ICC rate cut – revenge of the nerds part 7

10/27/2009: We’re slowly piecing together the story about why UO’s ICC rate was cut from 50 to 48 to 42%. Rich Linton had apparently seen this coming, and had taken 0.5% cuts (the default) for several years, rather than face a full review. But he could not postpone past 2008, and the ensuing federal review – based on 2006 numbers – produced the dramatic fall, costing UO faculty research $2 million per year starting this year.

In short, the cut was foreseen and could have been avoided by increasing expenditures on coverable research related items (space, startups, etc.) by $2 million per year, to establish a higher base. This is apparently a common strategy at other universities. But our administration decided not to do this. Instead they spent the money on Moseley’s retirement plan in UO-Bend, renovating their offices in Johnson Hall, etc.

If our math is correct, the return to spending the money on research would have been over 100% – per year. I’m no economist, but what the fuck? Frohnmayer sure had interesting preferences. And Rich – maybe you should have told the faculty about this a few years back? Next time an anonymous comment on UO Matters is all it will take.


10/25/2009: Greg Bolt has a good article on the faculty union in the Sunday RG:

(Marie) Vitulli (Math) said concern about pay and benefits is one reason for considering a union. UO faculty are generally ranked at or near the bottom in pay among institutions in the groups the state uses as comparators. … But of as much concern to some people on campus is the voice faculty have in major decisions affecting the university. Vitulli said many people feel that the university’s top executives don’t give much weight to faculty views. … Asked to comment on the union effort, the UO Provost Jim Bean said the university “supports the rights of faculty and staff” as they decide whether to unionize and will make relevant information available.

Jim, what do you mean by “will make relevant information available?” As in offer to sell the faculty the documents that explain how administrative spending policies just lost the faculty $2 million a year in federal research money? You just made the best case for the Union I’ve heard yet.

President Larivere has an Op-Ed in the RG today as well. Lariviere has been President for 4 months now. It’s typical for a person taking a job like this to bargain for the right to make some changes in their administrative team. So far there’s no hint of that happening – quite the opposite. Either he didn’t negotiate this as part of his deal or he likes Frohnmayer’s top administrators and the way they run UO and treat the faculty just fine.

So, nice words, but we got those from Frohnmayer all the time – prestigious AAU membership, extraordinary faculty, opportunity for students – yada yada. Reads like Frohnmayer’s speechwriter wrote it. (Yup, same guy.) This is just cheap talk. Lariviere needs to make some changes very soon or we really will have a union.

The Oregon Commentator – and libertarians are not usually pro-union – just weighed in with this:

The UO’s faculty is normally ranked at the bottom of Oregon College’s faculty pay scales, averaging about 80% of the average pay at other state schools in Oregon. Portland State University, Southern Oregon University, Western Oregon University and Eastern Oregon all have faculty unions. It’s ironic that President Lariviere’s guest commentary mentioned that Oregon was the “flagship university” in Oregon yet none of the faculty seemed to be getting paid on par with other Oregon state universities (actually one faculty member gets paid well, Frohnmeyer, who will be paid $250,000 to lead a freshmen seminar).

That’s spelled Frohnmayer, Drew. And he only gets $245,000. Be careful, he can be pretty prickly about these sorts of bogus attacks.


10/24/2009: Ted Sickinger at the Oregonian does a lot of good reporting on PERS. I’m no economist, but a lot of strange things seem to be going on with their investment strategy – they have a politically appointed board which can and does overrule the staff about investment decisions. And when that board’s investment consultant starts making careful analytic justifications for investments like “I think (the CEO) has ice water running in his veins” you don’t need to understand Black-Scholes to think maybe they are just doubling down on a loss, with other people’s money. And of course there has been the slew of longtime legislators that Kulongoski has appointed to short term admin jobs to jack up their retirement payouts, and the similar shenanigans at UO with John Moseley, Lorraine Davis, et al. Those payouts have to some from somewhere. In this article Sickinger writes that state agencies may need to increase their contributions by 50% in the next few years to keep the fund solvent. This will add about 10% to UO labor costs. There goes Lariviere’s proposal to raise faculty salary’s to somewhere above 81% of Missouri – though we’re guessing Provost Bean will somehow find the money to give the senior administrators another round of hidden raises.

Frohnmayer gets Architecture Prize

10/24/2009: The Architecture Foundation of Oregon has given President Emeritus Frohnmayer an award for “contributions to Oregon’s built environment”. Seems very appropriate – Dave spent a huge amount of energy improving campus buildings – almost as much as he spent on making sure he and his cronies would get fat PERS busting retirement … no wait … must control fingers … this is about bricks and concrete. Frohnmayer had a point: a great university is about more than faculty, students, teaching and research – appearances count too. Interestingly the award citation doesn’t mention Dave’s biggest projects – the $235 million Matt Court, or the $30 million “Athletes Only” class cube on Franklin. I sort of like the cube, but most of the architects on campus go ballistic about it as a gateway to UO, since it ignores UO’s Ellis Lawrence heritage.

This campus has some beautiful, subtle buildings, and Lawrence did most of them. And if you don’t who I’m talking about, follow the link and get the book on him at the bookstore. The Art Museum, Knight library, Mac Court, Chiles with all it’s details. Is there something arabic going on here? Walking through campus will be much more interesting after you read about Lawrence and his ideas and influence – you’ll see something new every day, and when you realize the seminar speaker you are spending the next three hours hosting has nothing interesting to say and apparently is not the anonymous reviewer of that revise and resubmit you have been sweating over, just take them on a walk and thank UO Matters.

More ICC rate nonsense

10/23/2009: Latest from Melinda Grier and Doug Park on the ICC rate. They wrote last week, telling us they would show us the documents explaining why the rate was cut – costing UO research efforts $2 million per year – but only if we paid them $173.11. So we sent them a public records request for the documents justifying this charge. Now they want us to pay for the documents that justify charging faculty to see why the research budget has been cut:

Dear Professor X:

The University of Oregon received your public records request for a copy of any documents explaining the estimate of $173.11 provided to you October 8, 2009. The University is now providing an estimate.

The University estimates the actual cost of providing the documents responsive to your request to be $2.70. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon in the amount of $2.70, the University will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of the General Counsel’s office at 1226 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1226.

I’d like to think that Rich Linton and Richard Lariviere wouldn’t treat a reasonable faculty question with this sort of contempt. But if that’s true, why they are letting Melinda Grier and Doug Park speak for them like this?

Carl Malamud talk on Friday:

Should America’s Operating System Be Open Source?
Carl Malamud, President and Founder of Public.Resource.Org
Friday, October 23 at 11Am, Studio A, Knight Libraries
(Enter through STEM door on the RHS of the library).

Who owns the law? A thicket of copyright restrictions has arisen around the primary legal materials of the United States. Statutes, regulations, hearings, Attorney General Opinions, building codes, and the other materials that make up the raw materials of democracy all face restrictions. In this talk, Carl Malamud will look at the question of who owns the law, tracing the issues back to early Supreme Court decisions, looking at how the law of the law has been applied in the modern era, and will pay particular attention to a set of issues regarding ownership of the law in Oregon.

Carl Malamud is the President and Founder of Public.Resource.Org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has been instrumental in placing over 90 million pages of primary legal materials on the Internet. They were in the lead in the effort last year to convince the Oregon Legislative Committee to waive copyright on the Oregon Revised Statutes, and have been particularly at the federal level, conducting audits of PACER, helping the Government Printing Office publish the Federal Register in XML, and convincing C-SPAN to waive restrictions on use on their footage of government proceedings. Malamud was previously Chief Technology Officer at the Center for American Progress, and prior to that created the Internet Multicasting Service – which ran the first radio station on the Internet, and put the SEC and U.S. Patent Office on the Internet.

Budget Town Hall

10/22/2009: The ODE has a CJ Ciaramella story on the town hall here.

University administrators faced a worried and sometimes angry crowd on Wednesday when they held a town hall-style meeting addressing upcoming furlough days for classified and unclassified staff.

An anonymous observer at the Budget Town hall writes to us:

Lariviere started things off by saying that he was pained by the provision in the SEIU contract forcing employers to make classified staff take furloughs and that he would do everything in his power to “make the classified staff whole again”.

When pressed for a clarification, he said that the furloughs would take place but that the University administration was looking into all possible ways to legally give back the pay lost because of the furloughs.

Jim Bean(UOM: salary $320,700) then explained the budget situation and how the university has taken in $37 million in increased tuition and fees but that has been eaten away nearly entirely by continued state cutbacks, increasing scholarships and other support for needy students, and providing student support services. (UOM: No mention of big ticket items like UO-Bend, diversity, sustainability, golden parachutes, increasing administrative positions, etc?)

Frances Dyke ($212,493) and Melinda Grier($184,710), who shared the dais with Bean and Lariviere, were completely unempathetic towards the classified staff’s situation. Fortunately they only answered a few questions.

One possibility that Lariviere might explore is a UO Foundation fund for the staff. While donations for the benefit of an individual are not tax deductible, presumably donations to a general fund to help out low income staff would be. Perhaps Melinda Grier could redeem herself – a little – by figuring out how to set this up. Nah, she’s beyond redemption. But about 1/2 of President Lariviere’s pay comes from Foundation funds – surely it is possible to set up a similar fund to help out staff too? I know many faculty would contribute. Especially if Lariviere would enact some transparency reforms, so that we would know if Frances blew the surplus on more Johnson Hall remodeling.

Please email additional views on the meeting, or post in comments.

Provost Bean’s Senate numbers are wrong: UO’s senior administrators are overpaid.

When using identical and comparable institutions:

UO senior administrators are paid 120% of their peers.

UO full professors are paid 81% of their peers.

Scroll down for spreadsheets. Comparison institutions are all public and private PhD granting institutions from the Chronicle of Higher Ed. This is the comparison group UO uses when setting administrator salaries: no senior UO administrators are paid less than 100% of the median in this peer goup. Frohnmayer, Bean and Martinez (even without his second job) account for most of the excess above 100%. Go here for the Chronicle faculty data, here for administrators. UO President Frohnmayer needs a spreadsheet of his own, here.

Update 5/18/2009:
At the 5/13/2009 Senate meeting Provost Bean refused to give up on his Furlough meeting claim that UO’s Admin expense ratio was 38% of peers. Odd, because an hour before the meeting one of your Editors was talking with OUS Legal Counsel and Board Secretary Ryan Hagemann, who said that despite extensive searching OUS could find no evidence to support this claim. Mr. Hagemann then said that he would be encouraging Provost Bean to stop making claims of this sort unless he could back them up with data. Bean also tried to argue that UO administrators were underpaid. Confusingly, Provost Bean left his own $25,700 “stipend” – which he takes as straight salary – out of his own reported pay. (more below).

Why was Mr. Hagemann so firm on this point? Because in Oregon it is a crime to misrepresent administrative expenses when you are soliciting charitable donations – as Provost Bean appears to have done at the furlough meeting. (To be fair to Provost Bean this is pretty ungrateful of the OUS people, who reportedly all but forced him to try the furlough scheme in the first place!)

At the Senate meeting Bean said that misinformation about UO’s administrative expenses were being spread by blogs. We are happy to hear he is not the only administrator reading UO Matters. His extensive remarks and the data he presented to the Senate are an attempt to provide some sort of documentation for OUS for the claims about UO’s lean administration he made at the Furlough meeting. As we show below the administrative expense data he presented does not support his argument at all. Mr. Hageman also told us that OUS has no documentation supporting Provost Bean’s claim that Bend is in the black, and we are expecting that he will soon be asked to document that as well. We are *very* sure he cannot credibly do this no matter how much the data is massaged – it would take an outright lie. Provost Bean, the best approach at this point would be to retract both these claims and get out of your hole before it gets any deeper.

Briefly, Provost Bean’s data and analysis of administrator salaries does not show what he claims, because he compares UO administrators to those at AAU schools which have on average 160% of the students, 370% of the faculty, and 440% of the budget of UO. Of course these universities must pay their administrators more than administrators at UO’s actual comparators are paid. The comparisons we have posted below are better than Provost Bean’s with respect to both the set of comparators and the accuracy of the UO administrator salaries, and we stand by our conclusion: UO’s administrators are overpaid. However, even if you believe Bean’s analysis – which you should not – you would still have to conclude that UO administrators are substantially overpaid relative to UO faculty. Provost Bean is a case in point, even using the comparator group he selected himself. As an internal hire – with no experience and in his first year on the job – he is paid 96% of the salary of the average AAU public university Provost, who is dealing with an institution that is 4 times as large as UO. UO full professors are paid 80% of the average full professor at these same comparators. Why are UO faculty underpaid approximately the same amount regardless of the comparator group? Because the institutional complexities that determine administrator pay are not particularly important – in theory and in the actual salary data – for faculty, whose jobs involves teaching and research, not managing the institution.

Point by point rebuttal of Bean’s lean admin claims:
First Provost Bean claimed that Frohnmayer was paid just slightly more than his peers. But Bean – who has a PhD in Operations Research – departs from the standard Chronicle.com definition by not reporting the $206,000 Frohnmayer receives in 401K and retirement pay. (He also excludes this from his numbers for other AAU presidents – but Frohnmayer’s retirement deal is unusually sweet.) He then tried to argue that years of service explained Frohnmayer’s unusually high salary. In fact the correlation between years of service and presidential pay as Bean defines it, excluding Frohnmayer, is negative (but insig diff from 0). This is not surprising: years of experience would be a more interesting question.

He then attempted to argue that the other UO senior administrators were underpaid. Right. Notably, while UO Matters compares the salaries of administrators and faculty at UO to those at the same identical set of comparator institutions, Bean did not even report faculty salaries for his “comparators.” We have now done so using Chronicle.com data. UO full professors are not just paid less than those at any of Bean’s comparators, they are paid 90% of salaries at the lowest other university (Wisconsin.) UO full professors are paid 80%, associates 85%, and assistants 91% of average, using Bean’s own comparator group. (Prof. Vitulli has done something similar using Academe data, she finds UO full professors get 77% of salaries at UO’s official OUS comparator institutions.)

Confusingly, Provost Bean left his own $25,700
“stipend” – which he takes as straight salary – out of his own reported pay. (Many UO admins get these stipends. They are left over from former Provost Moseley, who used them to pad admin salaries during the last OUS salary freeze. Some have been folded into salary by now, and only Bean and Martinez currently get substantial amounts of salary this way. Stipends at other institutions typicaly means expense money, not extra salary.) Correcting this apparent oversight, and using the comparator group Bean selected himself, we find as an internal hire with no experience in his first year on the job he is paid 96% of the average AAU public university Provost. As this OUS document shows, the Provosts which Bean thinks are he should be compared to have, roughly, 160% of the students, 370% of the faculty, and 440% of the budget that he and UO’s VPs must deal with. Obviously this comparison is heavily biased toward making UO’s administrators look underpaid. A more precise measure would require access to the CUPA data, which Bean is so far unwilling to share with UO Matters. We expect similar results will hold with this data, and for the other senior administrative positions at UO.

While Bean’s comparator group is biased in favor of making UO administrators look underpaid, the UO Matters comparison group is as broad as possible. We assume UO resembles the median PhD granting institution. There are 258 such public and private institutions in the US, and a position of 129 fits closely with UO’s rankings in most published sources. While the source for Bean’s comparisons (CUPA) includes the budget information needed to correct for budget and so on in a regression, Bean cut this data out of his tables. Provost Bean also claimed that the comparison faculty salaries we have posted here include salaries for (very well paid) medical school faculty. They do not. We are making a fair comparison between like groups of faculty. However, his comparison group of administrators does include those with responsibility for medical schools, adding to the bias in favor of himself and his administrators.

As we have shown the comparison group does not matter for UO faculty – we are equally underpaid no matter which comparator group you select. So why does our data show UO administrators are overpaid relative to peers while Bean’s show they are underpaid? Because the comparator groups are different. We argue UO is similar to the median Doctoral institution. Bean’s comparator institutions are unarguably larger, richer, and more complex than this or than UO – about than 4 times so, if you go by budget or faculty size. Obviously these universities must pay administrators more than the UO needs to pay. These institutional complexities are not particularly important – in theory and in the data – for determining salary for faculty, whose jobs involves teaching and research and not managing the institution.

The Editors of this blog have seen all these tricks and plenty of more clever ones many times before, and we are not amused. The comparisons we have posted here are considerably better than Provost Bean’s with respect to both the set of comparators and the accuracy of the UO salaries, and we stand by our conclusion: UO’s faculty is underpaid relative to peers, and its administrators are overpaid. However, even if you believe Bean’s analysis – which you should not – you would still have to conclude that UO faculty are substantially underpaid relative to UO administrators, while UO administrators are overpaid relative to UO faculty.

UO data is compiled from public records obtained from UO, generally only after lengthy delays and petitions to the Oregon DOJ – however all these records are public records posted with the knowledge of UO’s General Counsel Melinda Grier. In response to a request from a curious Johnson Hall dweller, I’ve also posted all the employment contracts I have, see the underlined links. This post is not peer-reviewed: If you have questions or see errors, please email uomatters at gmail dot com. This UO Senate report documents these and other trends over time.

CUPA data from Bean’s Senate report and other sources – he has not yet agreed to share the full data.

Frohnmayer’s 2009-2010 Teaching Schedule:

From what we can tell, this is UO President Emeritus Dave Frohnmayer’s entire 2009-2010 teaching load – two 10 week long, 25 student classes, co-taught with Barbara West, for Winter quarter only. For this he will be paid $245,000, and we pay another $25,000 or so for Ms West. (And still more for a secretary. And a GTF. And $186,000 for “supplies and expenses.)

Now, you naive new assistant professors might be asking where does an underfunded school like UO get $270,000 to pay 2 people to teach 50 students for 10 weeks? (Dave was on sabbatical for half the year, at full pay. Normal load for the rest of the year would therefore be 2 to 2.5 courses – not 1). I’m no economist, but here’s the math: The average student pays $1,000 or so a course. 50 students gets you $50,000 – so UO still has a $220,000 nut to make payday for these two.

No worries, we will assign you to teach a 250 student lecture course, filling up, say, 180 PLC. That’s $250,000 for UO. Take out $30,000 for prorated pay for you and your 3 GTFs, and you’ve just brought in enough to pay off our President Emeritus for this year. But wait – what about his benefits? No problem – you’ve still got a few more classes to teach.

And Dave is so grateful for your contribution – maybe he’ll even use you as an example of how “Advanced Leadership” works. Oh wait, here’s another idea – let’s cut pay for the university staff! Then we’ll have enough to redecorate Dave’s 2 new offices too: From the SEIU email:

Tier 1: Monthly base rate – $2,450 & below: Monthly Pay Reduction 2.051%
Tier 2 Monthly base rate – $2,451 to $3,105: Monthly Pay Reduction 3.077%
Tier 3 Monthly base rate $3,106 to $5,733: Monthly Pay Reduction 3.590%
Tier 4 Monthly base rate – $5,734 and above: Monthly Pay Reduction 4.103%

See? There’s really nothing to this leadership stuff – you just take whatever the fuck you can get away with.

Update: When he was selling this furlough program to the faculty and the staff, Frohnmayer said he would participate himself. He did – for about 3 months, and only with the part of his salary paid by the state, which was less than 50%. As soon as people stopped watching, he went back to taking his full salary.


10/19/20: The NYTimes has an article about the resignation of NDSU’s president over excessive spending on his official residence – it’s about $1 million over budget. Meanwhile, Greg Bolt has an RG article on budget cuts at UO. There is no mention of the $2 million a year ICC cut, the $2.4 million Frances just spent on remodeling administrative offices in Johnson Hall, the $1 million a year we spend on John Moseley’s Bend retirement gig, the undisclosed cost of for similar golden parachutes for other retired administrators, the $245,000 we pay Frohmayer to co-teach one undergrad course, etc.

Reading Greg’s article you get the feeling shit just happens. Sure, but this particular shit happened because UO’s administrators repeatedly decided to spend the money UO gets from tuition and the state on themselves. The people who made these decisions are all still on the payroll, in many cases because of their manipulation of PERS rules. We need to clean this mess up before we go back to the students and the taxpayers for more money.

Budget, Lottery $ for Athletics

10/15/2009: Jeff Mapes in the Oregonian writes that the state lottery take is falling. Bad news for UO’s “self-sufficient” athletic department, which for some bizarre reason gets about $1 million a year from lottery funds to pay for scholarships for athletes. The academic side gets about $200,000.

CJ Ciamarella has an article on the Wed Senate meeting here, mostly dealing with budget issues. Word is there may be more cuts coming, since tax revenues are running behind projections.

Every now and then we get discouraged by how difficult it is to extract public records from UO – so we browse through about the only thing Melinda Grier is willing to share with the public – the UO Directory. And we find this:

Name: Mister Ooh-La-La
Department: University Housing
Title: Food Service Worker
Address: Carson Kitchen
1220 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1220
Phone: (541) 346-2553
Email: oohlala@uoregon.edu


Melinda Grier’s stupid union bashing tricks

10/14/2009: We’re genuinely neutral on the AAUP/AFT faculty union issue – we are still feeling this out – and so we feel able to make an unbiased comment on UO General Counsel Melinda Grier’s decision to refuse to allow the UO professors who support the union to distribute flyers to UO mailboxes, announcing a talk by several visiting professors from unionized campuses. See this CJ Ciaramella story in the ODE.

Melinda, are you really this stupid? The faculty is on the fence about a union. Lariviere seems pretty good so far and (almost) everyone is willing to give the guy a year or two to turn Frohnmayer’s legacy – a poisonous administration/faculty relationship – around. So what do you do? Remind us all of how petty, dictatorial, incompetent, and avaricious a bunch of administrative cronies Dave nourished during his 15 years here, and bring home the fact that so far Richard Lariviere has not got rid of a single one of them – including you. This one is good for 20 23 Union votes, easy. Good work.