Go Ducks

6/9/2010: I thought Masoli had been kicked off the team after the laptop theft, but I can’t keep them straight anymore. Not sure if possession really should count, but it looks like this will move the Ducks up in the Fulmer Cup rankings. Does Kelly’s contract have a penalty for this sort of thing? Shouldn’t it? The Oregonian reports that Masoli will also lose his scholarship. Because coach Kelly needs it for another player. What about UO’s backup quarterback? In the car with Masoli during the arrest.

Louisiana cleans up Higher Ed. pension abuse.

6/9/2010: The Louisiana Higher Ed commissioner has resigned after the Times Picayune caught her in a retirement scam involving double dipping. Legal but sleazy, and she didn’t tell the board what she was going to do. In Oregon, her boss would have helped her set up the scheme and written the contract for her. I still don’t understand how the golden parachute deals that Frohnmayer set up for John Moseley et al, passed legal review. Oh wait – Melinda Grier reviewed them. Huey Long would have been proud of those two. The later Huey, that is.

Public Records Officer to report to President

6/9/2010: Still no job ad for a new General Counsel, but Lariviere has followed through on his promise to remove authority for public records requests from the GC’s office and there is an ad for the new job here. The new position will report directly to Lariviere. No salary is given, but the qualifications are basically a Journalism degree and a few years experience with public records. We are still trying to get info on what changes UO will make to public records policy. The interim person in charge is Brian Smith. Notably, the job description involves fulfilling requests – not setting policy or procedures. The Public Records Officer will be an ex-officio member of the new UO Senate “Transparency Committee” which is intended to give input on policy, procedures and compliance.

Public Records Officer
Office of the President 

Reports To: President
Term: 1.0 FTE for 12 months (renewable annually)
Review Date: Search will remain open until filled. Search committee will begin reviewing applications the week of June 21, 2010
Start Date: As soon as possible

The Public Records Officer (PRO) is a position in the new Public Records Office that reports directly to the President and is responsible for the effective, timely and thorough compliance with the public records law and managing, processing, and completing all
public records requests submitted to the University of Oregon. The PRO analyzes each request, determines where responsive records are located, and communicates with other offices to gather the responsive records. With advice as needed from the Office of the General Counsel, the PRO will determine whether records are exempt from disclosure or prohibited from being disclosed and respond to the request accordingly. Currently the university receives 125 – 150 public records requests annually.

The PRO must have a working knowledge of public records law and preferred experience with Oregon Public Records law and with state and federal confidentiality rules as applied to public universities.

The PRO will manage the office and oversee all aspects of public records requests including initial intake, coordination of payments, reviewing records, and communicating with requestors and records holders.

* Bachelor’s degree (journalism, public administration, political science), or any degree demonstrating the capacity to address the desired skills;
* Demonstrated budget management in a non profit or public entity
* Demonstrated strong interpersonal and communications skills with internal and external constituencies;
* Attention to detail;
* A minimum of two years working knowledge of public records law;
* Demonstrated ability to evaluate voluminous amounts of information in a timely fashion and track multiple requests simultaneously;
* Develop strong working relationships with units on campus;
* Demonstrated ability to track and learn new state and federal laws, rules and regulations relating to public records requests.

* Experience with Oregon Public Records law
* Experience with state and federal confidentiality rules as applied to public universities

Send PDF attachment via e-mail to Abigail Jorgenson, abbyj@uoregon.edu and include the following: cover letter addressing your qualifications; resume; and list of names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of three references [one of whom must be indicated as your most recent supervisor].
Send to:
Public Records Officer Search
University Relations
1270 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1270

The University of Oregon is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity institution committed to cultural diversity and compliance with the ADA. Candidates with experience serving the needs of diverse populations strongly desired.

Faculty raises:

6/8/2010: This is rumor but we hear President Lariviere is still going to push to raise faculty pay. For full prof’s this is the lowest in the AAU by 10% and is currently at 84% of our “peer institutions.” Most of the raises will go to the full’s as a group, they are the most underpaid.

In the comments, “Wild and Crazy Duck” thinks this is the wrong time to push for raises. I disagree. The counterargument is that drastic steps are needed to ensure UO’s survival as a top research school, that this should be a top state priority, and that the benefits to the students are worth the extra tuition. I think Lariviere can and will make that case to the public. He’s already got a bunch of newspaper editorial boards to sign on, including the Oregonian and the RG. And I bet that he got the OUS Board to agree to something like this before he accepted the job.

So which fulls will get the raises? Lariviere has ditched Russ Tomlin’s plan, which was to give the most money to those making the least relative to their peers, with a small merit bump. The new plan is an across the board increase (still targeted mostly at fulls) in proportion to current salary with the amounts determined by how far the department is behind its comparators. The main difference is that Tomlin’s plan would have given most of the money to those making less than the dept. average, the new plan will give most to those making more.

No word yet on OA’s and senior administrators but we can assume the latter are spending a lot of time on figuring out how to get their own raises. In the past UO has used “stipends” to funnel more money to the senior administrators, then folded the stipends into salary later, when no one is looking. For example, Provost Bean got a $12,000 stipend (folded into his salary last year), Diversity VP Martinez gets a $23,306 stipend on top of his regular pay and his off the books OSLC money. These stipends are supposed to go to faculty who take on extra administrative assignments. Too bad!

* Note to reader: These stipends are not for expense reimbursements: they are regular taxable income, just from a different pot.

Legislators not excited by Lariviere Plan

 6/6/2010: Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney told the OUS Board the universities can keep the money they have raised from higher enrollments and tuition, but not to expect more autonomy from the state, particularly regarding tuition. More state money is a non-starter. Report by David Sarasohn in the Oregonian. No mention of Lariviere’s plan to increase faculty salaries.

Economist on state budget

6/6/2010: UO Economist Tim Duy has a sobering Op-Ed in the Oregonian on the state’s budget:

Another lesser known trend is battering the state — the steady decline in average wages relative to the rest of the nation. From 1987 to 1997, average wages increased from 88.9 percent to 94.3 percent of the U.S. average for the brief period Oregon rode the tech boom. Unfortunately, that trend ended even before the 2001 recession, and wages fell back to 89.4 percent of the U.S. average by 2008. Interestingly, this trend occurred even as development officials convinced themselves that young “creatives” are flocking to the state, fueling growth in high wage jobs. The data suggests otherwise — relative job quality is declining.

To be sure, one can wax poetic about the value of the “second paycheck,” the nonmonetary benefit of Oregon’s quality of life. But like it or not, money is important. State coffers certainly could use the boost a 5 percent increase in wages would provide. Meanwhile, even as job growth stalls and relative wages decline, Oregon’s population keeps increasing. Note that the employment-to-population ratio — the proportion of the 16-and-older population that is employed — peaked at 65.2 percent in 1998 and has since reverted to 57.8 percent, a level not seen since the 1970s. More people simply require more services: more health care for the poor, more schools for our children, more prisons for our criminals. But without job growth, how can we pay for these services? Perhaps we should rethink the wisdom of basing our economic strategy on attracting people and instead attract jobs.

Duck Soup’s spot on comment:

6/5/2010: I have no idea who Duck Soup is, but I agree with him/her:

… Briefly, UO is a very low-budget place, an overachiever, but starved too long to have avoided academic decay.

However, UO could have reached its supposed faculty salary goals of a decade ago if it had really wanted to. Dave F, Moseley, Bean didn’t. I don’t know if this was due to intent or simply a lack of focus.

UO spends a lot of money on things that I don’t care to have in the pot. Some of these things would be missed by others.

Overall, there has been a growth of administration at the expense of more directly academic expenditures. Been going on for years, maybe decades. All of this is easily seen from publicly available figures. Why this is not an issue — in the state board, the UO senate, the completely feckless FAC and budget committee — is beyond me. Maybe too many would-be administrators in the latter three groups, a lot of surreptitious butt-kissing.

Finally, I don’t see how tuition can keep rising faster than disposable income of middle class families. UO (and most other universities without huge endowments) need to figure this out before the public rebels. Part of it can be solved by ending above-mentioned administrative growth/bloat.

But, another piece of the puzzle, I think, is a reorientation of private giving. UO brings in something like $100 million/yr, very roughly, in private giving. But very little of this, proportionately, goes to tuition relief — I mean holding down posted tution rates in addition to augmenting financial aid.

Where does all the booty go? Look around! Especially near the corner of 13th and Agate and surroundings. Some of it is worthwhile, but different goals are needed for the future.

Have I left anything out?

Tuition, more jock stuff, faculty raises.

6/5/2010: The OUS press report on increased tuition and approval of the latest sports project from Phil Knight here. Bill Graves on the tuition increases is here. The Oregonian story by Rachel Bachman on the sports construction is here:

As the clock ticked on Friday’s meeting of the State Board of Higher Education, University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere warned of a chill on donations if the board did not approve a plan by Phil Knight to privately construct an 80,000-square-foot operations center for the Ducks football team on campus. “If we don’t accept this gift, what will be the negative consequences for the university’s education and research mission?” Lariviere said. “Probably not much — immediately, in the short-term. “But they could be really, really profound over the longer term. Really profound. This is an important gift for our future.”

When Lariviere finished his remarks, which came at the end of a nearly one-hour discussion of the project, the board hushed. Then the 12-member body swiftly and approved the project with the minimum six “yes” votes, plus four abstentions and two absentees.

Lariviere’s comments were some of the starkest ever used by a public official in an open forum to illustrate the stakes of the relationship between Knight, the Nike co-founder and former Ducks runner, and his alma mater. …

This latest request came with urgency: The board had to vote on granting a license for the project despite discussing it for the first time on Friday.

“If it’s not approved today, that’s the end of the deal,” Lariviere told the board.

It was the second time a large project backed by Knight came with a quick deadline for public approval. His $100 million pledge to support debt payments for the construction of Matthew Knight Arena was contingent on the Legislature approving $200 million in state bonds for the project by June 1, 2008. That fact came to light on Feb. 9, 2008 — 20 days before the end of the only legislative session that year. 

I hope I’m wrong, but the prospects for faculty pay raises this year seem pretty dim. UO has the money, and Lariviere keeps arguing publicly that we can’t continue to pay 82% of our peers. I am sure this is his “top priority.” But you can only go to the Board so many times and tell them things like “If it’s not approved today, that’s the end of the deal.”

He has been spending his political capital on the $1 billion bond proposal, and now this new athletic construction. Our chance probably passed back in April, when he was busy dealing with Bellotti and Grier. I’m not blaming this on Lariviere – he seems to be doing what he can do. But why does Knight put him on the spot like this? Do this right now, or else! And you will pay for a football museum curator too! It’s just weird.

Athletic Director, VP for Diversity, and General Counsel searches:

6/4/2010: Margie Paris hasn’t posted an ad for the General Counsel job yet – 6 weeks after Melinda was fired. And Lariviere is still thinking about who should be on the search committee for the Martinez replacement. But Robin Holmes is making progress on the AD hire:

Campus Colleagues:

What’s important to you in the next University of Oregon Director of Intercollegiate Athletics? On behalf of the search committee, you are invited to come share your thoughts at an open forum, Wednesday, June 9, from 2-3:30 pm, in the Harrington Room of the Jaqua Center. Members of the search committee will be in attendance to gather your input.

For more information on the position, please view the posting on the UO jobs page: http://hr.uoregon.edu/jobs/unclassified.php?id=3017


Robin H. Holmes, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Search Chair

Bring it on Mr. Slusher, you aren’t even close yet.

6/4/2010: Bill Graves of the Oregonian has a new story on the latest sports facility craziness here. This seems to be another “gift that keeps on taking,” like the Jock Box:

But Phit’s gift does not come without costs. The license agreement requires the university to employ a facilities manager, museum curator, museum receptionist, food service administrator and a senior administrative assistant for football operations — all full time for at least six years. The university also would maintain the facilities, which could become costly.

Phil Knight and Howard Slusher are rolling on the floor over the dumb shit they can get UO to agree to for some vague promise of $1 billion, someday. We pay for a football Museum Curator? That is a pretty good one, though I still think taking away the law school profs parking lot tops it. But bring it on Mr. Slusher, you aren’t even close yet.

4/14/2010: Ron Bellamy of the RG reports that Phil Knight is planning on a new building for football team, to be constructed by the legendary Howard Slusher, under the same contracting scheme used for the Jock Box.

“I’ve been told repeatedly since I’ve come here that there are coaches in what used to be closets and that sort of thing,” Lariviere said. “It does look to be pretty jammed up. I’m not sure that this would be absolutely the top priority for the university if we were having to pay for the building, but that’s another matter.”

So far as I can tell, Knight has not given a dime to UO’s academic causes since former President Dave Frohnmayer signed UO up for the the anti-Nike “Worker’s Rights Consortium”. My recollection was that Dave was persuaded by the argument of the students camping outside his office, who told him that the way to improve the lives of the poor is to get everyone to all join together and agree to stop buying what they know how to make. Some sort of complicated economic thing they learned from their sociology professor. I’m sure it made sense after the first few bong hits. But a recent commenter provides an alternative explanation for why Knight is not so happy with the faculty either:

As I remember it, the WRC was a national movement backed by students at the UO, who took the issue to the Senate, which advised Frohnmayer to join the WRC (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen990/US9900-10.html). He did so. This was an example of faculty actually being listened to on a matter of school policy.

Here’s hoping Lariviere can convince Knight we’re not such a bad lot. He’s already talking tougher to Slusher than Frohnmayer ever did:

“Parking is obviously part of the requirements for this building,” Lariviere said. “The initial conversations I’ve had with Howard Slusher made it clear that we would have to have at least full replacement, if not more parking spaces, as a result of this.”

Back when Frohnmayer and Melinda Grier “negotiated” with Slusher for parking for the Jock Box, we lost something like 120 parking spots. We just gave them to the athletic side gratis, and paid for new ones by increasing general parking fees. Of course, Frohnmayer did get a $150,000 bonus that year from some anonymous donor.

Here’s the former law school lot. 70 spots, 2 cars with jock hang tags. 2 cars and a motorcycle is the most I’ve seen there all quarter.

OUS Board meetings

6/3/2010: The OUS Board typically has one faculty member. The new appointment is Lynda Ciuffetti, Botany and Plant Pathology at OSU. Her research “…is in the area of host-pathogen interactions, specifically, interactions involving fungal pathogens.”  That should give her a lot of extra insight into the OUS Chancellor and Board’s role in Oregon higher education. Interestingly, the current Lariviere restructuring proposal would not put a faculty member on the UO Board.

The OUS Board meets in executive session today, to discuss presidential evaluations. (Wow, UO should try evaluating its administrators someday.) There are plenty of possibilities that could justify a 6 hour board session. I hope one of them is what to do about letting boosters supplement presidential salaries and give them side gifts. Tomorrow they take up two topics of interest:

c.    OUS, 2010-11 Proposed Tuition and Fee Rate and Policy Changes.
Staff is requesting Board approval of proposed OUS tuition and fee rates as well as related policies for the 2010-11 Academic Year.  The RG has a story about these increases here:

… push the annual base cost of an education to $8,190 for resident undergraduates, up from the current $7,428. The difference between those two figures is more than 10 percent. But the actual increase in out-of-pocket costs is close to 6 percent because the UO is taking some fees that are now charged separately and rolling them into tuition.

d.    UO, Approval of License Agreement for (Gift of) an Addition to the Len Casanova Athletic Center and of a Soccer and Lacrosse Complex. The University of Oregon (UO) seeks Board approval to enter into a License Agreement (Agreement) with Phit, LLC (Phit), permitting the construction of improvements to real property with a value in excess of $5 million.

This is another Phil Knight gift to the athletic department. Donations to athletics are still tax-deductible, so this will cost taxpayers ~2.5 million. Some universities would impose their own tax on these sorts of donations, with the proceeds going to academics. Not UO. At least Lariviere is insisting that this time athletics pays for the parking – a small improvement over Frohnmayer’s “Negotiating for Dummies” approach.

Why did Lidz resign?

6/2/2010: Greg Bolt of the RG has a story on the Jerry Lidz resignation, here, suggesting Frohnmayer deserved more of the blame for the Bellotti payoff than he got. Which was none. Meanwhile the lawyers are in an uproar over Lidz – this is the third of AG Kroger’s top appointments to leave. Here are some of the questions:

  • Is Melinda Grier going to sue UO and/or the DOJ? By concluding she provided “deficient legal representation” the DOJ report makes her essentially unemployable. And DOJ spokesperson Tony Green will not release the details of the investigation, “Because there remains a risk of litigation around the underlying issues, …” Bellotti got $2.3 million from UO – and surely signed an agreement not to sue. So maybe Melinda is looking for hers?
  • In his resignation letter below, Lidz says “I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I disagreed strongly with the process and outcome of the “”Bellotti Investigation.”” Did Lidz obey the DOJ conflict of interest rules preventing his involvement in an investigation that included his wife?
  • What sort of outcome did Lidz expect? Former UO President Dave Frohnmayer, who is also a former Oregon Attorney General, obviously had a large role in the scandal. But he gets barely a mention in Kroger’s report. Frohnmayer is a quasi-religious figure among the old guard at the DOJ, and many state politicians still think very highly of him – or are in his debt. Did Lidz really expect that Kroger would give Frohnmayer some of the blame, rather than putting it all on Grier?
  • The investigation took 321.8 hours and cost the DOJ $44,086.60, not counting the time for David Leith and Keith Dubanevich, the DOJ attorneys in charge. The final summary report Kroger released was only 5 pages long. (For comparison, the DOJ spends about $60,000 preparing the ~400 page Public Records Manual every two years.) So what is in the rest of the material that was collected during this investigation?

    Melinda Grier’s husband Jerry Lidz quits as Oregon Solicitor General

    6/1/2010: This is stunning news from Nigel Jaquiss at Willamette Week. (Les Zaitz of the Oregonian has more here.) Oregon Solicitor General General Jerry Lidz has given AG John Kroger two weeks notice. This is fallout from Lariviere’s firing of Melinda Grier: Lidz is her husband.

    After the Bellotti verbal contract incident, UO President Lariviere insisted the AG’s office do an investigation and make the results public. Attorney General Kroger won’t release the details of his findings, but he did provide a summary which concluded UO’s General Counsel Melinda Grier had provided “deficient legal representation”. This is a possible violation of the Oregon Bar’s ethics rules and could conceivably lead to her disbarment. No wonder her husband is angry. President Lariviere has some serious political mojo to get this through the DOJ. Last year, when Frohnmayer was still President, Associate AG David Leith quashed an unrelated ethics investigation of Grier.

    Where was Jerome Lidz working when AG Kroger hired him as Solicitor General? Harrang, Long etc., the same law firm Dave Frohnmayer is now double-dipping at. I wonder if Lidz will go back there – he can’t be too happy with Dave, after he shoved Melinda under the bus on the Bellotti contract.

    Oregon Solicitor General Jerry Lidz, who was Attorney General John Kroger’s top appellate lawyer, resigned last week. Lidz’s resignation comes on the heels of departures by two other top Kroger lieutenants, environmental lawyer Brent Foster and elections law specialist Margaret Olney.

    Lidz, whose job is the state equivalent of what Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan does at the federal level, is collateral damage in fall-out from former University of Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti’s contract.

    As The Oregonian reported, Bellotti never had a written contract with the university, an oversight that led to a multi-million settlement for Bellotti when Bellotti left for ESPN. More importantly to Lidz, that sequence led to the demotion of Lidz’s wife, former U of O general counsel Melinda Grier. In April, U of O president Richard Lariviere decided not to renew Grier’s contract and exiled her to the U of O law school.

    I like the “maybe you express your dissent” line in Lidz’s email. Because I’m guessing that getting involved in a DOJ decision about your wife would be a violation of some serious rules with some serious potential consequences for a lawyer. Stepping down was probably a smart move. No word yet on the rumors the UO law school will give Lidz an adjunct position co-teaching legal ethics with Grier and Frohnmayer.

    Lariviere strips Doug Park of his powers

    5/30/2010: over public records. UO has a press release here:

    A new Office of Public Records will be established at the University of Oregon June 1, in a key step toward fulfilling President Richard Lariviere’s pledge to make the university as responsive, open and transparent as possible.

    Brian Smith, the UO assistant vice president for administration, will manage the new office as part of his existing responsibilities until a permanent public records officer is hired. He will begin constructing a framework for the new public records office.

    “The University of Oregon has always recognized the importance of public access to its operations,” Smith said. “Creation of the Office of Public Records emphasizes an institutional commitment to openness.”

    Bullshit. Under Dave Frohnmayer and Melinda Grier, UO had a well earned reputation for secrecy and contempt for Oregon’s public records law. Sorry for being a grouch, but there’s a reason that truth comes before reconciliation.

    But Lariviere is changing things. The full story on why he fired General Counsel Melinda Grier is still not known and may never be known. Attorney General Kroger refuses to release his records on the investigation, other than a summary report that raises more questions than it answers. But obviously public records played a big part in the firing. RG reporter Ron Bellamy had repeatedly asked Ms Grier and Assistant GC Doug Park, who was also UO’s Public Records Officer, for copies of the Bellotti contract. While state law requires a prompt response, both Ms Grier and Mr. Park ignored the requests and – apparently – never bothered to tell Pres Lariviere anything was amiss. Lariviere responded first by firing Ms Grier, and now by taking authority for public records requests away from Doug Park. Doug does still have oversight, but presumably UO’s new General Counsel – if they ever find anyone interested in the job – will have the right to hire their own assistant GC’s.

    The UO Senate has also responded to the transparency situation. Last year Nathan Tublitz’s motion for increased financial transparency passed overwhelmingly, in the wake of the furlough Town Hall fiasco and Provost Bean’s refusal to share financial information – while asking faculty to take a pay cut. Last month the Senate established a “University Senate Transparency Committee” to review the UO administration’s procedures for providing public records and financial information to the UO community.

    Meanwhile New VP Brad Shelton has been working to establish a system whereby faculty and staff can access detailed expenditure data via Duckweb.  According to Tublitz’s Senate motion that effort was supposed to be complete by September 2009, and it is way behind schedule. Initially this was because of foot-dragging by Grier. Now it because some real confidentiality issues have become apparent. I think they are being worked out. Additionally, the IR and BRP offices have posted large amounts of data and analysis on their websites. And Shelton’s new budget model itself is a big improvement from the way Frances Dyke did things. All this is a huge change from a year back.

    In short, UO is now completely open and transparent, those responsible for the past errors have all been fired, our new central administration will never hide any embarrassing decisions or errors from the faculty, and this is the last post UO Matters will ever need to make.