Pres Schill: Keep Deady, add Black Cultural Center

Please consider posting your comments on the Senate blog here, rather than on UOM. Thanks.

Dear University of Oregon community,

Like many universities throughout the nation, the University of Oregon is actively engaging in issues of diversity and inclusion on campus and using them as an opportunity for debate, learning, and community-building. Some well-publicized incidents this academic year have underlined the importance of our efforts to ensure that each and every student, faculty, and staff member feels included and comfortable learning and contributing here. 

In this message, I want to focus on two decisions—I will not recommend to the Board of Trustees that it dename Deady Hall, and we will move forward with efforts to build a new Black cultural center at the UO. I am announcing these decisions now because our campus needs clarity about the status of Deady Hall and a clear path forward to focus on tangible actions we can take to improve the climate at the UO for students of color, specifically those who identify as Black or African American. 

In the fall of 2015, the Black Students Task Force presented UO leadership with a set of 13 demands. One demand requested the following: “Change the names of all of the KKK-related buildings on campus. Deady Hall will be the first building to be renamed.” In February 2016, I empaneled a committee, chaired by Associate Professor Charise Cheney, to provide me with advice on a set of criteria that could be utilized in decisions for denaming buildings on campus. After receiving the committee recommendations, I appointed three historians to research the historical record of Dunn Hall and Deady Hall’s namesakes and answer a set of questions based upon these criteria.

On August 9, 2016, we released the historians’ 34-page report. More than 1,000 people—faculty and staff members, students, alumni, and community members—provided input on the report and numerous editorials, letters to the editor, and commentaries have appeared in the media.

On September 1, 2016, in a letter to the community, I established a set of principles that would guide my decision about whether to recommend the denaming of a building on campus to the Board of Trustees. They are as follows:

  • Bigotry and racism have no place in our society or our university. Each of us must value each other based on individual merit and not the color of our skin, the social status of our parents, our gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or physical or mental ability.
  • It is vital that all students at the University of Oregon feel valued and included as part of this institution. This is true for every member of our community, but particular attention needs to be paid to members of groups who often feel isolated and alienated as a result of their chronic underrepresentation on campus and the legacy of racism in this state and nation.
  • We must be careful not to obscure our history regardless of whether we like what we find when we study it. The only way we can understand our present and prevent injustice from repeating itself is to study our history and learn from our past.
  • The process of naming or denaming a building has symbolic value. But symbols are less important than actions that affect the material circumstances of members of our community.
  • Naming a building and denaming a building are not identical actions and should be governed by separate decision-making processes and considerations.
  • Naming a building honors an individual either for exceptional contributions to the university and our society or for exceptional generosity. While extremely meaningful, naming a building occurs regularly and is usually done contemporaneously with, or shortly after, the life of the person for whom a building is named. The very purpose of naming is to establish a durable honor that stands the test of time.
  • Denaming a building, on the other hand, is an extraordinary event and should only occur in very limited circumstances. Many decades may have passed since the person whose name is on a building was alive, and information will typically be less complete than in a naming decision. Contemporary decision-makers will often be limited in their ability to evaluate the behavior of people who lived in circumstances and with cultural mores very different from our own. Denaming is also an act associated with ignominy and the destruction of reputation. We should normally be careful when we do this, particularly because the person involved will seldom be available to defend himself or herself.
  • Finally, denaming threatens to obscure history and hide the ugliness of our past, which is contrary to our institution’s values of promoting lifelong learning and sharing knowledge. Therefore, the presumption should be against denaming a building except in extraordinarily egregious circumstances.

In that letter, I announced my decision to recommend to the Board of Trustees that they dename Dunn Hall, a building that commemorated a former professor of classics at the University of Oregon who also served as the Grand Cyclops of the Lane County Ku Klux Klan. The Board of Trustees unanimously adopted this recommendation on September 9, 2016. Dunn Hall was temporarily renamed Cedar Hall.

Because the issue of potentially denaming Deady Hall was more contested, I decided to delay a decision until UO students returned from their summer vacations so we could continue the conversation. Throughout the fall term I have continued to solicit the opinions of community members on the question of denaming Deady Hall.  

In applying the principles for denaming to Dunn Hall, I found that the presumption against denaming was outweighed by the facts set forth in the historian’s report—namely that Frederick Dunn was the head of a hate group that supported racism and violence against African Americans, Catholics, and Jews, and was not a man for whom a building should be named on the University of Oregon campus. Matthew Deady, however, presents a more complicated case, the detailed facts of which are recounted my September 1, 2016, letter to campus and in the historians’ report.

In my view, the facts set forth in the historian’s report do not support overturning the presumption against denaming Deady Hall. Many of Deady’s historical accomplishments were exceptional. He was an active and respected legislator and political figure in the state. He was appointed by President Buchanan to be the first federal judge for the State of Oregon. He, more than any single person in the University of Oregon’s history, played a formative role in its creation and early years as a regent. It was his work in persuading Northern Pacific Railroad president Henry Villard to donate to the university that kept its doors open in the 1880s.

Of course, Deady was also a deeply flawed man. He held racist views which I find abhorrent and contrary to the principles of our university. His support of slavery prior to the Civil War cannot be excused, even if it was based upon his understanding of the “letter of the law” of property. Nor can his support for the 1849 exclusion act be ignored. The fact that Deady’s views and actions were shared by many Oregonians at the time he lived does not excuse them, although it does explain them. 

Although Deady’s racist views did not abate after the Civil War, he fully embraced the new constitutional order. The historians characterize his change as a “metamorphosis.” Deady supported the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which guarantee to all equal protection under the US Constitution. While he never had the opportunity to issue an opinion involving African American civil rights, he was a protector of Chinese immigrants.

Deady does not represent an example of an egregious case justifying overturning the presumption against denaming. Unlike Dunn, he was not the head of an organization which espoused violence against vulnerable populations. Also unlike Dunn, his positive acts and importance to the nation, state, and university were noteworthy and of historical distinction. For all of these reasons, I will not recommend that the Board of Trustees dename Deady Hall.

The fact that Deady Hall will remain a symbol of racial intolerance for many of our students is troubling. Many students associate this past and our continuing to honor a man who was racially intolerant as evidence that the university does not take their concerns about diversity and inclusion seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I have stated previously, bigotry and racism have no place in our society or in our university. It is vital that all students at the University of Oregon feel valued and included as part of this institution. While the process of naming or denaming a building has symbolic value, symbols are less important than actions that affect the material circumstances of members of our community. It is these actions that we now must focus on.

We have already implemented half of the demands of the Black Student Task Force, including the creation of the Umoja Academic Residential Center, the creation of an African American Opportunities Program and accelerated efforts to recruit African American students to the university, and the hiring of African American faculty members including the launching of a new African American Studies cluster in the College of Art and Sciences. Once these faculty join the university we will work with them and our existing faculty to explore the feasibility of creating a Black studies minor and/or program. In addition, I will continue to advocate that the faculty consider and develop innovative changes to incorporate issues of race more broadly into our curriculum. We will also continue to finalize our fundraising strategies for diversity scholarships by the end of this academic year.

Today, I would like to announce my commitment to build a new Black cultural center at the UO. I have been convinced that, particularly in light of their small numbers, African American students need a place that will provide them with an opportunity to gather, reinforce their academic pursuits, enhance connective bonds that support recruitment and retention, and discuss their shared experiences and needs. We will work with our students to plan a structure that will provide them with a place of respite with programming that will promote their success. Fundraising for this project has already begun with a generous $250,000 gift from our alumnus and campaign chair Dave Petrone and his wife Nancy. The planning phase for design and construction will begin immediately.

We will also commence this spring with the renaming of Cedar Hall. We will solicit from our community nominations of names of individuals who have distinguished themselves in the fight for racial justice and equity. Our students will be involved from start to finish as we identify criteria and select someone who will embody the values of achievement, tolerance, and equity. It is my hope and expectation to bring this renaming decision to the Board of Trustees in June.

We will also move forward with plans to work with our students and faculty to ensure that the lessons we have learned about ourselves and our history are not lost. We will plan installations in both Deady and Cedar Halls that remind all visitors of their histories and of the continuing project of inclusion and diversity.

The work of making the University of Oregon a more diverse and inclusive university is important work and will not happen overnight. It will not be complete when we cut the ribbon on the Black cultural center. Nor will it be complete when we recruit more African American students and faculty members to Eugene. While I am grateful to the Black Students Task Force for placing racial equity squarely on our agenda, it will take all of our efforts—faculty and staff members, students, administrators, alumni, and community members—to make this university the inclusive place we want it to be. I am eager to get on with this work.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill

President and Professor of Law

Pres Schill has “great confidence” in Willie Taggart & Rob Mullens

Update: Coaches let coaches get blotto and drive drunk, and our athletic director is cool with that. Austin Meek has the news in the RG.

From Andrew Theen in the Oregonian:

The school president, who has said previously that he hadn’t set foot on a football field until arriving in Eugene, said he has great confidence in Athletic Director Rob Mullens as well.

They do seem to be sucking up a lot of his time though. Ryan Thorburn in the RG has one of the more positive assessments:

“Even if you sugarcoat it, it’s still a disaster,” Paul Finebaum, who hosts a college football-centric national radio show, said on ESPN. “I have a hard time imaging a program getting off to a worse start.”

Other sports reporters are trickling out more details on the troubled histories of Taggart’s new assistant coaches. Paying female students to escort potential football recruits? Did no one do due diligence?

Faculty sessions for CIO candidates

I’m not sure if these are “faculty only”. I doubt they’d kick out non-faculty though.

Chief Information Officer

Candidates for the vice provost and chief information officer will visit campus during the month of January. Information for each candidate will be posted in advance of their visit.

Candidate A: January 18-19 – Matthew Riley

Candidate B: January 23-24 – Jessie Minton

Candidate C: January 30-31

  • Faculty Session – January 31, 9:15 – 10:00 a.m., Ford Alumni Center 403

All candidate feedback surveys will close at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 3.

Questions may be directed to Sarah Allen, Committee Staff (caven@uoregon.edu).

UO students enter rich, leave OK.

From the important NYT report here. Read it all.

Yes, the universities that educate students from modest backgrounds face big challenges, particularly state budget cuts. But many of them are performing much better than their new stereotype suggests. They remain deeply impressive institutions that continue to push many Americans into the middle class and beyond — many more, in fact, than elite colleges that receive far more attention.

Where does this optimistic conclusion come from? The most comprehensive study of college graduates yet conducted, based on millions of anonymous tax filings and financial-aid records. Published Wednesday, the study tracked students from nearly every college in the country (including those who failed to graduate), measuring their earnings years after they left campus. The paper is the latest in a burst of economic research made possible by the availability of huge data sets and powerful computers.

… Obviously, colleges don’t deserve all the credit for their graduates’ success. But they do deserve a healthy portion of it. Other research that has tried to tease out the actual effects of higher education finds them to be large. And they’re not limited to money: Graduates are also happier and healthier. No wonder that virtually all affluent children go to college, and nearly all graduate.

The question is how to enable more working-class students to do so. “It’s really the way democracy regenerates itself,” said Ted Mitchell, Obama’s under secretary of education. The new research shows that plenty of successful models exist, yet many of them are struggling to maintain the status quo, let alone grow. It’s true in red states as well as in many blue and purple states, and it’s a grave mistake.

This figure shows student incomes at age 34 as a function of family income. Our students average about $45K at that age. But they come in from wealthy families. All the dots to the left of UO are schools that were able to take lower income students than UO and produce the same outcomes for their graduates as we do for our rich kids.

What can we do to fix this?

“Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence

I thought readers might be interested in this cutting edge example of the sort of out of the box thinking that should define best practices for UO faculty:

PALGRAVE COMMUNICATIONS | ARTICLE OPEN

“Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence

Published online

Abstract:

The rhetoric of “excellence” is pervasive across the academy. It is used to refer to research outputs as well as researchers, theory and education, individuals and organizations, from art history to zoology. But does “excellence” actually mean anything? Does this pervasive narrative of “excellence” do any good? Drawing on a range of sources we interrogate “excellence” as a concept and find that it has no intrinsic meaning in academia. Rather it functions as a linguistic interchange mechanism. To investigate whether this linguistic function is useful we examine how the rhetoric of excellence combines with narratives of scarcity and competition to show that the hyper-competition that arises from the performance of “excellence” is completely at odds with the qualities of good research. We trace the roots of issues in reproducibility, fraud, and homophily to this rhetoric. But we also show that this rhetoric is an internal, and not primarily an external, imposition. We conclude by proposing an alternative rhetoric based on soundness and capacity-building. In the final analysis, it turns out that that “excellence” is not excellent. Used in its current unqualified form it is a pernicious and dangerous rhetoric that undermines the very foundations of good research and scholarship. This article is published as part of a collection on the future of research assessment.

More priceless publicity for UO, courtesy of our rotting athletic “front porch”

Rob Mullens and his new $3.6M football coach sure know how to pick ’em. The Oregonian’s Andrew Greif has the latest on where Coach Willie Taggart’s road to Duck football excellence is taking the University of Oregon, here:

Five days after his hiring was officially announced by the Oregon Ducks, co-offensive coordinator David Reaves is in the process of being fired after his arrest early Sunday on charges of DUII, reckless driving and reckless endangerment.

“Reaves has been placed on administrative leave and the process to terminate his employment with cause has commenced,” UO athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “The University has high standards for the conduct of employees and is addressing this matter with the utmost of seriousness.”

The 38-year-old Reaves, who also was set to coach tight ends for the Ducks and carried the title of passing game coordinator under new coach Willie Taggart, was stopped at 2:12 a.m. Sunday with a passenger in downtown Eugene after “multiple traffic violations,” according to Eugene police.

… Reaves, who was on a two-year contract worth $300,000 annually, was to share offensive coordinator duties with offensive line coach Mario Cristobal. …. His arrest and expected firing follows a tumultuous week for Oregon, which suspended new football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde on Tuesday for a month without pay, while also including a formal apology on behalf of Taggart, after three UO players were injured during offseason workouts last week and hospitalized for several days. All three have since been released.

I wonder if Mullens gives his coaches the same advice the players get for dealing with the cops: Call the fixer Tom Hart on his personal cell phone, quick.

March!

My father was marching in DC to protest LBJ’s bombing of Hanoi. I was marching in Eugene to support human rights. Thanks to my sister for the photoshop! And forgive me for one more family photo: Dad circa 1969, in our living room with WWII B-24 bomber pilot, Senator, anti-war candidate, grad school classmate, and friend George McGovern.

 

Coach Taggart: 0 tolerance policy for players, 11/12 tolerance for coaches

Kenny Jacoby has the story on Taggart’s rules for players in the Daily Emerald here:

Three Oregon football players who had off-the-field issues are “no longer with the team,” UO athletics spokesman Craig Pintens confirmed Monday afternoon. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Eddie Heard, freshman wide receiver Tristen Wallace and freshman linebacker Darrian Franklin are done playing for the Ducks. …

But if you’re one of Taggart’s assistant coaches, the rules are a little more relaxed:

UNIVERSITY OF OREGON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

Andy McNamara — Assistant Athletic Director, Communications                         

Football Contact: David Williford (O: 541-346-2251; C: 541-729-6801; email: diw@uoregon.edu)                                                                                                                                

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                Jan. 17, 2016 

UPDATED DEVELOPMENTS IN REGARDS TO OREGON CONDITIONING SCENARIO

EUGENE – University of Oregon head football coach Willie Taggart today issued an apology on behalf of the coaching staff and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics following incidents reported over the weekend related to off-season conditioning training that began last week.

“I have visited with the three young men involved in the incidents in the past few days and I have been in constant contact with their families, offering my sincere apologies,” Taggart said. “As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first. I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university. I want to thank our medical staff and doctors for caring for all of our young men, and I want to apologize to the university, our students, alumni and fans.”  

“The university holds the health, safety and well-being of all of our students in high regard,” said Rob Mullens, UO director of athletics. “We are confident that these athletes will soon return to full health, and we will continue to support them and their families in their recoveries.”

After a review of events surrounding the training last week, the following has been determined:

Last Tuesday, football student-athletes began their off-season conditioning program after being away from football-related activities for six weeks. The workouts were supervised by the training staff and led by football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde.

On Thursday, after three days of workouts, one student-athlete complained of muscle soreness and displayed other symptoms of potential exercise-related injury. The medical staff examined the student-athlete, and took appropriate action pursuant to team’s medical protocols.

The medical staff informed coaches and staff of the diagnosis. Two additional student-athletes were then identified with similar symptoms and staff responded to them, as well. 

No other student-athletes have demonstrated negative effects at this time or have been admitted to the hospital. 

As a result, Oderinde has been suspended without pay for one month, with Jim Radcliffe assuming the position on an interim basis. In addition, the head football strength and conditioning coach will no longer report to the head football coach but rather to Andrew Murray, the director of performance and sports science. All workouts moving forward have been modified.

www.GoDucks.com