9/19/2011: Good questions from Tyree Harris, and some detailed answers, read it all here. A sample:
ODE: What progress do you hope to make this year with the New Partnership? What progress do you think can be made given the new terms of your contract?
RL: My contract doesn’t have anything to do with it. And the terms of my contract wouldn’t impede me from speaking my mind on this anyway. Governor Kitzhaber has really got this about right, I think. He’s got this new perspective on the state’s investment in education. 60 cents of every taxed dollar is spent on education, but it’s spent in silos on pre-K, K-12, community college and universities. And there’s no attempt to measure, from the state’s perspective, whether this oath investment is doing what we want it to do as an electorate. All we ask is, “Is pre-K doing a good job?” and we go to pre-K and say “Are you doing a good job?” and guess what, the answer is, “Yeah, we think so.” K-12, same conversation. Nobody’s stepping back and saying “is our investment resulting in a kid being able to go through this process to fulfill herself to the maximum potential, in a way that is going to be of a long-term benefit to the state of Oregon?” Those kind of questions have not been asked. This governor is asking those questions. He’s got a new structure for education that I think is really intriguing, and it matches with our understanding of our segment of higher education at the University of Oregon very, very well. Our intention is to follow the governor’s lead on the implementation of this new plan, and work with him and the Oregon Education Investment Board, OEIB, to figure out the details of implementation that will optimize the return on the investment that the state is making. My conversations with this governor around these issues have been a real breath of fresh air. This is one smart cookie, and I’m pretty cynical about politicians.
ODE: Did that make it a difficult decision for you to give those raises while classified employees are taking furloughs?
RL: Well they’re separate issues. We have no control over those negotiations. We have very little input into it. We have some, but we’re just one voice among seven institutions negotiating with the OUS faction, and then there’s the Department of Administrative Services negotiating with the SEIU as well, so we don’t really have a lot to say about the outcome of those decisions. And I have to be pretty careful about what I say about that because they’re negotiating now anyway. This is an institution that rises and falls on the basis of the quality of the people who work here. It’s not about the bricks and mortar. It’s only important to the extent that the people who work here can do their jobs well. Our salaries for our faculty, for example, when I came here were 80 percent of the average of our peers, so 20 percent below average. In that environment, with highly mobile, highly talented people, you’re vulnerable. Not to do something about that would be the height of irresponsibility.