University hid reserves from legislature while hiking tuition

I’m not exactly shocked. Hiding the reserves from the legislature is, of course, Job #1 for any public university’s VP for Finance. If the university is unionized, they also have to hide the money from the unions and the AAUP’s forensic accountant Howard Bunsis.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for forwarding the latest exemplar, from the SacBee:

The California State University stashed away $1.5 billion in discretionary reserves while raising tuition and lobbying the Legislature for more funds, according to a report released Thursday by California State Auditor Elaine Howle.

CSU put the money, which came primarily from student tuition, in outside accounts rather than in the state Treasury, the report said.

The investigation mirrors Howle’s 2017 report on the University of California Chancellor’s Office, which charged that top UC brass kept a $175 million slush fund while hiking students’ tuition.

… The CSU Employees Union, which had asked Quirk-Silva to request the audit, noted that CSU had threatened to increase tuition in 2018 if it did not receive additional state funding. At the same time, the CSU Board of Trustees increased pay for the top administrators, including those in the Chancellor’s Office and CSU president, said union legislative director David Balla-Hawkins.

Pres Schill closes closed search, appoints Patrick Phillips as provost

6/13/2019 letter to campus from Provost Phillips:

Dear Colleagues,

Although I don’t start in my role as provost until July, with the term winding down I wanted to connect now before many of you turn your attention away from campus for the summer.

First, let me tell you what an incredible honor it is to be asked to serve as provost. I thank everyone who contributed to the search process. While I am very excited to get started, I do so with a strong sense of humility born both by the scope of the task at hand and, more importantly, by a recognition of how much I have to learn about the entire breadth of the university from this point forward. The success of our university is not about any one position or person, but about the strength, knowledge, experiences, and ideas of the people who make such important contributions across all of our academic and administrative units.

I am eager to roll up my sleeves and will begin diving into key issues and initiatives immediately. Over the course of the summer and well into fall, I will host various orientation and onboarding sessions with a wide variety of campus stakeholders. Listening will be the first order of the day, and I know that each of the colleges and schools have existing plans and dreams that I am eager to hear about. One of my primary goals as provost is to make sure that we weave together previously unconnected strengths and ideas in a way that advances the institution as a whole.
The UO is a great university that can and must continue to get even better as we strive to become one the nation’s top public research institutions. It is my firm belief that our best path toward achieving this goal is to fully embrace our mission as a public university, one firmly grounded in the strengths, values, opportunities, and challenges of our very unique state.

You, the faculty and staff, are the bedrock of these aspirations, and my nearly 20 years at the UO have proven to me time and again just how dedicated everyone at the university is to the success of our research, educational, and service missions. It is only by working together, in the spirit of camaraderie and trust, that we can and will make great strides toward these goals. It is in this spirit that I will serve you and the entire academic community as the UO’s provost—always working to build trust and confidence, always seeking collaboration and innovation, while also being willing and prepared to make tough decisions.

I believe deeply in the UO’s foundation and mission as a liberal arts university and have experienced firsthand the profound benefits of the UO’s unique interdisciplinary faculty culture, and I have interacted broadly across many colleges and schools during my time here. My own educational history is grounded in the liberal arts in every dimension. Although my research has been centered in the natural sciences, I am committed to being a provost for the entire academic enterprise, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professional programs. The provost position is often described as chief academic officer, and it is the engagement of the academy as a whole that is one of the most exciting aspects of the position.

A top challenge for this—and every—university is the increasing cost of education and the rising question of whether what we do is worth it to the student. One of my top goals is to ensure that the provost’s office never loses sight of the UO’s broader mission and the fact that, in all that we do, we must serve students first through outstanding teaching, research, and service. And we do that by making sure that we are helping all students reach their full potential in terms of intellectual and professional growth. The changing landscape of higher education is an incredible challenge, but one that I think the University of Oregon is uniquely positioned to help determine.

You may have ideas, thoughts, or questions. I hope you will share them with me, and ask that you please do so via email to

Again, it is an honor to be UO’s next provost. I look forward to working with you, my colleagues, in this new capacity.

Patrick Phillips

6/12/2019 update: I’m sure the administration’s well paid flacks at Around the O will post the party line soon – meanwhile The Daily Emerald’s Zach Demars has a real news report, here:

After a closed-door internal search, Patrick Phillips, a professor of biology and former acting executive director of the Knight Campus, has been selected to replace Jayanth Banavar as University of Oregon provost and senior vice president. ….

“Although the UO clearly faces a number of challenges today, I believe that the only way to address these challenges in a sustainable way is to build a long-term vision of what University of Oregon can be–and should be–based on what and where we are,” Phillips wrote in his application for the position. “Specifically, we need to make sure that we capitalize on being a University in Oregon as much as we are the University of Oregon.” …

That last is a pretty good line. I wonder who wrote it.

6/12/2019: Former Interim Knight Campus Director and Biology Prof. Most of the faculty didn’t even know he was a candidate. Google scholar citations here, lab page here.

Dear University of Oregon colleagues and students,

The University of Oregon’s academic enterprise has grown and strengthened over the last few years as we have, together, worked to cement the institution’s position as Oregon’s top research university and make progress toward our aspirations to become one of the nation’s preeminent public universities. What we have achieved in this shared endeavor is quite remarkable, but our ambitions are even greater. To help realize those ambitions, the UO’s next provost needs a deep appreciation of our existing academic strengths, a clear vision for what we can become in the future, and the administrative acumen to get us there. The search for those unique-to-Oregon traits, combined with our need to act quickly and maintain momentum, were a driving force behind my decision to conduct an accelerated internal search for provost. I could not be happier with the results.

I am pleased to announce that Biology Professor Patrick Phillips will be the UO’s next provost and senior vice president. From a pool of tremendously strong internal candidates, Patrick emerged as the next provost due to his nearly two decades of distinguished service as one of the UO’s most respected faculty members, a track record of success as an administrative leader, and clear vision for what it will take for this institution to achieve new levels of academic excellence and distinction. Patrick will begin his term July 1.

Patrick, who joined the UO in 2000, is one of the UO’s most productive and prolific scientists—an expert in ecology and evolution, the biology of aging, molecular biology, and the genetics of complex traits. He has served as the director of the UO’s Institute for Ecology and Evolution, the head of the Department of Biology, and associate vice president for research. He also served as the acting executive director of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact from 2016-2018, successfully launching the most important research initiative in UO history. In that role, Patrick was responsible for leading the design and construction process for new facilities, establishing governance and educational policies, and initiating and supporting innovative graduate internship and entrepreneurship programs.

Prior to coming to the UO, Patrick was a professor of biology at the University of Texas at Arlington. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Reed College and his PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago.

Patrick has also demonstrated that he greatly values and appreciates the UO’s liberal arts foundation and long-standing history of interdisciplinary collaboration. While he is often associated with our efforts to enhance the UO’s basic and translational science capabilities, Patrick fiercely believes that achieving our academic ambitions and serving the next generation of students will require a holistic approach that requires world-class offerings from the arts, humanities, and professional programs. Patrick is committed to nourishing and fortifying the entire institution. He believes that the UO can be an unmatched catalyst for both economic development and societal good throughout our state, the nation, and the world. It is a compelling vision that I share.

The provost is the institution’s chief academic officer, charged with working with me, the deans, and the faculty to set the academic priorities for campus and for managing the human and capital resources to support those priorities. I look forward to helping Patrick hit the ground running. During the next year, we will welcome dozens of new faculty; oversee the launch of an innovative approach to student success at Tykeson Hall; open the Knight Campus; create new academic offerings in biomedical engineering and data science; plan an interdisciplinary research and teaching initiative in resilience and climate change bringing together the humanities, arts, social and natural sciences, and professional schools; and begin searches for new academic leaders in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Design, and UO Libraries. We do not have the luxury of slowing down, and I am confident that Patrick will smoothly step into the role of provost to advance those priorities and much more.

I want to thank Senate President and Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Skowron and Professor of Geography Alec Murphy, who both took time from their busy schedules to lead the search process. I also want to express my appreciation to the other members of the search committee, which was primarily comprised of members who hold a tenure-related or career-faculty appointment (TTF or NTTF) at the UO. This search was truly led by our faculty, and I believe that was a significant factor in the strength of the candidate pool and ultimately in my selection of Patrick for the role.

To help ensure a seamless and effective transition for Patrick, and allow him a brief window to wrap up and manage his current work, an e-mail account has been created for his transition. Please send any notes, questions, ideas, etc., to him at

Please join me in welcoming Patrick to this new role with the UO.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

UO is in a budget crisis – time to hire a new $500K basketball coach!

That would be Mark Wasikowski, who is “honored and humbled to have this opportunity from Rob Mullens, Eric Roedl and the University of Oregon administration”. The Oregonian has the exciting news here.

Add in OPE, bonuses, car, club memberships, tickets and travel for family and friends, and miscellaneous other porkalicious perks, and we’re talking $750K easy, for a program that costs UO millions every year, and which averaged 987 sports-fans per home game this year.

$750k is what a one percent increase in resident tuition will bring in. President Schill will be going to the Higher Ed Coordinating Commission on Thursday, to ask for a 7% increase.

Here are some snippets from his predecessor’s contract:

“Not surprised; profoundly frustrated and disappointed.”

President Schill has justified his cuts to the museums’ budgets by arguing they are peripheral to UO’s academic mission – while he is protecting the Duck Athletics budget, which will grow by about 3% next year.

Today’s Daily Emerald report from Hannah Kannik explain’s the academic side of the MNCH, by interviewing threee of the museum’s graduate student employees, here.

Mark Watson appointed interim Dean of Libraries

From: <> On Behalf Of Shelley Harshe
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2019 11:44 AM
Subject: lib-staff: Mark Watson named interim dean of UO Libraries

This message is being sent on behalf of Provost and Senior Vice President Jayanth Banavar.

Dear UO Libraries Faculty and Staff,

I am writing to let you know that I have named Mark Watson as interim dean of Libraries. He will take over for Adriene Lim, who announced late last month that her last day at UO is July 8.

Mark is currently the Libraries’ associate dean for research services. Before that, he served as interim head of UO Science Libraries, overseeing the operations of the Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library, and as co-interim dean of Libraries before Adriene’s arrival in 2014.

He started at UO in 1986 as a catalog librarian. In 1998, he became associate librarian for Technical Services, providing leadership for acquisitions, cataloging, inter-library loans and library systems. He was associate university librarian for collections and access from 2002 to 2013, coordinating activities across six areas and supervising 80 staff members. Mark assumed the title of associate dean of libraries for research services in 2014.

Mark has a long history at UO, and he is very knowledgeable about our library system and what is needed to keep things moving forward. He has been actively involved in campus activities, including serving as a member of several search committees across campus. He has volunteered his time as a panel judge for the Graduate School’s research forum, and he has been a UO representative for the Orbis Cascade Alliance’s shared content team.

I am confident that Mark will be a terrific interim dean. He brings a level of experience and understanding to the position that will help us continue moving our libraries forward.

Mark will start in his interim role on July 9 and will serve until a new permanent head of libraries is named; the search for that position will be done under the leadership of the new provost and will commence this fall.

Please join me in congratulating Mark on his new assignment. Thank you for all that you do to help our students, faculty and staff at the UO.


Jayanth Banavar
Provost and Senior Vice President

“Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen”

As sang Woody Guthrie. And it seems the economic returns to higher education are so generalizable that they even hold for outlaws. Thanks to an anonymous reader for the link:

Is there any return to education in criminal activities? This paper is one of the first to investigate whether education has not only a positive impact on legitimate, but also on illegitimate activities. We use as a case study one of the longest running criminal corporations in history: the Italian-American mafia. Its most successful members were capable businessmen, orchestrating crimes that required abilities that might be learned at school: extracting the optimal rent when setting up a racket, weighting interests against default risk when starting a loan sharking business or organizing supply chains, logistics and distribution when setting up a drug dealing system. We address this question by comparing mobsters to a variety of samples drawn from the United States 1940 Population Census, including a sample of their closest (non-mobster) neighbors. We document that mobsters have one year less education than their neighbors on average. We find that mobsters have significant returns to education of 7.5–8.5% , which is only slightly smaller than their neighbors and 2–5 percentage points smaller than for U.S.-born men or male citizens. Mobster returns were consistently about twice as large as a sample of Italian immigrants or immigrants from all origin countries. Within that, those charged with complex crimes including embezzlement and bookmaking have the highest returns. We conclude that private returns to education exist even in the illegal activities characterized by a certain degree of complexity as in the case of organized crime in mid-twentieth century United States.

Legislature to add ~$100M to PUSF, Gov Brown wants more

6/7/2019 update: Legislature to add ~$100M to PUSF, Gov Brown wants more

That’s the rumor today. According to Pres Schill’s proposal below, $120M would keep UO’s tuition increase below the 5% trigger for HECC review, and also save Duck AD Rob Mullens a couple hundred large to help pay for his new baseball coach.

5/20/2019 update: Update: Millions from staff and students, not a cent from Duck athletics or Law

President Schill has sent his tuition increase recommendations to the BOT, below. His proposal cuts TFAB’s support for low income students, keeps the LERC and museum cuts, and leaves athletic subsidies untouched. The TFAB’s proposal was for a progressive increase in financial aid as tuition increased. Pres Schill’s recommendation is for only $350K in new financial aid, and that only if the tuition increase goes above 5%, the level which triggers HECC review.

Meanwhile, the “temporary” budget funding for law school scholarships increases by $190K. Of the $44M in fee remissions President Schill mentions below, $7M or goes to UO’s ~410 law school students, for an average of $17,100 each, per year. (I don’t know how it’s split up). The other $37M is divided among UO’s 22,350 other students, for an average of $1,650.

Continue reading

CAS task force recommends against dismemberment

While President Schill’s charge to the task force told them not to make a recommendation for or against breakup, they ignored this, and recommend against a breakup. He has accepted their advice, for now. Perhaps the new provost will try to restart this fight someday, but the report from Karen Ford’s committee doesn’t leave a lot of room to try. Presumably the next step will be to start integrating the Knight Campus into CAS.

See below for the full report and Pres Schill’s response. From the report’s conclusions:

Even those on the Task Force interested in learning about other, possibly better, college structures raised concerns about the costs (financial, time, effort, and personal costs) of restructuring CAS. There is a general skepticism about making large structural changes that would require the UO to set up two or three new college dean’s offices. Given the widely held conviction that we do not have resources to create something better than what we have, the group concluded that this is not the time to make large, structural changes. Even those most interested in change do not want to change unless we are sure we’re creating something better and have the resources to realize its benefits.

Most agree that the cost of restructuring CAS would be prohibitive and that we should invest any money there might be for this project in improving CAS. This sentiment deepened over the course of our deliberations by news of the budget cuts and the Provost stepping down. CAS TF discussions tended toward improving rather than restructuring CAS, a focus that fell within the broad charge from the President and Provost. To aid communication and facilitate reference, we enumerate our principal conclusions. Since specific suggestions made by large, visible committees may become unwanted and unwarranted benchmarks, we restrict our conclusions to summary assessments and the attendant lessons drawn (with one exception, item 1 below).

1. We recommend seating a small vision committee tasked with addressing the President’s concern about the establishment and communication of division- and college-level visions raised during the lunch meeting in March. It is understood that this committee will seek input from all CAS stakeholders.

2. CAS is anomalous relative to most other public research universities only because UO lacks medical/engineering/agricultural schools.

3. There is broad and strong resistance to large-scale restructuring, including “splitting up CAS.”

4. There is considerable evidence that success is not closely related to structure–any structure can work. Leadership quality, administrative roles, and internal structures may be primary to a college’s success.

5. There is broad and strong support for the recommendation that if CAS is to be split or otherwise significantly restructured, then the reasons must be clearly articulated; further, in case of restructuring, it should be evident that the benefits outweigh the substantial costs, which include transition costs and uncertainty.

6. There is broad and strong support for a renewed emphasis on liberal arts education and scholarship as central to the university’s mission.

7. There is broad and strong support for a renewed emphasis on interdisciplinary education and scholarship.

8. Cooperation, rather than competition, among deans should be fostered–a best practice that CAS already enjoys and should be extended to the deans of the other schools and colleges.


President Schill’s response:

Senate to hold last meeting of year, today June 5th

Location: EMU 145 & 146 (Crater Lake rooms)
3:00 – 5:00 P.M.

3:00 P.M.   Call to order

  • Introductory Remarks; Senate President Bill Harbaugh
  • Remarks: President Schill

3:29 PM   Approval of Minutes

3:30 PM     Business / Reports:

  • Vote on Other Curricular Matters included in the Curriculum Report: A change to the last date for students to add courses. Full Text: “The last day to add a course is to be moved from the Sunday preceding the second week at 11:59 p.m. to the Monday of the second week at 11:59 p.m.” Frances White.
  • Vote: US18/19-21: Approval of Curriculum Report, Spring 2019; Frances White
  • Vote on new Senate VP / President Elect. Elizabeth Skowron (Psychology, Senate Vice President) [Statement from candidate Elliot Berkman (Psych) here.]
  • Pass the gavel
  • UO Senate Award for Shared Governance, Transparency and Trust: To Karen Ford (College of Arts & Sciences and English), Jessica Price (General Counsel’s Office), Brent Walth (Journalism)
  • UO Senate Leadership and Service Award for Officers of Administration: To Annie Herz (Human Resources)
  • UO Senate Classified Staff Leadership Award: To Terry McQuilkin (UO Libraries)
  • UO Senate Wayne T. Westling Award: To Karen Ford (College of Arts & Sciences and English), Leslie Opp-Beckman (American English Institute)
  • Another recognition

4:50 PM   Open Discussion
4:52 PM   Other Reports
4:54 PM   Notice(s) of Motion
4:56 PM   Other Business
5:00 PM   Adjourn to Faculty Club, all invited!

Has Phil Knight ruined Track Town along with Hayward Field?

The Oregonian’s Ken Goe reports here:

… The Ducks had just one regular-season home meet in 2017 and two 2018, in part, because of delays in Hayward’s reconstruction timeline.

There were no home meets this year. Next year is in question. The NCAA championships, held at Hayward from 2013-18, have moved to Austin, Texas, for this year and next.

The NCAA meet is scheduled to return in 2021 and 2022. But there is pushback among college track coaches in other parts of the country to the idea that Eugene should become the meet’s permanent site, the way Omaha is for NCAA baseball’s College World Series.

The new stadium will have 12,500 permanent seats, making it significantly larger than historic Hayward Field, which sat no more than 8,500 without temporary bleachers and often was not more than half full.

The new version should work nicely for the annual Prefontaine Classic and the 2020 Olympic trials, which have been awarded to Eugene, assuming the stadium is finished by next summer. But the trials only happen every four years and are unlikely to take place in Eugene forever.

When the 2021 World Championships are over, it looks for all the world that the University of Oregon will have a track stadium built for major meets that afterward will fill for … what?

“Tractor pulls?” asks Peter Thompson, a coach and former senior manager with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), who makes his home in Eugene. …


Pres Schill about to make “secret” decision about UO’s academic future

6/3/2019 update:

I think the most dysfunctional aspect of this secret search is that whoever gets the job of leader of UO’s academic side will not be able to make a plausible claim that they have a mandate from the faculty. The RG’s Jordyn Brown reports that UO will not even release the names of the candidates:

The UO holds that this process is “confidential,” said spokesperson Molly Blancett in a Monday email. The UO would not release the names of candidates, although they already are public employees of the university. Blancett cited Oregon’s public records exemption for personal privacy as the reason for the university withholding candidate names.

And the search committee has been told President Schill doesn’t even want to know how they rank the finalists. (Full disclosure: they did decide I was unacceptable, even at 1/2 the usual price, which shows some good judgement.)

At least 100 faculty, OA’s and staff now know the names and have read the statements from the finalists – but we are expected to keep up the charade of secrecy and not discuss them with our colleagues. This is silly.

5/16/2019: Rumor down at the Faculty Club is that the list includes:

 Patrick Phillips (Biology)

Scott Pratt (Philosophy)

Dennis Galvan (International Studies)

Marcilynn Burke (Law)

Bill Harbaugh (Economics) -as confirmed by Hannah Kanik in the Emerald.

If you have a better rumor, or actual information, please post a comment.

Elliot Berkman (psych) elected Senate VP/President Elect

6/7/2019 update: 

Elizabeth Skowron (Psychology) is Senate President for the 19-20 AY. Elliot Berkman will be VP, and then Senate President for 20-21.

6/3/2019: Elliot Berkman (psych) only Senate VP candidate for Wed. election

I won’t be running again, and so far this is the only candidate statement posted on the Senate webpage here:

Berkman Candidate Statement
May 29, 2019 Continue reading