New VP for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh

3/4/2012: Best of luck to Ms Alex-Assensoh, who was hired by CAS Dean Scott Coltrane and VP Robin Holmes after an open, reasonably transparent national search, and who has excellent credentials (PhD, law degree, research) and relevant experience at IU. I didn’t go to the interviews but on paper I though she looked like the best candidate. Let’s call her the VP for Equity for short. From the new VPEI website:

Yvette Marie Alex-Assensoh, a political scientist and attorney who has served on the Indiana University faculty for the past 18 years and as dean for women’s affairs since 2008, has been named vice president for equity and inclusion at the University of Oregon. She will begin work at the UO in August.

The diversity position was originally created because former UO administrator Joe Wade sued Provost John Moseley for employment discrimination, and then insisted in the settlement that UO make some policy changes to encourage open searches, and transparent hiring processes. Good for Mr. Wade! Unfortunately UO is still a long way from doing the right thing when it comes to administrative hiring.

The office got off to a troubled start, then suffered through 5 years of mismanagement by Charles Martinez, who ironically was appointed by Frohnmayer and Moseley without any search at all, and then allowed to double-dip at an off campus job. Two years ago most of the relevant faculty and staff broke out in rebellion against Martinez, so Bean and Tomlin created a tenured position for Martinez in the Ed School, then President Lariviere dumped him as VP and sent him back to teaching.

Robin Holmes has already made some much needed changes in the office as interim head. Here’s hoping this office is now off on a good track and that the new VP will undertake a thorough review of  some of its more questionable programs, such as the UMRP, and move resources to fill-the-pipeline efforts that work and are legal, such as the OYSP. The fact that Ms Alex-Assensoh has a law degree seems like a good sign. Maybe she will even abandon the 5 year “diversity action plans” window-dressing effort.

Her application materials are here. This clip from her application letter looks very encouraging. “legally proper”, “best students”, and “just as likely to complete the program and find good jobs”:

Nice contrast to the inane “diversity *is* excellence” mantra that Martinez and Linda Brady used to spout.

3 VP for Diversity candidates

1/13/2012: Diversity VP Charles Martinez was one of those no-search interim appointments gone permanent and bad. He had a remarkable ability to screw up UO’s diversity efforts, despite spending most of his time off campus double dipping at his second job at OSLC. Jim Bean and Russ Tomlin protected him for years, but last spring pretty much everyone who’d ever had to deal with Martinez, including his staff and the ethnic studies department, broke into open revolt. I think 60 people signed the letter. Lariviere finally announced he would do what UO Matters had been calling for for years – have an affirmative action compliant open public search for UO’s VP for Diversity. What a radical idea – this is why Martinez called me a “racist nut”. Bean and Tomlin bought Martinez off with a $153,502 no-search tenured job in the College of Education – they hid this from the FPC – and a sabbatical.

Given that the search for his replacement was chaired by Scott Coltrane and Robin Holmes, it’s not surprising to see that 2 of the 3 finalists are academic administrators with pretty standard diversity track careers. I’ll keep an open mind, but I don’t see a lot of intellectual diversity on issues or policies coming out of this process. The last candidate does look like an interesting scholar though.

The end game here is pretty simple: We hire one of these three, or Coltrane declares the search failed and then Berdahl adds Diversity to VP for Student Affairs Robin Holmes’s portfolio. Just like happened with our new CFO Jamie Moffitt. Then Holmes’ runs with it for a year and goes on the road for a third tier university president job. Sounds good to me.

Anyway, here are the candidates she and Coltrane picked:

Roger Worthington, Missouri:

PhD in Counseling Psych, 5 years as diversity administrator with $1.2 million budget. Web page here.

January 19, 2012
Public presentation
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Papé Reception Room
Candidate presentation: 4:00‐5:00 p.m.*
Question and answer: 5:00‐5:45 p.m.* 

Worthington Cover Letter
Worthington CV

According to this story, Worthington resigned (coincidentally, he says) from his diversity administrator job just after the UM faculty rejected his plan to require all students to take a diversity course:

Roger Worthington is stepping down as chief diversity officer and assistant deputy chancellor of diversity at the University of Missouri.

The announcement comes on the heels of a faculty vote that defeated a proposal to require all students to take a diversity course. Worthington said the timing is coincidental and that he made his decision before that vote. MU won’t hire a replacement, at least for the foreseeable future, spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said.

If I resigned on principle, I’d brag about that. I’ll never understand administrators.

 Sheila O’Rourke, Berkeley. JD.

Assistant Provost for some sort of faculty diversity initiative.  O’Rourke Cover Letter, O’Rourke CV

January 23, 2012
Public presentation
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Papé Reception Room
Candidate presentation: 4:00‐5:00 p.m.*
Question and answer: 5:00‐5:45 p.m.*

Video here of a pretty low level gender pipeline talk at OSU. As might be expected for a Berkeley admin she’s been involved in lots of controversies, do a google search.

 Yvette Alex-Assensoh, Indiana:

Phd in Poli Sci, JD. Poli Sci Professor, Dean in Office of Women’s Affairs. Long and interesting publications list. Alex-Assensoh Cover Letter. Alex-Assensoh CV

January 26, 2012
Public presentation
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Papé Reception Room
Candidate presentation: 4:00‐5:00 p.m.*
Question and answer: 5:00‐5:45 p.m.*

She’s also a finalist for an AVP job at Missouri State.

Portland, Huron, Diversity

12/30/2011: Readers have asked me to get information on the cost and plans for UO – Portland, for the Huron consulting contracts, and for info on the VP for Diversity search. I’ve been asking VP for Portland Wendy Larson for the Portland info, and I’ve filed PR requests for Huron and Diversity.

Rumor has it that Portland is losing ~$3.5 million a year, that the Huron contracts are not shrinking, and that there are three finalists for the campus visits for the VP for diversity Let me know if you have any specific tips or questions on these issues.

ASUO government working pretty well

10/14/2011: We’ve had a few posts about conflicts between VP for Students Robin Holmes and the students. Both now seem resolved, at least temporarily. Franklin Bains has a long story in the ODE on EMU referendum:

The meat of this negotiation was a line-by-line hashing out where Eckstein would read a section from the original memo he tried to sign with Holmes, which was not agreed to, that provoked the postponement. Following, senators — who all had this document open on their computers, along with the new document that was receiving revisions — would discuss concerns they had and vote on these individual sections.

Finally, just before 4 a.m., the final memorandum was approved, and the group took a 15-minute recess so another group could write the letter. It went out to the Multicultural Center, the Women’s Center and the governing bodies of Fraternity and Sorority Life on Thursday. Those bodies returned approval. The letter was read, and the magnitude of that momentous occasion was reflected upon.

“I’ve never seen this happen before … I want to thank everybody,” said Eckstein, who is going on his third full year in the ASUO.

Then the OMAS fight, led by UO Truth, a group of students and their OMAS advisors who were worried they would be reassigned as part of Holmes’s efforts to restore some sanity to Charles Martinez’s OIED empire. Mei Tsai reports Robin Holmes has compromosed there too:

Students with the UO Truth Coalition and Vice President of Student Affairs Robin Holmes agreed in a meeting Friday afternoon to set up a student advisory board that would work with administration in the transition of OMAS to CMAE.

The UO Truth Coalition would like to see a board of 10 students from the group, as well as other representatives of other student groups. It would take part in the hiring process of potential CMAE advisors, as well as approve or disapprove of hiring advisors.
However, she did not agree to allow the student board to oversee the administration and its processes.

“To have oversight over an administrative function is not something I can agree to, nor do I think it would work,” she said.

Students also asked for included the retaining current OMAS services, hiring culturally competent advisors to fill advising positions that are currently empty, and creating more scholarships for in-state students of color. Holmes agreed to all of these.

Bit by bit the administration is learning they are better off consulting with the students than ignoring them.

Robin Holmes FAQ on OMAS

10/31/2011: Better late than never. The students who oppose this have a blog here.

Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence
Responses to Recent Questions
1. Is OMAS being eliminated?
You will no longer see the name Office of Multicultural Academic Support (OMAS). 
However, all of the current staff of OMAS will continue at the University with
responsibilities to serve students.  Multicultural programs are being expanded and other
initiatives are being developed to ensure that students have the support to be successful at the University of Oregon. 

2. Whose idea was this?
 It was a discussion among a number of people in recognition of the need for more
multicultural services at the University and a desire to follow innovative practices for
providing those services in the most effective way possible.  Feedback from the recent Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity listening sessions helped to solidify the need for more services for underrepresented students at the University of Oregon. 

3. When will the change happen?
It is an on-going process.  The three program area directors (Audrey Cramer, Jane Irungu and Chicora Martin) are working together to create a strategic plan for the new Center for
Multicultural Academic Excellence.  A grand opening event will be held during the UO MLK celebration week.  However, there is an open forum scheduled for November 3, 2011 at noon in the Fir Room, EMU so we can provide more information to interested students.  Additionally, the area directors of the new center are always open and available to meet with students, faculty, and staff with questions. 

4. Is the student lounge of OMAS being closed?
 No. The lounge area will be available.  Some staff offices will move, and efforts are being
made to create more multicultural lounge and meeting space for students.  We hope that in
the future we may be able to offer this space more frequently as a meeting space for
organizations and events. 

5. Will I still be able to see my advisor?  
 Yes.  Staff who previously did advising as part of OMAS will be available to assist students with advising issues.  In addition, all staff involved with the Center will be able to provide support and advising.  

6. Are the OMAS retreat, Diversity Excellence Scholarships (DES) and graduation being
No.  We recognize the importance and value of these programs.  We hope to expand the
opportunities for student leadership and institutional support.  We hope interested students
will be a part of these initiatives, through planning and implementation. 

7. I have heard that other programs will be eliminated.  Is that true?
 The leadership team is making a full review of all the services provided to students.  In the near future input will be sought through a survey and follow up meetings focusing on the students who have utilized the programs in the past, and those who may utilize it in the
future to ensure that resources to serve undergraduate and graduate students are allocated to the most effective and desired programs and services.  The survey link will be available on numerous websites including the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of
Institutional Equity and Diversity.  Fliers will be distributed across campus with the web link to all student unions, the MCC, and academic departments.  

For more information please contact 
Robin Holmes
Audrey Cramer
Jane Irungu
Chicora Martin  

Please come to the open forum scheduled for November 3, 2011 at noon in the Fir Room for an opportunity to get your questions answered and hear more about new opportunities.

Holmes cleans up Martinez’s mess

10/30/2011: OIED VP Charles Martinez was one of those interim appointments gone permanent and bad. He had a remarkable ability to screw up UO’s diversity efforts, despite spending most of his time off campus double dipping at his second job at OSLC.

Last year Lariviere bought Martinez off with a no-search tenured job in the College of Education, then this fall he appointed VP for Student Affairs Robin Holmes to run OIED on an interim basis. My prediction? The secretive search run by Scott Coltrane and “Diversity Search” at a cost of $100,000 fails, and Holmes then adds the VP for “Diversity and Institutional Equity” job to her portfolio.

And – trust me I *really* never thought I would say this – maybe that’s a good thing. Holmes has a stubborn flaw as an administrator: She just won’t consult with faculty or students about anything – from moving graduation day, to the EMU renovations, and now to the reorganization of OMAS. But the reorganization itself is long overdue, it’s sensible, and Holmes appears to have support from the people who want to change things for the better. OIED needs good administration.

As this ODE story by Mei Tsai reports, some of the students that use OMAS are now up in arms. Their blog is here.  This was predictable, they should have been brought into the reform process. The story I’ve heard is that they are being manipulated by those OMAS advisors who are going to get reassigned by VP Holmes to actual real jobs. Jobs advising students, reporting to administrators with goals, and held to account for their productivity. Nobody likes that.

VP Holmes is apparently scheduling meetings with the students next week. I hope this gets fixed. Meanwhile here’s the latest Org chart:

OMAS to close?

10/26/2011: An anonymous correspondent reports that VP Robin Holmes is closing the Office of Multicultural Academic Success and replacing it with something called CMAE, the Center for Multicultural Access and Excellence. They point readers toward for more information and documents, and say that students, staff, and faculty are organizing protests. That blog says:

The goal is “diversity” not multicultural as representing students of color. The new CMAE has shifted the focus that OMAS had on students of color to any student that qualifies under the diversity criteria. Obviously these students need resources and programs but Non-trad and Students of Color should not be treated the same. This is an act of white washing, complete disregard for the actual needs of students of color, and a blatant attempt at assimilation. 

As most readers know, since I’ve beaten the topic to death, my own belief is that special services targeted specifically at racial and ethnic minorities are generally illegal. I would prefer to see targeting by income and SES instead – a filter which would include many minorities. This is in part because of the law, in part because I think it is more appropriately targeted. President Obama has made the same point, about his own daughters. While I often disagree with Robin Holmes, she seems to be a pretty damn good administrator. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. I applaud the students involved for getting involved, even if we don’t agree. And also for their excellent work getting and posting public records for the public to see.

A great day for civil rights

9/19/2011: Off topic, but too important to ignore. Gays and lesbians can now serve openly in the US military. Army letter here. Photos of service members openly enjoying their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, with a little of the 2nd amendment too, here. Meanwhile, the Marines have already secured a beachead: “At first it’s going to be kind of shock and awe.”

UO appoints Interim Director, Diversity Education and Support

9/15/2011 update:

I asked Mr. Martin for the AA documents on this hire. After a very little back and forth, I got them. They give convincing reasons for the interim appointment. This is a big improvement from the way UO used to handle these things. And I made a comment to Mr. Martin saying that.

9/6/2011: Notice of appointment here. I didn’t know we had such a position – which is apparently outside both OIED and OMAS but involves similar objectives. The old job description is here. The former Director, Jason Rodriquez, left UO for a similar job at Linfield in May.

I have no reason to doubt that the new person is anything but an excellent hire. But this is another UO diversity appointment done without a public posting of a job opening or an affirmative action compliant search – just as was done for Charles Martinez back in the bad old days. Bad precedent to follow.

Presumably the person making this appointment, Assistant Dean Chicora Martin, obtained a special exemption to the regular affirmative action rules from AAEO Director Penny Daugherty. Why? Rodriquez announced he was leaving back in May. This seems like plenty of time for following the objectives of affirmative action: make the job opening public, solicit applications broadly, consider all qualified candidates on their merits, and be able to defend the process in public.

Sustainability and Diversity

8/30/2011: Sustainability and Diversity are college administrators’s favorite buzzwords. Here’s UO doing something sensible on sustainability: spend $10 million on energy saving features for buildings that will save $500,000 a year in utility bills and reduce pollution. (But read the comments.)

So, what would a sensible approach to increasing diversity at UO look like? Stalin himself couldn’t make these 5-year plans work. Can Russ Tomlin do better by putting specially trained “faculty search advocates” on hiring committees?

UO’s new "Diversity and Inclusion" hire

Update: How public will this search really be? The ad ends with

All communications will be treated confidentially.  Nominations, inquiries, and applications (including a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and the names of five references) should be directed electronically in confidence to  For further information, please contact: Kim M. Morrisson, Ph.D. Managing Director and Practice Leader …

I’ve got a request in to find out if a state agency can really keep this stuff confidential. From what I read in Attorney General Kroger’s handy online public records manual, I don’t think so. The contract with the firm “Diversified Search” is here. From what I can see from the job posting archives, the only UO searches promising confidentiality are the ones they have ran. And then there’s this, from the contract appendix:

“Transparent nature of our search process?” Umm, whatever you say.

8/30/2011: The job ad is up for a replacement for OIED head Charles Martinez, who will have double-dipped his last as a UO VP as of Sept. 15. Now Mike Bullis and the Ed School will have to deal with him – enjoy!

The administration originally said his last day would be tomorrow, but then they gave him another 2 weeks, ostensibly to give him time to train Robin Holmes as interim VP. I’m not bitching, after the millions that Martinez has blown doing nothing, another $10K or so for doing more nothing is not going to be noticed.

When we get a new hire it will be the first time in 5 years that UO’s diversity efforts will be run by someone hired through an open, public affirmative action compliant search. Martinez was appointed on the quick by Frohnmayer and Moseley, to help cover up the discrimination lawsuit Moseley lost. This time, we are paying a search firm $100,000 to not screw this up. It took a year and many public records requests to get UO to actually write a job description for Martinez. Then it took another public records request to get the search committee head, CAS Dean Scott Coltrane, to release the hilariously overblown top-secret draft of the new position description:

This report has been prepared exclusively for the University of Oregon and includes sensitive information. The use of this report should therefore be controlled and limited to those concerned directly with this assignment.

Nice try, but the whole thing is currently posted online here. The job ad is considerably more concise:

The VPEI leads efforts to identify gaps in equity across the University, promoting access and equal opportunity for students, faculty and staff and equity in the policies and procedures that support them.  In addition, the VPEI plays a key role in the achievement of progress on key priorities: faculty recruitment and hiring; student recruitment and retention; strengthening of recruitment pipelines; and reorganizing the Equity and Inclusion Office to support faculty, school, department and unit diversity efforts across campus. 

No crap about pointless “5 year diversity action plans” for once. My suggestion? Don’t hire anyone. Charles Martinez’s OIED spent $903,587 last year – that’s just counting salaries and administrative overhead for his office, not program costs. For comparison, in 2009-10 UO awarded $1,706,250 in need-based financial aid, and another $2,086,425 in need-based tuition waivers. So we could dump the OIED administration (while keeping OMAS, the Longhouse, etc) and have enough money to increase UO’s support for low income students by 25%. 

How to diversify UO

8/22/2011: I don’t like the apparent narrow focus on racial and ethnic diversity in this paper, in comparison to a more inclusive definition that includes first in family to go to college and SES. But I suspect the message extends. As reported by

A paper presented here Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association found that black and Latino students with academic credentials equal to those of white students are slightly more likely than their white counterparts to apply to and enroll at selective colleges. 

The finding, the paper’s authors say, suggests that those who want more minority students at elite colleges need to focus not so much on colleges’ policies but on improving high schools (and the entire K-12 system) so that more black and Latino applicants have similar academic credentials to their white counterparts’.

… Many elite colleges face considerable pressure to expand their outreach efforts to attract more minority students, or to consider changes in admissions policies. But Goyette said that the data in the new study show that those efforts — while laudable — may not have a huge impact, given that the central issue appears to be the relatively small number of black and Latino applicants with academic backgrounds comparable to those of white students. “The most effective way” for top colleges to enroll more black and Latino students, she said, is to improve high schools that serve black and Latino students.

Obviously universities are not going to take over K-12. Teaching 9th graders is a long hard day and if it’s easy to do well I sure haven’t figured it out. But UO can increase support for programs like SAIL, which focus on helping low SES students of all races to do well in HS and prepare for college.