NY Times Op-Ed on NY version of Lariviere plan

7/27/2010: From former SUNY Provost Peter Salins:

… This bill would allow the state’s two public university systems, the City University of New York and the State University of New York, to set their own tuition rates and give them the freedom to raise additional revenue to compensate for the $840 million in budget cuts the state has imposed on them over the last three years. Such a move is long overdue, especially considering that most of the money for SUNY and CUNY no longer comes from state taxpayers.

…the SUNY board has repeatedly pleaded for a “rational tuition policy” that would end the tendency of the Legislature to keep tuition frozen during economic good times when parents might be able to afford increases, only to impose substantial increases during recessions, as happened this year.

Given this history, it is surprising and heartening that the public higher education act has even gotten this far. But there could be no better time: Beyond the immediate benefits for CUNY’s and SUNY’s students and managers, this legislation could help resuscitate the state’s moribund economy. After all, the education of more than 700,000 degree-earning students on 87 campuses contributes tens of billions of dollars a year to the state economy. What’s more, research at the state universities has long played a vital role in New York’s high technology industries.

Oregonian folds on Lariviere’s restructuring plan

7/19/2010: First the Oregonian was for Lariviere’s UO restructuring plan, now they are supporting Pernsteiner’s alternative, which would take control from the legislature but give it to OUS instead of UO. What do those bureaucrats in OUS do for higher education? How much does it cost the state?

Why would an alumni give money to the Oregon University System? But this is what they would be doing under this proposal, because OUS will move last, and reallocate the state money to the schools with the least private support. The UO alumni in a position to give didn’t get there by being that stupid.

Lariviere’s approach has some issues, but at least it is a path forward. Pernsteiner’s alternative is nothing – though he does have the support of the official organ of the Socialist Worker’s Party in opposing Lariviere’s proposal.

Links to what is available on both proposals can be found here.

OUS board makes some decisions

7/10/2010: The OUS Board met Friday. They haven’t followed the state rules about posting minutes of their meetings since December 2005, but a summary is here, and a Bill Graves report in the Oregonian here. Some excerpts from the summary:

Biennial Budget Request… The General Fund request for the CSL is an increase from the current budget of $820.8 million to $916.7 million, plus an additional $48.5 million in POPs for: … $20.7 million for faculty salaries funded by the campuses (not state funds) to the extent possible; as well as the 10 and 25 percent reduction options required by state law; for a total request of $144.2 million (with $48.5 million of this state General Fund request and the remainder “Other Funds” from campuses). …

Does this mean we will see the long promised 4% raises? 

Capital Construction Request
… Simonton summarized campus priorities which include: … UO, $10.7 million in deferred maintenance on Chapman Hall, $100 million for expansion of Architecture and Allied Arts building, and $13.4 million in deferred maintenance on Condon Hall(For more details go to: http://www.ous.edu/state_board/meeting/index.php.)

(There’s $4 million in there for Straub as well.)

Governance Proposal
After some discussion, the Board approved a legislative concept that changes the legal status of the OUS from that of a state agency to that of a public university system and provides the Board with the authority outlined in the legislative concepts; and that staff, working with the Governance and Policy Committee, develop and negotiate a compact with the state government with measurable outcomes for the level of appropriations that constitute state investment in 2011; and that the Board authorize an ongoing, participative public process with citizens, state officials and groups throughout Oregon regarding the education, research, and service activities and programs of the OUS and its institutions in order to ensure that the OUS is meeting state needs and can help ensure that Oregonians understand the value of its public university system. … All current powers and responsibilities of the Board would be retained, including tuition setting authority with a participatory campus process, as well as establishing need-based financial aid standards.

(Not clear how this interacts with Lariviere’s restructuring proposal. Is it a first step, or an alternative that leaves control in the hands of OUS? That last sentences suggests the latter.)

Central Oregon Report
(3) enhance the “2+2” collaboration between COCC and OSU-Cascades and create a student-focused, administratively efficient structure which provides seamless transitions for students, and develops shared services such as admissions, registration, etc; and to simplify program offerings by having OSU-Cascades be the lead entity on campus, assuming UO’s current program offerings and faculty; 

So that’s it for UO-Bend. In 2000 or so, after the OUS system awarded administration of the original program to OSU, Frohnmayer and Moseley insisted on setting up an alternative program there, run by UO. The OUS board could never say no to Frohnmayer, so they went along with it. Moseley poured millions in UO money into it. Now nothing will be left – except for Frohnmayer’s and Moseley’s vacation homes and Moseley’s UO contract, which pays him $124K a year until mid 2012 to “liason”with central Oregon, from his fishing retreat on the Deschutes.

Lariviere restructuring plan, SUNY version

7/9/2010: Here‘s an interesting NY Times story related to a SUNY restructuring plan that the NY Governor has proposed, and a $150 million gift from a donor, contingent on the state accepting the plan:

“We’re not prepared at the moment to state any particular number, but it will be an attractive gift,” said Mr. Simons, who is also chairman emeritus of Stony Brook’s affiliated foundation. “Over time it could become an even more attractive gift.”

But Mr. Simons and school officials said that in order to raise more private money, SUNY units first needed to win independence from the ebb and flow of Albany’s annual budget process, which in recent years ended with significant cuts in state aid to higher education. Mr. Paterson’s plan would allow each campus to raise tuition each year and use that additional revenue as school officials see fit, providing some stability to the schools’ general operating budgets from year to year.

Donors, he said, want to give to an institution that they feel has a future. “Simply plugging gaps is not a good pitch for any institution,” Mr. Simons said. “Going forward, what we would give, and what others would give, would very much depend on this bill passing, or on some other miracle.”

… But there is broad opposition to the governor’s plan in the Assembly, which passed the final piece of the state budget last week — a revenue bill of over $1 billion. It left for the summer without voting on the SUNY proposal but could return to deal with it.

The circumstances, and the arguments, are very similar to Pres Lariviere’s restructuring plan.

OUS staff opposes UO restructuring plan

6/25/2010: The OUS Board’s Governance and Policy Committee met yesterday to consider increasing the independence of the institutions by appointing university specific boards and ceding power to them. This is a key compenent of Pres Lariviere’s restructuring plan. Their meeting materials are here. Presumably this committee will make a report to the full board later.

My take away from this report is that the board’s staff is *very* opposed to the proposals that Lariviere and Wim are pushing. Not surprising, given that this would reduce their power and budget. On the other hand they really like the idea of more independence from the state – as long as the money and control devolves to them, and not to the institutions. Among the decisions made to date:

Board will enter into performance agreements with and allocate state funding to
universities based on their individual missions, programs, and other factors with the aim to use the entirety of the System’s universities and programs to fulfill the performance required by the state. The performance measures for each campus are likely to be different from one another.

New funding:

Staff Recommendation: The Committee might explore further the following three possibilities: use of corporate kicker for an endowment; use of income tax associated with university research to support that research; tying the higher education appropriations to those of K-12.

However this section makes clear that the OUS Board has no intention of giving up authority to the institutions as Lariviere’s plan envisions – quite the opposite:

Regarding local boards and increased independence:

3. RECOMMENDATION
a.    State Board of Higher Education continues as governing board 

b.    State Board can delegate authority to local boards as it deems fit as long as clarity of responsibilities and accountability are maintained

In such a system, the State Board of Higher Education remains a public body and would continue to be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. An alternative is to have a statewide elected board (as is the case in Nevada). This step does not seem necessary at this time but would make the status of the Board more akin politically to that of the locally elected boards of the community colleges.

The Board might have to be expanded slightly because of workload demands on its members and to help ensure geographic, demographic, and skill diversity. A board of fifteen members is suggested.

This proposal continues to operate the seven universities and their programs and branches as a single System. This is done to enhance the value of the changed status and to ensure that resources can be allocated and programs allotted with an eye toward meeting statewide goals rather than to meet the needs of individual institutions. In this model, the institutions are means to achieve the statewide public goals of the Board within the public policy framework that the Board establishes and in fulfillment of the Board’s agreements with the state, and not as stand-alone entities with their own independent agendas.

The underlying premises of the proposal for a new compact between the Oregon University System and the state involve conveying to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education all the authority it now enjoys, but as a new public entity. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education also would have the authority to determine whether, when, and under what conditions and circumstances it would delegate some of its authority to local boards. The composition of those local boards and their respective authority can be determined by the State Board of Higher Education. Clear authority is essential if accountability is to be achieved.

A more complete (but not exhaustive) listing of possible responsibilities in a construct that does not involve local boards follows. Obviously, the State Board, if authorized to do so in the enabling legislation, could delegate some of its responsibilities or the responsibilities or campuses to local boards.

The Lariviere / Redding bond proposal:

In order to meet the state’s needs for higher education, means of stabilizing or increasing public funding must be found. President Lariviere has proposed that the state issue general obligation bonds and pay the debt service using the state’s current appropriation for the University. The University would match the principal amount of the bonds (about $800 million) with private donations and use the investment earnings from the bonds and the donations to pay for university operations. Although there have been legal, financial, and political issues raised in opposition to this proposal, it remains one alternative that could increase the resources available to at least one Oregon public university. Under current state debt policies, there is not sufficient bonding capacity to extend this approach to other universities in Oregon. Further, the ability of other universities in the System to find sufficient donations to match the state bonds is doubtful and may never eventuate.

So, it’s a turf was between Pernsteiner and Lariviere. My money is on Lariviere.

Legislators not excited by Lariviere Plan

 6/6/2010: Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney told the OUS Board the universities can keep the money they have raised from higher enrollments and tuition, but not to expect more autonomy from the state, particularly regarding tuition. More state money is a non-starter. Report by David Sarasohn in the Oregonian. No mention of Lariviere’s plan to increase faculty salaries.

Gubernatorial candidates on higher ed:

5/30/2010: from David Sarahsohn of the Oregonian

… An ad for Democratic front-runner John Kitzhaber promises “two years of college for all Oregon students who have earned it,” even if the film shows adorable pre-schoolers. A spot for Republican Chris Dudley talks about “transforming universities for innovation and job creation” and even shows a picture of one. …  According to Dudley’s website, “As Governor, Chris Dudley will unshackle Oregon’s colleges and universities from outdated regulations that cost too much money and limit innovation and accountability of individual institutions; will reverse the decades-long retreat from higher education investment.” Those last words could sound almost musical to Oregon universities. …

On the theme of giving universities more autonomy, something stressed by every university president in the state, Dudley points out, “We’re supplying 8 percent of the budget, and they’ve got 6300 line-items,” specific instructions from the Legislature to the campuses….

“It’s good to see it,” says Oregon State President Ed Ray, citing comments by Kitzhaber and Dudley. “There’s a lot of white papers floating out there, and maybe that’s drawn some attention.”… University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere says he thinks the campaign mention is encouraging, and he hasn’t even been here long enough to know how unusual it is.

Those damn economists:

5/25/2010: Across the board cuts. From Harry Esteve in the Oregonian:

The sheer size of the drop stunned lawmakers, who listened in stony silence as state economist Tom Potiowsky and senior economist Josh Harwood went through the numbers. .. House Minority Leader Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, said the shortfall “is a product of the Democrats’ massive overspending and the $1.8 billion in new taxes and fees they’ve passed since 2009.” Hunt responded by noting that nearly every budget passed in 2009 did so with large bipartisan majorities. 

David Steves in the RG:

SALEM — Gov. Ted Kulongoski today said he would deal with a projected half-billion-dollar budget shortfall by ordering 10 percent cuts to all programs — education, human services and public safety — starting in July. The governor’s edict came just minutes after state economists reported that income-tax revenues were not coming in at expected levels…. The governor said he is extending a pay freeze for managers and other non-unionized state employees. … Kulongoski said he hoped the university system could absorb its share of the cutback by tapping reserves it has built up in recent years.

So, they are going to punish UO for planning ahead. In case you were on the fence regarding the need for Lariviere’s UO restructuring plan.

Socialist Worker’s Party attacks Lariviere plan, Oregonian supports it.

5/20/2010: The official organ of the Socialist Worker’s Party opposes Lariviere’s restructuring plan. I’d been waiting for them to weigh in. The Oregonian, on the other hand, is much more positive (this is from 5/15, not sure how I missed it – thanks, anonymous UO administration person.)

… But what isn’t acceptable is to fall back on the status quo. There is no reason, none, to believe that Oregon’s system of higher education as it is now structured is going to get the infusion of support that it needs to survive and flourish. Higher ed in Oregon has been waiting decades for its ship to come in. It’s not coming. … Oregon’s faculty salaries and financial aid for students are far below comparable universities. … Maybe there are other, better ways to strengthen Oregon’s public university system. But as Richard Lariviere responds to everyone who challenges his proposal, “Do you have a better idea?”

You know how editorials work, right? Lariviere goes up to Portland, meets with the editorial staff, and makes his pitch. They ask questions, they decide what their opinion is and they write it up. Their opinion is now that UO faculty are underpaid. Oh yeah, on the way back to Eugene Lariviere stops at some middle school in Woodburn and meets with the low SES kids to talk up college. I don’t even know where the hell Woodburn is. But now UO has a bunch of friends there too. So, the official UO Matters opinion on Lariviere? This guy is earning his paycheck.

Reimagining the public university

5/12/2010: President Lariviere sends this to the faculty yesterday: “I am writing to share the University of Oregon’s white paper, “Preserving Our Public Mission Through a New Partnership with the State.” Bill Graves of the Oregonian has a good story on the proposal and reactions to the proposal. I took a quick peek, the plan is for a constitutional amendment that would:

a) Ask the state to underwrite an $800 million bond sale to add to the UO endowment (matched by private donations.) The state pays off the bonds from tax revenue, UO gets the investment earnings instead of the tax revenue as currently. This is a bet that in the future the state legislature will be even less supportive of UO than currently (or even more broke.) Not big stakes though, the earnings will be a small portion of the UO budget.

b) Take UO oversight authority away from the OUS system wide Board, replacing it with a UO Board of Directors. One non-voting faculty representative. Not clear how much of our theoretical faculty governance role we will lose, or how much of the theoretical protection we get via state laws and regulations. This is a bet that future governors will occasionally appoint wise and honest people to this powerful board, and not just use it as a political payoff. Huge stakes. It could be pretty good, it could destroy UO. Kulongoski’s record on this is horrible. In other states it has been mixed to bad.

Michael Redding put this proposal together. It is very detailed. This is a serious and innovative proposal. It is clear there is a lot of skepticism in the legislature. Chancellor Pernsteiner and OUS Board President Paul Kelly have the predictable reactions. This is round one in a long fight.

Any chance it will work? Well, see this link on what those ignorant, anti-science, anti-tax Texans did in response to a referendum proposal to raise taxes to support those pointy headed liberal professors in Austin. Too lazy to click? OK, I’ll tell you – they voted for it. The catch was the professors had to say what they would do in return for the money.

Personally, given how much tax and tuition money UO is currently wasting on people like Frohnmayer, Moseley, Martinez, Dyke, Daugherty and their ilk, I’d like more reform before this goes much further. $245,700 to Frohnmayer for teaching 47 students, 1/2 time? $220,000 to Martinez for pushing paper? $125,000 to Moseley for fishing in Bend? $120,000 to Davis for proctoring exams in Hawaii? This is bullshit and it makes us all look bad for putting up with it.

Obviously there will be a long debate about this proposal over the coming months, my hope is that Lariviere continues to sweep out Johnson hall in the meantime. It would make this proposal much more credible.