UO Foundation on Lariviere’s plan

1/11/2011: Norm Brown is chairman of the board of trustees for the University of Oregon Foundation. Fred Poust is president of the board of directors for the University of Oregon Alumni Association. From their Op-Ed in the Oregonian on the UO new partnership plan:

… To address declining funding and rising tuition, the new partnership proposal would create public-private endowment opportunities for the UO and other schools. For the UO it would work like this: Freeze current state appropriations (about $63 million a year) and commit those payments to repay an estimated $800 million in state bonds. Each year, the Legislature would decide how much bonding was available for endowments. But there’s a hitch. No state bonds could be authorized by the Legislature until schools had a matching private dollar in hand. For the UO, it would no longer receive anything from the state general fund other than its locked-in $63 million annual debt payment.

A public endowment will provide an incentive for private giving, provide reliable revenue streams to plan budgets and manage tuition costs and will remove the UO from competition with other schools for scarce general fund dollars. With an estimated 9 percent return on investments (realistic based on the University of Oregon Foundation’s history) and 4 percent distribution, a UO endowment would generate $64 million for operations in its first year and after 30 years would reach $263 million — at no additional cost to taxpayers….

I support Lariviere’s proposal, for many of the reason’s mentioned in this Op-Ed.

One problem with it, however, is giving control of the endowment to the UO Foundation which Norm Brown heads. The UO Foundation’s lawyers have – successfully – argued to the Oregon AG that they are not a state agency and are therefore exempt from Oregon’s public records laws.

They have refused to release information on how they spend funds donated for UO. No wonder. In the past they’ve paid their President and CFO (Karen Kreft and Jay Namyet) large bonuses – over $150,000 in the case of Kreft – on top of already high salaries ($296,000 for Kreft, who left without explanation the next year), and they’ve refused to explain why.

Together with the UO Alumni Foundation which Fred Poust heads, they’ve recently used state bond money, and donations diverted from support of UO academics, to build an extraordinarily over-the-top office building for themselves, next to the new Matt Court arena. They are still in debt over this building. Meanwhile UO desperately needs new classroom space to teach our 6000 new undergrads.

What little you can learn about the workings of the UO Foundation comes from its IRS 990 reports. OSU has already filed theirs for 2009, here. The UO Foundation has already delayed by getting one 3 month extension from the IRS, and every past year they have used multiple extensions to delay the release of even this data until the last possible moment. When I first requested the forms from them, they “accidentally” omitted the attachments showing the payments to their executives.

They need to clean up their act with regard to transparency and how they spend money, before they get involved in spending any public funds that might come to them from this proposal. Until they do, their support is not a plus.

Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.