CAS task force recommends against dismemberment

While President Schill’s charge to the task force told them not to make a recommendation for or against breakup, they ignored this, and recommend against a breakup. He has accepted their advice, for now. Perhaps the new provost will try to restart this fight someday, but the report from Karen Ford’s committee doesn’t leave a lot of room to try. Presumably the next step will be to start integrating the Knight Campus into CAS.

See below for the full report and Pres Schill’s response. From the report’s conclusions:

Even those on the Task Force interested in learning about other, possibly better, college structures raised concerns about the costs (financial, time, effort, and personal costs) of restructuring CAS. There is a general skepticism about making large structural changes that would require the UO to set up two or three new college dean’s offices. Given the widely held conviction that we do not have resources to create something better than what we have, the group concluded that this is not the time to make large, structural changes. Even those most interested in change do not want to change unless we are sure we’re creating something better and have the resources to realize its benefits.

Most agree that the cost of restructuring CAS would be prohibitive and that we should invest any money there might be for this project in improving CAS. This sentiment deepened over the course of our deliberations by news of the budget cuts and the Provost stepping down. CAS TF discussions tended toward improving rather than restructuring CAS, a focus that fell within the broad charge from the President and Provost. To aid communication and facilitate reference, we enumerate our principal conclusions. Since specific suggestions made by large, visible committees may become unwanted and unwarranted benchmarks, we restrict our conclusions to summary assessments and the attendant lessons drawn (with one exception, item 1 below).

1. We recommend seating a small vision committee tasked with addressing the President’s concern about the establishment and communication of division- and college-level visions raised during the lunch meeting in March. It is understood that this committee will seek input from all CAS stakeholders.

2. CAS is anomalous relative to most other public research universities only because UO lacks medical/engineering/agricultural schools.

3. There is broad and strong resistance to large-scale restructuring, including “splitting up CAS.”

4. There is considerable evidence that success is not closely related to structure–any structure can work. Leadership quality, administrative roles, and internal structures may be primary to a college’s success.

5. There is broad and strong support for the recommendation that if CAS is to be split or otherwise significantly restructured, then the reasons must be clearly articulated; further, in case of restructuring, it should be evident that the benefits outweigh the substantial costs, which include transition costs and uncertainty.

6. There is broad and strong support for a renewed emphasis on liberal arts education and scholarship as central to the university’s mission.

7. There is broad and strong support for a renewed emphasis on interdisciplinary education and scholarship.

8. Cooperation, rather than competition, among deans should be fostered–a best practice that CAS already enjoys and should be extended to the deans of the other schools and colleges.


President Schill’s response:

¿CAS? task force lunch with Pres Schill Wed 12-1

4/3/2019 free lunch update:

Pres Schill is buying the task force lunch. Burritos. Less than 1/2 the members are here. I’m free-riding. In response to the first question, Schill says that the motivation for this entire process was the lack of “vision” from Marcus and CAS. I guess Tykeson doesn’t count. This is news to the members, one of whom notes that this is the first they’ve heard that lack of vision was the point of this task force, except for a brief comment from Shelton early in the process. A discussion ensues of what “vision” means in practice, beyond mission statements and buzzwords like excellence. Schill says CAS needs some “jewels”. Shiny things he can show the board?

If inadequate vision really is the crux, perhaps this should have been explained to the task force at the start. They seem like an engaged, creative group who’ve revealed their commitment to CAS. Put them to work on creating visions, instead of discussing the optimal re-arrangement of the deck chairs!

The outside member notes that she believes an important vision that would excite donors and the state would be focusing on delivering the best possible liberal arts education, to students who will need a broad education to prepare for the many possible different futures.

The remainder of the meeting was a pretty interesting and engaging conversation between the members and President Schill, who told the task force that he will not be disappointed if they come back to him with the conclusion that the current structure is fine, and some visions.

4/2/2019 update: An ¿exciting? three hours of meetings this week:

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Faculty union releases CAS reorg survey results

Committee Chair Karen Ford says they aim to make a public report in April. That will presumably kick off a campus wide discussion on whether or not to – and if so how to – divide up CAS. Ford has said that she believes the Senate should vote on any reorganization. President Schill and Provost Banavar have said that the final decision will be up to them.

The faculty union ran a quick “what do you think” survey on this a few weeks ago. The full letter from union Pres Chris Sinclair is here. A snippet:

The results of our recent survey on the potential division of CAS into multiple schools are in. There were 93 responses and you can see numeric responses and a tally of repeated themes in narrative responses here.

The central theme in the narrative responses was of deep concern for the future of the humanities at the University of Oregon. While some respondents were cautiously optimistic, most of the respondents were humanists and, for the most part, they were the most concerned. People worry that splitting CAS may weaken our liberal arts educational mission and hinder interdisciplinary work. Some respondents believe that such a change will result in the proliferation of administrators, though the counter point is that these dedicated administrators may improve advocacy to Johnson Hall on behalf of their units.

There were fewer concerns about the process, except the prevalent question of “why?” or “why now?” Some see the process as opaque or don’t feel they have enough information to comment.

Some members in the professional schools held their newly organized schools up as cautionary examples.

Again, some members are hopeful, and many are cautiously optimistic that the process will be thorough and come to the right conclusion. Many, however, worry that the conclusion is foregone.  …

And here’s a screenshot from the report:


CAS Structure Task Force to meet


Task force meeting schedule

The first meeting of the task force will be on December 13 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. This meeting will be organizational in nature and is the time for task force members to meet each other, review the goals, and plan. It will be held in Friendly Hall 109.

The following dates and times for future task force meetings are set. Agendas and locations have yet to be determined but will be added once space is confirmed.

January 22: 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
February 12: 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
February 26: 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
March 12: 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
March 19: 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.

The meetings are open to the public and the task force will seek input from the campus community in connection with its deliberations. We have already scheduled a meeting with the Senate and the task force chair on February 13, 2019. Input will also be solicited through an online survey and through open task force meetings, and individuals can provide feedback or ask questions via

To see the information under consideration by the task force, click on the links below.

CAS Task Force information packet – December 10, 2018



    Task force charge and outline distributed


    Consultation with stakeholders and Senate President and Vice President regarding task force membership


    President and Provost visit CAS Department Heads meeting on November 2


    Leadership announces CAS task force members


    First meeting of the task force. This is an organizational gathering where members meet each other for the first time to discuss the work.

    Friendly Hall 109 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.


    Research and information gathering as desired by task force completed by staff and shared with committee


    The following dates and times are for task force meetings.

    Jan. 22: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

    Feb. 12: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

    Feb. 26: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

    March 12: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    March 19: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

    *Locations for the meetings have yet to be determined but this will be updated when location information becomes available.


    Additional time for meetings as needed; window of time to draft analysis for submission / review by committee

  • APRIL 15

    Task force report due to President and Provost


    Target for decision by President and Provost about how to move forward

  • JUNE 3 OR 4

    Discussion at Board of Trustees meeting and likely announcement date

Provost Banavar appoints members to CAS analysis task force

The original timeline is here. Two of the 22 members are UO Senators, elected by the Senate CAS Caucus. Karen Ford, chair of the task force, has agreed that the UO Senate should vote on any reorganization of CAS.

Sent on behalf of Provost Jayanth Banavar


Dear Colleagues,

President Michael Schill and I are pleased to announce the membership of the task force that will be analyzing the structure of the University of Oregon’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) to determine if the combination of disciplines is best suited to deliver on our mission of excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, and creative work.

Last month, we informed the university community that we were creating the task force and charging it with looking at the advantages and disadvantages of the current structure of CAS, particularly in relation to possible other structures (e.g., two colleges or three colleges). Part of that discussion will include an examination of the current internal CAS structure, the relative advantages and disadvantages of the structure, and determining whether we have the most effective organization to meet our liberal arts mission.

The task force also will be asked to determine whether changes relating to other schools or colleges at UO might make sense in the context of the issues being examined. In other words, are there benefits to having some parts of CAS more tied to any of the professional schools, or vice versa?

To arrive at the membership, we solicited input from across the university and many people made recommendations that influenced our final decision. We appreciate all the feedback and are grateful to those who have volunteered their time on this important endeavor.

The task force members are:

Elliot Berkman, CAS, Natural Sciences, Psychology, Associate Professor
Tina Boscha, CAS, Humanities, English, Senior Instructor
Melissa Bowers, CAS, Humanities, English, (OA) Department Manager
Ben Brinkley, CASIT, (OA) Director
Karen Ford, CAS (Task Force Chair), Humanities, English, Senior Divisional Dean and Professor
Pedro García-Caro, CAS, Humanities, Romance Languages, Associate Professor
Spike Gildea, CAS, Humanities, Linguistics, Professor
Monica Guy, CAS, Humanities, Environmental Studies, (OA) Office Manager
Bruce McGough, CAS, Social Sciences, Economics, Professor/Department Head
Betsy McLendon, CAS Advisory Board member
Juan-Carlos Molleda, School of Journalism and Communication, Professor of Communications/Dean
Gabe Paquette, Clark Honors College, Professor of History and International Studies/Dean
Craig Parsons, CAS, Social Sciences, Political Science, Professor/Department Head
Mike Price, CAS, Natural Sciences, Math, Senior Instructor
Tyrone Russ, CASIT, (Classified Staff) Buyer
Brad Shelton, Office of the Provost, Natural Sciences, Math, Executive Vice Provost
Janelle Stevenson, CAS, Natural Sciences, Biology, Graduate Student
Joe Sventek, CAS, Natural Sciences, Computer & Information Science, Professor/Department Head
Richard Taylor, CAS, Natural Sciences, Physics, Professor/Department Head
Frances White, CAS, Social Sciences, Anthropology, Professor/Department Head
Rocío Zambrana, CAS, Humanities, Philosophy, Associate Professor
Undergraduate Student, TBD (invitation pending)

Teri Rowe, the department manager for Economics and Sociology, will provide staff support to the task force.

As you can see, we have a robust, experienced, and capable group who will work together for this analysis. We expect the analysis to include discussions about whether we are maximizing organizational design to achieve and grow academic excellence, whether any changes to the current design would weaken current advantages or mitigate existing problems, whether changes would impact interdisciplinary work and collaboration, how changes might impact (positively or negatively) various departments and disciplines, structural/administrative issues relative to the current or a new structure, and other relevant issues.

The task force will begin its work this fall. As we move forward, it’s critical for all of us to support the effort in a positive and constructive way. We have heard a variety of thoughts and theories about why we have organized a task force: a branding effort or a cost saving effort; an attempt to drive institutional resources to the Knight Campus; or simply an effort to boost certain disciplines by abandoning others. These are simply untrue.

The fundamental premise is: What structure will allow us to best deliver on our goal of excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, and creative work?

Meetings of the task force will be open to the public, and we will give regular updates on the group’s progress on the provost’s website and through other communications. You are always welcome to share thoughts, questions, and ideas through

Sincerely, Jayanth Banavar Provost and Senior Vice President