follow-up on Huron report

4/8/2011:

Date: April 8, 2011 5:31:06 PM PDT
To: Elizabeth Denecke , Public Records Requests
Cc: Frances Dyke , …
Subject: public records request, Huron report

Hi Liz –

The last amendment to the Huron contracts you sent me earlier this week says:

A. The second to the last bullet point in Section 1.2 is deleted in its entirety and replaced with the following:

“by March 15, 2011, issue a written report (or at the University’s election an oral report) containing final findings and recommendations; and”

This is a public records request for that written report. I’ve cced VP Frances Dyke on this. Under the contract Huron reports to her and I assume she has this report or if was presented orally she has emails or notes regarding that oral presentation. So if there is no written report, this is a request for her notes of the oral report, whether they are a memo, email, or handwritten.

I ask for a fee waiver on the grounds of public interest. The money for the Huron contract comes to UO via ICC returns from grants obtained by UO faculty – they are interested. Part of what’s left over from the ICC money after expenses like this goes to grad students and post docs – they are interested. The money comes from NSF and NIH and other federal agencies that are supported by tax payers – they have an interest as well.

The Huron contracts and invoices that were posted Thursday evening have already been downloaded more than 85 times – this is just counting click-throughs from the http://uomatters.com/2011/04/just-dont-make-johnson-hall-look-bad.html, not direct links, emails of the documents, people just reading the post, people using an RSS newsreader, etc.

Obviously many people are interested in what is going on here, and would like very much to know what these consultants, who have already been paid $1.5 million, have to say about the situation at ORSA.

Thanks for your cooperation, (UO Matters)

 Thanks to a commenter for the suggestion. Lagavulin.

followup on Huron invoices

4/8/2011: A commenter suggests that these Huron invoices are not complete. We are on that. Since we have an active petition in with the Attorney General, we are expecting that we will get a quick answer from UO this time:

Date: April 7, 2011 5:23:24 PM PDT
To: Elizabeth Denecke
Cc: Public Records Requests , Kron Michael C , Andrea McFarlane , Moira Kiltie , …
Subject: Re: PRR request, Huron Consulting

Hi Liz

I’m thinking that UO doesn’t pay out $1.5 million, $143K at a pop, without a slightly more detailed invoice. At least they never have for me.

So was there any more to the invoices? Supporting material? Description of the work product? Itemization of hours and expenses? I’d appreciate a quick response, and I will drop the petition if I get the complete invoices, or assurance from you that the invoices Huron sent UO do not include anything additional, beyond what you provided below.

Meanwhile, thanks for your consideration of my fee waiver request. The documents you provided are now posted at http://uomatters.com/2011/04/just-dont-make-johnson-hall-look-bad.html as promised. …

Thanks, (UO Matters)@uoregon.edu>@uoregon.edu>@doj.state.or.us>@uoregon.edu>@uoregon.edu>

Another commenter points out that the contract has issues and may have been a violation state purchasing rules. I’m not going to pursue that angle – I don’t really care whether the administration is pissing my money away legally or illegally.

Just don’t make Johnson Hall look bad

4/7/2011: It took a petition to Attorney General John Kroger to force the UO administration and Public Records Officer Liz Denecke to finally cough up these documents. No wonder.

Our administration has blown about $1.5 million since last June – $130,000 a month – on a contract to administer UO’s federal grants, after ORSA exploded last spring and no one in charge noticed until the feds started writing some really irate letters. This is for a job that could have been done internally for a few hundred K – and once was.

If you are UO faculty, try getting $50,000 out of UO to support a legitimate research project. The administration will shit all over you.

But if you are a senior UO administrator who needs to spend $1.5 million of the ICC research money that comes from professors’ NSF and NIH grants to cover your ass, they won’t even bother putting the contract out for bid. Just don’t make the rest of Johnson Hall look bad, OK?

I love the way these invoices are stamped “strictly confidential”. Good luck with that. Frances Dyke’s contracts are here. Th Huron Consulting Group invoices are here. Everything since 1/1/2010.

This sample is for one month of work. An anonymous commenter got these docs before UO’s public records officer Liz Denecke sent them to me, and did the math for us:
The Huron contracts and invoices actually cost $130,000 per month of ICC funds. This includes flying 3 of the contractors round trip to Chicago each week, 1 to Utah, and the 5th is from Portland – so no telling what they pay for this. The per hour rate for the 5 contractors range from $250 for Tim Patterson, $200 for Marisa Zuskar, on down to the lowest per hour cost of $75.

Frances Dyke and Rich Linton initially contracted with Huron to 1) determine what is a policy and 2) who determines policy. Once Paula Robert’s left in April 2010, Frances and/or Rich switched them over to ORSA–not what they were initially contracted to do. All that seems to have been accomplished to this point is dissension for $1,560,000 per year.

Exactly.

PS: A few people have asked if they can contribute to help pay for the cost of getting these documents. Actually, Liz Denecke’s stonewalling has embarrassed the senior administration enough that they are now making her consider my request for fee-waiver. Meanwhile, I’ll just say that I paid this $48 out of my single malt account, which is quite depleted now that you mention it. Also low on grappa.

Petition to AG Kroger for Huron contracts and invoices

At some point you start wondering what they are hiding. Maybe we really are paying $100,000 a month out of our ICC money? Maybe they didn’t put the contract out for bid? It would have been much simpler – and much more in the spirit of trust and transparency – for our administration to have simply explained the situation to the faculty. Nope.

From: (UO Matters)
Date: April 6, 2011 5:02:09 PM PDT
To: Kron Michael C
Cc: Elizabeth Denecke , Michael Redding , Andrea McFarlane , Public Records Requests , Moira Kiltie , Richard Linton
Subject: PR Petition, Fwd: PRR request, Huron Consulting

Dear Attorney General Kroger:

Two weeks ago I asked UO Public Records Officer Liz Denecke to provide the documents below.  This Monday I finally received a response from her, offering to sell me these records for $48 and change. I promptly notified Ms Denecke that I would pay this amount, and I have. I still have not received the documents or any response to follow up emails.

This is a simple request for contracts and invoices. In an effort to speed the process I cced the UO official with knowledge of the contracts when I asked Ms Denecke for the documents. This straightforward request should certainly not take the 2 weeks you propose in your new legislation as an upper-bound time frame for providing records, and I believe it is clearly unreasonable under current law.

Therefore I ask you to treat this delay as a denial and I petition you to order UO to produce these documents.

Thanks, (UO Matters)@uoregon.edu>@uoregon.edu>@uoregon.edu>@uoregon.edu>@uoregon.edu>@uoregon.edu>@doj.state.or.us>

$100,000 a month for Huron ORSA consultants?

4/4/2011: There are rumors that ORSA’s contract with Huron consulting is costing UO $250 an hour plus expenses for each of two consultants. Supposedly this includes round-trips back to their home base in Chicago on weekends. $100,000 a month by one account, or close to $1 million total so far. This is for jobs that typically pay about $7,500 a month plus benefits.

True? The only way to cleanup the Paula Roberts situation? Who knows. But a fair number of faculty are wondering if this is where our ICC money has been going. So Wednesday before last I filed a public records request for the contracts and invoices.

Today, after a nag email or two, I finally got a reply from UO’s public records officer Liz Denecke. Instead of sending the documents – which I have the feeling are already sitting on her desk – she sent a denial of my request for a fee waiver, and an offer to sell them to me for $48.94.

I paid her, and I’ll post them as soon as she delivers. FWIW, I am guessing it’s more like $35,000 a month. Still, that’s a fair chunk of money that really should be going to support research. Regardless, why go through this elaborate bullshit to hide what’s going on from the faculty? Not the way for UO’s administrators to build trust.

Dear (UO Matters):

The University of Oregon, Office of Public Records received the above-referenced public records request you sent on March 23, 2011 (below). The university is the custodian of at least some of the records you have requested. The office is now providing an estimate to respond to your request.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding your request to be $48.94. Upon receiving a check made payable to the University of Oregon in that amount at your earliest opportunity, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure.  Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

The university has received your request for a fee waiver for these records.  The decision to waive or reduce fees is discretionary with the public body.  After considering your request below, the office does not consider that the totality of the circumstances you presented meets the standard for a fee waiver.

The office assumes you will accept the requested documents in electronic format to save the 25 cent charge per page for copies. The office also charges for the actual cost of making public records available.  The charge includes, but is not limited to, staff costs for locating, gathering, summarizing, compiling, reviewing, tailoring or redacting the public records to respond to a request.  The charge may also include the cost of time spent by an attorney in reviewing the public records, redacting material from the public records, or segregating the public records into exempt and nonexempt records.

The cost of time for each employee is calculated by multiplying the employee’s hourly wage calculation (including benefits expenses) by the hours or portions thereof necessary to locate, gather, summarize, compile, tailor, review, redact, segregate, certify or attend the inspection of the public records requested.

Thank you for contacting the Office of Public Records with your request.

Sincerely,

Liz Denecke

$90 thousand for research, $1.5 million for DPS

10/6/2010: From the announcement of UO’s summer research awards program, below:

“It is anticipated that up to twenty awards in the amount of $4,500 each will be granted.”

That’s as much as $90,000! This could increase UO’s research expenditures from 63.25% of average to 63.33%! Meanwhile, in the past 3 years the budget for the Department of Public Safety has increased from $2 million to $3.5 million.

Update: Sorry, we’re still at 63.25%. The SRA program last year was for the same $90K.

Who determines UO’s spending priorities? Frances Dyke? Jim Bean? Richard Lariviere?

DATE: 10/5/2010

TO: UO Tenured, Tenure Track Faculty and Non-Tenure Track Faculty
FROM: Moira Kiltie, Assistant Vice President for Research
RE: 2011 Summer Research Awards

This memo announces the 2011 Summer Research Awards (SRA) competition for faculty supported by the Office of Research and Faculty Development. The deadline for receipt of 2011 proposals is 5:00 pm, November 30, 2010.  Applications are available online at http://rfd.uoregon.edu/content/summer-research-awards-2011.
Due to the number of applications that have not conformed to the guidelines in the last few years, we are making a change to the submission process and to the guidelines. Proposals will be reviewed by staff for conformity with stated guidelines. If submitted proposals conform, notice will be given of their acceptance.  If they do not conform they will be returned to the applicant no later the afternoon of December 3, 2010.  Applicants will have 72 hours to resubmit in conformity with guidelines.  Applications that do not conform to the guidelines by 5pm December 6th will be returned without review.  If you have questions about the process, please call Mary Fechner at 6-3196 or Robert Long at 6-2293.

The purpose of the SRA program is to stimulate research by providing faculty with sustained time for scholarly and academic endeavor. Proposals may be submitted by faculty who meet the eligibility criteria (see below). It is anticipated that up to twenty awards in the amount of $4,500 each will be granted.

The Summer Research Awards Committee, composed of faculty designated by the University Senate, evaluate SRA proposals. Proposals will be judged on the basis of their scholarly or artistic merit and the extent to which they advance knowledge in a particular field. What usually differentiates proposals that receive funding from those that do not is that funded proposals are written in jargon-free language and provide a coherent and succinct statement of the project that can be understood by a committee composed of researchers from a variety of disciplines. Award recipients will be notified on or about February 15, 2010.

Please see the Proposal Guidelines, for all eligibility, proposal preparation notes and award conditions for the program. Proposal development assistance is available from RFD staff (see below).

If you have questions about the program or if you would like help with you r submission, please contact Mary Fechner (mfechner@uoregon.edu; 6-3196) or Robert Long (rohilong@uoregon.edu; 6-2293). If you have accounting and award distribution questions please contact Naomi Crow (ncrow@uoregon.edu; 6-2873).

University of Oregon
RFD Homepage
Moira Kiltie

NRC Graduate Rankings

9/28/2010: The NRC graduate rankings are out, Chronicle.com has a spiffy interactive tool, probably only accessible from campus. Many UO programs do very well – even without adjusting for shitty faculty pay and the fact that UO research support is 63% of average.

The new quantitative methodology adopted by NRC emphasizes productivity per faculty. The fact UO does so well on this dimension should be a big shot in the arm for Lariviere’s restructuring plan, which will presumably promise specific productivity targets. We have nothing to fear from this. Well, most of us don’t.

As a random example consider UO’s economics department, in comparison to, say, UT-Austin. Taking the midpoint of the range estimate Oregon is #51, Texas is #67, out of 118 ranked programs. UO full professor pay is 30% below that at Texas.

In these rankings, we lose the most points because we have so few new students with full support. Where did that money go, coach?

Grad program rankings Tuesday

9/27/2010: The NRC rankings of US graduate programs have been released to UO administrators and the press but are embargoed for public release. Sorry, we took an oath. The release has been delayed for years by a cage fight over statistical methods, and the data will be from 2005-6. Still, these will be the authoritative numbers and will be taken very seriously. The release is at 10AM Tu, here.

166,000 research dollars per professor

9/8/2010: Bill Graves of the Oregonian has a story on the latest results on research spending at Oregon universities:

The average UO professor brings in a lot more than I would have guessed! I wonder that the median is. We’ve reported before that UO’s research expenditures on a per student basis were 63% of the average Carnegie public research school, for 2008. This is why UO needs to get serious about redirecting money away from administration and towards academics. But instead we get reports about new spending for a police force, etc. Who establishes these priorities?

Can UO stay in the AAU? Should we?

8/3/2010:  The 19 AAU schools with the lowest federal research funding, out of the 63 members:

And we already know full prof salaries are 84% of our peers. So where does UO excel?

In the percentage of our budget that goes to Central Administration. They cost us 96% of the average public research university, on a per student basis. Our research expenditures are 63%.

Still no word on faculty raises.  Still no slowdown in hiring of more administrators. Sun still continues to set in the west.

bloat balloons

7/30/2010: More from “The Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability” and their online database of the federally required reports to IPEDS.  Looking at UO’s spending per student FTE compared to Carnegie Public Research university averages, for 2008. We spend:

  • $2,347 on Central administration. 96% of the average
  • $8,850 on Instruction. 91% of the average
  • $1,937 on Academic support: 70% of the average
  • $3,521 on Research. 63% of the average

So UO spends about $70 million on research. (The measure excludes research funded by departments – e.g. when faculty spend time on research on regular pay.) The internal “big ideas” initiative that Provost Bean announced last year was an internal competition for a total of $250,000:

Colleagues:
The 2009 Academic Plan created the Phased Focus process implemented by a series of Big Ideas to power the University to the next level.  In Spring, 2009, a 15 person faculty committee chose the first set of Big Ideas from 28 submissions.  These five interdisciplinary teams were each funded with $50,000 from carryover in the Provost’s Office budget from FY09, and launched in July, 2009. …

This moves us from 63% to 63.25% of what the average public research university spends per student. Well, it would if it were recurring, actually it’s one-shot. In comparison, here’s what has happened to administrative spending in just one administrative office, Institutional Equity and Diversity:

2006   $429,000
2008   $596,000
2010   $743,000

The $314,000 increase that went to OIED (and this is before their recent hiring increase) is more than the $250,000 for research “big ideas”. And this is just one administrative office. And this happened when the administration was already receiving proportionally far more money than research.

The UO administration talks about wanting to be a top tier, flagship institution and wanting to stay in the AAU. But that is not where they are spending our money.

A little UO history, and some data

7/23/2010: Check the comments for an interesting take on UO history, from an old man:

… Can such “Oregon values” be resurrected? Old Man hopes so, but more Faculty Push will be required since it is in the eternal nature of things that some administrators will try to arrange things to their own convenience, forgetting that their role is to serve the Faculty in its efforts to execute the University’s educational mission.
The new Prexy seems to understand that mission and seems to be taking steps to clean up the mess he inherited. Faculty would do well to support his efforts.

And a dog adds some rather shocking data:

Here is some enrollment data.
Column 1 gives year, 2 gives number of undergraduates, 3 gives grad students (inc professional schools), 4 is the ratio of grad students to total population:

30% defines top tier Research Universities

20% is the threshold for Carnegie Type I Research Universities

1970-71 11302 3999 26%
1973-74 12390 3653 23%
1976-77 12311 4451 27%
1979-80 12066 3945 25%
1982-83 11316 3482 24%
1985-86 12296 3344 21%
1988-89 14104 3663 20.6%
1991-92 12845 3484 21.3%
1994-95 12941 3216 19.9%
1997-98 13347 3158 19.1%
2000-01 13643 3161 18.8%
2003-04 15583 3539 18.5%
2006-07 16283 3418 17.3%
2009-10 18210 3471 16.0%

we are clearly becoming an unbalanced University and evolving to an UG institution. For me, this is the most serious problem at the UO and has been for the last 10 years.

Only 16% of our students are graduate/professional students. Do any of the administration’s initiatives address this issue? Our GTF stipends are absurdly low, and that this really hurts quality and quantity. My impression is that the “big 5” idea proposals are focused on peripheral issues, not this basic one.

Only 15.9% – Masoli will apparently be entering graduate school at UNLV instead of UO.

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.

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!