Tublitz’s Transparency Resolution

11/9/2009: In May Nathan Tublitz’s motion to increase financial transparency by providing access to UO accounting records passed the UO Senate. The new administration seems to be taking this seriously, and the Senate website now includes this memo: (Note that due to a new state law, in January UO will start posting all employee salary numbers online.)

Transparency of University Financial Transactions (this report is made jointly by Don Harris and Frances Dyke)

The UO Senate passed the following motion:

The University Senate respectfully requests the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 15 November 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website ( https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/).

Frances Dyke comments:

The CIO, Don Harris is here to answer any of the more technical questions you may with regard to the financial reporting tool that will be available on November 16 (the first workday after November 15). As discussed at the May University Senate meeting work began on developing this tool after a major enterprise software upgrade project was completed in September.

The tool you will be able to access starting next Monday is the initial roll out of a financial reporting tool for compliance with the university Senate motion on financial transparency. In the course of discussions related to development the work group has identified impediments to our ability to provide transactional level detail in a publicly available financial reporting tool. There are issues of both security and legally binding confidentiality that must be balanced against the desire for full transparency. As mentioned at the October Senate meeting I am now asking the Senate President to appoint an advisory group to help analyze these problems and find solutions that can be legally and operationally implemented. In making this request I also recommend that the Senate President consider creating this advisory group by drawing on membership of the Senate Budget Committee and other members of the Senate or university community who have a particular interest or expertise in financial management reporting.

As a side note the state will be implementing a web site to comply with HB 2500 on financial transparency at the state level. This website will be active in January 2010 and will contain salary information on all state employees including all employees in the Oregon University System. It will also include information summarizing payments from agencies to vendors. A copy of the House bill is attached.

Don Harris comments:

The application developed uses the WEB development portal tool kit and will be accessible via DuckWeb. This was done so that we could deploy a resource that could be supported by IS Enterprise Administrative Applications and several programmer/analysts who are trained in the use of this toolset. The application will be easy to use and incorporate pull down menus, drilldown capability within specified limits, the ability to compare several years of data, and the ability to download data into an Excel spreadsheet. We have developed this application to be responsive to the senate motion while seeking to balance the needs for transparency and the security and confidentiality issues that have become apparent. As the VPFA and I work with the advisory group appointed by the Senate president appropriate modifications will be made.

This is a big step forward. Just 6 months ago we were getting emails like this:

Professor X:

Thank you for your inquiry.

The Business Affairs Office is working on a complete redesign of our web presence. Part of that project is to review information currently accessible on our website to decide what to transition to the new portals. During this review period, we looked at the Chart of Accounts page you referenced below.

We discovered that certain information available through the Chart of Accounts is considered confidential pursuant to OAR 571-030-0025(1). As such, we removed the information from our publicly-accessible website and restricted access to personnel with a “demonstrably legitimate need for particular information in order to fulfill their official, professional responsibilities.” Those personnel include those who perform business and budget transactions within the BANNER enterprise accounting system (i.e. campus budget and business officers and core-office personnel.)

If you have any other questions related to Chart of Accounts data, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Kelly B. Wolf

Kelly B. Wolf
Director of Business Affairs and Controller
University of Oregon
Phone: (541) 346-3165
Fax: (541) 346-5820
kbwolf@uoregon.edu

UO is "Rogue of the Week"?

11/7/2009: When will we be rid of Frohnmayer’s inane plan for the White Stag sign? Not soon, unless Provost Bean pays $100,000. From the editors of Willamette Week:

The bizarre tale of the “Made in Oregon” sign’s fate just keeps getting weirder. Truth be told, the Rogue Desk would rather eat glass than revisit this topic. But time is not on our side. Only three weeks remain until the holiday season officially begins—when the sign’s owner traditionally turns on the red nose atop the leaping White Stag. This year would mark the 50th anniversary of Rudolph in Portland. But Ramsay Signs President Darryl Paulsen turned off the sign in October, and it now appears possible the sign may stay dark during the holiday season. Yet Paulsen isn’t the Rogue here. On behalf of all children and their kid-at-heart relatives, the Rogue Desk is singling out the University of Oregon for getting us into this mess. We’ll admit it’s difficult to ascribe blame in this situation. But it was the U of O that last winter took steps to put its moniker on the sign. Most everyone knows how this ended. By September, the university said it was walking away from the sign.

Meantime, Paulsen says the university now owes him about $100,000 for the design work and permitting fees his company generated during the two-year period it worked with the university to change the sign. (UO won’t acknowledge the amount of the bill, saying only that it’s negotiating.)… “We are actively working with Daryl Paulson [sic] and Ramsay sign to come to an arrangement,” Jim Bean, UO senior vice president and provost, wrote in an email to WW. Paulsen is more direct. “If they’re actively working on a solution, that’s good,” he says. “It will save them a lawsuit.”

Bean is on record (actually, video) as saying that the money for the sign would come from UO Foundation funds – presumably some anonymous donor will also pay for not changing the sign? Or will UO just use the student tuition surcharge for this?

11/7/2009: I’ll be brave, and post this from Ron Bellamy at the RG before kickoff, on Chip Kelly’s new contract.

Chip Kelly’s first contract as a head football coach will pay him an annual guaranteed salary of $1.25 million this season and next, plus a share of Oregon’s season ticket sales, and offer a myriad of bonuses for performance on the field and in the classroom.

The contract, signed by Kelly on Oct. 26 and by UO President Richard Lariviere on Thursday, was released to The Register-Guard on Friday in response to a public records request.

Kelly will receive a share of season ticket sales, two-tenths of a percent this season and moving to a sliding scale next season — 3.25 percent for gross sales of $13 million or less and 1.65 percent of sales exceeding $13 million.

I’m no economist, but you don’t have to understand collusion to understand why college coaches earn this much money and college players earn zero. The NCAA has a myriad of rules designed to make sure of this – they even require players who want to switch schools to redshirt for a year. Chip Kelly seems like a great guy, but the NCAA set this system up to make sure that every possible dollar of profits goes to the coaches, not the students, players, or universities. It smells rotten and it is rotten.

Affirmative Action delays

11/6/2009: We will have more about this next week, but UO is currently going into the main faculty hiring season with an Affirmative Action plan that is more than 10 months out of date, and which is based on data from October 2007. Federal law requires annual updates.

It will be interesting to hear AA Director Penny Daugherty explain what the possible legal consequences are, when she starts her usual round of meetings with faculty hiring committees.

Students ask UO for transparency

11/5/2009: From CJ Ciaramella in the Emerald:

What was supposed to be a one-time surcharge tacked onto last spring term’s tuition has now become a permanent increase to University tuition, and it’s costing students more than they bargained for. The surcharge, $150 for residents and $350 for non-residents, was approved by the State Board of Higher Education as a one-time emergency measure in March, but this fall the University requested the surcharge be made a permanent part of the tuition base, which the Board approved. “We were granted permission to keep the increase and add additionally onto it,” University Vice President of Finance and Administration Frances Dyke said. …

Student leaders, who were sold on the surcharge as a one-time occurrence, as well as a buy-down of the student incidental fee to offset the charge, are unhappy with the news. “This information was communicated in a way that didn’t seem to meet the goals of transparency that the administration says it holds,” ASUO President Emma Kallaway said. “Bottom line: We’re frustrated and seeking more information to better serve students.”

Good luck with that transparency thing.

Football is Affirmative Action for men:

11/4/2009: I don’t know what to think of this, from Harris Meyer in the Oregonian:

Football is about to make a comeback at the 1,500-student liberal arts campus. (Pacific University). Despite opposition from many faculty members and students, Pacific is recruiting players to field a team next fall. Administrators and others see football as boosting enrollment and tuition dollars. And, like other colleges and universities around the country, Pacific hopes football will lure more male students to its campus, where women outnumber men nearly 2-to-1. “It’s necessary to change the gender balance to be more representative of society,” says John Hayes, dean of Pacific’s college of arts and sciences. “At more than 60 percent female, there is a different classroom dynamic, and I don’t think the discourse is as rich.”…

Nationally, 57 percent of college students in 2007 were women, compared with 51 percent in 1980, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The gender gap is starker at private liberal arts colleges, which often lack career-preparation degrees such as engineering and business offered by public universities that draw male students.

WTF? Ignorant anti-government Texans vote to support research universities?

11/4/2009: From the Chronicle:

Voters in Texas on Tuesday approved a ballot measure designed to strengthen the state’s research universities, with about 56 percent voting in favor of the proposal. … The Texas measure, known as Proposition 4, will establish a National Research University Fund to provide financial incentives for universities in the state to attain “top tier” status.

Apparently the bill specified explicit benchmarks the universities needed to achieve to get the funds. Would Lariviere be willing to go for a similar deal? Cut spending on administrative excess and those vanity projects that help VP’s pad their vitae for the next move ? Would the UO faculty support him if he did agree to explicit targets on research excellence: citations, PhD’s who get academic jobs, grant funding?

College President’s pay

11/2/2009: Stories in the Chronicle and the WSJ about high salaries for retired private university presidents. I think the Chronicle will release new data on publics soon. This story would suggest Frohnmayer’s golden parachute deal is unusually fat, however – only 20% of private schools pay ex-president’s more than $200,000. As a poor public – without a medical school, which is where the big money shows up – we pay Frohnmayer $245,000, plus expenses. (We hear a new rumor that Frohnmayer is now out soliciting UO donors to give to his proposed “Frohnmayer Leadership Center”. Wonderful.)

Big and Expensive Green Ideas

11/1/2009: Harry Esteve has an article in the Oregonian today about how Governor Kulongoski bullied state analysts into low-balling their cost estimates for his green tax break schemes. It’s complete with careful documentation – obtained by public records requests – of spreadsheets with hand written “corrections”, emails about the need to lower the estimates to make the bill politically feasible, analysts quitting in disgust, other analysts getting promotde, etc. This story is a great example of why government doesn’t work without newspapers to blow the whistle and I hope Esteve gets a Pulitzer for it:

The official estimates turned out to be absurdly low. In 2007-09, the business tax credit cost the state $68 million, of which about $40 million can be attributed to the bigger subsidies. The latest estimate for 2009-11 puts the tab for subsidies at $167 million in lost revenue, which is projected to grow to $243 million for 2011-13 — about what Oregon spends now from its general fund on the entire state police budget.

The UO connection? (Aside from the fact these tax credits will be 3x what the state gives UO.) Provost Bean has been pushing his “Big Ideas” program, which is focused on environmental issues, because of the same pressure from Governor Kulongoski’s office which led to the scandal above. Just as these tax credits take away money that could have used for higher ed, UO’s Big Idea focus takes effort, money, and attention from other programs.

Part of the original motivation for the green ideas was that they would attract new money from the governor. That looks considerably less likely given this scandal, and we should reevaluate what Provost Bean’s Big Ideas will cost the rest of UO’s academic efforts.

OHSU problems:

10/31/2009: Verbatim from Jack Bog’s Blog:

Red flag goes up at OHSU

The new chief financial officer at OHSU has quit after just two weeks on the job. Apparently it has something to do with family issues, but given all the turnover in management on Pill Hill lately, the situation bears scrutiny. As Muddy Waters used to say, “that’s the stuff you gotta watch.” The most recent interim CFO can’t come back under PERS rules; he’s been gone for a couple of months already.

The announcement came on a Friday, no doubt timed so that it could be lost in the weekend, and of course the O‘s editors were sure to oblige on that score. We’ll come back to it on Monday.

How will these problems at OHSU affect Lariviere’s efforts to get the same independence from the legislature that OHSU has?

Tenure and Promotion

10/29/2009: Curious about who got tenure or was promoted to full professor at UO last year? So are the members of the UO’s Faculty Personnel Committee. According to their official report,
That’s right, Provost Bean refuses to say who has been given tenure and promoted. He won’t even tell the faculty who advise him on the cases. I have never heard of this happening at a university before. Never. The report from the 2007-8 FPC (when Brady was Provost) says:

The FPC chair inspected all decision letters sent by the provost. This is a critical step that should always be practiced soon after they are sent.

The UO administration’s contempt for the faculty is just stunning. Lariviere needs to pay some attention to these issues.

ICC rate cut – revenge of the nerds part 7

10/27/2009: We’re slowly piecing together the story about why UO’s ICC rate was cut from 50 to 48 to 42%. Rich Linton had apparently seen this coming, and had taken 0.5% cuts (the default) for several years, rather than face a full review. But he could not postpone past 2008, and the ensuing federal review – based on 2006 numbers – produced the dramatic fall, costing UO faculty research $2 million per year starting this year.

In short, the cut was foreseen and could have been avoided by increasing expenditures on coverable research related items (space, startups, etc.) by $2 million per year, to establish a higher base. This is apparently a common strategy at other universities. But our administration decided not to do this. Instead they spent the money on Moseley’s retirement plan in UO-Bend, renovating their offices in Johnson Hall, etc.

If our math is correct, the return to spending the money on research would have been over 100% – per year. I’m no economist, but what the fuck? Frohnmayer sure had interesting preferences. And Rich – maybe you should have told the faculty about this a few years back? Next time an anonymous comment on UO Matters is all it will take.