Cornell wants to discipline student for leaking memo, faculty object

From the Chronicle, here:

Faculty members at Cornell University are speaking out against its decision to hold a hearing to determine whether a student who shared an internal working document with the campus newspaper should be punished, The Cornell Daily Sun reports. … The document detailed proposed changes in the university’s undergraduate admissions policy, notably the idea that Cornell consider reviewing transfer applicants’ financial need in deciding whether to admit them.

State dials back on poorly designed free community college plan

That would be the State of Kentucky, here. Meanwhile, here in Oregon, the state legislature is on the way to expanding its poorly designed free community college plan.

The technical term is “lose-lose”. Saul Hubbard has an excellent story on the results of Oregon State Senator Mark Haas’s experiment: free community college tuition regardless of how rich you are – in the RG here:

-More grant recipients than the state expected come from well-off and middle class families. That reduces the amount of federal aid they receive, driving up the share of their tuition the state must pony up. Over 30 percent of “Promise” funds are going to students coming, for example, from a household with two kids and a gross income of $110,000 a year or more.

– African-American, Latino, and Native American students are all statistically underrepresented in grant receipt, compared to the respective shares of Oregon’s high school population they make up.

The only ethnic group that’s overrepresented, slightly, in this year’s crop? Non-Hispanic whites.

Oregon’s seven public universities, which saw a slight dip in in-state enrollment this year, are pointing to some of those problems and calling for the state to scrap the “Oregon Promise” next year.

The universities argue that the money would be better sent directly to them and to community colleges to hold down tuition increases, or redirected to the existing Oregon Opportunity Grant program, which provides financial aid exclusively to low-income students at universities and community colleges.

But Sen. Mark Hass, the Tualatin Democrat who led the charge to create the “Oregon Promise” in 2015, is bullish on its future. …

Next year’s story will be on how few of those students are still in school, given community colleges low retention and transfer rates.

Assoc Dean Bruce Blonigen blog post: Funding Risks and Planning

From the official comment free CAS blog here:

With a College as big as ours, most days are filled with a churn of short-run issues that involve quick turnarounds. But one of the things that I enjoy and admire about our dean, Andrew Marcus, is his ability to always see the big picture and insist that we attend to that as well. For example, he often takes time to simply chat with people about how their lives are going when you know that he’s currently under a pile of difficult issues or decisions. And he always keeps the long-run direction of the College and University part of our conversation even in our busiest periods.

It’s not surprising then that the new political administration has had our attention from day one. It brings new and uncertain directions that intersect with other risks that we ignore at our peril. These risks and uncertainties range from ones of personal safety to ​how we manage discourse in our society to major changes in policy and government funding.

As Andrew outlined in his blog post last week, we find these new challenges serious enough that we are undertaking scenario planning sessions led by Andre LeDuc, Chief Resilience Officer Associate Vice President of Safety and Risk Services, which will include our Wise Heads (department head advisors to the Dean). As we go forward, we certainly want to hear from many other voices in our College as well.

One significant set of risks are connected to our funding streams, and this demands our attention because our available financial resources clearly impact our ability to provide a quality education to our students and to maintain the forward momentum of our research agendas. ​I’ll take the opportunity in this blog post to highlight some of the main funding risks  that have our greatest attention.

Proposed Federal Budget Cuts

One of the unpredictable factors that creates risk is the FY18 federal budget. As Andrew Marcus shared in a recent email to department heads and managers, the “skinny budget” proposed by the Trump administration cuts at the heart of many things we value, especially our research and scholarship activities in many parts of the College.

Betsy Boyd, Associate Vice President for Federal Affairs, describes the budget as “skinny” in both its brevity and also in the deep cuts it proposes to important programs, including:

  • $5.8B cut to the National Institutes of Health
  • $4B reduction of the Pell grant “surplus”
  • 5% reduction of the Department of Education budget
  • Reductions in Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy science programs
  • Elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts

Oddly, there is no mention of the $7B National Science Foundation budget, which perhaps is excluded from cuts. David Conover, Vice President for Research and Innovation provides his initial assessment of the proposed budget here.

The Trump administration’s budget proposal represents only the first step in what will be a very long and probably highly contentious process, which will eventually result in a final budget. If realized, these cuts could have a profound impact on external funding for CAS departments and also work study opportunities for our students.

Tuition Revenue At Risk

Another issue that has great potential to create financial instability is the Trump administration’s restrictions on immigration and visas.

As with the federal budget, this is a topic that is far from settled, but we could experience short-term fallout even as policies evolve and court challenges are mounted. Many CAS departments have already taken on extra work to assist international scholars with their work visa status.

These new immigration policies could also have a deleterious local impact on UO tuition income, which is the university’s primary source of revenue. The fear is that new visa and immigration restrictions—not just the current reality of these rules but also the threat of additional exclusions and enforcements—will put us at risk of losing international students. This year, international enrollment reached nearly 13% of the total student body, or a total of 3,000 students. A substantial decline in our international students would not only affect this important source of diversity on our campus, but could also threaten tuition revenues.

It is too early to tell to what extent these restrictions—or perceived concerns about restrictions—will make international students unwilling or unable to risk applying (or returning) to a U.S university. While students must place a deposit with us by May 1 to declare their acceptance of admission, we won’t really know the final numbers until Fall term begins.

$1.8 Billion State Budget Deficit

Tuition revenue uncertainty is inextricably tied to another issue of ongoing concern: the state budget. Oregon’s decades-long state disinvestment in higher education is the reason we have had to balance the UO budget on the backs of students and their parents.

In the 1970s, state funding comprised 35% of our budget, but that percentage has plummeted over the decades (beginning in the 1990s, with Measure 5) and is now down into the single digits. And yet despite the much lower level of funding, these state dollars are still important to us: an additional decrease of just one percentage point would lead to a revenue cut of well over $5M.

The State of Oregon is facing a $1.8B deficit in the coming biennium (2017-19), and lawmakers are scrambling to devise a plan that will avoid devastating cuts to K-12, health care, social services, and more. The Governor’s budget for higher education recommends $667.3 million in operating funds for all seven public university campuses in Oregon, which would mean a modest cut to UO’s annual state allocation.

The UO has joined with the other six public universities in the state to urge the state legislature to increase this amount by $100 million in order to preserve financial aid and student services. But the prospects for this are not promising.

These are the major risks that we see from a financial perspective. While we will continue to advocate for higher education and the UO in these various external arenas, it is important that we develop a set of principles and systems that allow us to optimally respond to changes ahead. But there is also a key anchor for our responses to whatever we face – our shared goals and mission as a vibrant public research university.

As always, we welcome your comments via email, or through our Suggestion Box.

Bruce Blonigen
Dean of Faculty and Operations

Legislative update on Education and PERS bills. Time to panic?

From OSU’s Jock Mills. Sorry, I meant to post this a while back.

OSU also has a helpful page on whether or not you should panic over the proposed PERS reforms here. Also check Mr. Fearless here and the Legislative site on SB 650 here. Rumor has it that some departments are already seeing retirements.

Subject: [Government_Relations_Update] April Update: Higher Ed., Bills of Note, and OSU Day at the Capitol

Date: April 10, 2017 at 12:46:08 PM PDT

As the Oregon legislature nears the halfway point in the 2017 session, the next two weeks will be among its busiest. Friday, April 7th marked the last day for posting committee work sessions for bills in their chambers of origin, meaning that if a House bill hadn’t been listed on a House committee agenda for consideration, that bill can be considered “dead.” Same for Senate bills in Senate committees. Now the committees have until April 18th to actually pass the bills they have posted. So, for the next two weeks committee agendas are packed with bills vying for survival, while advocates of all stripes are working hard to keep them alive or kill them.

Bills that do not pass out of committee by April 18th can also be considered dead. Of course, no bill is “totally dead” until the last gavel falls. Provisions from dead bills can always be stuffed into other bills that are alive and well. (In the Oregon legislature amendments can only be accomplished in committees, not on the chamber floors.)

A good number of the bills up for consideration over the next two weeks may make it out of their committees, only to find themselves in another committee not subject to legislative deadlines. For example, bills that are a prioritybut which contain controversial provisions that need more work may end up in the Senate or House Rules Committee. Once there, those bills may sit and wait for consideration as part of the overall legislative log-rolling process. Other bills that have a fiscal impact because they require state funding to be implemented will find themselves in the Joint Ways & Means Committee. That committee will generally not consider individual bills until after it has completed work on agency budgets. In many cases bills can be folded in to agency spending bills. That process will continue for the next several months.

The legislature has until July 10th to complete its work. And, it will likely not be able to adjourn until it has coordinated and completed work on a patchwork of “mega issues,” including revenue reform; a transportation package; PERS reform; health care reform, including a health provider tax; housing affordability; and a balanced budget that will include a number of cost reductions needed to achieve that budget. Over the last six weeks legislative committees and task forces, some of them in open forums, others in closed-door work groups, have been developing proposals for many of these issues. In the coming months, all of these issues must come together in a manner that will attract the necessary votes to gain passage. For votes involving tax increases, a three-fifths bipartisan supermajority will be needed in each of the chambers.

Concessions made in one package may require adjustments in another. The process is one large, simultaneous equation with multiple unsolved variables. In the end, all of the pieces need to fit together. Compounding the mega issues are a number of other discrete policy issues that may increase friction between the two parties as well as between the two chambers. Differences of opinion between chambers can sometimes be as fractious and disruptive as differences between parties.

The good news so far is that “The Oregon Way” has not yet involved “nuclear options” or filibusters. But we have miles yet to travel and significant obstacles to overcome before the session is complete.

Higher Education

Budget Hearings: This week the Joint Ways & Means Education Subcommittee begins to hear directly from universities regarding their operating budgets. For the past several weeks the subcommittee has heard from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and community colleges. OSU President Ed Ray will lead off the presentations this Wednesday, April 12th, joined by panelists from the other four-year universities. On Thursday, April 13th leaders from the three OSU Statewide Public Service Programs – Extension, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory will discuss their budgets. Cindy Sagers, OSU vice president for research and OSU Engineering student, Bret Lorimore, will also address the subcommittee on the importance of university research.

Public Testimony: The subcommittee will take public testimony on university budgets at 8:30 AM on Monday, April 17th. Individuals interested in participating in the public hearing should contact us as soon as possible: Those interested in monitoring any of the hearings can do so via the legislative website:

OSU’s focus for testimony before the Ways & Means Education Subcommittee continues to focus on the following priorities:

  • Support at least a $100 million increase for Oregon’s public universities to achieve a comparable level of funding to the current biennium and to avoid unaffordable tuition increases and program reductions.
  • Recover $9.4 million in budget reductions to the OSU Statewide Public Service Programs–the Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory. See comprehensive information regarding the advocacy effort aimed at Senate Bill 805 for the OSU Statewides here.
  • Fully fund the Oregon Opportunity Grant–the state’s need-based student financial aid program for community college and university students.

Capital Projects: The Ways & Means Capital Construction Committee has yet to meet to consider the many anticipated bonding projects for the 2017 session. Higher education projects under consideration in that committee include a consolidated list of projects recommended by the seven university presidents totaling $284 million across all seven public universities. Included in that list is $65 million for capital renewal to be shared among the seven campuses; $9 million in bonds matched by $9 million in philanthropic donations for a quality food and beverage initiative at OSU focusing on cheese, wine and beer; $20 million for site preparation and infrastructure improvements at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend; and a number of deferred maintenance projects.

Once the $284 million multi-university package is attained, OSU is also seeking an additional $49 million for OSU-Cascades to complete two additional buildings–an academic building and a student services building. In March, the House Higher Education Committee approved HB2782 which would provide the $69.5 million needed to fully fund the OSU-Cascades campus expansion. That bill is now awaiting consideration in the Joint Ways & Means Committee.

Bills of Note

Since our last report, the following bills have made progress:

  • Vaccines for Outbreaks (HB 3276). OSU is working with the seven public universities and Rep. Nancy Nathanson (D-Eugene) on a bill that would ensure that vaccines are made available to students and others during major outbreaks of contagious diseases such as meningitis. The bill is undergoing a number of amendments and will be considered by the House Health Care Committee on Wednesday, April 12th.
  • State match for the Pacific Marine Energy Center (SB 285). On Monday, April 10th, the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee will consider SB 285 which would provide $4 million in state funds to help match a $40 million US Department of Energy grant for which OSU successfully competed in 2014. OSU is also working to raise private industry and philanthropic funds for this project. For more information on the grant, click here.
  • University Research “Fighting Fund” (HB 2582). This bill would establish a $20 million fund to support universities as they compete for federal grants. The bill is scheduled for a work session on Thursday, April 13th, when the House Higher Education Committee will consider an amendment that will establish the fund but provide the legislature with greater flexibility in determining when and how to transfer revenues into the fund. If adopted, the amended bill would establish a process by which, during the February short sessions, the legislature will consider adding $5 million to the fund over the next four biennia. The goal would be to maintain the fund at the $20 million level as universities succeed in achieving federal grants.
  • Resolution commending the OSU Women’s Basketball team (SCR 17). On Wednesday, April 12th the Senate Rules Committee will consider SCR 17 which commends the achievements during the 2015-16 season when the OSU women went to the final four in the NCAA tournament. The Committee will consider amendments to the resolution that add the team’s accomplishments during the 2016-17 season.
  • Animal Trafficking (HB 2576). This bill contains technical changes to Ballot Measure 100, passed by voters last November. The ballot measure restricts the sale and trade of endangered species and parts and products from identified endangered species. As amended by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, the bill clarifies exemptions in the ballot measure to ensure that universities and community colleges in Oregon can continue to routinely improve their collections for educational and research purposes through sales, trades, exchanges, and purchases of specimens. The bill was amended and approved by the House Committee on March 23rd, and on April 3rd the House approved the bill by a vote of 58-0. The bill is now in the Senate where it will be considered by the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
  • Open Education Resources (HB 2729). On March 28th, the House Higher Education Committee amended and approved HB 2729, which would continue funding for open education resources, also known as OERs or “free textbooks.” The bill is now under the consideration of the Joint Ways & Means Committee.
  • Health benefits for employees who work at multiple institutions (SB 196).  This bill seeks to continue efforts to extend health benefits to faculty when their combined hours at multiple institutions add up to more than half-time.  This issue has been considered in prior sessions and was the subject of an interim study, but complications in defining hours and benefits between community colleges and universities have prevented benefits from being extended to faculty employed at both.  Benefits are already available for faculty who work over half-time at multiple universities.  The bill will be considered by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, April 11th
  • PERS benefits for Post-Docs (SB 214). Because post-doctoral research positions typically do not last five years, few, if any, post-doctoral scholars fully vest in PERS or ORP. This bill would enable an alternative retirement program for post-docs at public universities to ensure that they can transfer their benefits when they move on to another employer. The bill will be considered by the Senate Workforce Committee on Monday, April 10th. For a fact sheet that explains the bill click here. OSU will be providing additional information regarding the overall issue of PERS reform bills later this week.

Join us for OSU Day at the Capitol – Thursday, April 20th

Please consider joining advocates in support of Oregon State University on Thursday, April 20th for OSU Day at the Capitol. For information about the activities planned for the day: click here.


See this and other updates at

Will Gorsuch take away Altman and Taggart’s piggybank?

The well respected Sports Illustrated law journal (Impact Factor 789,321) has the analysis here:

… The need for harmonious interpretation of federal law could become relevant as it relates to the O’Bannon decision. Both a federal district judge and a three judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with O’Bannon that NCAA rules setting the value of college athletes’ names, images and likenesses to $0 violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. As O’Bannon successfully argued, the NCAA and its member schools and conferences unlawfully joined hands to deny current and former D-I men’s basketball and football players compensation for their identity rights. Although the judicially-imposed remedy—that the NCAA must permit colleges to offer the full cost of attendance—was less impactful than some had hoped, the more important point is that O’Bannon proved the NCAA violated antitrust law. …

Pres Schill’s “Open Mike” acknowledges importance of UO’s Non-Tenure Track Faculty, but

Dear Colleagues,

As my two-year anniversary as president of the University of Oregon approaches, enough time has elapsed for me to do some assessment and make some course corrections. Over the past 21 months we have achieved quite a number of things. We have hired great new deans for five of our eight schools and colleges; we have worked with all members of our community to increase diversity and inclusion on campus; we have begun the hard process of putting the university and each of our schools and colleges on a firm financial foundation; we have received the largest gift in the history of flagship public universities to launch the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact; and we laid the cornerstones for increasing student success and timely graduation. With each dean and faculty member we have hired, each gift we have received, each change to our administrative practices, and each student we have enrolled, we have emphasized our single-minded aspiration to become a great research-intensive university.

I am proud of what we, collectively, have achieved. But today’s Open Mike will focus on a failure, rather than a success. I am concerned that in my rush to change the trajectory of our school, to replace the chaos of five years of revolving presidencies, and to build our academic core, I have not appropriately acknowledged and articulated the valuable contributions of all members of our community. In this Open Mike I would like to write specifically about our non-tenure-track faculty (NTTFs) and discuss some of the issues we are grappling with that involve this important part of our community.

Instructors, lecturers, and professors of practice have always played a role in American universities. In recent years, however, their proportionate numbers have grown tremendously. Many provide valuable instruction to our students throughout the university, especially in the arts and sciences. Some do sponsored research, particularly in the natural sciences and College of Education. And, a significant number bring unique skills and perspectives to the classroom. Increasingly, as universities offer students experiential opportunities, NTTFs, particularly in professional schools, can tie what students learn in class to the work world beyond college.

The impetus for most of the growth of NTTFs at the UO and elsewhere, however, has been financial. Cash-strapped universities, particularly in the public sector, have increasingly substituted NTTFs for tenure-related faculty to save money and increase flexibility. Full-time NTTF salaries at public universities, on average, are 22 percent lower than assistant professors; 47 percent lower than full professors according to data from the American Association of University Professors. Part-time and pro tem NTTFs are often paid much lower salaries and many find it necessary to put together jobs from more than one university to make ends meet. At the UO, our reliance on NTTFs followed a two-decade wave of public disinvestment in higher education in Oregon. The number of NTTFs continued to grow, peaking in 2015-16, even as undergraduate enrollment shrunk.

The value of our NTTFs and the high esteem in which they are held here are reflected by the fact that the University of Oregon is a leader in professionalizing the role of nontenured faculty. For example, the first collective bargaining agreement negotiated between United Academics and the university reclassified hundreds of part-time “adjunct” faculty jobs as career positions, removing the old “up and out” system. Salary floors were created, career paths were set forth, multi-year contracts were offered, and significant promotional salary increases were agreed to. These were important advances for NTTFs, many of whom have dedicated their entire careers to the UO. An important role in shared governance was also fortified; indeed, last year the president of the University Senate was an NTTF. These changes enhanced the stature of NTTFs on campus, but they also greatly increased their cost.

For a variety of reasons the University of Oregon’s reliance on NTTFs is greater and began earlier than our peer public research universities. The effects of our disproportionate dependence on NTTF faculty are many. With respect to the quality of teaching, the picture is ambiguous. Some early studies indicate that students who are taught in environments with more NTTFs (compared to tenure-related faculty) are less likely to graduate on time.[1] On the other hand, a recent article coauthored by our former colleague David Figlio shows that at Northwestern University, teaching quality (as measured by course evaluations) was actually higher for NTTFs than tenure-line faculty.[2] There can be no doubt that for many classes, especially those offered in the professional schools, NTTFs play a unique and vital role in imparting wisdom that only years of professional experience can provide. And in all schools and colleges, NTTFs offer years of valuable experience in teaching and advising our students, and they increase students’ access to classes.

Perhaps I am biased by my own identity and history, but I believe that research-active (usually tenure-related) faculty can offer something unique and special to our students. In my experience, there is a certain magic that takes place in the classroom when faculty members share with the students the results of their own research. In addition, having an active researcher as one’s professor creates opportunities for students to engage in original research, which, in turn, enriches their experience and positively impacts student retention and successful graduation. Teaching and research can and should go hand in hand.

I have made hiring additional tenure-related faculty one of my top priorities. One consequence of our disproportionate reliance on NTTFs has been our underperformance in research. The hard truth is that with some notable exceptions the University of Oregon has not distinguished itself among its peers in research productivity. Whether the measure is dollars of research support obtained, citations earned, or the qualitative judgments of our peers, we are not performing at the level to which we all aspire, nor are we making the impact we would like. There are many things we can do about this, but focusing more of our resources on hiring research-active (tenure-related) faculty is one of the principal strategies we are pursuing.

Increasing our tenure-related faculty to promote our role as a great research university is not inconsistent with maintaining a strong corps of dedicated and talented NTTFs. For those NTTFs whose primary role is teaching, however, continued employment is highly sensitive to student demand. Given the gross underfunding by the state of our university over the past two decades and the more recent steep tuition increases for in-state students, we simply must use every dollar we have efficiently and effectively. We cannot be in a situation such as exists in some departments at the UO where NTTFs do the bulk of our undergraduate teaching, leaving our TTFs to staff upper level courses with few students. That is not fair to state taxpayers, to our students, and, quite frankly, to faculty members in other departments who teach large numbers of students. While some may argue that it is beneficial to our research productivity to shift teaching responsibility to NTTFs, this jeopardizes our students’ access to faculty engaged in research and is beyond the financial capacity of our university.

Our deans are currently grappling with how to balance their budgets, engender student success, and promote research excellence. In areas of declining enrollment we have and will continue to experience a reduction in NTTFs. In areas of growth, we will likely see increases. These fluctuations have nothing to do with meeting a “metric;” they have everything to do with making sure that our scarce faculty resources are appropriately deployed, and that our twin missions of teaching and research flourish.

As the schools and colleges make these necessary adjustments, we must understand that we are affecting valued members of our community. The same respect that caused the UO to greatly improve the working conditions and compensation of our NTTFs needs to be accorded to those who will lose their positions in the coming months and years. Indeed, I do not feel that I have been sufficiently attentive to this principle, and for that I apologize.

There will always be an important role for NTTFs at our university. Their teaching, their research activities in areas such as the sciences and the College of Education, their mentorship of students and connection to our professions will always be something we value even as we move forward in emphasizing the importance of our research mission.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

[1] See, for example, Ronald G. Ehrenberg and Liang Zhang, “Do Tenure and Tenure-Track Faculty Matter?” Journal of Human Resources, Summer 2005.
[2] See David N. Figlio, Morton O. Schapiro, and Kevin B. Soter, “Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?” Review of Economics and Statistics, October 2015. The authors attribute this disparity in part to the fact that some tenure-track faculty are poor teachers whereas NTTFs who teach badly are not renewed.

Female professors outperform men in service – and it hurts their careers

From Colleen Flaherty in Insidehighered:

Women shoulder a disproportionately large workload at home in ways that might disadvantage them professionally. But are female professors also “taking care of the academic family” via disproportionate service loads? A new study says yes and adds to a growing body of research suggesting the same.

“We find strong evidence that, on average, women faculty perform more service than male faculty in academia, and that the service differential is driven particularly by participation in internal rather than external service,” the study says. “When we look within departments — controlling for any type of organizational or cultural factor that is department specific — we still find large, significant differences in the service loads of women versus men.”

All that matters because service loads “likely have an impact on productivity in other areas of faculty effort such as research and teaching, and these latter activities can lead directly to salary differentials and overall success in academia,” the paper says. “In the urgency to redress not only differences in time use but compensation imbalances, as well, the service imbalance is one that deserves to rise to the forefront of the discussion.”

“Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?” published in Research in Higher Education, was written by Cassandra M. Guarino, professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Riverside, and Victor M. H. Borden, professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Indiana University at Bloomington. …

OK, so maybe this isn’t the best time to bring it up, but don’t forget to fill out the UO Senate Service Survey here.

PERS panic

Marc Feldesman has the latest on his PERSinfo blog here. A snippet:

… Today brought the latest salvo … in the form of a 52 page amendment to Senate Bill 560, that seems to consolidate the various features of the 8 previous amendments to the bill, while adding a few new bits drawn from other bills (SB 559, SB 913, HB 3103), and sparing no one not yet retired …

PLC Alert!

From: FS Customer Service Ctr

Subject: Notice: Shutdown of PLC heating system for emergency repairs 4/12/17

Date: April 11, 2017 at 9:29:50 AM PDT

Building Occupants,
The damaged pump which is causing a lack of heat in Prince Lucien Campbell Hall (PLC) will be repaired tomorrow, April 12th. This will require all heat in PLC to be shutoff in order to safely repair the damaged pump. Once the pump is repaired, the entire system will need to be refilled with water. The actual repair is expected to take up to four (4) hours, assuming all elements fall into place. Refilling the system will take an unknown amount of time.

Zone maintenance personnel are installing an additional fill point to expedite the process, but due to the age, size and volume of the system, we cannot calculate the exact time heat will be restored. When the system is restored, you may hear noises as trapped air works its way out of the system. If you see any water leaking, please notify customer service immediately at 346-2319.

Fortunately there’s no shortage of textbooks here on the 5th floor:

Dean Andrew Marcus blog post: Moving forward in a time of uncertainty

April 7, 2017

On the evening of Presidential election, I immediately began to wonder, “What will I tell the College tomorrow?” The next morning, in front of all the CAS department heads and program directors, I proclaimed my new militancy in upholding the values and standards that define a university to me: an unfettered search for knowledge, inclusivity, and intellectual integrity and honesty—a relatively mild way of reaffirming my commitment to what I hold dear in the face of strong national headwinds. But words like that, while important statements of affirmation, do not provide a pathway for action or administrative leadership.

Since that time, I have often thought about the national climate, the challenges it poses to public higher education, and how we might plan for the future. Yet I often became stuck in my thinking because there is so much uncertainty regarding potential changes. What will change? How will it change? Who will be affected? The list of unknowns is long.

I realized, however, that my concerns fit into three broad categories: a) financial solvency and stability; b) protecting and supporting faculty, staff, and students; and c) anticipating and addressing campus and civil unrest. In the Trump era, it is not hard to imagine challenges for higher education in any of these areas.

Financial concerns include reduced PELL funding for students, loss of international student tuition, and cuts to research agency budgets. Concerns about supporting our community members range from helping people targeted by hate crimes to providing clear guidance about international travel. And campus unrest ranges from dealing with debate in the classroom that spirals out of control to large campus protests.

Organizing my concerns, however, still did not provide a mechanism for planning in this time of uncertainty. I therefore met with the Wise Heads (a six-member group made up of CAS heads nominated by their fellow heads as advisors to the dean) and CAS dean’s office leadership to ask if it would be useful to engage in “scenario planning.” I proposed that Andre Le Duc, Chief Resilience Officer and Associate Vice President of Safety and Risk Services, and his staff could lead us through this process. The Wise Heads and leadership responded with a unanimous, “Yes.”

As a result, and starting this spring, our CAS deans, the Wise Heads, and a variety of consultants will embark on a series of discussions about how we might respond to a range of events. I want to be clear; we will be outlining general processes for responding. We will not be developing detailed plans for an infinite range of specific events that we cannot even predict. To use Andre’s words, we want the planning sessions to guide us “toward solving problems and using existing systems, networks and partnerships.”

According to Andre, “the sessions will allow CAS leadership to discuss potential vulnerabilities and its capacity to address those vulnerabilities. The discussions will focus on ‘what if’ scenarios and decision-making processes—exploring ways to recognize and evolve in response to the complex system within which we operate and to seek out new opportunities even in times of crisis.”

For example, if we see a major increase in verbal or online attacks on researchers, we want to know the range of responses available to us, who should be contacted within the institution, and how to prioritize actions given a limited number of personnel and time constraints. Although my thinking along these lines has been prompted by concerns regarding the national climate, some of the scenarios we work with might be equally valuable in helping us deal with other potential risks, ranging from flu epidemics to a Cascadia quake.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will be reporting to you through the blog about the results of our scenario discussions, which is one of the ways we think about CAS. The next blog post will be from Bruce Blonigen, who will discuss the uncertainty around future finances—uncertainty that derives from statewide, national, and international actions, and not from any decision internal to the university. Later posts will address other topics. As always, I will welcome faculty and staff input on those posts and the topics we discuss.

The scenarios we consider will all reflect challenging situations, but I want to assure you that we will also be continuing—as always—to think about the many positive possibilities on the horizon. This week, for example, we are undertaking the inspiring task of evaluating the many superior proposals from faculty and departments for tenure-track faculty hires. Next week we will launch into evaluating the numerous proposals we have received for innovative online classes. And following that, we will be working with advising staff across the College to talk about ways to improve student success within our majors.

Even in this challenging time, staff and faculty creativity—and the good that comes from it—are at an all-time high. At the same time, I want you to know that we are concerned about the national climate and its impacts on higher education—and are seeking ways to act on behalf of the College when and if specific challenges arise.

Andrew Marcus
Tykeson Dean of Arts and Sciences