Lariviere in Bend (updated with OUS info)

9/1/2009: Rumor is that Lariviere will soon decide if UO is going to pull the plug on its Bend programs, which graduate about 15 students a year, and run at loss to the Eugene campus of $1 million or so per year. (Update: actually 50 students, or a loss of $20,000 each). The Bend Bulletin reports on Lariviere’s visit to Bend today, without going into the history of UO’s operation there, which was set to give former UO Provost a retirement sinecure. You can find more by following the links at the bottom of this post.

The University of Oregon’s new president, Richard Lariviere, met with the Bend City Council on Monday afternoon to discuss city officials’ visions for higher education in Bend. Councilors told him that in the future they hope to have a larger university presence in Bend and just how important higher education will be to the city’s growth. … Lariviere says, “We’re now trying to get a better sense of Bend,” he said. “I want to get a better sense of how the university fits in.”

OPB reports that while in Bend Lariviere also announced his support for former OUS Board member John von Schlegell’s reform call to the governor:

In Bend, Lariviere spoke to local business leaders and told OPB that he supports a critical letter that former state higher education board members sent to the Governor.

That letter proposed turning the state university system into a public corporation. Lariviere says even though that idea may make waves, it should be considered.

Richard Lariviere: “The regulatory involvement in the state in higher education is way out of whack. And any time you layer on some set of regulatory constraints you’re debilitating the university from fulfilling its obligation to the state of Oregon.”

OUS resignation letter

08/30/2009: Suzanne Pardington has an interesting article in the Oregonian today, about Kulongoski’s stalled efforts to reform Oregon’s higher ed system. Pardington writes:

Five years ago, Gov. Ted Kulongoski recruited a new slate of business leaders to serve on the State Board of Higher Education and charged them with saving the state’s university system. This summer, the last of those appointees stepped down, feeling disappointed and frustrated over the structural and political roadblocks to making the big changes needed for dramatic improvements. John von Schlegell, who resigned from the board recently, sent Kulongoski a letter this week calling for an overhaul of the way the state manages and funds its seven universities. “If people just wait around for more money and don’t change the system with pretty radical changes, we’re just dying a slow death,” von Schlegell, managing director of a Portland-based private equity firm, told The Oregonian.

von Schlegell’s letter is here. His frustration with politics and academic bureaucracy is obvious. He argues for a more independent OUS system, including an end to political appointments to the board. Meanwhile, Oregonian reporter Harry Esteve writes a scathing story about the appointment of a State Rep to a job as “academic planner” for the OUS board:

State Rep. Larry Galizio got help from Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office to secure a job with the Oregon University System, a spokeswoman for the governor confirmed Thursday. The appointment, announced Wednesday, raised some eyebrows among Salem insiders because Galizio made a dramatic about-face and provided the crucial vote to bar a resort from being developed near the Metolius River — an outcome Kulongoski desired.

In an interview with The Oregonian, Galizio said he made no deal with Kulongoski to exchange his vote for a job. “That’s laughable,” said the Tigard Democrat. Galizio also said he never talked to the governor about working for the higher education system. What he didn’t mention, however, is that he met at least twice with Kulongoski’s chief of staff, Chip Terhune, to discuss his future job prospects.

Taylor said the phone call from the governor came before the first vote, when Galizio voted no, and had nothing to do with his getting a job. “There was no quid pro quo,” she said.

Odd, but OUS spokesperson’s Di Saunders’ PR blurb on this hiring – apparently done without any sort of search or effort to follow affirmative action principles – doesn’t get into the sordid politics. If, as Esteve says, Kulongoski is using University jobs as political payoffs, a move towards more independence would seem like a really good idea, and a really unlikely outcome.