The DOJ did not question Frohnmayer

6/26/2010: Les Zaitz has a long story in the Oregonian today about AG John Kroger. Very mixed reviews, mostly involving his political ambitions. This part struck home:

… he also has refused to release the record of his agency’s examination of Mike Bellotti’s unwritten employment deal as the University of Oregon’s athletic director. When he resigned in March, Bellotti said he was owed millions under a verbal deal. He settled for $2.3 million, but news of the odd arrangement sparked public outcry.

Kroger put his agency to work on the case, and the Justice Department report issued last month said the review was meant to assess legal services provided to UO and “to determine whether there was any evidence of criminal conduct or other illegal behavior warranting criminal investigation.”

State lawyers racked up $44,000 in costs doing the review. “It required a significant amount of legal research. Contract issues are complicated,” said Tony Green, Kroger’s spokesman.

But Justice staff interviewed just one person: Melinda Grier, UO’s general counsel who also reported to the Justice Department. The review concluded Grier erred in not getting Bellotti’s employment deal on paper. She lost her job.

But no one questioned Pat Kilkenny, UO athletic director when the Bellotti deal was struck, or Dave Frohnmayer, former attorney general and past UO president.

That triggered the resignation of a third top Kroger aide. Jerry Lidz, who as solicitor general managed the state’s appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, resigned over the treatment of Grier, his wife.

Dave Leith and Keith Dubanevich, the DOJ attorneys who ran the investigation, didn’t even interview Frohnmayer, Kilkenny, or Bellotti. How can you investigate a verbal agreement, conclude UO did no wrong in paying $3 million to Bellotti, and not even interview the people who made the deal? It’s just not believable. As in I do not believe it. These people are not that incompetent.

The Portland police will give the Oregonian an mp3 of the recording of the masseuse’s allegations that Al Gore assaulted her. But try and find out what the Oregon DOJ investigators discovered about Dave Frohnmayer’s role in the $3 million Bellotti payoff? What about the $240,000 Kilkenny donated to Frohnmayer’s Fanconi foundation, the year before Frohnmayer appointed him AD? Did boosters give the money for Dave’s raises and bonuses too? The Oregon DOJ will reject your public records requests and tell you that’s none of your business. Move it along, punk.

Dave Frohnmayer is simply untouchable – at least as far as the Oregon DOJ, which he headed for 8 years, is concerned. I’m beginning to see why Jerry Lidz resigned over this investigation.

Budget cuts put Oregon in jeopardy of losing half-billion dollars

6/28/2010: From Bill Graves in the Oregonian, last week:

Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s order for state budget cuts this week puts Oregon in jeopardy of losing a half billion dollars in federal stimulus money for education.

State leaders say they will make sure that doesn’t happen. But that means they either must get a waiver from federal rules or raise at least $14 million for the state’s community colleges and universities and about $3 million for public school special education.

To keep that money, the state must maintain its financial support for public schools and higher education at or above 2006 levels – what government calls a sufficient “maintenance of effort.”

 The governor on Tuesday ordered 9 percent across-the-board budget cuts to adjust to a $577 million hole in the budget resulting from the recession and declining state revenue. His order shaves state support for higher education in next year’s budget below 2006 levels by about $32 million.

State higher education funding this year topped the 2006 federal minimum by about $18 million so the state may be able to shift that much money into next year’s allocation for colleges and universities. That would leave the state $14 million shy of what it needs to meet federal requirements for higher education.

Some good news on the faculty pay issue

6/25/2010: From Dana Tims in the Oregonian:

A sagging national economy, paired with distributors’ moves to drop even established Oregon wine accounts, means all of the new wine coming into the pipeline now must be sold in-state — an unlikely prospect given that the number of Oregon wineries has roughly doubled in the past five years alone.  “The amount of fruit that’s going to go unpicked this year is staggering,” Hatcher said. “For the industry, it’s going to be cataclysmic.”

I think those economists call this an increase in consumer surplus. This should reduce the pressure to do something about UO’s low faculty pay. Sure, it’s 79% of our comparators, and housing costs are 140%  – but we’ve got decent pinot noir for $7.99, and no sales tax. The question is how this will affect grappa prices. Your answer should include figures and a brief explanation. Hint: substitutes or complements in production? In consumption? Does the fact that grappa is typically drunk within the year, not aged in barrels, matter for your results?

OUS staff opposes UO restructuring plan

6/25/2010: The OUS Board’s Governance and Policy Committee met yesterday to consider increasing the independence of the institutions by appointing university specific boards and ceding power to them. This is a key compenent of Pres Lariviere’s restructuring plan. Their meeting materials are here. Presumably this committee will make a report to the full board later.

My take away from this report is that the board’s staff is *very* opposed to the proposals that Lariviere and Wim are pushing. Not surprising, given that this would reduce their power and budget. On the other hand they really like the idea of more independence from the state – as long as the money and control devolves to them, and not to the institutions. Among the decisions made to date:

Board will enter into performance agreements with and allocate state funding to
universities based on their individual missions, programs, and other factors with the aim to use the entirety of the System’s universities and programs to fulfill the performance required by the state. The performance measures for each campus are likely to be different from one another.

New funding:

Staff Recommendation: The Committee might explore further the following three possibilities: use of corporate kicker for an endowment; use of income tax associated with university research to support that research; tying the higher education appropriations to those of K-12.

However this section makes clear that the OUS Board has no intention of giving up authority to the institutions as Lariviere’s plan envisions – quite the opposite:

Regarding local boards and increased independence:

3. RECOMMENDATION
a.    State Board of Higher Education continues as governing board 

b.    State Board can delegate authority to local boards as it deems fit as long as clarity of responsibilities and accountability are maintained

In such a system, the State Board of Higher Education remains a public body and would continue to be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. An alternative is to have a statewide elected board (as is the case in Nevada). This step does not seem necessary at this time but would make the status of the Board more akin politically to that of the locally elected boards of the community colleges.

The Board might have to be expanded slightly because of workload demands on its members and to help ensure geographic, demographic, and skill diversity. A board of fifteen members is suggested.

This proposal continues to operate the seven universities and their programs and branches as a single System. This is done to enhance the value of the changed status and to ensure that resources can be allocated and programs allotted with an eye toward meeting statewide goals rather than to meet the needs of individual institutions. In this model, the institutions are means to achieve the statewide public goals of the Board within the public policy framework that the Board establishes and in fulfillment of the Board’s agreements with the state, and not as stand-alone entities with their own independent agendas.

The underlying premises of the proposal for a new compact between the Oregon University System and the state involve conveying to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education all the authority it now enjoys, but as a new public entity. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education also would have the authority to determine whether, when, and under what conditions and circumstances it would delegate some of its authority to local boards. The composition of those local boards and their respective authority can be determined by the State Board of Higher Education. Clear authority is essential if accountability is to be achieved.

A more complete (but not exhaustive) listing of possible responsibilities in a construct that does not involve local boards follows. Obviously, the State Board, if authorized to do so in the enabling legislation, could delegate some of its responsibilities or the responsibilities or campuses to local boards.

The Lariviere / Redding bond proposal:

In order to meet the state’s needs for higher education, means of stabilizing or increasing public funding must be found. President Lariviere has proposed that the state issue general obligation bonds and pay the debt service using the state’s current appropriation for the University. The University would match the principal amount of the bonds (about $800 million) with private donations and use the investment earnings from the bonds and the donations to pay for university operations. Although there have been legal, financial, and political issues raised in opposition to this proposal, it remains one alternative that could increase the resources available to at least one Oregon public university. Under current state debt policies, there is not sufficient bonding capacity to extend this approach to other universities in Oregon. Further, the ability of other universities in the System to find sufficient donations to match the state bonds is doubtful and may never eventuate.

So, it’s a turf was between Pernsteiner and Lariviere. My money is on Lariviere.

Union organizers reorganize

6/24/2010: From the union website:  
United academics of the UO in the pursuit of forming a union for campus faculty have hired new staff to accelerate and capitalize on the growing support on the campus. David Cecil has been hired at United Academics as the lead organizer. Cecil has been the organizer for the Graduate Teachers Fellows Federation for many years. After developing a working relationship with the university through the GTFF, Cecil brings that experience to the campaign to organize the university faculty.

David Cecil seems to be the guy who dug up the $300 per hour UO contract with the anti-union consultants. $24,999.99 invoices here.

New Law School Dean

6/22/2010: UO has posted a job ad for Dean of the Law School. I hadn’t heard anything about Margie Paris leaving. She was appointed as interim Dean after a 2006 search gone bad, but I thought it became a permanent position for her in 2008. Does anyone know what’s up?

Update: A UO Law student has a post in the comments. Apparently this is her decision to step down and go back to teaching, and she wrote a very nice and informative email to the school about her decision back in Feb. We are simply out of the loop.

Teaching Evaluations

6/22/2010: In the NYTimes, Stanley Fish is outraged over what’s happening in Texas:

Now an entire state is on the brink of implementing just that bite-sized style of teaching under the rubric of “customer satisfaction.” …  the plan calls for college and university teachers to contract with their customers — that is, students — and to be rewarded by as much as $10,000 depending on whether they meet the contract’s terms. The idea is to hold “tenured professors more accountable” (“A&M regents push reforms,” The Eagle, June 13, 2010), and what they will be accountable to are not professional standards but the preferences of their students, who, in advance of being instructed, are presumed to be authorities on how best they should be taught.

I’m outraged that Fish – a former Dean – has so little respect for professors like me that he thinks I’d sell out for $10,000. Wait, is that $10,000 per year?

Meanwhile, a couple of economists have actually done some substantive research on this question, and have some interesting results – which support Fish’s argument. From the Journal of Political Economy at the University of Chicago:

Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors

Scott E. Carrell, University of California, Davis and National Bureau of Economic Research and James E. West, U.S. Air Force Academy

In primary and secondary education, measures of teacher quality are often based on contemporaneous student performance on standardized achievement tests. In the postsecondary environment, scores on student evaluations of professors are typically used to measure teaching quality. We possess unique data that allow us to measure relative student performance in mandatory follow‐on classes. We compare metrics that capture these three different notions of instructional quality and present evidence that professors who excel at promoting contemporaneous student achievement teach in ways that improve their student evaluations but harm the follow‐on achievement of their students in more advanced classes.

Is cheerleading a sport?

6/21/2010: Ever since Kilkenny dropped wrestling for cheerleading, it’s been obvious that the courts would have to decide this issue someday. Insidehighered.com links to this story, arguments begin today in US District Court in CT:

A federal judge is being asked to decide whether cheerleading can be counted as a sport by schools looking for ways to meet gender-equity requirements. The issue is part of a lawsuit filed by five members of the volleyball team at Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University and coach Robin Sparks last year after the school decided in a budgetary move to eliminate women’s volleyball in favor of a competitive cheer squad.

The Log Cabin Democrat

6/21/2010: This has nothing to do with UO, but how often do you get to hyperlink to a newspaper called The Log Cabin Democrat?

University of Central Arkansas faculty and non-classified employees will not see the pay increase of 2.2 percent originally pledged to them at a May meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Richard Weiss, director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration announced Thursday that merit raises to be suspended would include non-classified employees and faculty. Also suspended were annual career service recognition payments. The suspension applies to the fiscal year 2010-2011, beginning July 1.

(From the Chronicle.)

PAC-12

6/20/2010: The PAC-n expansion is way outside my area of expertise. You’d need a PhD in economics to understand if there’s even a pure-strategy Bayesian Nash equilibrium to this game. Rob Moseley has a good piece in today’s RG. Maybe it’s sour grapes, but the quotes from former UO AD Mike Bellotti on adding Utah and Colorado are pretty negative. They will get a slightly larger TV share, but split it more ways, and there are scheduling pluses and minuses. It looks like Larry Scott rolled the dice on a PAC-16 and lost, at least for now. So it’s still not clear how athletics is going to make the vig for the UO Arena bonds. To say nothing of the nut. One odd bit of fallout: Pat Kilkenny lent Scott his jet for the negotiations, then realized the press was tracking it, so he had it removed from the FAA’s public database.

UO needs a lawyer

6/19/2010: UO has now posted a job announcement for the General Counsel job:

… at least fifteen years of law practice experience ….  To ensure full consideration, please submit a cover letter, resume, and the names of three professional references by July 8, 2010. … The committee will strongly prefer candidates who have substantial experience handling the legal work of a large organization, especially of a research-oriented university. The committee also will prefer candidates who are familiar with public law.

5/16/2010: The April 21 Jeff Manning story on the Melinda Grier firing said

Lariviere initially hoped to name Grier’s successor Friday. But it appears that won’t happen. … Kent Robinson, long-time federal prosecutor in Portland, has emerged as one candidate to replace Grier.

Nearly a month has passed, and there is still no post on the UO or the DOJ job websites for the UO General Counsel / Special Assistant AG position. Meanwhile Doug Park appears to be running things. This is not good, UO needs an outsider with a new perspective on the situation, and we need one quickly.

Rewarding Strivers

6/18/2010: From the blurb from the new Century Foundation book on access to higher education, Rewarding Strivers:

Obstacles are more closely associated with class than race, suggesting affirmative action should be primarily about socioeconomic status.

Racial discrimination continues to play a role in education, but its influence is dwarfed by the role of socioeconomic status. Of the 784-point SAT gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, Carnevale and Strohl found that just 56 points are solely attributable to race per se (being black as opposed to white). (See Figure 2.) By contrast, 399 points of the gap are from factors that are socioeconomic in nature—such has having a father who is a laborer as opposed to a physician (48 points), attending a school where 90 percent of classmates are low-income compared to one where no peers receive subsidized lunch (38 points), and having a parent who is a high school dropout as opposed to highly educated (43 points). Another 228 points are associated with factors that are sometimes matters of choice but are constrained by socioeconomic status—items such as working at a job during high school (13 points) and not taking any AP courses (81 points), which some low-income schools fail to make available.

The book seems mostly about access to highly selective universities. The review by Doug Lederman at insidehighered.com is more nuanced on the race/income issue. Support for a shift away from affirmative action based on race and towards SES is clearly becoming mainstream. President Obama has argued in favor of it, and the recent AAU/AAAS book on what universities can legally do to increase diversity repeatedly makes the point that, particularly since the Grutter decision, affirmative action that emphasizes SES is much more legally defensible than approaches that are based strictly on race.

Diversity and the Law

6/15/2010: The AAAS and the AAU and the Sloan Foundation recently hired a team of lawyers to write a thoughtful and carefully argued 200 page book, elaborating on what is “legally sustainable” in university diversity programs and what is not. Press release and link here. Very interesting reading.