Louisiana cleans up Higher Ed. pension abuse.

6/9/2010: The Louisiana Higher Ed commissioner has resigned after the Times Picayune caught her in a retirement scam involving double dipping. Legal but sleazy, and she didn’t tell the board what she was going to do. In Oregon, her boss would have helped her set up the scheme and written the contract for her. I still don’t understand how the golden parachute deals that Frohnmayer set up for John Moseley et al, passed legal review. Oh wait – Melinda Grier reviewed them. Huey Long would have been proud of those two. The later Huey, that is.

Daily Emerald Editors

4/22/2010: The ODE Editors manage to combine most current UO issues into one opinion:

… The library parking lot is central to preserving the divide between those who work and those who drink. On any given night, good, clean, sober students exiting Knight Library in the wee hours of the morning are forced to mix with the inebriated heathens stumbling home from campus bars. As the wholesome, sober scholars weave their way through the dimly lit parking lot back to their vehicles, they risk exposure to the dark and seedy underbelly of college culture, where one is likely to encounter a veritable bevy of intoxicated hoodlums who want nothing else than to ruin the lives of the sagacious Knight Library denizens.

Library-goers can’t handle the ugly forces of peer pressure and could easily succumb to the brutal jocks loitering in Lot 16, trying to prolong their inebriation after the bars close. And, as we all know, when these two colossal forces collide, the scene is seldom pretty: Textbooks, calculators and pocket protectors lay strewn across the parking lot, the lone testament to the fracas from the night prior. The broken spirit bottles line the sidewalk parallel to the broken spirits of the academics who managed to make it home.

And, would you believe it, this happens every night. Are you scared yet? …

It’s clear the University likes to keep things under wraps, and administrators need a bigger place to dispose of those silly public records requests, inexplicit contracts and other important documents. Conveniently, Lot 16 is big enough for a bonfire pit. We probably would have been livid if we’d seen the Frohnmayer/Bellotti contract. Ignorance is bliss. …

Union Survey from Senate

4/18/2010:  If you got an email from the Senate Executive Committee last week on the union poll, please fill it out. (The link is specific to your email address, so I can’t post it here.) I have no association with this poll but I think it is important to understand the extent of faculty support for a union and whether the faculty think their bargaining unit should include OA’s.

Also, I’m happy to run more completely unscientific polls on the RHS of the blog. Post a comment if you have an idea for one.

Letters to Lariviere

4/10/2010: The Oregonian’s readers are skeptical:

Just how long does a new college president get to bear no responsibility for the continuance of bad oral contracts, an interim athletic director to mislead the public as to the amount involved and a general counsel to commit an oral agreement to written form? Suggestion: Something less than the time to send University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, the “new kid on the block,” to Asia on university business, leaving no highly paid administrator able to answer any questions other than the time of day.

On the other hand, we should probably allow a little more than the few minutes it will take the taxpayers to realize that asking for more donations now for this bad cover-up will mean less in donations later and, ultimately, less educational services or more fees and/or taxes.

DAVE DOCKHAM
Hood River

*****

Between the coach owing apologies for his players’ poor behavior and the administration now owing millions for its poor business decisions, shouldn’t the school be renamed University of Oweregon?

BARRY CADISH
Lake Oswego 

*****

As an employee of a public institution, Mike Bellotti is eligible for generous retirement benefits through PERS. Thank goodness he has this pension to make up for all the years his salary was less than he would have received had he worked in the private sector.

LAUREN SCHULTE
Tigard 

*****

University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere says he wanted Mike Bellotti out as athletic director because of Bellotti’s lack of business experience and acumen. There isn’t a written employment contract anywhere stating that Bellotti should ever get a dime in case he resigns. Thus, he deserves nothing. I think the university president is the one short of business experience and acumen.

BURT HARWOOD
Longview, Wash. 

*****

Contributions to University of Oregon athletics are tax-deductible. So even if donors finance Mike Bellotti’s $2.3 million payout, the taxpayers will still be stuck with a significant portion of the bill.

DEANE BLAIR
Tigard 

Meet the Pres

3/16/2010: If anyone learns anything interesting from these sessions, please post a comment or send an email to uomatters@gmail.com. I can’t make them. I remember Frohnmayer used to hold these regularly, until the questions got too pointed.

Good morning,

This is a reminder that today President Lariviere is holding two sessions to meet with faculty and staff.  The first is at 10 a.m. in Gerlinger Lounge and the second is at noon in the EMU Fir Room.  There is no formal agenda, this is simply an opportunity to sit down and talk with the president, to ask questions and express your views.  We will schedule a third session after spring break, specifics to be determined.  At any time you can contact the president at pres@uoregon.edu.

Office of the President

let’s lower the bar

3/4/2010: Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian reports:

Oregon is moving its 10th-grade tests in reading, writing, math and science to the 11th grade, saying many students need another year of high school to learn the skills covered on the tests. ….

When Oregon sophomores take the tests, a lot of them fail, particularly in math. Last year, 46 percent of 10th-graders flunked that test, 45 percent failed the writing test and 42 percent failed in science….

“It does seem unusual to move a 10th-grade proficiency set of tests to the 11th grade,” he (Jack Jennings, of some DC thinktank) said. “If you thought 10th-graders could do something, and then you shift the measurement of that skill to 11th grade, it at least raises the question of whether they have lowered the standard.”

Actually, it answers the question. And we are supposed to get these kids through college? Without lowering our standards?

Cheese

2/26/2010: In breaking news, we’ve now obtained summary data on UO’s cheese and egg expenditures. But many questions remain. Tillamook Cheddar? Oregonzola? Individually wrapped slices of processed american? President Lariviere is still refusing to tell the faculty. This stinks. And why are top UO administrators – you know who you are – still hiding the butter and milk expenditures?

Cheese & Eggs OR Sysco Portland Inc, $147,506.62
Cheese & Eggs CA US Foodservice Inc, $83,135.17
Cheese & Eggs OR Umpqua Dairy Products Company, $71,690.59
Cheese & Eggs WA Floyd Peterson Co, $46,224.04
Cheese & Eggs OR McDonald Wholesale Co, $27,250.17
Cheese & Eggs OR DPI Specialty Foods Northwest Inc, $8,424.88
Cheese & Eggs OR Core-Mark Distributors, $7,963.79
Cheese & Eggs OR BakeMark Ingredients Inc, $4,766.03
Cheese & Eggs OR Food Services of America, $2,374.02
Cheese & Eggs OR Costco Wholesale, $1,027.94
Cheese & Eggs OR Pacific Coast Fruit Company, $350.85
Cheese & Eggs CA Smart & Final/dba Cash & Carry, $302.06
Cheese & Eggs OR Market of Choice Inc, $98.67
Cheese & Eggs OR Irvin, Daniel $41.97

60’s reunion tour

2/15/2010: Rebecca Woolington of the RG has a really nice story about visits to UO and LCC this week by Jessie Jackson, Seymour Hersh, and Tom Hayden. Hersh of course is the guy who exposed My Lai and then Abhu Ghraib. Jackson has a much more mixed legacy, and Hayden – honestly, I have no idea what he has done lately. I’m no economist, but apparently Ms Woolington is enough of one to ask the central question: what’s the market value on these guys?

For Jackson’s visit, the UO’s Holden Leadership Center, along with five other groups and departments, will contribute about $25,000 …

Hersh’s appearance, which costs about $15,000, …

And bringing Hayden to LCC will cost about $1,000, …

I wonder what the Stones are going to get when they play Matt Court?

sustainable graduation

Elissa Harrington from KVAL reports that Amber Garrison, UO Director of Commencement, has decided students will wear green colored biodegradable gowns at graduation this year.

Rumor has it that they are made from hemp, the miracle fiber byproduct of Oregon’s second largest industry. To honor the baby boomer parents who are paying our salaries, diplomas will be printed on EZ Widers paper. I am not making all of this story up.

Ouch

1/28/2010: Given all the recent pepper spray abuses in Eugene, I’m tempted to say something sarcastic about this Oregonian story:

A Portland police officer accidentally used pepper spray instead of a fire extinguisher on a man who lit himself on fire downtown near a fur store Wednesday.

But actually it just reminds me of how the cops are mostly just trying to do the right thing in a crazy world. Tough job. Glad my mistakes don’t play out like that. The guy died.

Income inequality

1/25/2010: This is old news nationally, I hadn’t seen the Oregon breakdown. From Jeff Manning in the Oregonian:

Oregonians earning at the 50th percentile saw their inflation-adjusted wages grow 4.5 percent from $31,866 in 1990 to peak of $33,318 in 2004.

The group’s income has fallen every year since then, finishing 2008 at $32,659, the lowest level since 2001.

In contrast, those at the top 98th percentile of earners saw their inflation-adjusted wages climb 31 percent in the same 18 years from $118,453 in 1990 to a peak of $155,496 in 2007.

Keep in mind that these numbers don’t tell you much about the standard of living – think how much you benefit from things that really matter, like cell phones, the internet, love, the environment, sex – relative to what you pay for them. I wish I knew enough about economics to understand how those benefits play out in terms of changes in the distribution of living standards over time.