We could have had new classrooms,

but instead Dave Frohnmayer went to OUS and took $10 million of our bonding authority to build a new alumni center, with fancy offices for the UO Foundation and convenient underground parking for their overpaid CEOs. The Foundation is still trying to raise the rest of the $29 million cost from donors. They told OUS the building would be self-supporting – meaning that the operating expenses will also come out of Foundation money that should have gone to academics.

Compare what the Foundation got with a typical UO classroom. My guess is some desperate prof bought that fan themselves. Thanks to Greg Bolt at the RG for the info on this.

UO Foundation releases old data

5/17/2011: The UO Foundation has finally submitted its 2009 IRS 990 form. This covers the FY from July 1 2009 to June 30 2010. That’s right, the most recent data the foundation will release is almost a year old. Download here. The IRS reporting requirements are tightening though, and this is full of interesting tidbits:

They spend almost as much on administrative expenses as on scholarships, for example. Endowment contributions are down. They refuse to break out expenses by academic/athletic categories:

No big mystery on that: The UO Foundation is essentially a money laundering operation that allows booster and ticket buyers to take tax deductions for their purchases, and itemizing these grants would make that a little too obvious. Dig a little deeper, and you can find out what sorts of salaries they are paying their top administrators. Big ones: 

For 2008-2009:

2009-2010:


 So Namyet got a 20% raise – faculty got nothing. Here are more for this year:

Weinhold’s salary is part year, not sure what it annualizes to. I was amazed to find that they paid their retired CEO, Karen Kreft, $296,000 for 2008-2009. For 2009-2010 she is still on the dole, for another $170,000. That would have paid for full ride tuition and books scholarships for 17 Oregon students.

The UO Foundation’s trustees have some pretty strange priorities.

Big raises at UO – for insider administrators

4/28/2011:  You can make quite a bit of money in academia, as long as your job does not involve teaching students or doing research.

We wrote last year about UO General Counsel Randy Geller’s big raise: As GC, Melinda Grier had been paid $184,710 – this was after 12 years in the job. Randy Geller was hired as an insider, at $200,000 a year to start.

The latest administrative raise tops that, by far. Retiring Alumni Director Dan Rodriguez was paid $100,989.  The new director, Tim Clevenger, will get $170,000.

But the big payoff is getting a job with the UO Foundation. The Oregon Attorney General’s office has given us their most recent filings. They are for the fiscal year ending in June, 2009. Why so old? Because our foundation runs out the IRS extensions, to delay having to reveal how much they are paying their executives. The numbers for 2008-2009 are here:

Karen Kreft was a former CEO who left under mysterious circumstances – looks they paid her a year’s severance. And Jay Namyet, the interim CEO, got over $300,000 in total compensation. The new CEO is Paul Weinhold. Any bets on what he is earning? They have to release that by May 15, and we will post it.

So what do these people do to earn this sort of money? They hire consultants to do the work:

Attorney General rules University Foundation must release records

4/27/2014: That would be in North Dakota. The SPLC has the story here.

5/26/2011: University foundations to follow open records law

In California, that is.

The UO Foundation is no fan of transparency. Last year they actually went to Attorney General Kroger and procured a special ruling exempting them from Oregon’s public records law. Here’s the letter from their lawyer, Frederick Batson, requesting the ruling.

They release the absolute minimum of financial information. Try finding out how much they are paying CEO R. Paul Weinhold, or CIO Jay Namyet, or for that matter their former CEO Karen Kreft, who received hefty raises, benefits, and then what looks like 18 months of severance, at $300K a year. The only data is from the mandatory IRS reports, and their compliance director Erika Funk delays release of those to the last possible minute. Try finding out how they spend the donations they receive. They release only rudimentary info, refusing to break down much of their spending into academic/athletic categories – which other university foundations do as a matter of course. They collect far more from Duck Athletic Fund donations – solicited as help for athlete’s college expenses – than they spend on tuition, fees, and books. They won’t say where they spend the rest of that donor money.

The UC and CSU Foundations have done these sorts of things themselves – but they have now agreed to clean up their act. From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

California Universities Drop Opposition to Donor-Transparency Bill

May 25, 2011, 2:38 pm

The University of California and California State University systems will no longer oppose a bill that would make their nonprofit foundations subject to the state’s open-records law, the bill’s author, Sen. Leland Yee, announced on Wednesday. The universities aggressively fought similar legislation in past years, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it twice over concerns that it would violate the privacy of university donors who wished to remain anonymous. But Mr. Yee reached an agreement on a compromise bill, which is very likely to be enacted, that he said would protect the anonymity of any donor who did not receive certain monetary rewards or attempt to “influence curriculum or university operations.”

New partnership tuition cap

3/2/2011: In testimony at the legislature yesterday President Lariviere raised the stakes and then called Pernsteiner’s bluff, adding a 5% in-state tuition cap to his new partnership plan. He can do this because his plan includes a fixed state contribution, large new private donations, and a workable strategy for getting them. Pernsteiner could always promise students a lower cap. But if pressed to show his numbers, he would have to admit he would get there by gutting UO’s research mission. Franklin Bains of the ODE has a story here, Bill Graves of the Oregonian here, these quotes are from the Greg Bolt RG story here:

Lariviere’s proposed tuition amendments didn’t immediately win over some students. Representatives of the UO student government and the statewide Oregon Student Association testified against the plan.

“Without checks and balances from the OUS and Legislature, we could see the UO as only a place for the very wealthy or the few fortunate enough to receive a scholarship,” said Emma Kallaway, legislative director for the state student association and a past UO student body president.

But the plan also has many supporters among faculty, the business community and other students.

UO finance professor John Chalmers, a member of the UO Senate budget committee, said that group supports the plan because it would provide for more predictable funding, the likelihood of future funding increases and excellent opportunities for academic fundraising.

“We believe the New Partnership takes a leap forward,” Chalmers said. “It’s a plan that can improve the quality and access to the University of Oregon.”

This bit is more problematic:

But some students said they consider that part of the plan risky because it puts the university’s financial future in the hands of private investment managers at the UO Foundation. They also worry that donors to the endowment will interfere in how the UO is managed.

“Anytime we’re accepting private money, there’s usually strings attached for how that money should be spent,” said UO student body President Amelie Rousseau in response to questions by state Sen. Larry George, R-Sherwood. “We’re seeing kind of a shift in priorities from academics to other things we have a lot of concerns about, and we don’t want that trend to continue.”

Ms Rousseau is right to worry. The UO Foundation is an expensive money laundering operation for the Duck Athletic Fund. They do not follow state transparency rules, and they have hired an attorney who convinced the state AG they did not need to.

Their President Paul Weinhold has now asked the IRS for a *second* extension for their 2009 990 report – due last Oct 15. This is the form that shows their expenses, including his salary and benefits. No wonder he wants to hide it as long as he can. But all you have to do is take a look at their plush new offices – right between Matt Court and the Jock Box – to know what they are up to. They could have spent that money on classrooms, to them this was a higher priority.

ODE editors call for more academic $

2/24/2011: and more transparency from the UO Foundation, here:

Donations to the University’s athletic department in the form of outright gifts has increased by more than 200 percent in the last 10 years, while outright gifts to academics have remained stagnant, according to a recent Emerald article (“Athletic hype draws alumni dollars,” ODE, Feb. 14). ….

A major issue with the University’s funding model is the lack of transparency for donors. The University fields its donations through the UO Foundation, a private nonprofit that allows people to donate to the school anonymously. …

Transparency of donations should be a higher priority for the University. What do the donors have to lose by their donations becoming public? The current ambiguity is just as damning as assuming that all the University’s donations go toward athletics because that is the current perception.

Instead, the UO Foundation hides its sources of income as best as it can. It even hired a lawyer last year to get itself an exemption to Oregon Public Records Law.

The data we have shows the school trading its academic prestige for athletic prestige, a troubling trend for a member of the Association of American Universities. Incidentally, the University pays the lowest average salary for professors of any member school in the AAU. The average $73,300 salary offered to University professors in 2009 was approximately $8,000 less than any other AAU school.

The University should do a better job of getting donations for academic programs. Obviously, certain donors choose specific programs to support for their own interests, but there shouldn’t be such a vast disparity between academic donations and athletic donations. After all, the University’s purpose is to educate students, not win football games.

Don’t get us wrong: We love our Ducks, but we also love our educations.

Meanwhile, the UO Foundation has just filed a *second* extension request with IRS for their 990 form. Searching through their previous reports to the IRS, you come across tidbits like that below. And people think PERS is a benefits scam. This is from 2005, salaries have risen considerably since, but this benefits windfall seems to be one time. What else is the Foundation up to? None of your business, they know what’s best for us. Move it along, you ungrateful punk.

UO athletic giving compared

2/7/2011: People have been asking how giving at UO compares with other schools. The comparison group is the 54 public universities, Carnegie high or very high research research, with from 10K to 30K students, reporting to CAE.

For the 2009-2010 academic year donations for UO athletics were 357% of the average. Donations for clearly academic purposes were 59% of the average.

Again, our ability to do a full comparison is limited by the refusal of UO Foundation head Paul Weinhold to share his data with mere faculty – these numbers just count gifts for current operations.

Oh yeah, one more number: The UO faculty and staff give twice as much to our university as the faculty at these comparators give to theirs. 212%, to be exact.

What gives?

2/7/2011: The UO Foundation has refused to say much about their operations, to the point of hiring an attorney last year to get them an exclusion from the public records law. Nice try – I’m no economist, but I know a few things about finding data. No wonder they’ve been hiding these. Despite the surge in students, essentially all the growth in gifts to UO since 2000 has been for athletics:


The figure shows the allocations of “restricted gifts” dedicated by the donors to particular purposes, with approval of UO. Data here. Deferred and capital gifts: e.g. the Lokey gifts for the Integrated Science Building and the Knight gifts for the Jock Box and Matt Court Arena, are excluded, because the Foundation refuses to report their allocation.

Given the trends you might think athletic director Rob Mullens would be willing allow some modest reform, like counting donations to the academic side when allocating season tickets, instead of just Duck Athletic Fund donations. Or you might think Frances Dyke would stop using student faculty and staff fees to subsidize the Arena garage. Or you might think Provost Bean would agree that the athletic department could pay the $2 million a year for the Jock Box and its athlete-only tutoring, instead of taking it out of the general student tuition and state payments fund.

You might think that, but you would be wrong.

Senate Agenda

12/1/2010: The Senate meets today, agenda here. A report from President Lariviere/Provost Bean on the Riverfront Research Park should be interesting, given recent revelations about UO’s apparent failure to follow the development procedures. I suspect the statement will be limited, given the potential for a lawsuit from the developer.

France Dyke will talk about parking. Don’t expect any answers about why fees have been raised $600,000 per year to pay for the underground arena parking garage, which cost about $50K per slot. She has been asked this many times, and she’s committed to not explaining the subsidy, ever. The only question is what combination of strategies she will use this time:
a) read from prepared statement, then feign ignorance
b) obsequiously thank the questioner and say her staff will look into it
c) act like the questioner is being unreasonable for not accepting a non-answer

Paul Weinhold of the UO Foundation will speak. This is part of a burst of transparency designed to build support for Lariviere’s restructuring plan. Don’t ask why the Foundation is spending donor money building extravagant offices for themselves and UO Development in the new Alumni Center, instead of on classrooms. Don’t ask how hard we had to work explaining to increasingly skeptical donors why this was the #1 priority for UO. None of your business, you ungrateful student professor punk. Really, this is best for you. Trust us. By the way, we are not going to agree to be subject to the Oregon public records law. Ever.

Cal-State schools using foundations to avoid public records laws

8/25/2010: From Carla River in the LA Times.  The Oregon DOJ has recently ruled that the UO Foundation is similarly exempt. Searching through the UO Foundation’s reports to the IRS, you come across tidbits like that below. And people think PERS is a benefits scam. This is from 2005, salaries have risen considerably since, but this benefits windfall seems to be one time. What else is the Foundation up to? None of the faculty’s business, they know what’s best for us. Move it along, you ungrateful punk.

Richard Sundt on RG Letter and UO Foundation

Richard Sundt emailed us a bit more background on his RG letter, regarding the full page ad from the UO Foundation Trustees on the Knight donations:

What I wanted to say in the ad, but dropped it (and a few other things) in order to observe the 250-word limit, is that this was a FULL page ad, in the form of a short letter to the Knights (RG, A5,  18 Aug 2010) .  The size and prominence of the ad is one of the issues and reveals the political nature of this very special thank you.  The timing is also an issue, prompted by having to defend a $41 million gift which has come in for criticism as of late.

Thus, the nature, tone and purpose of the letter goes beyond what is appropriate in terms of a Foundation word of thanks, and that is why, if the Foundation wants to politicize Knight gifts, then it should be at the board members’ expense. Then, too, it should not be written on behalf of anyone but themselves.

Clearly part of the agenda, as you note, is to put academics in its place, as ungrateful of Knight’s generosity, by outlining all major academic donations, and generalizing on athletics, which is the far vaster recipient of Nike largesse. Finally, the letter says nothing about what the faculty (with often little or no help from Knight (by the way only part of the Knight Library is a Knight gift) have contributed to the excellence of the University of Oregon (see letter transcribed below). 

Then, on the moral side of this, some have given far more relative to their means than have the Knights, but their contributions are not thanked in the same public way. 

Richard

The text of the RG Ad: 

Dear Penny and Phil, On behalf of 180,000 alumni worldwide, students and faculty, we thank you for your generous support of the University of Oregon over the years.  From the Knight Library, to the Knight Law School, to endowed chairs and professorships across campus, to athletics, your time and money have helped to make the University of Oregon the excellent institution that it is today. Thank you for just doing it. Sincerely, University of Oregon Foundation Board of Trustees

I hope that the Foundation trustees will use this episode to try and build some bridges to the faculty and students. There is a lot of very understandable ambivalence about the Arena, the Jock Box, athletics in general, and Phil Knight’s role in particular. Instead of reasoned discussion, we get this sort of silly boosterism from them. Not good.

UO Foundation thanks Knight

8/21/2010: Richard Sundt from Art History has a letter in the RG on the recent advertisement the UO Foundation put in the RG. I didn’t see it but apparently they thanked Phil Knight for his contributions to UO Academics, while studiously ignoring his much larger contributions to athletics.

Board members should pay for ad

In the Aug. 18 Register-Guard, University of Oregon Foundation trustees placed an ad thanking Phil and Penny Knight on behalf of faculty and others for their “generous support of the University of Oregon.” The timing of this tribute suggests that John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes criticism has touched a raw nerve.

The ad is troubling in several ways. A percentage of all gifts to the UO is taken by the foundation to subsidize its expenses. Fair enough. But none of those funds should be used to thank donors (and just one in particular). At the very least, funding should come directly from the pockets of board members. The ad shows the skewed agenda behind the tribute: Knight contributions to academics are listed in detail (library, law school, endowed professorships). On the other hand, Knight’s contributions to athletics are not enumerated at all: Why not list Matt Court, the Jaqua Center, Autzen, the new coaching offices and perhaps the Casanova and Moshofsky centers?

At this point, I can make only small donations to the UO. Later I may give more, but even then the amounts will be a blip on the foundation’s spread sheet. Still, on principle, I will not give funds to my department, pay dues to the friends of campus museums or pledge to KWAX until board members pay for their recent ad and place another (at their expense) thanking the Knights for every athletic facility and coaching salary supplement they have paid for over the years.

Richard Sundt
UO associate professor of art history

On balance I think I disagree with Sundt’s argument that the Foundation shouldn’t pay for these sorts of ads. I think they are a part of the the exchange of prestige for money that is the basis of most philanthropy.

But I do think that the UO Foundation’s secrecy has become a serious problem for UO. The Oregon DOJ has recently ruled they are exempt from Oregon’s public records law.  The bulk of their decisions are hidden from the public and the university community – despite the fact that they are chartered by the state for a public purpose, and that they are able to give their donors a valuable public resource – tax deductions worth about 45 cents on every dollar donated. The reports they do release are too aggregated to reveal anything useful – except the odd tidbit about extraordinary benefits payments to their retiring President, or giving the athletic department $13 million for student athlete support, only $6 million of which the department actually spent on that. So far as I can see there is no faculty representation on the Foundation’s board.

This story discusses a bill in the California Legislature to bring the university foundations there under the state’s public records law:

Lawmakers voted unanimously to require those organizations to comply with the California Public Records Act. A loophole in the law previously has allowed the nonprofits to bypass the disclosure requirements that apply to higher education institutions.

I’ve asked Oregon AG John Kroger to the same here, in his upcoming public records reform proposal to the legislature.

Athletic scholarship discrepancy?

7/17/2010: In the 2007-2008 FY the UO Foundation reports disbursing $13 million to UO for athletic scholarships. This money presumably comes from Duck Athletic Foundation donations fans must make to be eligible for season tickets. The $13 million figure comes from the public annual report the foundation must file under state law. They reported similar numbers to the IRS on the 990 forms they must file to maintain tax-exempt status, and to ensure donations to them are tax deductible.

However, the UO athletic department reports they only spent $6.6 million on student-athlete scholarships that year. This number comes from UO’s internal accounting system, and also seems to be what UO reported to the NCAA. (Courtesy of USAToday’s database.) And since athletics gets another $1 million or so from state lottery funds, also dedicated to scholarships for athletes, it looks like there was a $7.4 million gap between what the athletic department received in funds earmarked for scholarships, and what they actually spent on scholarships. In other years, the gap is more like $3 – $4 million.

Uh, I wonder where the rest of the money went, coach?

Spreadsheet numbers for the Athletic Department, from UO’s BANNER accounting system. More here.

There seems to be a bit of a gap.