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.

Union organizers jump the shark

4/10/2012: From the United Academics Facebook page:

April 4, 2012, forty-four years to the day after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while advocating for the right of public sector workers to organize, the UO administration and its legal counsel – and Frohnmayer’s private legal firm – essentially declared that we faculty do not have the right to organize. This is tragic.

The assassination of Martin Luther King was tragic, but unconnected to the unionization of UO faculty and to Dave Frohnmayer until the writing of these unfortunate two sentences.

A Dull Sword of Anachronism

4/9/2012: From a lawsuit filed in federal court, asking for $10,000 in damages from UO after DPS stopped 2 people riding bikes without lights. (PSO is “public safety officer”):

I have a great deal of respect for UO’s public safety officers, who regularly deal with bad actors like this with a lot more grace than I could. However I have never heard of a single UO campus incident where a Glock .45 on the belt would have necessarily helped matters, and it’s easy to picture many, many situations where armed police are likely to make things worse – e.g. some distraught student trying”suicide by cop”.

Update: A commenter notes

Students up to dirty tricks

4/10/2012 Update: Emily Schiola reports still more election craziness in the ODE.

4/9/2012: Two “slates” made it through the ASUO student primaries, voting in the final election runs all week. The “We Are Oregon” slate is made up of frat kids and looks like a front for the athletic department – its name and campaign video are ripped off from Rob Mullen’s $500,000 Pac-12 championship ad. The “Katie and Alex” slate opposes a posh new EMU, wants to use athletic profits for student scholarships, and supports OSPIRG. It’s hard to keep up with the dirty tricks – I’m guessing both sides must have aced Prof. Myagkov’s course on voting fraud in Russia. Commentator story here, ODE here.

The students did vote overwhelmingly to have the athletic department start contributing towards academic scholarships – currently they *take* from regular student tuition:

They also narrowly rejected Robin Holmes’s $100 a term EMU expansion fee, for the second time, and voted more than 3 to 1 to keep UO police unarmed. Full barely legible results here.

A commenter comments:

Very biased post. You failed to mention that the “Katie and Alex” ticket may have broken the law

Who counts as faculty?

4/7/2012: I’m no law professor, or $600 an hour union busting lawyer $600 an hour defender of faculty members’ right to negotiate individually with the administration, but it seems obvious that a key point in the formation of a UO faculty union is the definition of the term faculty. On 3/20 the UO union organizers petitioned the state ERB for a bargaining unit defined as:

“All full-time and part-time research and instructional faculty. Including tenure-track faculty, non-tenure track faculty, adjunct faculty, post-retired or emeritus faculty, library faculty and officers of research including research assistants, research associates, and postdoctoral scholars, employed by theemployer and excluding Principal Investigators with supervisory authority and faculty in the School of Law.”

And the commentator Terducken notes that:

According to Oregon Administrative Rules 115-025-0065, “Within 7 days after a public employer receives notice under OAR 115-025-0030(2) that a petition has been filed seeking certification without an election, it will submit to the Board an alphabetical list of employees in the proposed bargaining unit…” Therefore, this Excelsior list is a list provided to the ERB by the administration and is a standard step in this process.

But the Excelsior list that the UO administration provided in response to this petition includes many employees that are clearly not “faculty” in the ordinary sense of the word, but who are on the UO books as faculty. Der Alte has posted a helpful comment on this:

Current UO Constitution defines a STATUTORY FACULTY. “In this document, Statutory Faculty is defined as the body of professors consisting of the University President, tenure-related officers of instruction, career non-tenure-track officers of instruction, and officers of administration who are tenured in an academic department. Membership in the Statutory Faculty is retained during sabbatical leaves. Retired and emeriti faculty members are not members of the Statutory Faculty, whether or not they have teaching responsibilities. The University President is the President of the Statutory Faculty.”

With no disrespect, I do not think that people without an advanced degree, perhaps working in a lab or teaching PE courses in ultimate frisbee, aerobics, or yoga, count as faculty under any reasonable or customary definition of the word. Yet it seems that UO’s administration and their consulting lawyers have agreed with the union organizers that they do. They’ve also included emeriti, etc. in their list. The Rudnick letter to the ERB raises many objections, but none having to do with this basic question of what does it mean to be faculty – a question central to the union petition.

So, there is a game being played here between the administration and the union that most of us faculty do not understand and which I don’t think either side wants us to understand. But I bet some of our readers know what’s really going on. So why not tell us? It’s anonymous.

UO Police keep cell phone

4/5/2012: From a Josephine Woolington story in the ODE on last term’s basketball fight:

“It’s not wrong to videotape us (DPS). That’s OK,” said Carolyn McDermed, acting chief of DPS. “The cellphone was seized because it contained evidence of the crime. It was pertinent to the case.”

DPS still has Said’s cellphone, and is waiting to obtain a search warrant from Eugene Police Department to look through it.

Three weeks and they are still waiting for a warrant?

pay teachers for student success

4/3/2012: From Betsy Hammond in the Oregonian:

Teachers at Reynolds Arthur Academy in Troutdale spurred the biggest gains in individual students’ reading and math scores of any elementary charter school in the nation the past two years. For that, a national charter group soon will hand each of them and their principal bonuses of $4,000 or more.

Many teacher unions, including the one in Oregon City that turned away millions of dollars in federally funded bonuses last fall, oppose rewarding teachers for raising student test scores.

But not Reynolds Arthur Academy’s non-union teachers….

They must teach to the test like crazy. Strong incentives have problems too.