6/15/2009: The RG has an editorial today on low faculty salaries at UO – repeating the now infamous $7,300 less than Missouri number, and making enough other comparisons to head off the counter-arguments and excuses we’ve been hearing from President Frohnmayer and UO’s administrators on this. The RG then argues – or maybe this is my explication – that the current high unemployment rate shows that the state should diversify its economic base, that higher education is a proven way to do that, and that low faculty salaries are not going to make it easy to build UO back into the strong research university the state needs.
As always the question is how to come up with the money to do this. It will take about $10 million per year to get salaries up near peer levels. UO has this money already – thanks to higher tuition and enrollment. This site tries to document how the current administration has been spending that money on their own salaries (120% of peers), perks ($3 million on remodeling!) and a raft of pet projects that distract from our core academic mission. If incoming President Lariviere is serious about rebuilding UO, he is going to have to start by making some tough decisions about the millions of dollars that UO has been spending on increased administrative salaries and expenses, subsidizing Bend, new programs in Portland, diversity, sustainability and so on. Tough choices. The sooner he starts, the sooner the rebuilding will start.
I hope that editorials like this will make Lariviere’s decisions on these issues easier. They will be opposed by many special interests, including President Frohnmayer. Unfortunately Frohnmayer has chosen to forego the traditional year long off campus sabbatical for retiring presidents. The reason for this tradition is to ensure that the old president will not meddle in the decisions of the new one. It is a bad sign that Frohnmayer did not do this voluntarily, and a worse one that Lariviere did not have enough influence with the OUS board to insist on it.