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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.

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