sustainable graduation

Elissa Harrington from KVAL reports that Amber Garrison, UO Director of Commencement, has decided students will wear green colored biodegradable gowns at graduation this year.

Rumor has it that they are made from hemp, the miracle fiber byproduct of Oregon’s second largest industry. To honor the baby boomer parents who are paying our salaries, diplomas will be printed on EZ Widers paper. I am not making all of this story up.

Union info Town Hall

2/8/2010: I thought the Town Hall was pretty informative. Thanks to Tublitz for arranging it and also to the speakers. The audience asked some good questions.

One commentator notes – I think correctly – that it was unbalanced, in that there was no anti-union speaker from the faculty. I don’t think this was intentional. As the survey showed, many faculty are strongly opposed to unionization. I’ve heard a little talk about faculty organizing to coordinate on this, but there is not going to be any passion behind it until Lariviere shows he is going to clear out the administrative deadwood. You’ve been on campus since May – so, any time soon would be good Richard, OK?

My favorite moment was probably when Assistant GC Doug Park ($105,000), speaking for the administration, tried to unearth Jimmy Hoffa by telling us that Union Presidents are paid “many hundreds of thousands of dollars” from union dues. Trust me Doug, you don’t want to go there. UO President Richard Lariviere’s contract pays him $540,000 plus house (and extensive remodeling to suit), car, retirement, paid sabbatical, expense account, etc. And he negotiated the creation of a new $135,300 job for his wife – no search. We’re up to about $750,000. Provost Jim Bean – also hired without a search – gets $320,000 or so.  Meanwhile we’re still paying Frohnmayer $245,700, plus secretary, co-teacher, GTF, expenses. Let’s call it $350,000. (Hilariously, Frohnmayer has now quit the voluntary furlough program that he and Bean started and tried to sucker the faculty into.) None of these people have the moral fiber to stop paying former Provost John Moseley $124,000, plus expenses, to do nothing in Bend. Even after the OUS auditor gave them perfect cover. All those fat paychecks come out of money that should be spent on academics. So clean up your own house first. Oh yeah – for the record, the highest paid AAUP employee got $132,793 last year.

Another highlight was when former Senate President Gordon Sayre called Melinda Grier ($184,710) a liar, over her bizarre claim that faculty aren’t required to do research. OK, I am paraphrasing here a bit, but not much. The fact that Lariviere repeatedly lets Grier get away with this behavior is pretty telling about his respect for the faculty – if you go by what he does, not what he says. Actually, she will probably take this to him and get another performance raise.

Another bit of revealing info came when someone asked what the administration was doing to address the concerns that have driven the faculty to consider unionization. (I think they were refering to the UO Matters survey.) Long awkward silence, ending with something about Russ Tomlin planning to do something soon. I am not pro union, but at this rate “our colleagues in the administration” are going to drive me to it quick.
 
We also learned there are about 1000 nonsupervisory OA’s, 800 tenure track faculty, 300 adjuncts and instructors with >= 0.5 FTE, and 300 Officers of Research. Actually, AVP for Human Resources Linda King ($146,815) didn’t know these numbers. Sort of reminded me of the Furlough town hall, where VP for Finance Francis Dyke didn’t know how much the UO payroll was. What do these people know?

If the union gets 30% to sign petition cards supporting the union, then the ERB calls a vote-by-mail election. The union needs 50% + 1 of those who vote in that election to be recognized as the sole bargaining authority for those in the unit. The ERB certification for WOU was decided after an election, see here. But if the Union gets 50% of the cards – as they did for Klamath CC, the ERB could certify the union immediately, see here.

Given these numbers, and given that the OA’s seem solidly behind this, I really don’t see how the union organizers can fail. So the administration will then go to the ERB and try to carve the faculty off from the OA’s. That seems difficult given the state ERB rules and precedents but not impossible, if the faculty remain opposed. Provost Bean has said he will resign if the faculty go union. It’s a really tempting offer! But my guess is that we’ll be sinking a lot of time into these politics, for a long time to come.

Supposing we do get a union what will it mean? Probably a lot more to the OA’s and the adjuncts/instructors than to the faculty. The story I hear from UF and SUNY is that faculty can still bargain for retention and merit raises with their Dean. Clearly there is money set aside for that in those university’s current contracts.

The union people have recently updated their website with info on likely dues and links to other research universities with unions. The UO Admin’s website is here.

Town Hall on Unionization, Friday 3-5 PM, 180 PLC

2/4/2010: We asked the Town Hall speakers for a summary of their planned remarks. We got some thoughtful comments from Gordon Sayre.

Remarks: Gordon Sayre, English (and former Senate Pres):

Summarizing, Sayre says that he believes the strongest argument for unionization is salaries, and he cites the 10-year-old Senate white paper on this as evidence. Frohnmayer claimed he supported the White Paper, repeatedly said it was his highest priority for UO, (Ed: and then ignored it for 10 years while tripling his own pay.) Without a union the faculty had no recourse. Sayre also argues that faculty and OA’s have common cause over benefits, and says unionization will not end merit increases. Finally, he makes a strong case for the importance of unionization in faculty governance, citing recent attacks on the role and rights of the faculty, particularly by UO General Counsel Melinda Grier.

Remarks: UO Administration:

Resources: 

The UO Matters faculty survey results are here.

The current SUNY contract (Stony Brook and Buffalo?) is available here. It provides minimum salaries by rank and grade, requires the administration to set aside certain additional percentages of the total salary expenditure each year for additional raises, and specifically states “§20.12 Nothing contained herein shall prevent the University, in its discretion, from granting further upward salary adjustments of individual employees.” I don’t know how this works in practice, but I’ve heard from one person that there is no problem making merit and retention raises. Here’s a flyer on the University of Florida contract.

While the UO administration page on Union info seems intentionally written to lead you to think dues would likely be on the order of 2.1% of salary, the SUNY faculty union dues are 1% of salary. University of Florida dues? Also 1%. When will the UO administrators learn that trying to fool the faculty is a dumb idea – particularly when they are so bad at it? Their history of this – which Lariviere is apparently unwilling to address – is one of the strongest arguments for a union. It sure ain’t  the free turkey.

People have been asking me if this post means I’m pro union. I’m not, but I’m am pro information, and at the moment the union people seem considerably more transparent and honest than the UO administration.

Town Hall meeting on unionization, 3-5 Friday, 180 PLC

2/3/2010: UO Matters has asked the speakers for a brief description of remarks, we will post what we receive Thursday. We’ve heard from many people who are planning on attending this meeting.

Dear Colleagues:

This is a gentle reminder that there will be a University Senate-organized town hall meeting on unionization this Friday (Feb 5th) in PLC 180 from 3-5pm. The meeting will begin with short presentations by 4 panelists (Doug Park, University Counsel’s Office; Linda King, Associate VP for Human Resources; Mike Tedesco, local labor attorney and adjunct law professor; and Gordon Sayre, Professor of English and United Academics representative). The panel presentations will be followed by an audience question and answer period.

Unionization is one of the most important issues to come before the University in many years. The purpose of the town hall is to provide non-partisan information on this subject. All University community members are warmly welcomed to attend and participate.

Nathan Tublitz
Professor of Biology
University Senate President

Pacifica

2/3/2010: Adam Kissell of The Foundation for Individual Rights has a good piece on Pacifica and free speech at UO:

The “safety” rationale fails in the absence of truly proscribed speech, such as true threats (and even then, it would be unclear whether an individual threat would be enough to discipline the entire group). …  In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, the Supreme Court determined that, even in high schools, “undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.” (Emphasis added.) Tinker is binding on public colleges like University of Oregon as a minimum requirement—colleges must tolerate much more freedom of speech than must high schools.

Thanks to Dane at the Commentator for the link – they have a lot of sensible posts on this, like this, by Evan Patrick Thomas. Nice work Mr. Thomas, whoever you are.

Lariviere, UO and 66 and 67

1/27/2010: Now that 66 and 67 have passed, UO’s budget seems pretty safe. Rumors are that there is plenty of cash about. We can expect a big announcement from new UO President Richard Lariviere soon about how he plans to spend it – sometime after he deals with his first priorities, Masoli and Kelly.

The administrators have already jumped the queue. The Provost’s budget has grown from $1.4 million to $3.7 million in 4 years, and now Lariviere is letting Jim Bean make even more VP hires – the UO jobs website currently lists 3 of them.So if you go by what he does rather than what he says, Lariviere thinks UO’s number one problem is too few VPs.

The academic side can expect some promises and some trickle down, but Lariviere has been in charge for 7 months now and shows no signs of wanting to rock the boat, much less change course.

Sorry, but that’s how it looks from here and I’m hardly the only one saying it. If you’ve got another interpretation, post it.

Students protest Frohnmayer Plan

1/30/2010:

Update: Also see the InterInstitutional Faculty Senate resolution on this, which boils down to “not so fast, buddy.”

From Bill Graves in the Oregonian:

A small group of Portland State University students gathered on campus today to denounce proposals to reorganize Oregon universities into public corporations. Students warned that such restructuring could lead to higher tuition, bigger classes and more corporate control over academics.

The State Board of Higher Education is studying ways to restructure the state’s seven public universities following recommendations from former University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer last November. Frohnmayer proposed converting the three largest universities, including PSU, into public corporations similar to Oregon Health & Science University so that they have more freedom and flexibility.

The success of this proposal depends on effective oversight. A look at the composition of the OUS board and their past history of complaisance doesn’t give a lot of confidence. So maybe the governor will appoint some new people to clean it up? Let’s see, last summer Governor Kulongoski gave state legislator Larry Galizio a fat OUS staff job as payoff for changing his vote on some pet bill. Before that he tried to appoint Goldschmidt as chair. We’re toast.

What it takes to get UO to follow the Affirmative Action law?

1/29/2010: Also see here. AAEO Director Penny Daugherty only started working on this draft because of pressure from the OFCCP and, perhaps, the Oregon DOJ. What is going on?

Dear Attorney General Kroger:

As the email below indicates, the UO General Counsel’s office has denied my request for a fee waiver for a copy of the current working draft of UO’s 2009-2010 Affirmative Action Plan. As a federal contractor, federal regulations require UO to prepare AA plans, update them annually, and make copies available “for inspection and copying”. The relevant regulations, which derive from several different federal laws and which are available at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/index.htm repeatedly say:

The affirmative action program shall be reviewed and updated annually.

and

The full affirmative action program shall be available to any employee or applicant for employment for inspection upon request. The location and hours during which the program may be obtained shall be posted at each establishment.

As your office knows, UO has not updated its affirmative action plans since sometime in October, 2008, though that plan was apparently then backdated and signed by UO President Frohnmayer to read “effective Jan 1 2008.”

Given that this working draft is therefore the closest thing UO has to a valid Affirmative Action Plan, I think it is clearly in the public interest to make it available for inspection without a fee, as these federal regulations rather clearly envision would be the case, had UO complied with them.

Indeed it would seem odd for the Oregon DOJ to hold UO to a lesser standard of disclosure, given that they haven’t complied with these regulations, than the federal government would hold them to if they had followed the rules.

Therefore this is a petition that you order UO General Counsel, and Oregon Special Assistant Attorney General Melinda Grier to waive this proposed fee and make this document available for inspection without further delay or charge.

Sincerely,

Professor X

UO Foundation loses $84 million

1/29/2010: From the Chronicle:

From June 30 2008 – June 30 2009:  $470,515,000 to $386,509,000  -17.9%
From June 30 2007 – June 30 2008:  $455,583,000 to $470,515,000     3.3%
From June 30 2006 – June 30 2007:  $365,859,000 to $455,583,000   24.5%

These lump together investment gains/losses and spending/new gifts. Really bad news but hardly unique to UO. Still, you’d think Lariviere might take it as a chance to cut back on the administrative bloat. But apparently you’d be thinking wrong.

PERS underwater

1/29/2010: PERS currently has assets to pay only 75% of liabilities. This Ted Sickinger story reports that the board votes today to  raise the pay in rates from 12% to 18% next year all at once or do so so gradually (most likely scenario). Either case will mean a big increase in UO’s payroll costs. Not clear if OUS will raise TIAA contributions as well.

Frohnmayer leaves UO for real?

1/29/2010: Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week reports:

Former University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer is rejoining his old law firm, Harrang Long Gary Rudnick, and opening a Salem office. Prior to leading the U of O from 1994 through 2009, Frohnmayer served as Oregon’s Attorney General from 1981 through 1991 and he ran for governor in 1990, losing to Democrat Barbara Roberts. Joining Frohnmayer, 69, at Harrang Long will be Pete Shepherd, the long-time top deputy to former AG Hardy Myers and former Oregon School Boards Association lobbyist Jim Green.

I’m not sure if this is really news or if Nigel is confused – Frohnmayer has been triple dipping at the Eugene office of Harrang Long since September, but a move to Salem would presumably be the end of his UO connection and save us about $400,000 in salaries and perks. Downside, we’d have to find someone to teach the 23 students in his PS 199 course, though from what the students say co-teacher Barbara West does most of the work anyway.

Theories of Leadership. This seminar investigates how theoretical concepts about interaction of personality, training, character, and environment help explain the principled or unprincipled exercise of power and influence. We’ll examine definitions of leadership and test insights of theorists.

Nah, Dave will never give it up – unless he’s figured out how to get a big PERS payoff at the same time. Hmm.

Ouch

1/28/2010: Given all the recent pepper spray abuses in Eugene, I’m tempted to say something sarcastic about this Oregonian story:

A Portland police officer accidentally used pepper spray instead of a fire extinguisher on a man who lit himself on fire downtown near a fur store Wednesday.

But actually it just reminds me of how the cops are mostly just trying to do the right thing in a crazy world. Tough job. Glad my mistakes don’t play out like that. The guy died.

Next Friday: Senate and FAC union info town hall

Note: The Union organizing committee will be represented on the panel by Prof Gordon Sayre, English.

The University Senate, in consultation with the Faculty Advisory Council, is sponsoring a non-partisan, informational town hall meeting on unionization on Friday February 5th at 3-5pm in PLC180. The goal of this meeting is to provide information on the unionization process. The meeting will consist of short presentations by 3 speakers: Doug Park, Assistant University General Counsel; Linda King, Associate Vice President for Human Resources; and, Michael Tedesco, adjunct professor of law and private lawyer. Following their presentations, there will be a question and answer period from the audience.  All campus community members are warmly encouraged to attend.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of us.

Sincerely,

Nathan Tublitz
University Senate President

Barbara Altmann
Chair, Faculty Advisory Council