”

He’s started a gofundme campaign to get the money to stay in college and finish his marketing degree, currently at $4500 in donations. I chipped in $25.

New hire for UO physics department

Seems he’s pretty well qualified:

Around the O has more here:

Wineland in the news

UO Trustees avoid students & faculty by meeting before fall classes start

Gosh, I wonder whose idea this was.

Faculty with 9 month contracts start on Sept 15. Classes start Sept 25th. And the UO Board of Trustees meets Sept 7-8.

But at least the Board’s December meeting will be at a time when our Trustees can expect to have a chance to talk to some students and faculty, right? Nope, the Trustees will hold that meeting Dec 7-8, which would be Thursday and Friday of finals week. Campus will be dead.

In comparison, the OSU Board seems to have no problem finding OSU’s academic calendar, and scheduling meetings when classes are actually in session.

PERS Board obeys consultants, lowers assumed rate of return to 7.2%

The variance on the prediction that the rate of return on investments over the next 20 years will be 7.2% and not 7.5% is so large that those PERS consultants willing to say 7.2% with a straight face must be very well paid indeed.

As Professor Fearless explains in today’s post on his persinfo blog, this reduction in the assumed rate of return means that those of you that are so lucky to be in PERS Tier 1 (not me, I’m an idiot who chose the ORP) will need to work an extra 4 months to offset the resulting loss in benefits, unless you retire before Dec 1 when the change takes effect:

After the meeting, I checked with Matt Larrabee, the principal actuary for Milliman, who confirmed for me that the setback would be 4 months for a typical retiree.  This means that if you delay retirement past December 1, 2017, it will take you 4 additional months of working to recover the benefit you would have received if you retired on December 1.  While the most directly affected members are those who remain eligible to retire under Money Match (less than 13% of all non-retired members), it will have an impact on beneficiary options for Full Formula retirees as well.  The changes to mortality had virtually no impact on the rates, as changes in one element were offset by other changes.  Overall, the totality of the economic assumptions other than the assumed rate itself, had a near zero impact on liabilities for the system.  The impact to employers on the uncollared rates will be approximately 1.9% of payroll, less than it could have been.

Reducing the assumed rate of return on the PERS endowment means that the annuity formula will pay new retirees less each month – hence the need to work longer until you retire. The extra work adds a little to your account balance, but mostly those four months mean you’ll be spending less time alive and drawing benefits, so you get more each month. Enjoy.

The reduction in the assumed rate of return also means that the state is predicting that the PERS endowment, which was $74 billion at the end of June, will not be earning as much as it had previously hoped. This means the state will have to increase its contributions to the endowment, if it wants to continue to to attempt to reach the magic 100% fully funded level that the state’s bond buyers want – although Oregon’ PERS is already far, far better funded than most states. Remember, 70% of all PERS payments from state employers go to increase the endowment, the earnings from which (less fees for the investment companies, etc.) are then used to pay the benefits of retired workers. Only 30% is for current workers.

Regardless of this change, if you are nearing retirement, you really should get a benefits estimate from PERS – your retirement might not be as fat as you’d thought. The Bellotiesque days of retiring at full pay are over. Last year new retirees with 30 years of service got benefits that averaged less than 60% of their final salary. PERS by the numbers:

And I’m no economist, but you might ask why the state would want to put *more* money into the PERS endowment now that they believe the rate of return on it is going to fall. Shouldn’t this shift in the price ratio mean Oregon should invest *less* in corporations, and more in productivity increasing investments such as education and infrastructure?

Here’s how Oregon compares on public debt, followed by how it compares on higher ed funding:

Mathematicians ditch Springer, start free Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics

InsideHigherEd here. Also see Ted Bergstrom’s page here.  Why is the prestigious AAU apparently doing nothing to help its librarians combine to fight the predatory monopolistic science publishers?

The non-profit JSTOR once seemed like it had some promise, but now it seems to function as a part of the big publisher’s price-discrimination scheme, with a $500K CEO, and $90M in revenue – mostly from charging libraries like UO’s for access.