Administration agrees to work with Senate on new COI/C policy

4/26/2018: As announced by Senate Pres Sinclair yesterday. I have no idea why it took the administration so long to realize that they had to do this.

4/19/2018: UO administrators waste an hour of Senate Exec time trying to explain why they still can’t decide if they need to involve the Senate in new COI/C policy

This was the saddest presentation I’ve ever heard from Johnson Hall employees, and I’ve heard a lot.

It took Senate Pres Chris Sinclair 5 seconds to give administrators Melanie Muenzer and Cass Moseley the correct answer:

Yes. Why didn’t you start talking to us 5 months ago?

But apparently this debate is still raging on in the bowels of Johnson Hall tonight, 2 weeks after the Senate first got a bootleg copy of this proposal from the union, and 9 years after our administration last brought this policy question to the Senate.

UO Senate to meet Wed 4/25, 3PM


Location: EMU 145 & 146 (Crater Lake rooms)
3:00 – 5:00 P.M.

3:00 P.M.   Call to Order

  • Introductory Remarks: Senate President Chris Sinclair

3:10 P.M.   Business/Reports

3:50 P.M.    Open Discussion
:50 P.M.   Reports
:55 P.M.   Notice(s) of Motion
3:55 P.M.   Other Business

4:00 P.M. Executive Session

Vote: Honorary Degrees

5:00 P.M.   Adjourn

3:10 P.M.   Approval of MinutesApril 11, 2018

Law Prof Nancy Shurtz explains why she is coming back to teach

Update: For an interesting contrast in institutional responses, see this story from tonight about how Cal State Fresno President Joseph Castro reacted to public anger about a professor who made disparaging comments about the recently deceased Barbara Bush:

Professor Jarrar’s conduct was insensitive, inappropriate and an embarrassment to the university. I know her comments have angered many in our community and impacted our students. Let me be clear, on campus and whenever we are representing the university, I expect all of us to engage in respectful dialogue.

Immediately following Professor Jarrar’s tweets last Tuesday, we carefully reviewed the facts and consulted with CSU counsel to determine whether we could take disciplinary action. After completing this process, we have concluded that Professor Jarrar did not violate any CSU or university policies and that she was acting in a private capacity and speaking about a public matter on her personal Twitter account. Her comments, although disgraceful, are protected free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

UO President Schill took a less courageous approach to the Shurtz incident, dropping the problem on Interim Provost Scott Coltrane. Coltrane quickly passed to GC Kevin Reed. Reed then passed the problem, and ~$30K bucks, to an outside law firm whose weasley response is linked to below.

Here’s hoping the next time some UO professor does something ignorant and offensive our President will save us all some money, time, and embarrassment by simply copying the operative part of Pres Castro’s statement:

Professor _____’s comments/costume/billboard/fart/paper/art exhibit/concerto/regression coefficients/blog etc., although disgraceful, are protected free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


Prof Shurtz in the RG here:

Once again The Register-Guard has chosen sensationalism over accuracy, this time in its April 13 story on my private Halloween party of 2016 and my planned return to the classroom.

The story, largely based on the University of Oregon’s flawed report, is replete with errors. I did not “wear blackface.” That term is reserved for derogatory, mocking, demeaning depictions of African-­Americans. At my private, off-campus Halloween party in 2016, I sought to challenge racism and provoke thought by depicting through my costume a book — Dr. Damon Tweedy’s “A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine.”

I sought to raise awareness of racism in higher education and the lack of diversity in the medical profession. Some who were not at the party but heard about it have expressed harm.

Although I intended no harm, I have offered (and again offer) my profound and sincere apology. I have learned much in this process.

However, the stories continue to misrepresent both the facts and the law — as has the university itself.

The so-called “investigative report,” prepared by a law firm commissioned by the UO obviously to reach a predetermined conclusion, was wrong on both facts and law — a matter of some concern in a university with a prominent law school.

Normally, faculty discipline would not be public information, but since the UO chose to violate that rule and publicize this, I now feel compelled to end my silence and justified in doing so.

I did not require students to attend my Halloween party, most students did not attend, and under the law school’s blind grading system I would be unable to reward or penalize students for attending. The report ignores the role of the university and law school administration in misrepresenting the event and stirring the pot, apparently for personal benefit of those doing the misrepresenting. Even the report admitted that I had no ill intent to harm or harass, yet it took the position that punishment can be meted out regardless.

The report ignored my long career at the law school as a champion of diversity, perhaps because I have been among the most critical voices of the law school and university administrations on that front over time. The report said nothing about the honor for which I am most proud: my nomination for the university-wide MLK Award in 2012 for contributions, beyond typical job expectations, that uphold and exemplify the ideals supported by Martin Luther King Jr.

The report also is wrong on the law: Under the university’s discrimination and harassment policies and under the law, only intentional discrimination and harassment can result in punishment, yet even the report acknowledges I had no such discriminatory intent.

Under university policy and federal law, punishable harassment occurs only if a person intentionally targets a specific individual (a student, faculty or staff member, etc.). As the report concedes, my expressions against racism did no such thing.

Furthermore, the report completely ignores the Oregon Constitution’s free-speech guarantee, which is more expansive than the U.S. Constitution’s. On the federal free-speech guarantee, the report ignores controlling 9th Circuit Court of Appeals precedents and relies instead on older, questionable precedents from the 6th Circuit (covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) and other inapplicable law.

Lastly, the report misinterprets the university’s freedom of speech policy and altogether omits analysis of the university’s academic freedom policy.

In short, the report is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law, basically an exercise to justify the previous law school administration’s and university’s rush to judge and punish me.

Scapegoating me for the institution’s long history of racial tension and institutional failure is no way to solve the real problems that exist at the university. I will return to campus to live and teach the principles I believe are important in law and education: diversity and inclusion, accompanied by freedom of expression, due process, equal protection, impartial application of the law, and the use of the law to reveal the truth and dispense its direct byproduct — justice.

Nancy Shurtz holds the Bernard Kliks Chair at the University of Oregon School of Law.

Teardown objectors ask Eugene City Council to save Hayward Field

4/24/2018 update:

Opponents of tearing down Hayward Field’s east grandstand get support from city council (The Oregonian)

The new design was made public last week for the first time. It includes a nine-story tower on the track’s northeast corner, planned in honor of longtime UO track coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.

The council heard from a parade of people opposing the plan, among them Bob Penny; his brother, Bill; Neta Prefontaine, sister of distance legend Steve Prefontaine; former University of Oregon runner and author Kenny Moore, and Peter Thompson, a retired senior manager of the IAAF, the governing body of international track and field.

…”Bill Bowerman would cringe at the height and shape of his honorary tower.

Neta Prefontaine said she spoke before the council with a heavy heart. “I feel like I’m losing my best friend,” she said.


Eugene council takes up Hayward Field teardown, might nominate grandstand as city landmark (The Register-Guard)

4/23/2018: Live feed here. Vin Lananna’s Track Town enterprise has hit up the council for lots of public cash. We’ll see if that translates into public input.

Continue reading

Tom Bowerman asks how Slusher’s Schlong became a UO priority

4/23/2018: One of a series of op-eds and stories this week showing the disagreements over the $200M proposal to teardown and replace Hayward Field, and the secretive process Nike and UO are using to design and build it:

In the RG:

Bill Bowerman, my dad, contributed a lot to putting Hayward Field and Oregon on the track world’s map and in the heart of this community. In his retirement I asked him what he thought about the trajectory of college athletics. He said that if he had the choice between the trend toward sports professionalism or a low-key club-sport approach, he much preferred intramural athletics where sports fills a secondary role in a university education. My brother Jay affirms this recollection.

As the University of Oregon’s track coach, my dad was well known for developing local talent rather than chasing after world renowned stars. I believe he’d much prefer investing millions of dollars in scholarships for low-income Oregon kids to expanding Hayward Field to accommodate the extremely rare occasion when the stadium might seat 30,000.

… I’ve read an estimate of $200 million for the rebuild, but I suspect this is more than just the grandstand. But if true, that would pay the current annual tuition of 833 Oregon students in perpetuity if treated as a scholarship endowment. Of course this isn’t necessarily a zero sum game — but still, it’s a sobering consideration.

Doubtful, but perhaps it is time to call for our deeper and longer community priorities to rise to the top of decision-making.

Ken Goe in the Oregonian:

Designs for the new Hayward Field, presented yesterday in a ceremony at the track’s northwest corner, had a big wow factor.

It’s the details that were in short supply.

UO president Michael Schill, UO foundation president and CEO Paul Weinhold, and UO associate athletic director Vin Lananna struggled to answer basic questions about the exact number of permanent seats in the new stadium, and how many of the seats would be covered by the transparent roof at the top of the stadium.

It’s hard to see from the renderings how the stadium will more than double its seating capacity from somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 to 30,000 simply by filling in around the open north end with temporary bleachers.

I’m sure there are answers to these questions. But the people who could provide them weren’t available.

Lead donors Phil and Penny Knight weren’t. Nor was anyone from the architectural firm SRG Partnership. Nor was anyone from Hoffman Construction, set to do the razing and reconstruction. Nor was semi-retired Nike troubleshooter Howard Slusher, the man who reportedly ramrodded the new design.

The process has been secretive from the start and excluded many people who have had a long emotional investment in track and field in this state and at the University of Oregon in particular.

That has led to a backlash from those who have spent a significant portion of their lives watching meets at what has been called historic Hayward Field. …

4/17/2018: UO unveils historic new Hayward Field, with weird fat blunt add-on

Senate/University Service Survey held open til Friday

Dear Campus Community,
Thank you to everyone who has already completed the survey regarding university service opportunities. Between the University Senate and several university committees, there are myriad ways for you to be involved in shared governance at the UO. We know there are countless demands on your time, but encourage you to take a look at the opportunities to serve the UO through a committee or senate position. This type of service is extraordinarily beneficial to the institution.
Please respond by Thursday, April 12. Filling out the survey does not automatically put you on a committee or the ballot – we’ll follow up with you before doing anything official.
If you have any questions, please contact Betina Lynn, the Senate’s executive coordinator, at
Chris Sinclair
University Senate President
Professor of Mathematics
Bill Harbaugh
University Senate Vice President and President-elect
Professor of Economics

Former UO VPR Kimberly Espy gets provost job at UTSA

4/18/2018: Report here.

3/17/2018: Former UO VPR Kimberly Espy finalist for provost at Ball State, Kansas State, Kentucky

In an ideal world the AAUP or Google Scholar would post metrics on administrators, to warn faculty what’s coming. As a second best, here’s some info on Kimberly Espy. The RIGE report is here.

Full shameful disclosure: Back in 2014 some desperate colleagues convinced me that UO would never fire her, and that my posts about the RIGE report and the negative comments about her were preventing us from passing the trash. So I took them down while she completed her job search. She finally landed a job as VPR at Arizona, to the joy of UO’s PI’s.

Now she wants or needs to move on again, and she’s a finalist for provost jobs at KSU, UK, and BSU:

Continue reading

Students elect next year’s ASUO leaders

The Daily Emerald has the story here:

… Maria Gallegos, Ducks Together’s presidential nominee, will take the oath of office on May 23, and all new ASUO officers start working on May 25. Imani Dorsey, the Ducks Together candidate for Internal Vice President, and Ivan Chen, the Ducks Together candidate for External Vice President, will enter office alongside Gallegos. …


NYTimes gives Oregon PERS a superficial once-over, doesn’t cite Sickinger or explain why PERS wants $20B more for its $70B endowment

Reporter Mary Williams Walsh has a poorly-cited rehash of issues originally raised by the excellent coverage of the Oregonian’s Ted Sickinger, who doesn’t even get a shout-out. Walsh:

For decades, PERS calculated pensions two different ways, and retirees could choose whichever produced the bigger numbers.

The first way was similar to what most states do, basing pensions on each worker’s final salary and years of service. But Oregon’s lawmakers included a golden touch, redefining “salary” to include remuneration from any source.

That was how Mr. Bellotti, the former football coach, came to be the state’s third-highest-paid pensioner, at roughly $559,000 a year.

When he retired in 2010 as the university’s athletic director, the standard pension formula was applied to his salary, plus a share of the outside licensing fees and product endorsements the football program brings in. (His pension details, along with those of other retirees in the system, were first obtained in 2011 from PERS by two newspapers, The Oregonian and The Statesman Journal.)

The link goes to the PERS database, not to Sickinger’s 2011 expose:

A new analysis by The Oregonian shows that his pension windfall is not solely the product of his base salary from the university, which was a relatively modest $150,000 in 2005 and 2008 as head coach, and $299,999 as athletic director in 2009. Rather, it was inflated by endorsements by Nike and the Oregon Sports Network, ticket sales incentives and other perks, according to public records released to The Oregonian. Those are sweeteners few public employes get. And it’s a stretch to define some of it as pay from the state. But it falls under the definition of PERS salary for pension calculations under Oregon law.

While Bellotti’s benefits are an outlier, they demonstrate how the mechanics of the PERS system can generate huge benefit flows for a fortunate few. They also show how PERS operated without any absolute cap on covered salary until 1996. And they illustrate how the burden of those benefits will be spread around the state for years.

These payments were included in his PERS calculations even though UO and Nike never made PERS contributions from them.

Walsh’s story then goes on to discuss the burden of PERS payments on Oregon at length, while managing to avoid any discussion of how salary replacement rates for new Tier 1/2 retirees with 30 years of service have already plummeted from 100% to 60% of final salary. From the PERS website:

Nor does she discuss the main reason for the increases in the contributions the PERS Board is requiring from state and local governments and school boards: the Board’s insistence on moving as rapidly as possible to add ~$20B to its endowment and make PERS a fully funded pension system, instead of the leaving it as a partly “pay as you go” plan, like social security.

There are economic arguments for fully-funded pensions, and for “pay-as-you-go” plans that use payments from current workers (or their employers) to pay the pensions of retired ones. Most states have made defacto decisions to go with a mix, with much smaller endowment funding than the 100% Oregon is shooting for. The average is 66%. Oregon is already above that.

As the story points out, the money the PERS board is demanding from the state to get to 100% has many negative consequences for Oregon.

So who will benefit from increasing the PERS endowment? The PERS consultants, the Wall Street banks and investment houses that manage the money, and – way off in the future – Oregon taxpayers who will someday be able to use the endowment earnings to pay retirees, leaving more money for public services and/or lower taxes.

Of course those future taxpayers will in all likelihood be richer and more numerous than we are today – so why does PERS think we should suffer for their benefit?

Former UO Diversity head Greg Vincent loses Pres job for plagiarism

The Chronicle has the news here:

… In March, The Chronicle first reported that Vincent’s dissertation appeared to copy at least one passage from another work without citation. Vincent earned a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. An anonymous email that was sent to The Chronicle and other outlets alleged multiple instances of plagiarism.

After the allegations, the board chair stated that the trustees would investigate the issue. On Friday, Vincent resigned as president, just nine months after taking office.

“After a great deal of thought and consideration, in the best interests of my family and myself, and for the love of Hobart and William Smith, I have decided to tender my resignation in order to explore new opportunities,” Vincent wrote in the statement. …

Vincent was hired at UO by Dave Frohnmayer in 2005 to create UO’s Diversity Plan, which was required by the settlement of Joe Wade’s racial discrimination lawsuit against Frohnmayer and Provost John Moseley.

Frohnmayer never told Vincent (or the faculty) about the lawsuit and the requirements of the settlement – they heard about it from me. Vincent left shortly after for UT-Austin, replaced by the over-committed Charles Martinez and then by Yvette Alex-Assensoh.

Eugene Weekly reports on GC Kevin Reed’s refusal to refund student $114 for Fed subpoena PRO wouldn’t provide, & Reed’s refusal to participate in Transparency Committee or send his assistant Bryan Dearinger

Max Thornberry has the story here:

Transparency Committee Takes on UO Records Policy
Student reporter denied paid-for public records

A student reporter at the University of Oregon was charged more than $100 to obtain UO public records before being told the university would not release them to him.

The reporter didn’t get a refund, and now the university’s Senate Transparency Committee (STC) is asking whether the UO is violating its own policy and abusing public records fees in order to discourage the public and news media from trying to shine light on the university’s operation.

Michael Tobin, a senior news reporter for the Daily Emerald, paid the UO Office of Public Records $113.64 for records before he was told they were exempt from release. He has not received a refund. Tobin submitted a complaint to the STC to find out why he can’t get his money back.

“I’m concerned about a fee for records I was not given,” Tobin told the STC during a Thursday, April 5, meeting. “And if they claim to know Oregon public records law, they should know that if there’s a pending federal investigation that this record would be exempt from disclosure from the start. So I don’t know why they would take my money and then go through the process of pulling the document, attempting to redact it and then say, ‘We can’t give this to you because we talked to the [Department of Justice] about it.’”

… Tobin filed his records request on Feb. 1 for any “federal subpoenas the University of Oregon has received over the past year.” Tobin told the committee he was requesting records he thought might be connected to the 2021 IAAF Track and Field World Championships; IAAF’s selection of Eugene to hold the event has spurred criminal investigations in the US and in Europe into possible corruption around the decision.

… Government agencies are allowed by state law to charge for records. According to the Attorney General’s Public Records and Meetings Manual, fees can still be assessed if no responsive records are found or “even if the records located are subsequently determined to be exempt for disclosure.”

UO’s policy, though, says nothing about exempt records and fees, only that “The Office of Public Records charges for the actual cost of making available public records.”

“They have to follow their policies. They have to follow both Oregon law and their policies,” Chris Sinclair, chair of the STC, says. “So if their policies are more restrictive than Oregon law then their policy is the one they have to follow. That’s my understanding.”

General counsel for the university Kevin Reed, a member of the transparency committee, refused to attend Thursday’s meeting and resigned from the committee before the meeting, telling Harbaugh that his office’s participation in the committee would “present a conflict of interest.”

[In an obvious self-contradiction, Reed then appointed Bryan Derringer, an AGC from Reed’s office as his designee.]

… In addition to stepping down from the committee, Reed expressed concern that Harbaugh’s participation presented a conflict of interest as well. Transcripts of emails between Reed and Harbaugh were posted to the University Senate blog.

“You have been assessed over $45,000 in fees on your public records requests over the course of the last five or so years,” Reed wrote to Harbaugh in an email. “You have paid a few hundred dollars for documents, but mostly you have protested the fees and argued for a change in fee policy that would reduce or eliminate fees. A private citizen is, of course, free to engage in such advocacy, but when a public official does so in his official capacity, he does so at his own risk. I have told you this before, and you have ignored my advice thus far. And, as I said the risk is on you, not the university, so I can’t tell you what to do.”

Following Reed’s prompting to consult with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, Harbaugh says, an investigator from OGEC — via a phone conversation — determined Harbaugh’s interest in public records makes him part of a class or group of people with shared interests, saying, “Your participation would not even be a potential conflict of interest.”

[UOM: ORS 244.020(1), (13) actually says:

(13)“Potential conflict of interest” means any action or any decision or recommendation by a person acting in a capacity as a public official, the effect of which could be to the private pecuniary benefit or detriment of the person or the person’s relative, or a business with which the person or the person’s relative is associated, unless the pecuniary benefit or detriment arises out of the following:

(a)An interest or membership in a particular business, industry, occupation or other class required by law as a prerequisite to the holding by the person of the office or position.

(b)Any action in the person’s official capacity which would affect to the same degree a class consisting of all inhabitants of the state, or a smaller class consisting of an industry, occupation or other group including one of which or in which the person, or the person’s relative or business with which the person or the person’s relative is associated, is a member or is engaged.

(c)Membership in or membership on the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation that is tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Why did the General Counsel’s office omit this important qualification?]

… “This is symptomatic of the university’s contempt for public records law and the principle that people should have access to the records of their government,” Harbaugh says. “This seems to me a case where the university is using its powers under that law not to promote transparency but to try to hide things.”

[And it will certainly have that effect. UO’s high fees and general refusal to waive them for reporters already discourage access to UO public records. The possibility that you will pay the fees and then get nothing increases the expected cost significantly.]