11/12/2009: Jack Bogdanski, a tax lawyer at Lewis and Clark, has somehow obtained a copy of a draft report by former Secretary of State Phil Keisling on PERS. It’s a disaster. Employers are going to have to double, perhaps triple their contributions to the fund. Taxpayers may be hit up for additional revenue beyond that. UO’s cost per employee will soar:
By 2013-15, what one observers calls Oregon’s pending “PERS Tsunami” could literally “wash away” more than $2 billion in taxpayer funds that today are being used to provide actual government services – e.g. K-12 teachers and college professors, health care and early childhood education, building roads and repairing aging infrastructure, etc.
It’s not a good read.
11/12/2009: From CJ Ciaramella in the Daily Emerald on yesterday’s Senate meeting. Melinda Grier tries another end run around faculty governance. She and law professor John Bonine last tangled over the COC/COI issue. She lost. In fact, she loses every time she is challenged on something. Why hasn’t Lariviere fired her yet? Either he doesn’t realize how incompetent she is, or he supports her efforts to destroy any trust between the faculty and his new administration. The man has been on campus since April. There’s no good way to read this.
Questions arise over power struggle among senators, faculty and administration: CJ Ciaramella.
A legal opinion delivered by University General Counsel Melinda Grier to the University Senate led one incensed senator to consider arming the Senate with its own legal counsel at yesterday’s meeting.
The memo, delivered to the Senate the day before the meeting, suggests that Oregon Public Meetings Law may not apply to the body.
“In certain circumstances, the Oregon Public Meetings Law may by operation of law apply to the University Senate,” Grier said in the memo, “but in all others, it applies only to the extent the University Senate Charter self-imposes those requirements.”
However, the hullabaloo was not so much over the OPML as a perceived slighting of the Senate’s power. University Sen. and law professor John Bonine said the memo failed to cite the University’s charter, which he called the “key governing document of this University,” and misrepresented the Senate’s relationship with the administration.
“The fact is that power is split between the president and the Senate,” Bonine said.
However, Grier’s memo states that “the faculty, by statute, also has authority. While that grant is not stated in detail and its relationship with the president’s authority is not well-defined, historically the faculty’s authority has been over the curriculum and the discipline of the students.”
Grier went on to say, “it appears the University Senate’s authority is not express and is that authorized by the president subject to veto by the president.”
Bonine contends that the University Charter, which Grier never mentions by name, conflicts with her opinion.
The charter, found in ORS 352.010, reads, “the president and professors constitute the faculty of each of the state institutions of higher education and as such have the immediate government and discipline of it and the students therein.”
“To obtain a legal opinion that contains about as big of a legal error as I can imagine astounds me,” Bonine said.
Bonine verbally announced a motion at the meeting to provide the Senate with its own legal counsel and said he would officially produce a written motion sometime in the near future.
… More in the article, on voting for Senate VP.
11/11/2009: CJ Ciaramella has an article in the ODE on a motion in the UO Senate that would set up a process for a faculty committee to review public records requests, if the UO General Counsel’s office delays or otherwise obstructs them. There is more in Peter Gilkey’s extremely well organized and transparent UO Senate pages.
11/11/2009: We reported earlier on Provost Bean’s refusal to tell the FPC committee chair who had been given tenure or see the letters he wrote justifying his decisions. We assumed that Bean’s unprecedented attempt to keep information on who had been given tenure from falling into the hands of UO’s tenured faculty was due to his desire to hide the fact that he had given tenure to Diversity VP Charles Martinez, despite the FPC’s recommendation. (An assumption. We know nothing about their recommendation.)
It now turns out that Bean has procured a memo from Academic Affairs VP Russ Tomlin, saying that it is illegal for Bean to share the tenure and promotion letters with the committee. I’m no lawyer (really!) but this is nonsense – and as such has Melinda Grier’s fingerprints all over it. Right Russ?
Obviously the FPC is authorized to view confidential personnel information – that’s their job. So why the attempt at secrecy? We suspect it is because Bean plans to put Martinez up for promotion to full professor this year. That’s right, a year after giving him tenure. Martinez hasn’t taught a course in 5 years and works 3/4 time at a private group off campus (OSLC) but is technically still on the books in the Ed School. Why promote him to full professor? Why promote him to vice president without an affirmative action search? The guy has done nothing of substance in 5 years. Oh, wait, I’m beginning to understand why Bean thinks “He is the best Diversity VP I have ever seen…”
Actually, we’re not really sure that he will go up for full. Melinda Grier has the information, but she will not share it with faculty – unless we pay her:
Dear Professor X:
The University of Oregon has received your public records request for a copy of any “email, memo, etc.” stating if or when Vice President Charles Martinez will be put up for promotion to full professor. The University is now providing an estimate of the cost to respond to your request.
The University estimates the actual cost of providing the information responsive to your request to be Eighty-Three Dollars and Eighty-Three Cents ($83.83). Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon in the amount of $83.83 the University will proceed to locate and provide the information you have requested that is not exempt from disclosure.
I like the way Melinda feels the need to spell out the “Eighty-Three Dollars and Eighty-Three Cents ($83.83)”. That will learn them damn faculty.
11/9/2009: From the RG, on the Blount reinstatement:
Bellotti emphasized that Oregon’s decision was not influenced in any way by boosters, donors or lawyers.
11/9/2009: From KEZI News 9: An old oak tree gets a new lease on life after it fell last spring, totalling the car owned by the University of Oregon Provost. The UO Director of Sustainability, Steve Mital, proposed that a UO furniture making class do something with the wood. So next summer, the UO will hold a studio class to design and build furniture for the Provost’s office out of the tree that smashed his car.
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:
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.
Kelly B. Wolf
Kelly B. Wolf
Director of Business Affairs and Controller
University of Oregon
Phone: (541) 346-3165
Fax: (541) 346-5820
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.)
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.