UO F&A rate to increase to 45%

1/20/2012: It’s currently 42%, the lowest in the AAU, I believe. 45% is still very low. I think it was 50% when I got my first NSF grant here, falling ever since. Memo from VP for Res Kim Espy here. Obviously they tried very hard to boost it, paid a bunch to consultants, and had some success. What’s the big deal? Low rates mean less money for UO to support research. UO can’t negotiate a higher rate with the feds because UO does not spend enough money supporting research. Why don’t we? Because Dave Frohnmayer, Lorraine Davis, John Moseley, Linda Brady and Frances Dyke pissed the money away on their pet projects. Police? Renovating Johnson Hall? Diversity plans? Arena? Alumni palace? That started a vicious negative cycle. Rich Linton didn’t have the guts to stand up to them. And Linton completely messed up ORSA, so now we are paying Huron exorbitant fees just to manage our grants. So there is not even enough money left in the research pot to pay for startup for the new science professors that we need to bring in grants to stay in the AAU. Forget about funding the research institutes and centers. Shelton’s budget model didn’t account for the possibility that things would be this badly messed up. So Espy is hitting up Coltrane to spend some CAS tuition money on this – or at least let her borrow some of it. But there’s only so much student money to go around, not helped by the fact that Bean has been letting the athletic department take $1.83 million a year for the Jock Box, and now $180,000 for his own sabbatical. And Bob Berdahl thinks UO’s biggest enemy is George Pernsteiner?

Linton and Dyke: Shit happens

4/26/2010:  Read it all. Full text here.

This is an astoundingly revealing letter to the UO research community, from VP for Research Rich Linton and VP for Finance and Administration Frances Dyke. Both senior administrators are now leaving their jobs. Linton was fired did not have his contract renewed by Lariviere last year and has been replaced by Kim Espy, after a national search – she was the committee’s favorite. The search to replace Frances Dyke started last month. (A search which includes some faculty representation only after protests to Provost Bean, who had stacked the original committee.)

Strip out the self-serving soul-destroying bureaucratic double-speak in their letter (whom do you two think you are fooling at this point, besides yourselves?) and it verifies the basic story we’ve been posting for the past 2 years:

Ms Dyke and former President Frohnmayer spent too much UO research money on their own pet administrative projects, and too little on research support. Linton didn’t stand up to them, so the feds cut our ICC rate to 42% – the lowest I’ve ever heard of.

Linton then made a very unfortunate hire for head of ORSA and failed to supervise her, even after repeated warnings from the UO research community. After the collapse of the office, Linton and Dyke hired the Huron Consulting firm – at a cost of nearly $2 million, paid out of the shrunken ICC research funds that are supposed to support science – to bail the UO administration out of that hole, and help keep it all covered up. (Huron was already on site, working on a small consulting contract.)

UO Matters had to make a petition to the Oregon Attorney General and then pay UO’s public records officer Liz Denecke to get the documentation on this. Ms Denecke is trying to charge us still more money to see the Huron reports – and Linton and Dyke have ignored our request that they give these up. In their letter they say they will release the final report, already delayed by months – but don’t mention the interim reports. Not exactly transparent.

But the real question is this: Why did Linton and Dyke write this letter? It’s far more revealing than anything we’ve heard from the UO administration in years, and at the same time it is astonishingly self-serving and incomplete.

Did President Lariviere make them do it before he signed their retirement contracts – as he made Mike Bellotti sit there at that press conference and take it, in order to get his $2.3 million payoff? Or did UO’s new VP for Research, Kim Espy, insist that they clean up their own mess before they bail? Or did the Huron consulting firm get tired of looking like the bad guys, and make UO write it?

Why does it matter? Because the only hope for UO is that President Richard Lariviere is getting really, really pissed, and that he kicks some administrative ass. Now. Fire them for cause. Have Doug Tripp stand there with his Tazer while they clean out their offices. Search their pockets for the uttermost farthing. No more golden parachutes. And then start digging around for what else is buried under Johnson Hall and the Jock Box.

Thanks, I feel much better now. What? Of course I’m a team player. Sure – let’s all pull together and go in for the big win. OK, I’ll get with the program, and drop the PR requests and the FOIA too.

But where is our research money?

servers or wood and leather?

11/8/2010: We’ve written before about how UO’s VP for Finance and Administration Frances Dyke blew $2.4 million remodeling Johnson Hall back in 2007. This led to a cut of millions per year in federal research money, when UO couldn’t show the feds it was spending enough money on research support to justify what they’d been giving us for grant ICC overhead. We are still paying the price for that particular stupidity.

Now, Greg Bolt of the RG reports UO is moving towards fixing this, with new information services infrastructure:

The project, to be funded through research grant proceeds and general revenue, will upgrade the primary and backup electric and cooling systems, make structural improvements, expand server capacity and improve other utility systems in the building. … Of the $4 million cost, $1.2 million will come from grant funds and $2.8 million from general revenue, which includes tuition revenue. Tuition won’t be raised to cover the cost; reserves the university maintains for such purposes will be tapped, said Frances Dyke, the university’s vice president for finance and administration.

Because of the way ICC calculations work, the return to this expenditure in terms of increased federal research support could be very large. Even larger than spending general tuition funds on refinishing the wood paneling in Johnson Hall and polishing the yellow leather for the jocks.

ORSA Questions

7/15/2010: We’ve written before about the chaos at ORSA. Paula Roberts is now gone, and apparently ORSA is now being run by Moira Kiltie and 2 consultants from Huron Consulting: Tim Patterson and Marisa Zuskar. On the ORSA staff website here. Rumor is Frances Dyke is paying Huron $250 an hour for them to clean up the mess. $250 each, that is, plus expenses. Must add up quick – there goes our ICC money again. We still don’t know how this is related to Rich Linton’s departure, or to the previous ICC debacle. Anyone know anything? Drop us an anonymous comment on the right – if you put Do Not Publish at the top, we won’t.

New Director, Human Research Protection

7/12/2010: Juliana Kyrk retired this year, and the job ad is out for her replacement:

Director, Human Research Protection Program
Office for Protection of Human SubjectsPay Range: $80,000 – $100,000

This position will report to the Assistant Vice President, Responsible Conduct of Research who also serves as the University’s Institutional Official. This position leads a team of five professionals with five major duty areas: protocol review and approval, IRB panel support, development of policies and SOP’s, developing and implementing Human Subject Research (HSR) education and training for staff, committee members, and faculty and student researchers, and administrative management and leadership. The successful candidate will have significant expertise in the full breadth of areas reflected in HSR administration. Additionally, the successful candidate will have the ability to work effectively with faculty, staff and students from a variety of diverse backgrounds.

While ORSA has been in complete disarray, the Human Subjects Protection office has been very well run. I hope they can find a worthy replacement for Juliana. Given what I’ve seen of other university’s IRB offices it won’t be easy. Rumor is that the general disarray at the top of ORSA led to her retirement. Don’t know how this is related to the Rich Linton resignation if at all.

Rich Linton applies for PSU job.

7/2/2010: Rich Linton is a finalist for the VP for Research job at PSU. Thanks to a reader for the tip. Their admirably transparent search info is here. His cover letter says:

If there is any concern about my changing allegiances within the State of Oregon, I will speak most candidly and in confidence. I have been planning to step down from my UO position, but not because of any internal pressures to do so. After a decade of service to the UO, I feel it is my prerogative to help assure a healthy cycle of institutional renewal and leadership. I have been in discussions with the Provost over the past six months, and anticipate that the news will become more public in the near future. We plan to begin a search process for my position with an expected start date by July 1, 2011.

Not quite clear if he realized PSU would post it, but the whole letter is worth reading. Odd, but the list of accomplishments in his letter doesn’t include “Rolled over and let UO’s VP for Finance Frances Dyke blow $2.4 million remodeling administration offices instead of labs, leading to a cut in UO’s ICC rate from 50 to 42% once the feds found out.” Despite this, if I was making a list of senior administrators whose departure would improve UO Linton would not be close to the top.

Note that PSU has a link for a survey on the VP applicants. UO does this too – but only for applicants. Once they’ve hired a VP, UO will never again ask the faculty for input on their performance. Who cares what UO’s rules say about evaluations for the administrators. Move it along, professor punk.

ORSA administrator forced out

6/11/2010: Two weeks ago VP for Research Rich Linton was told he would get a terminal contract. Today, rumor has it that Associate Vice President of Research and Director of ORSA Paula Roberts was fired by Provost Jim Bean, and that this was the direct result of pressure from “irate” UO faculty angered over her poor job performance. If true, I think this would be the first time in recent memory that the UO administration has taken faculty complaints about a matter involving a senior administrator seriously enough to take serious action. Good work Provost Bean, and I hope this is a precedent.

regarding Rich Linton:

update from Anonymous:

It is a sad day at the University of Oregon when an administrator with the integrity and character of Rich Linton decides it’s time to leave.   As Roast Duck says, he is a classy guy.  

While significantly elevating the profile of research, Rich always worked toward the best interests of the entire institution.  His collaborative and thoughtful style of leadership and advocacy are going to be missed and another institution likely will become the richer for our loss.  Rich deserves our appreciation and thanks for an often thankless job, and I believe we all wish him the very best in whatever path he follows.

5/28/2010: posted by “Roast Duck” in the comments, regarding Rich Linton:

I don’t know if Linton was forced out or just wants to move on after many years here. I had heard rumors several years ago that he was about to leave.

He has been a classy guy, and has done a lot of good things e.g. to move faculty hiring along in the sciences by coming up with research startup packages from a tight budget.

On the other hand, he came from a background in the applied end of science, where UO has been known, to the extent it is known, in more basic areas of science. He has followed the path, it must be said in response to initiatives from certain quarters among the faculty, of pursuing “earmarks” from the federal and state government for supposedly futuristic research in over-hyped areas like nanotechnology, interdisciplinary brain science, and the like. Look at the new “integrative science” building and its planned follow-up. Look at where the Lokey money has gone.

Meanwhile, as others have noted, the graduate enrollments have lagged, rankings of UO research/Ph.D. programs have dropped. It certainly isn’t primarily Rich Linton’s fault, he probably isn’t rsponsible much at all, but he hasn’t been able to stop it and he has not resisted the tide of over-hyped dubious research initiatives.

Lariviere, unlike a certain previous administrator, is aware enough to know what’s been going on, especially with the rankings of the UO programs. So, it’s entirely possible that he decided it was time for a change.

It’s also possible, as I say, that Rich Linton simply decided it was time to move on.

So, Rich, I hope you find something better, you probably deserve it, you did about as well as anyone probably could have under the circumstances at UO the past decade or so. All the best to you!

VP for Research Rich Linton gets a terminal contract:

Update: Linton’s own public statement is here:

It is satisfying for me to leave knowing that the UO has seen increasing research accomplishments by its faculty, including sustained growth in sponsored research funding, interdisciplinary research initiatives and innovations supporting technology transfer and development. I am deeply grateful for our faculty, staff, students and my administrative colleagues who are directly responsible for these advances. 

Other than the ICC issue – which was the result of decisions made by Frances Dyke, Linda Brady, and Dave Frohnmayer, not Rich Linton – we don’t know the real story on this. So Linton gets the last word, and it’s classy.

5/26/2010: I don’t know the back story on this “confidential” decision to replace VP for Research Rich Linton. Without dissing Rich, I have to say I find it remarkable how Provost Bean can say “UO’s growth rate in research expenditures per faculty member over the last five years was 50% … ” instead of “The growth in the research awards earned per UO faculty member ….”. I do like that new paneling in Johnson Hall though, nice to see that Frances Dyke pissed away our ICC research money on first class work.

From: owner-deans-dirs@lists.uoregon.edu [mailto:owner-deans-dirs@lists.uoregon.edu] On Behalf Of Susan Peter
Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 3:13 PM
To: deans-dirs@lists.uoregon.edu
Subject: deans-dirs: Rich Linton Announcement
Sensitivity: Confidential

The following message is sent on behalf of Senior Vice President and Provost Jim Bean –

Colleagues –

Rich Linton, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, has announced plans to step down from his position no later than June 30, 2011.  Rich has had a dramatic impact on the UO’s research enterprise and interdisciplinary initiatives during the past decade. For example, UO’s growth rate in research expenditures per faculty member over the last five years was 50%, ranking third best within the AAU (FY03-08, NSF’s latest available data). Rich has been instrumental in providing critical support of faculty recruitment and retention, graduate education, interdisciplinary centers and initiatives, research infrastructure, multi-institutional partnerships, and technology transfer.   Rich has served the institution with great skill, energy, good will and dedication.

A national search will begin presently and a search firm will be hired in the near future.  Rich and I will especially appreciate your support and assistance in this time of transition.  I wish Rich all the best as he looks toward new leadership opportunities and challenges.

Regards, Jim

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.

UO’s ICC rate cut – by $4 million per year.

10/6/2009 update: We hear from many disparate sources that this $4 million screw-up came from Frances Dyke’s office, not from Rich Linton’s.

  • Version A is that Frances did not take the DHHS documentation request seriously, and did not submit sufficient documentation.
  • Version B is that Frances took the DHHS documentation request seriously, but so much of the money had been spent on non-research items there was nothing that could be done.
  • Version C (everyone agrees this is part of the story) is that Frances’ accounting system is so messed up she can’t document anything convincingly.
  • Version D is that Version C is on purpose: there have been so many diversions of funds that it is important for the people at the top to be able to argue they don’t know the details.
  • Version E is that the person who had collected the data for the previous review left and Frances forgot to tell the replacement this was part of the job.

Version D would be consistent with her efforts to hide accounting information: removing BANNER codes from the web, exaggerating the cost and delaying efforts to post accounting records online – something OSU did several years ago. We will get to the bottom of this, because that’s what we do here. Thanks to our readers for the plethora of tips on this.

9/29/2009: Back in May we reported on the cut in UO’s F&A ICC overhead rate from 48% to 42%. (It had been 50% until 2000). This rate is negotiated between VP for Research Rich Linton and DHHS every few years and then applies to all federal grants. The idea is that a university has many legitimate expenses related to research, but not covered explicitly in the grants awarded to researchers. The ICC money goes for lab space, startup, GTFs, etc. It’s the bread and butter of research at UO, and amounts to about $30 million per year.

By our math – and keep in mind this is preliminary – this is a hit of about $4 million per year to UO’s research efforts. So the loss will approximately offset all annual research expenditures from the Lokey gifts. Huge. Here is Linton’s memo explaining how he will cut budgets.

We have been trying to figure out how the hell this happened. Here is the memo from the DHHS office that negotiates these rates with Linton’s office, stating the new rates but not explaining the cut. There is some speculation going around campus – like maybe the NIH didn’t think Moseley’s travel expenses and remodeling Frances Dyke’s office counted as legitimate research support? But here at UO Matters we deal in facts and public records – not rumor, innuendo and vitriol. And we will have those public records soon. (Meanwhile, please keep sending rumors and innuendi to uomatters@gmail.com, or post anonymously in the comments.)

Update, from an email from the federal employee in charge of the negotiations with UO:

The University of Oregon submitted a facilities and administrative rate proposal based on the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006. The proposed rate of 46.3% based on actual cost was lower than their current rate of 48%. The University proposed higher rates for the future years based on projections. As a result of our review of the proposal, we made adjustments to the proposed rates for the following reasons:(i) the useful life for the building depreciation was too short, (ii) the organized research base was understated, and (iii) adjusted rooms identified as 100% research to something lower. The University rates were negotiated with University Officials Richard Linton, Laura Hubbard, Paula Roberts. A summary of the proposed rates and our adjustments to the rates were provided to the University’s consultant (Maximus) and the University.

The Maximus website says:

In order to receive the highest rate possible, and to ensure compliance with OMB circular A-21, colleges and universities should consider outsourcing the F&A rate development process to MAXIMUS.

How to interpret what happened? The UO administration has been spending a chunk of the ICC research money that has been coming in for non-research things like Bend, Portland, and their other pet projects. About $4M per year. The feds caught them at it, didn’t believe their promises to stop, and cut them off. We will get more documentation – you can count on it – but can you read this any other way?
5/6/2009:

VP for Research Rich Linton has just announced he’s cutting the ICC grant money he sends back to departments to support research – money that comes from the hard work of UO faculty, and which is legally supposed to support UO research efforts. Any questions about where it’s really going? More on this soon.