Chevron lawyer criticizes U. of O. professor’s pursuit of transparency

Today’s editorial in the Bend Bulletin:

A small exchange in court in Salem on Wednesday spoke volumes about the public’s right to know how its money is spent under Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program.

Lawyers representing The Bulletin and the state of Oregon were in the courtroom of Marion County Circuit Judge Mary Mertens James to argue that records about the program should be released. Chevron and REG, an Iowa biofuels company, said no.

Chevron’s attorney took some time to belittle University of Oregon economist Bill Harbaugh. His analysis had helped the state determine the records should be released.

The attorney pointed out that Harbaugh makes a lot of public records requests. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Chevron: It doesn’t like it when members of the public ask a lot of questions. …

Tykeson Hall comes in under budget and in time for fall 2019

That’s the news from the Senate’s job-site tour today. It looks pretty good. Glad to hear there will be classrooms, in the basement and first floor. Space for advisors and math and writing tutors on floors 1-3, and deluxe corner offices for the CAS Dean and the VP for Equity on the top floor, the later overlooking Johnson Hall. And a nicely landscaped piazza to spread out the PLC faculty body bags after the big one hits.

Oregon has a bourbon lottery

And the winners are a matter of public record:

At one point the Oregon Health Plan couldn’t afford to cover all low income applicants, so they had monthly lotteries. But this is new to me – Kyle Iboshi of KGW8 has the story here:

… Last year, the OLCC created a drawing that gives the public a chance to buy rare bottles, like the elusive Pappy Van Winkle and the Buffalo Trace Distillery Antique Collection.

A total of 7,663 people entered the December drawing for the opportunity to purchase one of the 106 rare bottles.

“We really leveled the playing field so anybody from Portland to Enterprise to Philomath can have a chance to purchase a bottle that they otherwise may not have a chance to,” explained Matthew Van Sickle, spokesman for the OLCC.

Van Sickle admits only a fraction – roughly 4 percent of the state’s rare bottles – go into the drawing, although the OLCC is looking to continue and possibly expand the drawing system.

As a hobbyist collector, Lehr, would like to see either a first-come, first-serve policy for everyone. Or, Lehr argues, the OLCC should put all limited-edition bottles into a drawing so everyone has equal odds.

“It’s really frustrating that there’s this inequality in the market,” said Lehr.

Why not an auction?

Bad financial news from Oregon State University

Forwarded by a reader. Bargaining with their new faculty union starts in Feb, and bargaining with the legislature and governor has started already. So some “the sky is falling” messaging is to be expected, as when Sharon Rudnick told the UO faculty that we could have raises or wifi, but not both.

16 January 2019

Dear OSU faculty and staff,

You likely are aware that Oregon State’s fall term undergraduate enrollment in Corvallis declined for the first time in many years even as we had projected for a very modest increase. We had both fewer resident and non-resident undergraduates enrolled in fall term classes than we forecasted. Our forecast was not met as significantly lower numbers of admitted students enrolled, fewer international students applied and enrolled, and fewer students returned to OSU than had been the case in recent years. Underlying factors include changing student demographics nationwide and in Oregon and rising regional and national competition among universities for all students—resident, non-resident domestic and international.

As a result, the university’s revenues from tuition for fiscal year 2019 are $7.2 million, or 1.9 percent, short of our projections. Meanwhile, OSU also faces difficult budget cycles this year and next due to state-mandated increased contributions to Oregon’s Public Employee Retirement System; uncertain levels of future legislative funding; possible continued declines in undergraduate enrollment in Corvallis; and a slowdown in the rate of Ecampus enrollment growth. This all occurs at a time when tuition revenues continue to fund the vast majority of OSU’s education and general expenses, while the state’s share of funding proportionately declines or remains constant.

In response, significant work is underway throughout the university to change OSU’s budget trajectory. This work—which includes new enrollment management strategies related to financial aid and scholarships, more proactive recruiting, and transfer student support; the streamlining of business processes; improvements in research administration to reduce management and compliance costs; and investments to better serve our Portland-based students and collaborative partners in the metro region—will put the university in a better financial position. It is worth noting that all of these actions are among the priorities articulated in OSU’s 2019-23 (SP4.0) strategic plan, Transformation, Excellence and Impact.

In addition, we are revising our enrollment projection processes and models to improve our forecast accuracy in an increasingly unstable and competitive enrollment climate. Of course, our leadership, students, and stakeholders also are advocating actively in Salem for the importance of state support for OSU and Oregon higher education in general.

During this time, it is vital that the university’s operating budget is balanced. That means we must reduce FY19 operating budgets through June 30 by the $7.2 million in unrealized tuition revenues. Nearly all major university budget units have been assigned a share of this reduction, and senior university administrative and academic leaders are responsible for distributing the budget reductions to units within their organization as appropriate. The reductions are permanent, as the actual tuition revenues realized this year establish the university’s base revenues for next year.

We will continue to support our faculty, staff and students by maintaining our commitment to competitive salaries; improving our support of research and instruction; investing in public safety measures; and budgeting additional capital renewal funds to repair our aging infrastructure, particularly those that advance the university’s research mission and protect the safety of our community.

In keeping with those priorities, FY19 budget allocations for enrollment management, research office, and public safety will not be reduced. However, other central administrative functions will absorb a larger relative share of the reduction than academic units. Budgets for the units within the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office, the vice presidents of Finance and Administration and University Relations and Marketing will be reduced 1.8 to 2.7 percent. Budgets for colleges and academic units throughout the university will be reduced by 1.1 to 1.7 percent.

We regret having to take these actions and we realize these are challenging times for higher education in Oregon and across the United States. Yet, we firmly believe that our university’s outstanding faculty and staff, quality academic programs, research and engagement excellence, outstanding online programs, and presence throughout the state and the world will enable Oregon State University to succeed and contribute to the ongoing success of OSU’s faculty, staff and students.

We plan to hold campus meetings in Corvallis and Bend in the near future regarding these changes and will continue to share additional updates with you.


Edward Feser
Provost and Executive Vice President

Mike Green
Vice President of Finance and Administration

University seeks new chief PR flack

As documented in this Eugene Weekly report on the demise of the Register Guard, there is now no regular reporter with a higher ed or UO beat left in the state. Diane Dietz was the last. The Daily Emerald does a great job, but has trouble scraping up the money to pay Kevin Reed’s public records fees. The Oregonian is focused on Portland public schools.

The journalists are being replaced with an army of PR flacks, paid for with public money but answerable only to university administrators, and not bound by journalistic codes of ethics – you know, things like presenting both sides of a story.

UO has now posted an ad for a replacement for former spokesperson Tobin Klinger, who explained his job here, in an ill-considered letter to the editor of the RG, complaining about their coverage of the Bowl of Dicks lawsuit:

Eugene is access to independent film, unique foods, outdoor activities, cultural happenings and community pride.

I don’t know that this shines through on the pages of The Register-Guard, particularly with the sophomoric “reporting” of Diane Dietz.

I admit to having a bias. Dietz covers my employer, the University of Oregon. In my role as head of UO public affairs communications, it is my job to defend the integrity and the reputation of the university. I advocate for faculty, staff, students, administration and athletics. I advocate for the Ducks.

The official job description is less pithy:

Director of Public Affairs and Issues Management

Apply now Job no: 523381
Work type: Officer of Administration
Location: Eugene, OR
Categories: Communications/Public Relations/Marketing

Department: University Communications
Appointment Type and Duration: Regular, Ongoing
Salary: $98,821 – $115,000 per year
Compensation Band: OS-OA11-Fiscal Year 2018-2019
FTE: 1.0

Application Review Begins
January 31, 2019; position open until filled

Special Instructions to Applicants
Complete online applications must include:
1) A cover letter describing how you meet the minimum qualifications, professional competencies, and, if applicable, preferred qualifications
2) Resume/CV
3) Three professional references
4) Answers to the following 2 supplemental questions (Please limit the response to 300-500 words per question):
• What is your approach to issues management?
• What is your philosophy on brand journalism?

Department Summary
The department of University Communications is charged with telling the University of Oregon’s (UO) stories to a broad range of audiences and positioning the University to succeed and thrive. The department utilizes and manages a comprehensive suite of communications tools, including public relations, branding, storytelling, advertising, licensing, digital media, and more for the benefit of the University.

Position Summary
The Director of Public Affairs and Issues Management serves as the primary University spokesperson and is responsible for leading media relations, public affairs communications, issues management, and digital news operations. This is a fast-paced, high-profile position that manages daily internal and external communication needs as well as develops and executes long-term strategic communications objectives. This position must combine an understanding of strategic public communications and brand journalism with public policy, higher education policy, and government and community affairs.

The Director will work closely with the UO’s administrative units, government affairs offices at the federal, state and local levels, athletics, public safety, and schools/colleges to effectively communicate the UO’s position on public and university policy issues and respond to inquiries from public officials and their constituents and other stakeholders. This position will also work closely with the UO’s academic and administrative leadership to implement the UO’s internal and external communication objectives, proactively communicate the University’s position on a variety of topics and aggressively advocate on behalf of the UO with media and stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, community leaders, lawmakers and the general public.

The Director will work closely with the Vice President and other members of the University Communications leadership team to create a progressive, unified, creative, metrics-driven organization dedicated to serving the UO’s interests, including those of the students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and other stakeholders. The Director will demonstrate and inspire a team-building work environment, motivating staff and cultivating productive relationships across campus to innovate, collaborate, and reach or exceed identified goals.

The Director reports directly to the Vice President for University Communications and supervises a group of classified, unclassified, and student staff.

Flexibility, excellence, and passion are vital qualities within University Communications. Inclusion, collaboration and cultural sensitivity are valued competencies, and this position must effectively interact with a dynamic population of internal and external partners at a high level of integrity. We are looking for someone who shares our values and who will support the mission of the University. This position plays a central role in achieving UO’s goal of ensuring effective engagement with the University’s many core constituents and helping UO retain and improve on its position as an innovative and leading public research university.

Minimum Requirements
• Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, public relations or similar field.
• Ten years of experience working in communications and/or public policy, which must have included experience as an institutional spokesperson and managing issues and crisis communications.
• Five years of management experience.
• Five years of writing and/or editing for media and/or public relations communications.

Professional Competencies
• Demonstrated ability to assimilate complicated information and speak, write, and edit for a variety of audiences, media, and contexts.
• Demonstrated ability to create strategic communication plans and strategies.
• Demonstrated ability to work in a complex organization, manage people, and work effectively with a wide variety of people across multiple units and agencies to develop strategies to achieve operating goals.
• Ability to demonstrate tact and diplomacy, and the ability to manage confidential or sensitive information and issues responsibly.
• Commitment to and experience with promoting and enhancing diversity and equity, and working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Preferred Qualifications
• Advanced degree in journalism, communications, or public relations.
• Higher education communication experience.

Faculty Club reopens after unprecedented shutdown

Word down at the faculty club is that Chairman Harper has finally relented to Senate pressure and agreed to reopen the Faculty Club tomorrow:

Dear Colleagues,

The Faculty Club opens its doors again this week for the Winter Term, and will continue in operation while university classes are in session.  We meet in a convivial room at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, with free hors d’oeuvres and reasonably priced drinks.

Wednesday, expect a bunch of senators to come over after the meeting of the University Senate.  If you’re good & sick of hearing about those lousy legislators in Washington DC, cheer yourself up by rubbing elbows with and getting the scuttlebutt from senators who have actually managed to avoid any sort of “shutdown” here on campus.

On Thursday, we will enter through the south portico of the museum (Marché entrance) rather than our usual front door.  This is because the JSMA is holding a patron’s preview of their new exhibitions, which will have their public opening the following evening.  Rumors that we may get a sneak preview of our own are as of yet unconfirmed.

So come one night or both, bring a friend if you like, and swap tales of winter break adventures (intellectual and otherwise) with your colleagues. Perfect Hope to see you there!

Yours, James Harper
Chair of the Faculty Club Board


WHO: The UO Faculty Club is open to all UO faculty—tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty, library faculty, and OAs tenured in an academic department, as well as people retired from positions in these categories.

GUESTS: Eligible people (see above) may bring any guests they like.

WHAT: Cash Bar with beer, wine, liquor and non-alcoholic beverages; complimentary hors d’oeuvres.

WHERE: The Faculty Club meets in a designated room on the ground floor of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.  Enter at the museum’s main entrance and turn right; the club room is right off the lobby.

WHEN: Wednesdays & Thursdays 5:00-8:00 pm.  We will meet through the last week of classes in Fall Term (i.e. through November 29); activity will resume in the Winter and Spring terms.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Faculty Club Board Chair James Harper (Dept. of the History of Art and Architecture),

Colleges Are (finally) Getting Smarter About Student Evaluations

That’s the news from the Chronicle of Higher Ed today here by Kristin Doerer (gated if off campus, some clips below) complete with a photo of some squirrelly looking economist:

Well, economists do have some experience with the misuse of metrics. From the article:

Emily Wu and Kenneth Ancell, two students at the University of Oregon, approached their honors research professor, Bill Harbaugh, a few years ago about studying the relationship between student evaluations and grade inflation. Harbaugh, a professor of economics, was enthusiastic. Wu and Ancell dived into the university’s extensive data on evaluation and transcripts, focusing on its two largest schools, journalism and business.

What they found surprised them.  Having a female instructor is correlated with higher student achievement,” Wu said, but female instructors received systematically lower course evaluations. In looking at prerequisite courses, the two researchers found a negative correlation between students’ evaluations and learning. “If you took the prerequisite class from a professor with high student teaching evaluations,” Harbaugh said, “you were likely, everything else equal, to do worse in the second class.”

The team found numerous studies with similar findings. “It replicates what many, many other people found,” said Harbaugh. “But to see it at my own university, I sort of felt like I had to do something about it.”

He did. In the spring of 2017, Harbaugh assembled a task force on the issue and invited Sierra Dawson, now associate vice provost for academic affairs, to join.

The UO Provost’s website on the reform process is here. We are piloting new surveys now and the Senate expects to have them in place by next fall. Back to the Chronicle article:

Legal Pressure

Doing nothing to revise or phase out student evaluations could be a risky proposition not just educationally, but also legally.

In August, an arbitrator ruled that Ryerson could no longer use student evaluations to gauge teaching effectiveness in promotion-­and-tenure decisions. The Ryerson Faculty Association brought the arbitration case and argued that because of the well-documented bias, student evaluations shouldn’t be used for personnel decisions.

“This is really a turning point,” said Stark, who testified on behalf of the Ryerson faculty group. He thinks the United States will see similar cases. “It’s just a question of time before there are class-­action lawsuits against universities or even whole state-university systems on behalf of women or other minorities, alleging disparate impact.” …

Duck Football brings more great publicity and legal bills to UO

1/13/2019 update:  

UO football player Sam Poutasi suing UO, Taggart 1 day after Doug Brenner files similar lawsuit

Jack Butler and Shawn Medow had the scoop on the second lawsuit in the Daily Emerald on Friday. There are many national news stories on this now, including Austin Meek in the RG here:

… Brenner, who is seeking $11.5 million in damages, said he decided to move forward with a lawsuit after recent tests revealed long-term kidney damage that could shorten his life by 10 years or more.

“Because of those results, and because my life will be shorter because of those results, I decided that I needed to take action, partially for me but mainly to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other kids along the line,” Brenner said Thursday, speaking from the office of his Portland-based attorney.

Lawsuits from Brenner and Poutasi have brought renewed scrutiny to the workout incident and the university’s response. The players say they were forced to perform hundreds of push-ups and another rigorous strength training exercise without rest and with no water readily available on the first day of winter workouts, causing some players to vomit and at least one to pass out.

Kicker Aidan Schneider was in the same workout group with Brenner and Poutasi and confirmed Brenner’s account of the incident.

“Doug’s description is very accurate as far as I remember,” said Schneider, who graduated after the 2017 season. “I think what a lot of people were thinking is, ‘This is ridiculous.’”

According to the players’ accounts, the group was forced to perform a series of exercises in unison. If any player faltered or had imperfect form, the entire group was forced to repeat the exercise. …

The players need a union, but lawsuits seem like a reasonable second best.

1/9/2019: Mr. Brenner seems like a stand-up guy:

And he’s represented by Jason Kafoury, who has run circles around UO’s General Counsel Kevin Reed and his deputy Doug Park before.

The Oregonian’s James Crepea has the latest fallout from Rob Mullen’s decision to fire what’s his name and hire Willie Taggart:

Former Oregon Ducks football player Doug Brenner is suing the University of Oregon, former football coach Willie Taggart, former strength coach Irele Oderinde and the NCAA for negligence stemming from his January 2017 hospitalization following strenuous offseason workouts that resulted in rhabdomyolysis and subsequent injuries.

Brenner is seeking $11.5 million in damages.

In an 18-page suit filed in Multnomah County circuit court on Wednesday, Brenner’s attorneys allege the University of Oregon was negligent for failing to prohibit, regulate or supervise the workouts, which they describe as “physical punishment regimens.” The lawsuit also alleges that Taggart and Oderinde, both now at Florida State, were negligent in imposing and carrying out the workouts, and that the NCAA has failed to regulate such practices.

According to the lawsuit, shortly after Taggart was hired in December 2016, he told the team that he and his coaching staff “were going to focus on discipline in strength and conditioning and that they were ‘going to find the snakes in the grass and cut their heads off.’”

Brenner was one of three Oregon players, along with fellow offensive lineman Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick, hospitalized following the workouts in early January 2017. They each were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which muscles break down with “leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents,” according to the NCAA sports medicine handbook. Neither Poutasi nor McCormick, who are still members of Oregon’s football team, are parties in the lawsuit. …

“Faculty” Athletics Representative Tim Gleason’s report on the Rhabdo Incident is here. Kevin Reed’s Public Records Office tried to hide Oderinde’s resume from CBS by claiming he was faculty. And the Duck’s Director of Athletic Medicine, Greg Skaggs, was not board certified in Sports Medicine. Discovery should be interesting.

Academical Tools

#1 is this Rawlsian maximin clamp:

“Tested”? And rejected, according to Harsanyi.

My experience was more positive. This cost $6 at Bring Recycling and did its job. If you are in need of a clamp, philosophical or otherwise, you should also check out Lance’s Used Tools just down the street, for their excellent prices and the large slices of german chocolate cake Lance’s wife gives every shopper, at least on Saturdays.

Suggestions for additional entries are welcome.


University releases regression results for gender equity raises

That would be the University of Texas at San Antonio, and they were released by their Provost, Kimberly Espy.

Here at UO, interim HR director Missy Matella spoke to the general membership meeting of the faculty union about UO’s pay equity study tonight. Several faculty asked about why the administration had not released the regression results from the consultant’s report, which they are now using to decide who gets how much in equity raises.

Matella’s response was that we could always make a request to Kevin Reed’s Public Records Office. I pointed out that this office does not have a good track record when it comes to transparency, and that this would hurt trust in the gender equity process. She then suggested that we talk more about this offline. I don’t like having conversations about transparency offline, so I’m posting this online.

Portland State IRB goes after philosopher for critical studies hoax

Wow is this a dumb move. Here’s hoping their Senate takes action to defend his academic freedom. From InsideHigherEd:

Peter Boghossian

A hoax revealing that academic journals had accepted fake papers on topics from canine “rape culture” in dog parks to “fat bodybuilding” to an adaption of Mein Kampf met with applause and scorn in the fall. Fans of the project tended to agree with the hoaxers that critical studies scholars will validate anything aligned with their politics. Critics said that the researchers acted in bad faith, wasting editors’ and reviewers’ time and very publicly besmirching academe in the process: the story was covered by nearly every major news outlet.

Now the controversy has flared up again, with news that one of the project’s authors faces disciplinary action at his home institution. Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University and the only one of three researchers on the project to hold a full-time academic position, was found by his institutional review board to have committed research misconduct. Specifically, he failed to secure its approval before proceeding with research on human subjects — in this case, the journal editors and reviewers he was tricking with his absurd but seemingly well-researched papers.

UO cutting deal to save historic showroom, and make some money

1/8/2019 update: 

No, I’m not talking about the historically ugly money pit that is Collier House. Around the O has a speculative rendering of the new plan to redevelop the fabulous Lew Williams car showroom and the Romania lot. Looks pretty good to me. And some money for the academic side to boot.

2/2/2018: UO wants to redevelop historic “Googie” building and Romania lot

The Lew Williams / Joe Romania car dealership on Franklin at Walnut was the Jock Box of its day – but with tail fins:

I’m not sure how UO ended up owning this priceless architectural treasure, but we’ve certainly let things slide:

Photos and much more in the National Park Service report granting the building historic landmark status here.

My first experience with this exemplar of Googie architecture was in 1995, when as a newly hired assistant professor I was shown my office in PLC. I asked if it might be possible for me to have a desk and a chair. The department manager told me to go down to the “Old Romania Lot” and pick out whatever I wanted from the surplus pile in the back. I’m still using that desk.

UO would like to generate some money from this property. Would that we could do the same with Knight Arena. Last year we got city permission to use it for Matt Court parking, but lets face it – nobody wants to watch Dana Altman coach basketball.

So now they’ve got an RFQ out, looking for qualified developers: