comments

1/20/2010: This site has been getting a lot of visits lately, and a few more comments. I do screen these a little, but usually post everything that doesn’t offer advice on how to get shrink mortgage payments or enlarge body parts. Posters might consider adopting a screen name, simply by checking the Name/URL option and making up a name. It’s still anonymous, it just gives you the option to use a name other than “Anonymous” – which gets a little confusing when everyone does it. Also, if you want to contact me anonymously without having your question/tip appear online, just put “Do Not Post” at the top of your message, and I won’t.

Graduation on Monday?

1/20/2010: This was news to me, from Jill Kimball in the ODE:

The main ceremony and most department commencements will be held on a Monday, a day on which the University has never before held commencement, to avoid a scheduling conflict with the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will take place on campus from June 9, the Wednesday of finals week, to June 12, the Saturday on which most ceremonies would normally be held.

Former University President Dave Frohnmayer and his administration made the agreement with the NCAA to host the 2010 championships a few years ago, unaware that it would conflict with the University’s academic schedule. Frohnmayer retired last year, leaving Lariviere and his administration to work out the scheduling kinks.

ORI building

1/20/2010: I really don’t know anything about local land use decisions. I wish someone who does would start a blog. From the outside, the local decision process seems to involve a few passionate citizens obstructing OK projects because they are not perfect, combined with secrecy, brinksmanship and apocalyptic warnings from developers claiming they will leave town if they don’t get their way. Next iteration everyone takes it up a notch. It’s a broken process that is slowly destroying Eugene. My own ignorant sentiment is that the ORI building should have gone downtown. I still haven’t heard a good explanation for why they can’t use their $5 million in NIH stimulus funding for that, and today’s RG editorial ignores the issue. But now that we are at the brink – if that’s really where we are at – of course good is better than a perfect nothing. UO and Eugene should do everything possible to encourage employers like ORI. Otherwise we hear Sid Leiken has a nice spot available in Springfield. But I do wish the ORI people would stop claiming that we should support this because they will build a bike rack, throw up a few solar cells, and get LEED certification.

Athletics

1/19/2010: I gotta get off this athletics kick, at the end of the day I don’t give a shit – let’s just play the game. But meanwhile, USA Today reports some numbers: in 2007-08 UO’s AD brought in $56,623,901 and spent $56,259,942, for a slight profit. These numbers look pretty comprehensive – everything from the State Lottery loot that goes to fund scholarships for athletes, to Kilkenny’s gifts.

For 2008-2009, the athletic budget grew by about $5 million, and Rachel Bachman in the Oregonian reports that they lost a bit more than $1 million. Belotti funded that by borrowing from next year’s football ticket sales. Apparently this is the first time they’ve had to do that. What does the future hold?  (Big Rose Bowl cash, in the short run, I hope!) I’m no economist, but keep in mind that athletic departments have the same asymmetric profit model as Wall Street hedge funds. In the good years they take a big chunk of the gross as salary. In the bad years they skip town leaving the academic side holding an empty bag.

Transparency and regulation are the usual solutions. We hope Lariviere has more on the ball than that Greenspan fellow.

union

1/19/2010: Someone has posted a few comments on the union – which we haven’t heard much about lately. You can add your own here.

Anonymous said…

UAUO seems to be basing much of their appeal to faculty on the fact that UO faculty salaries fall below comparator institutions. That led me to wonder if our union-represented colleagues at other institutions are faring better. Apparently not. The PSU-AAUP blog decries the fact that those faculty also are at the bottom of their list of comparator institutions – and they pay union dues. Not a very compelling argument in favor of unionization. See: http://www.psuaaup.net/blog/2009/04/how-is-psu-faculty-doing.html
 
This statement appeared on the PSU-AAUP Labor Blog (http://www.psuaaup.net/blog/labels/bargaining.html): “There is no doubt that it would be advantageous for the Oregon University System, which controls negotiations with PSU faculty, to do what it can — in a union-busting sort of way — to make certain that UO and OSU faculty are perceived to suffer less than PSU faculty, especially since organizing efforts are currently being made on those campuses.” Seems like a strong argument against unionization…

Breaking news – giant glass cube not energy efficient

1/17/2010: Greg Bolt of the RG takes a closer look at Phil Knight’s Jaqua Athletes Only jock box. Regarding energy efficiency, there are a lot of LEED and SEED terms thrown out here and I’m no architect, but it seems that SEED (a state standard) is tougher and smarter than LEED (a frequently criticized national standard.) The Lillis building, for example, got LEED points by slapping a few solar cells on the front (in Oregon? please), and having a bike rack. The state architects behind SEED measure actual energy efficiency – and it looks like the glass cube will fail. Shocking.

There are two new things here. First, UO spokesperson Phil Weiler admits general UO funds are being used for the building:

The internal improvements and landscaping costs were paid with athletic funds and other unrestricted money, according to Phil Weiler, UO’s senior director of communications, which would be in keeping with UO’s long-standing assertion that sports are self-supporting.

Really? it seems like using unrestricted monies for this project specifically contradicts that assertion.

“There were no tuition dollars or state dollars used for those improvements,” Weiler said.

This is a very weak statement on Phil’s part. How much “unrestricted money” (for example, Foundation money that was *not* specifically earmarked for the athletic department and therefore could have been used for academics) is being spent on the Jock Box? Greg doesn’t follow up on that interesting question.

Second, Greg finally reports on some of the terms of the Frohnmayer codicil – including the news that Frohnmayer got nothing for the academic side in return for giving the athletic department the land, that professors are not allowed upstairs (my apologies to apartheid guy below – you were right!), and that now the jocks are considering charging the academic side for the heat we use when we hold Senate meetings there. Seriously.

Given the Senate’s history of hot air production, I think I see a potential win-win solution.

more on ORI building

1/17/2010: Anthony Biglan of ORI calls out the AAA professors opposing their new building:

This year Oregon Research Institute will celebrate its 50th anniversary of doing research in the behavioral sciences. Much of our work focuses on the prevention and treatment of the major psychological and behavioral problems that jeopardize health and well-being. To continue and expand this work, we’ve planned a new building in the University of Oregon’s Riverfront Research Park — a project whose timely completion is threatened by unwarranted delays.

… But our ability to do this work is threatened by efforts of UO professors Mark Gillem and Ron Lovinger and some of their students to prevent the building’s construction (Commentary, Jan. 3). The NIH grant comes from federal stimulus money that must be spent within a two-year time limit, and the clock is ticking. As we indicated to Gillem in early December, a delay in construction could result in our losing the funds entirely and/or the building not being built.

Tough questions for the opposition! I’m not impressed by this though:

The building plan includes photovoltaic cells to offset energy usage; …

We should be long past the point where you can paste a few solar cells on a building in Oregon and use that to brag that it’s green – whatever the LEED rules say. Both sides should take this off the table and send the photovoltaics to Haiti.

weekend hyperbole

1/16/2010: Phil Knight writes on 66 & 67: “There are words to describe what we are doing with 66 and 67: It is called a death spiral.” And a UO professor writes on Knight’s jock box: “… I worked in southern Africa. At the time there was a system in that region that enforced economic and educational separation and privilege. They called it apartheid. I never expected to find it when I got home.”

Arithmetic has no mercy

1/15/2010: This David Steves RG story is the most honest I’ve seen yet on what’s going on with state spending:

Question: What’s really going on with the state budget? One side says politicians in Salem behind the tax increase just increased state spending by $4.7 billion. The other side says the budget was cut by $2 billion. Who is right?

Answer: They’re both right. Tax critics are citing the state’s “all funds” budget, which grew from $51.2 billion in 2007-09 to $55.9 billion in 2009-11, a 9 percent increase. The “general fund” is the budget within this budget that tax-increase supporters are focusing on. It was $15.1 billion for 2007-09, until the recession hit. It went down in 2009-11 to $14.2 billion.

That’s not a $2 billion cut, you say? That’s right. The $2 billion figure cited by Democratic leaders is the difference between the $14.2 billion in approved spending and the $16.2 billion estimate of what it would have cost to keep up with growing case­loads, enrollment, medical inflation and previously approved government expansions.

Question: Why did the state’s general-fund budget get smaller when its overall spending increased?

Answer: Let’s look at the general-fund budget. Income taxes from households and corporations, plus lottery money, make up nearly all the general fund. The recession hammered those tax collections.

More than 130,000 Oregonians lost their jobs and investment income and corporate profits tanked. The amount of corporate and personal income tax revenue lawmakers could count on when they crafted the 2009-11 budget had fallen by $1.4 billion from what had been expected two years earlier.

Now, let’s consider the state’s all-funds budget. The general fund makes up just under a quarter of it. The rest comes from taxes and fees outside the general fund, as well as federal dollars.

The Legislature’s $733 million in higher taxes for the general fund through measures 66 and 67 are front and center now. But the state raised other revenue that doesn’t flow into the general fund, thereby boosting the all-funds budget. For example, the state increased the gas tax and DMV fees — a $568 million jump — for highway and bridge work. Plus, the state imposed $500 million in new taxes on hospitals and insurance premiums to increase health care for poor families.

In addition are hundreds of millions of dollars of fees, such as university tuition, that the state raised to offset dwindling income-tax revenues.

Gilkey resigns as Senate President


1/14/2010 Update: It seems that the normal procedure from Robert’s Rules of Order applies, meaning that VP Nathan Tublitz is now Senate President. 

1/13/2010:  I don’t know all the backstory, and I wish Peter the best, but this is very good news for faculty governance.

From: Peter Gilkey [mailto:gilkey@uoregon.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 5:35 PM
To: President Lariviere
Cc: Gwen Steigelman
Subject: Gilkeys Resignation

MEMO TO: President Richard Lariviere
MEMO CC: Gwen Steigelman
MEMO FROM: Peter Gilkey
MEMO RE: UO Senate President
MEMO DATE: 13 January 2010

Dear President Lariviere.

I am resigning effective 1800 Wednesday 13 January 2010 as UO Senate
President, as UO Senate Webmaster, and as UO Assembly Webmaster.

Respectfully submitted

Peter B Gilkey

 cc: Members of the UO Senate

Senate remains opposed to the proposed Riverfront expansion

1/14/2010: CJ Ciaramella has an ODE story on the ORI’s efforts to build in the UO Riverfront Research Center. The Senate voted against the current proposal. It seems the issue boils down to siting near the river, and a 250 200 car parking lot in a prime spot. I am totally uninformed on this but have to wonder why the building can’t go downtown instead, where something like this seems to be desperately needed. On the other hand if this opposition just drives them out to the burbs, whoops. More info is on the Senate web page here and in this Alan Pittman story in the EW, here. The AAA students and faculty opposed to the current proposal have an informative website here while ORI explains their support for this project here.

Frank Stahl’s Senate motions for Today

Update: The Senate passed a revised version of motion 12a on a unanimous voice vote today. Frank diplomatically withdrew motion 12b, allowing the admin to maintain the cherished fiction that their efforts to hide tenure decisions had nothing to do with VP Martinez.

1/13/2010: Frank’s Senate motions are needed to codify what was once a collegial procedure where the faculty in the form of the FPC gave advice to the Provost on who should get tenure and why, and the Provost in turn explained his final decisions to the faculty who had advised him. As near as we can tell – and some of this is speculation – this process worked fine until last year, when Provost James (Jim) Bean decided he wanted to give tenure to OIED Vice Provost Charles Martinez for shady administrative reasons. We’ve tried to find out details on this – like when Charles was actually put on a tenure track – but Melinda is trying to charge us to see the paperwork.

Jim really, really didn’t want to have to tell the FPC what he was doing. So he put Charles up for tenure at the last minute and then changed the rules on the FPC, and that’s why we are all wasting our time on this. Thanks Jim – and thanks to Frank for working to fix this nonsense!

Dear Senators,

             In the interest of expediting discussion of motions 12A 
and B at the 13 January meeting, here is a brief description of the 
need for the Motions.

     Our University enjoys a generally good procedure for deciding 
matters of promotion and tenure. Committees at Department and College 
levels collect and evaluate documentation of each Candidate’s record 
of research, teaching, and service, and forward recommendations to the 
Chair or the Dean, respectively. These materials, along with the 
recommendations of the Chair and Dean are forwarded to the FPC, whose 
job is to evaluate the materials and make recommendations to the 
Provost.

    The Provost reaches decisions based on his/her evaluation of the 
documents and the recommendations of the FPC, and then composes 
decision letters for delivery to the Candidates. For decades, until 
this past year, these letters were shared with the FPC Chair. This 
sharing provided assurance that the Provost was making decisions in 
the best interests of the University’s academic program.

    Decisions that compromise those interests could arise under several 
conditions. For instance, a Provost could grant tenure on the grounds 
that a candidate fills certain University needs that are unrelated to 
the academic program. Or a Provost could deny tenure on the grounds 
that the candidate, although bright and productive, might project an 
unfavorable image to the public. Or simple budgetary problems could 
lead a Provost to cut the work force by denying tenure.

            The sharing of letters with the FPC Chair provides the 
historically sanctified route for protecting the University from such 
problematic actions. It also recognizes the hard work and sacrifice 
made by members of the FPC, one of the most demanding of the 
University Committees.

Respectfully,

Franklin W. Stahl

Molecular Biology

Diplomacy

1/11/2010: Frohnmayer’s special Poli Sci course on “Theoretical Leadership” appears to be the first UO course to use the new Jaqua Athletes Only Study Center. No word on whether Poli Sci is paying the athletic department for use of the space, as regular academic users must, or if free access was part of Dave’s deal with Phil. Apparently retired UO administrator Barbara West is being paid about $12,000 to help Dave teach the 23 students in this class and his 25 student Honors College class on the same basic stuff. Dave gets $245,000. Supposedly there’s a GTF too, and a full time secretary for Dave, and offices in the Law School and Honor’s College, and a large expense account.

Dave’s leadership course seems to involve having the students play Diplomacy. (Man, does that takes me back to Junior High School. Mr. Black, you were such a cool social studies teacher.)

No word on whether or not Dave also gives lectures on how to sell out to boosters for big salary supplements and contributions to your foundation (Kilkenny gave  $240,000, just before Dave hired him as AD, see page 6, and $100,000 the next), get a fat retirement deal from PERS before it goes bankrupt, and then go to the state legislature and deliver self-righteous testimony on how they aren’t doing enough to fund higher education. But maybe some things just can’t be taught.