Furlough Days

9/21/2010: The new website for the proposed faculty union is a bit sleepy, but has a few new posts. Meanwhile, the SEIU staff union is fighting OUS over the furlough situation:

The Oregon University System is refusing to eliminate furloughs for classified workers.

OUS Labor Relations Director Rick Hampton and Vice-Chancellor Jay
Kenton met with Rich Peppers, our Chief Spokesperson, and Marc
Nisenfeld, Bargaining Team Chair, in response to our  request to reopen
the contract to eliminate furloughs for classified workers. They denied
our request in spite of discussion about the impact the lack of shared
sacrifice has on our morale, the level of hardship furloughs create for
our members, and the university’s relatively strong financial position.

The reasons they cited were numerous, but mostly centered on the current
economic condition of the state budget and the  uncertainty of funding
from the State General Fund. Since this is significantly different from
the budget message that we have received on the campuses, we
requested and they agreed to provide additional information to
support their position.

We can’t force them to reopen the contract, but we can be ready to
address the lack of fairness and equity in our contract campaign
starting in February  2011. Clearly, OUS is staking out their position
for bargaining and we must do the same. We can’t do that without you. Our bargaining strategy is determined by your ideas and priorities.

In Unity,

Your OUS Bargaining Team


8/25/2010: UO Professor Matt Dennis has a good RG Op-Ed about the “mosque” at ground-zero. Putting his name to a piece like this takes a little more courage than talking to the usual campus crowd. It’s also the most important part of the job of being a history professor:

Most importantly, the false patriotism of Park51 opponents violates the U.S. Constitution and Americans’ indispensable right to religious freedom. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religious practice and protects our particular religious observances from interference and repression. Such toleration and freedom was championed not merely for its own sake but because our framers recognized the diversity of believers in the United States. In our pluralistic country, no faith is safe if any faith is oppressed on the one hand, or officially institutionalized on the other. Fear does not change this formula for freedom, and Americans should display enough courage and confidence to uphold their laws and their principles against fear-mongering demagogues.

Professor Dennis is certainly doing his job.

Messenger bag dude v. UC President

8/21/2010: Sorry, this, from Steve Fainaru in the NY Times, on Mark Yudof, President of UC, has nothing to do with UO matters, but is just hilarious throughout:

After the Yudofs vacated the property at the end of June, Brennan Mulligan, the landlord, informed university officials that he intended to keep the U.C.’s $32,100 security deposit. Mr. Mulligan requested an additional $45,000 to cover the repairs for hundreds of holes left from hanging art, a scratched marble bathtub, a broken $2,000 Sivoia window shade and other claims.

“At some point, I got a call from the general counsel, and I’m like, ‘Why am I talking to the general counsel?’ ” said Mr. Mulligan, 40, a boyish Hong Kong-based business consultant and a U.C. Berkeley graduate who bought the Oakland house in 2003 after selling his bike-messenger bag company, Timbuk2.

“To me it’s like, ‘Is this how they spend their time?’ ” Mr. Mulligan said.

When a story like this is just part of the constant parade of taxpayer subsidized absurdities, public higher education is seriously out of touch with reality, and we are all going to be in deep shit soon.

One interesting aspect of this story is that it originates from an independent, non-profit organization that co-operates with the Times on researching and writing news stories. This is more and more common with investigative reporting.

unusual bias case

8/5/2010: From InsideHighered.com

With backing from the New York State Human Rights Division, Csaba Marosan is suing Trocaire College, saying that the Roman Catholic institution discriminated against him because of his accent (he’s from Hungary) and because he is straight, ABC News reported. The state agency investigated his complaint and found grounds to sue. Marosan claims in the suit that he was ostracized by a clique of gay men at the college who are known as the “Merry Men” and who are backed by administrators who may be gay or bisexual. The college is denying his charges that he was denied promotions or fired for speaking out, and says that he did not suffer any discrimination.

tree care

7/21/2010: Anyone got a good tree care company to recommend – or an unwanted child and a chainsaw? email uomatters@gmail.com or post a comment.

Update: Remarkable consensus among faculty and administrators. Sperry is very good and very expensive. A strong vote for James Cummings tree service, very good, not so expensive. Also mentioned, Doug Hornaday. (Thanks to parents – but given all the offers, I’m not buying the gas.)

Budget cuts put Oregon in jeopardy of losing half-billion dollars

6/28/2010: From Bill Graves in the Oregonian, last week:

Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s order for state budget cuts this week puts Oregon in jeopardy of losing a half billion dollars in federal stimulus money for education.

State leaders say they will make sure that doesn’t happen. But that means they either must get a waiver from federal rules or raise at least $14 million for the state’s community colleges and universities and about $3 million for public school special education.

To keep that money, the state must maintain its financial support for public schools and higher education at or above 2006 levels – what government calls a sufficient “maintenance of effort.”

 The governor on Tuesday ordered 9 percent across-the-board budget cuts to adjust to a $577 million hole in the budget resulting from the recession and declining state revenue. His order shaves state support for higher education in next year’s budget below 2006 levels by about $32 million.

State higher education funding this year topped the 2006 federal minimum by about $18 million so the state may be able to shift that much money into next year’s allocation for colleges and universities. That would leave the state $14 million shy of what it needs to meet federal requirements for higher education.

Teaching Evaluations

6/22/2010: In the NYTimes, Stanley Fish is outraged over what’s happening in Texas:

Now an entire state is on the brink of implementing just that bite-sized style of teaching under the rubric of “customer satisfaction.” …  the plan calls for college and university teachers to contract with their customers — that is, students — and to be rewarded by as much as $10,000 depending on whether they meet the contract’s terms. The idea is to hold “tenured professors more accountable” (“A&M regents push reforms,” The Eagle, June 13, 2010), and what they will be accountable to are not professional standards but the preferences of their students, who, in advance of being instructed, are presumed to be authorities on how best they should be taught.

I’m outraged that Fish – a former Dean – has so little respect for professors like me that he thinks I’d sell out for $10,000. Wait, is that $10,000 per year?

Meanwhile, a couple of economists have actually done some substantive research on this question, and have some interesting results – which support Fish’s argument. From the Journal of Political Economy at the University of Chicago:

Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors

Scott E. Carrell, University of California, Davis and National Bureau of Economic Research and James E. West, U.S. Air Force Academy

In primary and secondary education, measures of teacher quality are often based on contemporaneous student performance on standardized achievement tests. In the postsecondary environment, scores on student evaluations of professors are typically used to measure teaching quality. We possess unique data that allow us to measure relative student performance in mandatory follow‐on classes. We compare metrics that capture these three different notions of instructional quality and present evidence that professors who excel at promoting contemporaneous student achievement teach in ways that improve their student evaluations but harm the follow‐on achievement of their students in more advanced classes.

The Log Cabin Democrat

6/21/2010: This has nothing to do with UO, but how often do you get to hyperlink to a newspaper called The Log Cabin Democrat?

University of Central Arkansas faculty and non-classified employees will not see the pay increase of 2.2 percent originally pledged to them at a May meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Richard Weiss, director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration announced Thursday that merit raises to be suspended would include non-classified employees and faculty. Also suspended were annual career service recognition payments. The suspension applies to the fiscal year 2010-2011, beginning July 1.

(From the Chronicle.)

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.