4/19/2012: The issue of the net social social value of this blog has come up in the comments. While not even an economist would argue that the revealed preferences of our readers and commenters means it must be positive, there is an argument from history, and from authority – no less an authority than former (US) President Theodore Roosevelt. From wikipedia:

After President Theodore Roosevelt took office in 1901, he began to manage the press corps and to do so he elevated his press secretary to cabinet status and initiated press conferences. The muckraking journalists who emerged around 1900, like the muckraking Lincoln Steffens, were not as easy for Roosevelt to manage as the objective journalists, and the President gave Steffens access to the White House and interviews to steer stories his way.[15][16]

While he may never have used the term himself, the origin of the “muckraker” is attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt, who, during a speech delivered on April 14, 1906, and on the occasion of dedicating the U.S. House of Representatives office building, drew on a character from John Bunyan’s 1678 classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, saying:

“… you may recall the description of the Man with the Muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward with the muck-rake in his hands; Who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.”[17]

While cautioning about possible pitfalls of keeping one’s attention ever trained downward, “on the muck,” Roosevelt emphasized the social benefit of investigative muckraking reporting, saying:

There are, in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave evils, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil man whether politician or business man, every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform, or in book, magazine, or newspaper, with merciless severity makes such attack, provided always that he in his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful.

The muckrakers themselves proudly adopted the label.[18]
The term eventually came to be used in reference to investigative journalists[citation needed] who reported about and exposed issues such as crime, fraud, waste, public health and safety, graft, illegal financial practices. A muckraker’s reporting may span businesses and government.

ERB hearing May 7-9, no video, seats for only 10 to 12.

4/19/2012: That’s the word from the ERB on the hearing to consider the UO unionization case:

The hearing is set for May 7-9 here in our offices beginning at 9:00 a.m. The notice of the hearing will be posted no later than May 1 on our website ( and the details of that are being worked out at this time. The notice should answer some of your questions.

Our hearing room [Room 340 in the Old Garfield School Building. 528 Cottage Street NE, Salem] has limited seating and the only parking available to observers is metered on-street parking. Additionally, we share the building with a number of private offices and must respect their ability to do business and provide access for their customers.

We cannot provide video feed of the hearing. Securing an alternate site for a 3-day hearing would mean postponing the hearing to a later date, something the Board does not wish to do.

Audience seating in our hearing room is limited to 20 and at that will be very crowded. Additionally, some of those seats will be needed for people who will testify at the hearing, so only a portion of the seating (10-12) will be open to others. Perhaps someone can be designated to attend the hearing and report back to the others.

My guess is that at least a hundred UO faculty are interested in this hearing. If you are interested in attending or would like to encourage the board to have a video feed, I suggest you email the board at and make this known, soon.

Reality check

4/18/2012: Springfield school district graduated 897 HS students last year. 258 dropped out before graduation. 51% of the 2008 graduates have enrolled in college (including 2-year) at some point. 60% of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch – for a family of four this means income below $41K. More Oregon data here.

So Cliff didn’t smoke it *all*

4/18/2012: In case you had no idea what was the source of that sweet smell drifting over from the “student athlete” apartments in The Kilkenny Towers. Patrick Malee has the story in the ODE. ESPN report here. The consensus is that the wide dissemination of the fact that Oregon law forbids random drug tests should make if much easier to sign those special admits for the Duck football team. Malee also has an interesting post on the twitter history of this shocking outbreak of reefer madness, here. It’s interesting how reporters use twitter. The UO Matters feed is here.

New job for Lariviere at Chicago’s Field Museum

Update: ODE story here.

4/13/2012: Rumor down at the faculty club is that he’s up for a job “in Chicago.” Update from Bill Graves: It’s president of the Field Museum of Natural History. Previous president was paid $509K.

And from an anonymous correspondent, this great article in the Trib:

The former president of the University of Oregon, Richard Lariviere, is expected to be appointed the next chief executive of The Field Museum, pending a board vote next week, according to a memo from museum chairman John Rowe.

Lariviere’s contract at the university was terminated at an emergency meeting of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education in November after a political dispute among Lariviere, the board and the governor. … 

That would be OUS Chair Matt Donegan, board member Jill Eiland, Chancellor George Pernsteiner, and Governor John Kitzhaber, just for the permanent record.

By all media accounts, the Sanskrit scholar, who previously was provost at the University of Kansas, was popular with those who worked for him.

No shit. Except of course for the UO admins who stabbed him in the back, hoping for a shot at his job.

The Oregon education board received a 6,300-signature petition asking that he be retained, and newspaper photographs capture supporters crying at the emergency meeting. According to The New York Times, the school’s most prominent booster, Nike CEO Phil Knight, called the ouster “astonishingly bad,” amounting to “an application of Oregon’s assisted-suicide law.”


“In the face of strong political differences in Oregon’s complex university system, we believe Richard’s work at the University of Oregon demonstrated courage, commitment and passion,” Rowe wrote in a letter to the executive committee of the museum’s board of trustees. “These are characteristics we highly value at The Field, and are exactly what’s needed to build upon the superb legacy of John McCarter, and take the Musuem into the future.”

Oregon’s loss, Chicago’s gain, and Dr. Pernsteiner’s shame.

Student court calls do-over on election

4/12/2012: The “We are Oregon” ASUO presidential slate tried to pull a Bush and get themselves declared winners, but the student court slapped them down. Rebecca X of the Commentator has the commentary. Branden Alexander of the ODE gets a good quote on the “Katie and Alex” phishing scandal that led to the redo:

Journalism professor Kyu Youm — who specializes in communication law — believes that the case could involve more than just computer crimes.

“To me, it seems like this case could have to do with identity theft,” Youm said. “When dealing with emails, it’s a personal account with personal information. That could be seen as identity theft to people.”

Youm related it to the 2008 case of David Kernell, who hacked the email account of Sarah Palin, who at the time was the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party. The jury was unable to come up with a decision on Kernell’s possible identity theft. Kernell was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison with three years of probation.

So, can UO’s new police department bust the students who did this? Apparently they haven’t been been granted that authority just yet. Jamie Moffitt and Doug Tripp will get it any day though – what an exciting, brave new world!


Blogspot approval has been a little messed up for a few days, sorry if I missed a few. Let me ask people again to consider using a screen name to help keep the threads organized. You just click the drop down box, go to name/url and type in whatever you want. For some reason people usually pick animals.

PSU faculty retirement incentives

4/10/2012: From Bill Graves in the Oregonian:

The university is offering a $10,000-to-$40,000 cash incentive to faculty and staff who are at least 55 as of June 30 or have at least 30 years of retirement credit with an Oregon Public Employee Retirement System employer. …  The retirement incentive was revealed this weekend after a month of negotiations between PSU administrators and members of the PSU chapter of the American Association of University Professors. 

Let them major in football

4/10/2012: From Joe Nocera in the NYT:

Instead, universities do the opposite. With their phony majors and low expectations, they send the unmistakable message to the athletes that they don’t care what happens after their eligibility expires. It’s a disgrace.

Instead, why not allow football players to major in, well, football? This is a solution put forth by John Kilbourne, a professor of movement science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Kilbourne, a former dance major, points out that college dancers can focus almost exclusively on the thing they are passionate about — even though the vast majority will not ultimately be professional dancers. Why is it so terrible to think of a football player doing likewise? Surely they could get more from a course in, say, “racism and football” than in most of what they are now forced to take.

How about “The economics of exploitation and the NCAA hiring cartel”. Any other course suggestions for this new major?

Tuition hikes and student strikes

4/10/2012: A report from our Quebecois correspondent:

Tuition hikes and student strikes

What do Oregon and Quebec have in common? Six letters, beginning with a round thing, and an e in third place. But perhaps not much more. Take the student protest movement that has kept many students away from classes at ULaval (including most of the Quebecois enrolled in the course I was guest-lecturing in last Friday) and led to huge protests in Montreal. The contrast between the students’ political movements here and at the UO are very different.

The Quebec provincial gov’t has proposed raising tuition (frais de scolarité) by less than $400 in each of the next five years, a total of $1625, bringing tuition up to around $4000/year. Back at the UO, tuition has increased by about 9% each of the last several years, and is now about $8000/yr for instate students. There was no talk of a student strike at the UO, and no picket lines. The state legislature posed no real opposition to the administration’s plans for tuition hikes.

Talking with faculty at ULaval and at McGill, they were both sympathetic with the students, and unwilling to cross picket lines to teach their classes, but they also supported the tuition hikes. They said that Quebec universities charge less than those in Ontario and western Canada, and that a longstanding tuition freeze means that costs are actually lower now than they were in 1968.

I also learned that very few students at McGill are staying away from classes or forming picket lines. Most likely because McGill has many non-Quebecois and non-Canadian students, and they already pay higher tuition. I just checked and saw that McGill charges about $3800 for tuition and fees to Quebec residents, and $7500 for other Canadians. Laurier told me that there is no such thing as “out of province” tuition, but the Laval website shows that he was incorrect. Laval charges about $2800 to Quebecois and $6500 to other Canadians. So McGill is only about $1000 more.