6/11/2009: One thing that will inevitably come up when discussing the fact that UO’s pay is last in the AAU and 10% below that of Missouri is benefits. Administrators claim that UO’s benefits are better than average. What they really mean is that UO pays more for benefits than other places do – very different from having better benefits! In particular, looking at costs does not account for things like regional differences in health costs, or more generous but not fully funded (hence cheaper) retirement programs at other schools. We’re not aware of any study that makes an accurate comparison. Also keep in mind UO’s retirement program is now much less generous than it was (although more expensive) and that cuts in health benefits are on the way. Administrators will also argue that Eugene has low housing costs. Maybe back when they bought in, but Eugene is no longer a cheap place to live.
A reader just alerted to me to a good table that includes pay and pay+benefits, posted by the AFT/AAUP Union people, using the same data as the Maneater article. Personally I think the AAU comparisons are not justified: we are not in that league anymore. But if we use all PhD granting the basic result that UO full profs get 81% of peers while UO senior administrators 120% is depressingly robust and controls for all these factors.
How did we get to this situation? Easy: For the past 15 years President Frohnmayer has been in charge. He determines how to allocate money between instruction and administration. He is not an academic and he could not have cared less about our ability to hire and keep the top faculty needed get UO back to Carnegie VHR status. But he was willing to pay top dollar for sycophant administrators and a raft of inane pet projects. We hope Lariviere does care and if he doesn’t prove it right away UO needs a union.
6/10/2009: Update on Frohnmayer’s Foundation slush fund: Apparently he has been in a mad rush to spend $1 million in leftover money as quick as possible. Anyone with details, post a comment. We’re guessing this money is not going to Faculty!
Provost Bean has now selected UO’s next “Big Ideas” which will … well, we don’t really know what it means to be a big idea. All of Bean’s revolve around green/sustainability/diversity. While President Lariviere has said that his own #1 priority is getting faculty salaries about the bar set by Missouri, at least one “Big Idea” proposed that UO take steps to increase faculty salaries and research support. This did not make Bean’s cut. More in the comments.
The Daily Emerald now has a news blog. They’ve posted a story on UO .lt. UM.
According to this Kansas newspaper, incoming President Lariviere will be paid $540,000 in salary and deferred compensation. Adding in the usual perks and ORP, and this will probably add up to about $600,000 using the Chronicle.com definition of total compensation. The average for all PhD granting schools will be about $500,000 next year. OUS Secretary Ryan Hagemann tells us that he and Lariviere are still negotiating, and that there is no final contract yet. We’ll post the contract when Hagemann approves it.
6/8/2009: After a year on the job Provost Jim Bean discovers – from a news article in a Missouri student newspaper we posted here – that UO’s faculty are the lowest paid in the AAU. This is after he wasted a huge chunk of IR and Senate time trying to defend UO’s excessive salaries for administrators – including his own. Better late than never. The good news is the Lariviere quote – but of course Frohnmayer has promised the same thing ever since the Senate white paper came out in 2000: faculty salaries were his “top priority”. Right.
(A comment points out that Bean knew this already – he’s writing this email to make it sound like he is “shocked to discover…”. )
From: James Bean [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 07, 2009 12:26 PM
To: Deans Working Group
Subject: Faculty Salaries
The Missouri article stating that UO has the lowest salaries in the AAU has caused quite a stir (we have since verified that they were correct). Low salaries were always thought of as just Oregonian. But 34 out of 34 is a whole other thing. We cannot have this. Richard’s reaction was “this is job #1.” Richard will likely have an announcement on how we are attacking this when politically feasible (after last gavel). Please communicate to your faculty that the Missouri article really got our attention. This may require disruptive solutions.
James C. Bean
Senior Vice President and Provost
202 Johnson Hall
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1258
Steve Duin at the Oregonian has a post about this. In related news, on Friday the OUS Board approved emeritus status and a new contract for Frohnmayer. We’ve requested the contract, and should soon know how much we have to pay Frohnmayer to finally get him to stop being President.
6/5/2009: UO’s Under-represented Minority Recruitment Plan or UMRP gives $90,000 to departments that hire faculty who self-report as racial or ethnic minorities. What do those faculty spend this money on? Here is a link to the accounting statement for one history professor’s UMRP account. He took $62,000 as supplemental summer salary, and spent the rest on things ranging from moving expenses to research support to dining at the Excelsior. We hear most new history professors are lucky to get $6,000 in summer pay.
Affirmative action law (in our view appropriately) allows employers to make certain specific extra efforts to recruit minorities – but it is completely illegal to use race, ethnicity, or gender when determining pay, benefits, or working conditions. OK, the UMRP is illegal – but is it effective? Well, the professor in question (who has given permission to make his accounting statement public) left UO for another job the same year he spent the last of his $90,000. (A reader has told us this professor left because UO wouldn’t give his partner – who may also have been paid out of this $90K – a permanent job.)
The Daily Emerald has been doing good reporting about UO politics again. So far it hasn’t risen to the standard of Ryan Knutson’s Bernsteinian investigative pieces on the arena, but reporter Alex Tomchak Scott seems to know how to do an interview. See this story on the UO Senate’s version of Florida 2000. (Not in story: the Senate minutes show there was no quorum at the meeting that elected van Donkelaar either!) Check out Frohnmayer’s quotes on Tublitz – I hope Scott brought a handkerchief to wipe off the spittle:
“If anything,” Frohnmayer said, “I’ve made efforts to revitalize the Senate. If (demoralizing the Senate has) occurred, it’s occurred because of many other demands on faculty members’ time, and because frankly some people have attempted to use the Senate for their own personal agendas, including a couple that I’ve named, and that drives people away. But I don’t think it’s my doing at all. I really don’t. I’ve a clean conscience and an uninhibited mind on this.”
UO has now posted a job announcement for the new VP for Planning and Budget. Provost Bean created this position because VP for Finance Frances Dyke hasn’t been able to figure out a new budget model for UO, and just does not understand UO’s actual financial position. This was convincingly and embarrassingly demonstrated at the Furlough meeting, when she didn’t even know the faculty payroll sum. There are two obvious problems with this 1/2 FTE job, which is aimed at current faculty – apparently to give us a voice. Great idea, but as we learned from the recent Senate meeting there are just not that many people who are acceptable to the administration and trusted by the faculty. Second, Frances will still be in charge and will do everything possible to hide her mistakes and make sure this VP fails. Better to bite the bullet and just hire a new VP for Finance, and quick – IMHO.
Quoting from this story from Missouri:
A recently released study done by the American Association of University Professors reports University of Missouri salaries for professors ranked second to last out of 34 public institutions studied, ahead of only the University of Oregon.
How far is Oregon behind Missouri? According to this study, $8,300, or more than 10%. (A reader points out this ignores possible diffs in benefit packages. True.)
Nathan Tublitz will be Senate President for 2010-2011. This email from current President Paul van Donkelaar explains the situation:
I write to let you know that I have heard a number of concerns regarding the manner by which the election process for Senate vice-president was postponed until the October meeting. I have sought counsel from a number of respected colleagues including Paul Simonds, the Senate Parliamentarian; Gwen Steigelman, the Secretary to the Senate; John Bonine, a Senator from Law; as well as members of the Faculty Advisory Council. I trust the judgment of this group of colleagues and although they provided differing opinions on the matter, the consensus was that based on parliamentary procedures as applied in the context of the meeting last Wednesday the vote taken should stand. In discussions with Senate Parliamentarian, Paul Simonds, the following two issues became apparent:
- The election became final once the votes were taken and announced.
- My assertion that the election was out of order because of a lack of quorum was incorrect because the absence of a quorum is generally not permitted to affect prior action.
Therefore, the decision to postpone the election until October is not valid. From a procedural point of view, my decision today does not appear to be subject to appeal, thus, there is no need to hold a meeting at which such appeals could be discussed and voted upon. As a result of this counsel, I hereby announce the winner of the vote, Nathan Tublitz, as the next Senate vice-president.
Let me add that I have learned this year that trust is something that is often in short supply in matters of internal governance at the UO. I am not an unethical person nor do I wish to be viewed as such. It truly saddens me that, despite my efforts to build trust across many constituents, my actions last Wednesday were apparently viewed with suspicion by some present at the meeting and in the broader community. All I can say is that the goal of my original assertion was not to deny Nathan the vice-presidency, but simply to ensure that a sufficient number of people voted. I would have made the same decision had the vote totals for each candidate been reversed.
Yours, Paul van Donkelaar
Daily Emerald article says that at the 5/27 UO Senate meeting President Paul van Donkelaar decided after he knew the outcome of the voting for the 2010-2011 Senate President that there was no quorum and that the vote would be done over in October. The obvious interpretation is that Nathan Tublitz had the most votes, and that Paul made this decision to increase the chance of the election of an alternative he preferred. This is not a pleasant conclusion, so if someone knows more or has an alternative interpretation of what happened, please comment.
Just to be clear, we think the biggest problem with the Senate is that it has no input into basic budgeting decisions: like how much money will UO spend on academics, how much on administrators, how much on CAS, how much on Bend and Portland. The Senate doesn’t even have any credible information about current expenditures, because Frohnmayer, Bean and Dyke lie with impunity to the Senate and to the Senate Finance Committee about how they spend UO’s money. This problem needs to be fixed. Until it is the Senate does more bad than good, because it lets the administration claim their most bizarre and self-serving decisions have the consent of the faculty.
A few days ago we got a knowledgeable comment on our claim that the number of senior administrators was increasing. It said we were exaggerating: “this sure looks like a one-for-one replacement, distracting us from the more serious issues of the huge growth in Associate VPs, support staff, and so on.” We still think the number of senior admins has increased: We’ve added or will add VP for Diversity Martinez, and a VP for budgeting, and old VP’s Moseley, Davis, and Williams are still paid 1/2 time. But point taken otherwise.
Another reader then pointed us to UO’s institutional research site, here. It turns out there’s a lot of data on admin expenses. Still digesting, but the commentor seems correct that there has been big growth recently, much bigger than what has gone to the instructional side. More evidence as well that Provost Bean’s frequently reported 38% claim is bogus even according to the official UO data – which he presumably takes a look at every now and then!
The Commentor writes back: Yes, I have known about the IR site for years and often go there to get the actual facts – not that having real facts actually does any good around here. People hear only what they want to hear – helluva of a way to plan. In any event. To me one of the most striking features of the raw data, and one which most faculty and adminstrators don’t realize is true is that the actual number of tenure and tenure-track faculty has been essentially constant (631 +/- 17) over the last 15 years. Thus despite claims of “new programs” and more favorable faculty to student ratios, the plain truth as that has been no growth in these kind of faculty positions for the past 15 years. That defines institutional stagnation.