UO Law grads excited to hear lower standards will devalue their degrees

Jack Forrest has the report in the Daily Emerald here:

University of Oregon students with a 3.5 GPA upon graduation and an SAT or ACT score in the top 85th percentile will not be required to take the Law School Admissions Test to apply to the UO School of Law.

Currently, 14% of UO law school students are“double ducks,” or UO undergraduate alums, according to Assistant Dean of Admissions Sarah Keiski, who spearheaded the policy change to increase the pipeline of UO undergraduates into the law school.

“It feels great to be in law school in a place you’re comfortable in,” Keiski said. …

“Feels great” is a stretch –  maybe “feels comfortably mediocre”?

In totally unrelated news from the Emerald’s Michael Tobin, the Oregon Bar recently dumbed down its bar exam, under pressure from Oregon law deans, and the pass rate has soared. As his story explains, not all students are excited by the news that their school is devaluing their degrees in an already tough job market.

Senate leader Peter Courtney’s anti-NCAA cartel window-dressing

From https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2020R1/Measures/Overview/SB1501

Interestingly, this is grafted onto the *pro-cartel* legislation that the Oregon legislature passed in 2017.  That law, which the NCAA and the Duck Athletic department lobbied for, made it all but impossible for student-athletes to hire agents to represent their interests while they negotiated with coaches, as explained here: http://uomatters.com/2017/05/oregon-legislature-helps-the-ncaa-cartel-keep-screws-on-college-athletes.html

Times have changed. However, Courtney’s proposed changes leave the cartel with al the power until 2023, giving the NCAA lobbyists plenty of time to get some toothless national legislation through Congress that will preempt this.

Gender Differences in Regrades in College

Ask and You Shall Receive? Gender Differences in Regrades in College

Cher Hsuehhsiang Li, Basit Zafar

NBER Working Paper No. 26703
Issued in January 2020
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education Program, Labor Studies Program

Using administrative data from a large 4-year public university, we show that male students are 18.6 percent more likely than female students to receive favorable grade changes initiated by instructors. These gender differences cannot be explained by observable characteristics of the students, instructors, and the classes. To understand the mechanisms underlying these gendered outcomes, we conduct surveys of students and instructors, which reveal that regrade requests are prevalent, and that male students are more likely than female students to ask for regrades on the intensive margin. …

MMXX-III bargaining live-blog: 125 CHILES, 12-3pm today

125 CHILES, Thursday 1/23/2020, 12-3PM. Open to the public

MMXX-I is here, -II here. My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets or Facebook.

MMXX-III Live-blog. Usual disclaimer: My opinion and interpretation of what the bargainers are saying, thinking, or should be saying or thinking. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes. Rumor has it the union proposals will include Research Support, Sabbaticals, and Hiring. I don’t know what the administration will do.

12:07: Disheveled Admin team strolls in late:

Continue reading

Burly ironworkers add thick, pulsing veins to Duck’s “University Tower”

I thought the original egofice (left) was surprisingly small – some might even say under-endowed. Apparently someone with money was also underwhelmed, and the construction crew has been working double-shifts to add some girth, just in case anyone didn’t get the symbolism:

No news yet on the invite list for the topping-off ceremony, but I’m guessing it won’t include the UO students who are paying $2.37M to wire it up.


Eugene using $9M from street repair bonds for Track & Field prep

The Emerald has a brief story here. For a deeper dive Try this Christian Hill story in the RG from last year. Just $2.5M for consultants? Presumably this is just the start of what the city will pay:

Eugene city officials expect to spend $14 million on the planned three-acre riverfront park, the showpiece of the community’s years-long effort to connect downtown with the Willamette River.

And they anticipate spending another $4 million on the neighboring one-acre plaza, which will be constructed in a future phase.

The park, scheduled to be completed well before the 2021 world track and field championships, includes green space, a rebuilt section of the riverfront path that separates cyclists and walkers, narrower pedestrian paths that connect to overlooks, interpretative exhibits and public art. It is part of the overall transformation of downtown Willamette riverfront land across from Alton Baker Park into an accessible riverfront neighborhood and community destination.

• $10 million for construction;

• $2.5 million for consultant fees;

• $850,000 for utility relocation;

• $650,000 for permitting and fees.

The city has committed $9 million in capital funding to the project already. The funding comes from fees paid by developers and money from parks and street repair bonds that voters approved in two prior years.


A book-store free university area & SAIL

From UO physicist Raghu Parthasarathy’s always interesting Eighteenth Elephant blog:

There are now no bookstores around the University of Oregon (UO) campus. Until recently, there were two. The two did not, however, go out of business — at least not in a straightforward way.

One of the stores is the University bookstore. At least since I moved to Eugene, 13 years ago, the uppermost of its three floors contained general books — fiction, nonfiction, children’s books — the full set you’d expect from a good small bookstore. A year or two ago — I can’t remember — books were relegated to the back third of the middle floor. Now, they have disappeared completely. One might worry that one can’t have a bookstore without books, by definition. There are still textbooks, however, and in any case it’s not technically the UO Bookstore, but rather the “Duckstore.” (Not that they have ducks.) My inability to remember the exact history of books at the campus bookstore is the main motivation for this post — documenting so that I (or anyone else) can look back at this later for a snapshot of the campus neighborhood in late 2019.

Raghu also has a post about the physics department’s work with SAIL students over the summer:

1. Background: SAIL

As in each of the past 12 years, I’ve co-run a one-week “SAIL” camp for high school students, targeting low-income students especially with a week of activities on the University of Oregon (UO) . I’ve written about this before (“The ice cream and the dead people”“SAIL Recap 2017”), and our Physics + Human Physiology program hasn’t changed much in recent years. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” of course, and since students give rave reviews of the week, and those of us running it are happy with it as well, there’s no reason to make major alterations. (The Physics and Human Physiology parts of the camp are largely separate, but there are some connections we make between the two.) I’ll comment at the end of this post on some of the perennial favorite activities — Prof. Graham Kribs’ Physics of Climbing session, Prof. Eric Corwin’s liquid nitrogen ice cream, and time in the cadaver lab. Outside our camp, in the broader SAIL program, there’s lots of change — a steady expansion now to 16 camps serving about 400 students, and this year, for the first time, a small pilot residential program with some students staying in the UO dorms. (The goal of the residential program is to serve students from throughout the state, not just the Eugene-Springfield area.) Regarding outcomes, a considerably higher fraction of alumni of the summer and academic-year mentoring programs pursue post-secondary education than their peers. (I don’t have the numbers on me.)

There was one new activity in our Physics + Human Physiology camp this year, however, and that’s the subject of this post. A few weeks before the camp, I ended up with an extra hour in the SAIL program that I needed to fill. It’s not too hard to find volunteers, but the back-and-forth of scheduling, emailing, talking to people, etc. is tedious, and I decided that it would probably be more enjoyable and no less time-consuming to design and implement a new activity myself. (I wouldn’t have thought this ten years ago, but I have a lot more outreach and teaching experience now!) At the same time, Dean Walton, a science librarian, was thinking about doing something connected to a SAIL tour of UO’s student Makerspace, which he runs. (More on this in part 3.)

Faculty Club open Wed & Th

Dear Colleagues,

The Faculty Club will be open this week during the usual hours, with gatherings on Wednesday and Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00.

Wednesday, we will feature the School of Architecture and Environment, the “placemakers” of the UO, with an inspiringly designed, solidly structured Six-o-Clock toast. If you’ve always thought that hanging out with designers would make you “cooler,” come join in!

And Thursday we celebrate the Sustainable Cities Initiative with a gathering of participating faculty and a Six-o-Clock toast from SCI co-director Marc Schlossberg. Come hear about this interdisciplinary academic-community partnership that has impacted municipalities from A(rizona) to Z(ambia).

Hope to see you, and any guests you’d like to bring, one or both nights.

Yours, James Harper
Chair of the Faculty Club Board

Admin now loves UO’s educational museums, wants you to visit

1/21/2020: An email sent to campus today, from Pres Schill and Prov Phillips, out of the blue. I’m not complaining, but I imagine there’s a backstory to this 180. If you know it, please post a comment:

Dear University of Oregon Community,

We are fortunate to have two nationally accredited and award-winning museums on our campus: the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History (MNCH). As winter term unfolds, and you perhaps seek a terrific indoor activity on a wet day, please consider a visit to each of these gems.

The JSMA boasts extraordinary permanent collections, but also has rotating exhibitions. A solo show just opened featuring the work of Carrie Mae Weems, a celebrated Oregon-born MacArthur Fellow. There is also a stunning exhibition featuring three-dimensional compositions created by South Korean artist Kwang Young Chun. In addition, the JSMA has a program called Masterworks on Loan, which brings internationally recognized work to our community for limited visits. Picasso and Warhol are among the artists on display now. In addition to its galleries, the JSMA provides studio and family programs, summer camps, and tours.

As noted on its website, the MNCH is “a place for digging into science, celebrating culture, and joining together to create a just and sustainable world.” This is a perfect encapsulation of the exhibitions, collections, research, and community engagement of the MNCH, which was formally established in 1935 but has roots back to the founding of the UO in 1876, when Thomas Condon arrived with large fossil and artifact collections. Permanent exhibits cover archeological, cultural, geological, and paleontological aspects of Oregon’s deep past. Current temporary exhibitions include “Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years—The Eugene Story” and “Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo.”

Both museums welcome thousands of visitors each year and provide educational opportunities to thousands of K-12 students across Oregon. Admission is free to UO students, faculty, and staff, but each museum also offers membership opportunities. We invite you to join us in visiting and becoming members of both of these wonderful museums; you will not be disappointed.


Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

It’s all true. Every year I take my SAIL summer economics camp HS students to the museum, to give them a break from economics and so I can look at the masterworks. The docents do a great job – despite the complaint of one of my students that “I came here to learn economics – not look at a bunch of pictures!”

4/18/2019: Arts on the Chopping Block

Bob Keefer has the story in the Eugene Weekly, here. Some snippets:

The University of Oregon plans to solve its budget crisis by cutting money for the arts and culture.

That’s the message conveyed by a series of major budget cuts quietly proposed for the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Oregon Bach Festival and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

… The university needs to cut its overall budget by $11.6 because of falling enrollment and other revenue losses, UO President Michael Schill has said.

Despite the university’s culture of secrecy, word of the arts cuts — which had not been publicly announced — leaked out when former Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy posted the news on Facebook April 10.

Apparently on orders from above, arts administrators declined to talk about the cuts to Eugene Weekly, referring questions to Molly Blancett, the university’s interim spokesperson. …

Why isn’t UO cutting subsidies for Duck sports instead?

Why are faculty reluctant to help with university governance?

From the Encyclopedia of Virginia:

The University of Virginia Riot of 1836 occurred on November 12–13 of that year when members of the student drilling company, the University Volunteers, commandeered the Rotunda and marched through the university’s grounds, destroying property. In some respects, the violence was the culmination of a decade of misbehavior among students who hailed from elite backgrounds, were bound by an honor culture, and were unchecked by a university founded on the belief that its charges could police themselves. The University Volunteers were allowed to drill with muskets only during specially sanctioned exercises, but in 1836 the company began ignoring the rules.When the faculty chairman, John A. G. Davis, threatened to disband the group, the Volunteers defied authority, each pledging an oath of solidarity to one another. That promise bound members of the group even when some wavered in the face of violence and expulsion. Students rioted for two nights, focusing much of their ire on Davis, who called in civilian law enforcement to restore order. After debating how to handle punishments, the faculty voted to allow members of the Volunteers to remain at the university if they made “proper atonement” for the participation in the riots.

Riots continued to occur in subsequent years, and the anniversary of the 1836 disturbance was marked with mischief, revelry, and, in 1840, murder, when Davis was shot dead.

Three-day faculty strike ends with ~15% raises

That would be at Clark (community) College in Vancouver WA. Story here:

Clark College’s faculty union voted to ratify its contract Wednesday afternoon, drawing 15 months of bargaining and a three-day strike to a close.

… Full-time faculty had made anywhere between $53,416 to $76,339 per academic year.

… The new salary range for full-time Clark College professors now starts at $62,049 and tops out at $87,403 for the 2019-20 academic year.

That’s on top of a step system that provides regular raises. Raises for part-time faculty are higher.

Bargaining live-blog MMXX-II: PIPs for tenured faculty, Senate & IHP

In 125 CHILES, Thursday 1/16/2020, 12-3PM. 

MMXX-I is here. My continuing series on Budget Buckets is here. If you don’t like my blog read the official Union tweets.

Recap from MMXX-II: The union proposed a new article on faculty Performance Improvement Plans, which would allow departments to make tenured faculty who had failed at research get their shit together or do more teaching. The fact that a faculty union is proposing serious consequences for those few members who are not doing their job and making others cover for them should come as no surprise to anyone who understands basic economics. But it will probably throw Board of Trustees Chair and one-time B-School Dean Chuck Lillis – who apparently believes that the median faculty is deadwood and that the union is their agent – for a loop.

Other important proposals include reasserting shared governance control of faculty hiring, and figuring out how to keep the temperature in PLC to somewhere between 60 and 85 Fahrenheit.

See below for the details, Chuck, because the next proposal will be PIPs for you and your Trustees.

Continue reading

Oregon’s strange and interesting higher ed tax credit auction

Instead of raising taxes to fund higher education, Oregon is holding a tax credit auction. You bid on a $500 tax credit, which you can then use, dollar for dollar, to offset your state income tax payments. The bid “contributions” go to support HECC grants for low SES college students. The minimum bid is $450, and there are $1.49M in credits for sale. I’m guessing these will sell at 95% percent of par, meaning this program will cost the state’s general fund $1.49M plus administrative costs, and raise about $1.42M for higher ed.

Let’s call it a $100K net loss to the state. If anyone understands why the state would do this rather than just appropriate $1.59M, please post a comment.

REMINDER: College Opportunity Grant Tax Credit Auction on February 10-12 to Benefit Need-Based Financial Aid 

Instructions will be made available on the Oregon Department of Revenue website on how to bid online.
Salem, OR – The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) is pleased to announce that a second College Opportunity Grant Tax Credit Auction for tax year 2019 will run on February 10-12, 2020.  A College Opportunity Grant Tax Credit auction for tax year 2019 was also previously conducted in December, 2019.

In 2018, the Oregon Legislature passed legislation creating a tax credit auction for contributions to the state-administered Oregon Opportunity Grant (OOG) fund. The auction gives Oregon taxpayers the opportunity to benefit from state tax credits while supporting a state financial aid program for Oregon students.

  • WHO: Individuals and businesses with Oregon income tax liability are eligible to place bids on tax credit certificates. The Auction is administered by the Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR). The contributions will go to the Oregon Opportunity Grant, which is administered by the HECC Office of Student Access and Completion. Interested parties should subscribe here for updates to the College Opportunity Grant Tax Auction email list.
  • WHAT: Modeled after the Oregon Film and Video Office tax auction, the College Opportunity Grant Tax Credit program is held online. The State is authorized to issue up to $14 million worth of tax credits per year, and will be authorized to issue $1.49 million during the February auction. The credit certificates will be in $500 increments and the minimum bid amount has been reduced from the prior year minimum to $450.
  • WHEN: The online auction is open from February 10-12, 2020. The bidding begins at 9 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) February 10, 2020, and ends at 5 p.m. PDT, February 12, 2020.
  • WHERE:  Instructions on bidding will be available on the Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR) Tax Credit Option webpage here prior to the auction. The bids must be made online on the Oregon DOR website according to the DOR instructions. There is not a physical auction event.
  • WHY: Individuals and businesses with an Oregon income tax liability may bid on certificates and claim the credits on 2019 state tax returns.  Any amount not allowed on a 2019 return can be carried forward up to three years. The contributions will increase funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant, the state’s longstanding need-based grant program for postsecondary education. The OOG is critical to supporting college affordability for approximately 35,000-40,000 students a year, but state funding for the OOG has for years been insufficient to support the college costs of all eligible students. The contributions from the auction will be used to increase the number of grants to eligible low- and middle-income students, increase the value of the per-student award, or a combination of both options, beginning in fall 2020.