CONFIDENTIAL: search committee sideswipes 1/2 Price Provost run

Update: The Chronicle’s Zipporah Osei has an interview with me here (gated off campus).

Q. Do you think you would’ve been able to work with the administration, given the reputation you have with your blog?

A. Ironically, I have a very good working relationship with the university’s current president, Michael H. Schill. I think I’m actually one of his strongest faculty supporters. I’ve been serving as Senate president this year, and I was Senate president two years ago. I’ve been able to work with people in the administration to do some really good things for the University of Oregon. The most recent example would be the teaching-evaluations reform.

5/20/2019: I’m not really sure why this would be CONFIDENTIAL. I applied for the job of provost at a public university, and I didn’t get an interview. Surely that’s all public record – isn’t it?

From: University of Oregon Search <>
Subject: CONFIDENTIAL – Thank you for your application
Date: May 20, 2019 at 11:18:48 AM PDT
To: William Harbaugh <>

Dear Bill,

Thank you very much for your application for the position of Provost and Senior Vice President. The search committee gave very careful consideration to your application. We are sorry to inform you that you have not been selected for an interview.

We appreciate your interest in this important position and that you took the time to send us your application. Decisions of this sort are never easy, and we appreciate your desire to serve the University of Oregon.


[signed, search committee co-chairs]

I can only speculate as to why they refused to interview me. I did agree to a criminal background check, but my lawyer said that thing in Pocatello was expunged and not to worry.

Perhaps the committee has decided to take up Raghu’s 45% Provost offer?  Or maybe this student senator’s 25% offer – they clearly have a bright administrative career ahead of them:

“I will offer my bid to be “Quarter Priced Provost” and will do whatever President Schill tells me to do. I think I have a shot!”

In any case, I did get this great letter of recommendation from union president Chris Sinclair, which I’ll keep on file until the job opens up again:

Prof Harbaugh announces candidacy as “The Half-Price Provost”

5/14/2019 update:  I’ll be submitting my application tonight, and I’ll post it along with letters of recommendation. Thanks for your support.

 4/28/2019: Dear Colleagues –

I am writing to ask for your support for my candidacy as UO Provost. I’ll be submitting a full application per President Schill’s call, but my campaign platform is simple:

  1. I’m cheap. I’ll do the job for just $250,000 – half the going rate. And, since I drive a paid-off ’87 GMC Caballero, I’ll donate the $12,000 car stipend to SAIL for scholarships.
  2. I’ll keep Johnson Hall’s focus on core academic matters – not distractions like “research metrics”, faculty tracking software, Concur, and big-time sports.
  3. I think UO should tax Duck coaches salaries, not subsidize them. The tax revenue should go towards the university’s academic, cultural, and extension missions.
  4. I’m transparent. If I can’t make “Around the O” tell us what’s really happening at UO and show us where the money’s really going, I’ll keep blogging on UO Matters – but from the inside.

My only non-negotiable demand is two reserved parking spots, since my ride is a bit wider than the usual JH beemer or Prius.

Professor Parthasarathy posts Provost platform: 45% and he’ll bike in

From Raghu’s always informative Eighteenth Elephant blog. Read it all, this is just a snippet:

Our Provost at the University of Oregon has stepped down, and there’s a call for nominations for a new one. The search will be internal, i.e. the next provost will be a UO faculty member.

Bill Harbaugh — economics professor, president of the University Senate, and muckracking journalist — tossed his hat into the ring as “The Half-Price Provost,” noting among other things that he’ll do the job for just $250,000, about half the present provost’s salary, and that since he owns a “paid-off ’87 GMC Caballero” (a hideous car/truck chimera), he doesn’t need the $12,000/year car stipend that comes with the job. There are real points as well; Bill is serious about his candidacy. I think he’d be good for UO. His odds of success are pretty close to zero, though.

It occurred to me that I could be provost, and that my candidacy offers some advantages compared to Bill’s:

    • I can bid lower, offering to do the Provost’s job for 45% of the current salary. (More on this below, when the serious part starts.)
    • Though I can’t pose in front of the administration building with a pseudo- El Camino, I can similarly decline the absurd car stipend that we offer extremely well paid people. Moreover, my transportation is even more Oregonian:


Raghu’s attack on my vehicle of choice is a new low in political campaigns, although my wife agrees with him about the “hideous”, and our daughters are now calling it “Dad’s Chimera”. Apparently not everyone appreciates chromed fake wire-wheel hubcaps.

As for the salary, Raghu goes on to argue, with data, that the new provost should be paid about $370,000:

Here, I will make the serious argument that the next provost should have a salary of at most $370k.

The provost position presently pays about $489,000 per year. I was curious about the history of this gigantic salary, so I dug through reports [1] at the UO Institutional Research site. From 2008 to the present, the salary has increased enormously:


The rest of his argument is here. While I agree with it, I’m still willing to do the job for $250,000.