Presidential Update

Dear Colleagues,

Our mission is built on the promise that broad access to the highest quality educational and research experiences will reap substantial economic and societal benefits for the entire state. The latest UO economic impact figures illustrate the magnitude of this university’s influence on our local, regional and state economy. Direct spending by the UO, our students and visitors accounted for more than $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2011-12, and the total impact of the spending was $2.6 billion according to UO economist Tim Duy. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind about the financial return on the state’s investment in higher education. 
But, in this era of shrinking state funding for public higher education, that dual promise of affordable access and high quality are more difficult to ensure. This trend is not unique to Oregon, and as in Oregon, university systems around the country are considering new ways of doing business. To remain competitive, we have to explore new models to provide needed resources and operational flexibility.
As the Legislature takes up higher education reforms during the 2013 legislative session, the proposal to create institutional boards for the University of Oregon and Portland State University will be one part of that discussion. Institutional boards are part of the solution for the UO and PSU because they could create the promise of increased flexibility to manage our individual challenges. I believe the boards, if properly structured, will be able to act more efficiently to advance our respective academic and financial goals, which will also serve to advance the broader educational goals for the entire state.
A tremendous amount of effort over this last year has gone into developing the foundation for an alternative model of governance for Oregon universities. The 2012 Special Committee on Higher Education has put forward a solid framework for institutional boards for further development and passage in the 2013 legislative session. There are many issues such a change raises. Our leadership team at the University of Oregon has examined the significance of this policy change from many perspectives. Some of that thinking is contained in issue briefs available at Among the topics explored are price and affordability, enrollment balance between resident and non-resident students, and authorities needed to efficiently manage operations and finance capital projects. 
A well-conceived board must strike a balance with the right structure of membership and authority to strengthen our universities’ ability to address the unique challenges and opportunities of our individual institutions, with a high degree of transparency, increased public accountability, and greater efficiencies to support the state’s educational and economic development goals. At the same time, we need strong partnerships with our colleague public institutions in Oregon and with our community college partners. With the governor’s vision for education reform at every level, I believe we can move forward. We need to continue to build shared services that enhance efficiency and take advantage of our many mutual goals. The state’s 40-40-20 goals will most readily be achieved by active partnerships among the public universities and community colleges.
I look forward to working with Oregon’s policy makers in the coming months to make post-secondary education a more accessible, affordable and quality opportunity for our future citizens and workforce; and in so doing we can continue to be one of the state’s most important economic engines.
Warm regards,
Michael Gottfredson

And indeed, the latest report from the Census (via Betsy Hammond in the Oregonian) shows the return to a college degree (albeit ignoring selection effects) grows from $24K a year just after graduation to $30K a year after 30 years of experience. Including the opportunity cost of foregone wages, an in-state degree costs maybe $160K. That’s a rate of return of  ~15%-20% a year and it has held up for decades, despite huge increases in the proportion of people getting degrees. And it ignores the consumption benefits of college fun and of being a more educated person. Pretty far from a higher-ed bubble. We are the most productive sector of the US and the Oregon economy. Excluding the “Football and Conflict” trivia courses, that is.

Governor calls for $1.5B 10 year university investment

That would be the Governor of Connecticut, talking about UConn and, mostly, STEM. Not clear but the financing seems to involve bond sales, a la Richard Lariviere:

Increase faculty in science, technology and engineering by 258 at the three campuses, in addition to 290 new faculty the university is in the process of hiring.

If you believe Interim Provost Bean’s latest attempt to count, UO’s tenure track faculty increased by 17.2 this year. And for those convinced that the faculty union will inevitably kill UO, UConn has been unionized since the 1950s. Their union website is here. Full disclosure: my father was one of the founders. 1/31/2013.

Independent UO Board legislation, LC 978

12/10/2012: The draft legislation for independent university boards, LC 978, has been posted, here, by the House Higher Ed committee. That committee has no Eugene representatives. From what I can see the bill does not require the appointment of voting faculty representatives – even though the OUS board has two.

There are many other parts I don’t understand. I hope people will take a serious look at this and post comments. Full text here. Here’s the beginning:

SECTION 5. (1) An institutional board of a public university shall
be formed and maintained as provided in this section.
(2)(a) The Governor shall appoint 11 to 15 members of an institutional board, subject to confirmation by the Senate in the manner
provided in ORS 171.562 and 171.565.
(b) For each appointment, the university shall nominate a slate of
candidates and shall forward the recommended candidates to the
Governor for consideration.
(c) The institutional board must include one person who is a member of the State Board of Higher Education or Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
(d) The president of the university shall be an ex officio nonvoting
member of the institutional board.
(3)(a) Except for the president of the university, the term of office
for each nonstudent member of the institutional board is four years.
(b) The term of office of each student member of the institutional
board, if any, is two years.

The elephant in the room is Phil Knight. His Oregonians for Higher Education Excellence has raised $445,000 to push this thru the legislature, and hasn’t yet spent a dime. Knight’s dislike of the UO faculty goes back to the Worker’s Rights Consortium fiasco. And now we’re unionized. This could get ugly.

Record UO enrollment mistake

Suck it up, faculty. Press release here. No mention of the percentage of freshmen that are in-state, a politically charged percentage given the New Partnership proposals that the legislature will face this winter. I’m guessing this means it’s less than half. Word down at the faculty club is that Roger Thompson’s shop has lost some quantitative people, and that the increase from the 24,000 in Bean’s academic plan (or 24,500, Bean doesn’t even know which is correct) was the result of forecasting errors.  9/24/2012.

Union, Senate each get one member

From the most recent meeting of the special legislative committee on independent university boards:

Board Composition

  • 2 Students, one undergraduate, one graduate (if appropriate) nominated by the relevant student organization(s) and appointed by the Governor.
  • 2 faculty, one nominated by nominated by the faculty senate and one by the faculty union if there is one, and appointed by the Governor.
  • 1 non-faculty staff member, nominated by the statewide staff organization and appointed by the Governor.
  • 1 from the SBHE.
  • 7 appointed at large by the Governor. These will (normally) be Oregon residents. One
    will be nominated the Foundation Board.
    [Current SBHE: 2 students, 2 faculty, 1 CC President, seven at-large.]
More here. Obviously this is all subject to change. 8/7/2012.

Gottfredson contract is

here. For contrast Larivere’s is here. I don’t see a clause preventing Gottfredson from pursuing the New Partnership – but Pernsteiner’s board does reserve the right to fire him on 30 days notice, without cause. Page 6. Wow. But even Lariviere’s first contract had something similar, as does Pernsteiner’s. BTW – catch the contract reference to Gottfredson using Treetops as the official Pres residence? Now what could that be about. Meanwhile the New Partnership PAC has $415K in the bank – easily enough to buy a few legislative swing votes. That said there’s no indication Gottfredson wants to pursue this. 7/31/2012.

UVT wants fewer politicians on board

From Kevin Kiley at IHE:

A group of influential Vermont leaders thinks $40 million shouldn’t buy a majority stake on the University of Vermont’s governing board. 

That’s roughly how much the state appropriates to the university every year. But the group says that’s not enough. These days, state appropriations make up less than 10 percent of the university’s overall revenue, while tuition makes up about half. 

In a report released last month, an advisory group convened by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin to study the relationship between the University of Vermont and the state recommended that the state alter the university’s governing board composition to include more members who are not appointed by politicians, a shift they say would help the university when it comes to raising money and creating partnerships with outside entities. 

The current board structure, put in place in the 1950s, has 25 trustees: Nine appointed by the legislature, three appointed by the governor, nine private trustees who elect their replacements, two students, and two ex-officio members (the governor of Vermont and the university president). That means political appointments outnumber “private trustees,” which the report says is a problem for the university. “This structure is out of balance in relation to that state appropriation and does not reflect the interest of the university or the true relationship to the state,” the report states. “Further, the limiting size and make up of the board hinders UVM’s ability to raise its profile within the state and nationally, raise needed dollars and recruit future trustees and supporters.”

 The OUS proposal lets the state appoint all members, including the token faculty and student members. 7/25/2012.

Clueless independent board reappoints President Sullivan

of UVA. From The Hook:

In his remarks prefacing his reinstatement resolution, Fralin conceded that all Board members possessed advance knowledge of the desire to remove the president. He says he regrets that he wasn’t “clever enough” to know that he and just two other board members could have called a meeting to demand a full roll-call vote.

“I wish I’d been a little more clever,” Fralin reiterates after the meeting, and he asserts that he had “no idea” whether Dragas really had the 12 votes that Board rules require to remove a president.

More in the NYT here. 6/27/2012

Virginia lawmakers consider board changes

6/25/2012: From the Daily Progress:

“I think the whole process by which people are appointed needs to be revisited,” said House Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville. “I think there’s probably a role for having a designated slot for someone who has a lot of background in academia, perhaps a faculty member or retired faculty member, someone who understands higher education from the inside out.”

Del. Robert Tata, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the House Education Committee, said lawmakers are waiting to see how the situation plays out, but it’s likely to become an issue for the General Assembly.

“A lot of times, board members are appointed according to the amount of money they give the university. Sometimes they don’t have the best interests of the university at heart. They have other axes to grind or whatever,” Tata said. “But it’s going to raise a lot of hackles when we get back in session next year, as to why this happened, how it happened and who were the major players.”

Frohnmayer proposal on independent boards

6/23/2012: From back in fall 2009. The first part is the usual Oregon higher ed is in trouble stuff. The second part is considerably more aggressive regarding the rights of independent university boards than anything I’ve seen lately from OUS or anyone else. Pdf here, 2009 RG story here. The ironic part is that Pernsteiner paid Frohnmayer to write it, as part of his golden parachute retirement deal.