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UO finances and student debt

9/25/2012: The RG’s Diane Dietz digs into the student debt situation, with a focus on UO. Some tidbits:

The prisons’ share is $1.36 billion in the current two-year budget, compared with the $691 million for the entire, seven-school Oregon University System. 

Not clear if that includes direct state aid to students, a common way of understating higher ed spending.

Eckstein, formerly the UO student body president, said it’s too easy for universities to turn to students and require them to make up the shortfall. “What is the university doing as an institution to shoulder the burden of some of the state funding cuts? There were no specific answers on how the university made an effort to reduce costs before turning to tuition increases,” he said.

Jock Box, Mac court payments, rigged overhead rates, UO Police, administrative bloat have all been problems, here PERS gets its share of the blame for costs:

Mike Bellotti, former UO football coach and athletic director, is the top PERS beneficiary, receiving $496,000 annually. Former UO President Dave Frohnmayer; Frank Anderson, a longtime UO mathematics professor; and Peter Von Hippel, a UO professor of biophysical chemistry and molecular biology for 36 years, rank among the state’s top 10 PERS beneficiaries, each receiving well over $200,000 a year. [Much of these payments are essentially paid by PERS out of current contributions from state agencies like UO.]

Faculty and administrators got raises, too:

Last year, Lariviere handed out $5 million in special raises to 1,100 faculty members and administrators. “It was an effort to close the gap between where we were and our comparator institutions. We are now at 88 percent of the average,” said Berdahl, who temporarily took over after the state fired Lariviere, in part, because the raises flew in the face of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s directive that state agencies curb personnel costs. Again, this July, the university spent $2.6 million in a 3.5 percent across-the-board salary increase for 900 administrators, mostly middle managers and professional staff.

This is a long article covering many contentious issues. It’s good to see the RG taking a skeptical look at UO’s decisions.


  1. Angry old lady 09/25/2012

    And I ask…what part of this “comparator rates” did the classified get? furloughs…they make too much money so they get furloughs. Classified and students are asked to pay up. Gotta just love these greedy self righteous do nothing administrators.

    We as citizens should put forward a new law to stop this draining of PERS by the few…set a top out limit for how much the greedy get.

  2. Anonymous 09/25/2012

    From the recent RG series:
    “He graduated two years later with a degree in product design, with $20,000 in student loan debt and with no prospect for a job.”

    This is news to me — the UO has a degree program in product design? Whose idea was that? It looks like the product design program is part of the UO-Portland boondogle.

    Here’s the link to the RG news story that appeared over the past weekend:

    • Anonymous 09/25/2012

      No,it’s here in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts:

      The Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Material and Product Studies is a four-year liberal arts program (including business and cultural anthropology) that is offered through the University of Oregon’s Eugene campus and has been designed as a preparation for the Product Design BFA. Students enrolled in the Material and Product Studies BA/BS degree option share a foundation of design, graphics, drawing, and Art History with majors from both Architecture and Art. The Eugene campus is the home of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts and has strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Architecture, Art, Ceramics, Digital Arts, Fibers, Interior Architecture, Metalsmithing and Jewelry, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture.

      A sampling of courses for BA/BS degrees include Basic Design, Product Design Drawing, Product Design I: Design for Use, Product Design II: Objects and Impacts, Product Design III: Design Process, Color Theory, Digital Illustration and Furniture Theory, as well as electives and seminars. Product Design Studio will involve a variety of concepts and related topical projects, as well as studios that explore aspects of metalsmithing/jewelry, lighting, ceramics, digital arts, color theory, furniture and more.

    • Anonymous 09/25/2012

      Thanks for the correction regarding the location of the Product Design program. When this program was created to did anyone think about where students who major in product design would work?

    • uomatters 09/25/2012

      I don’t know anything about this program but this seems to me like a totally legitimate subject to major in, and if anything more “practical” than many we offer. My guess is employment prospects are not bad. The welding comment was tongue in cheek, I took metalsmithing as an undergraduate, but dropped out of oxyacetylene welding. I learned hot steel scares the shit out of me. Brazing is OK though, working on that now with a set from Harbor Freight. Honestly, I could use a refresher but I’m not willing to commit to the hard-core LCC course!

    • uomatters 09/25/2012

      And if anyone wants more public records, they can feel free to substitute an acetylene tank refill for the customary single malt fee.

    • Bat Girl 09/25/2012

      Right. The world really needs better looking spatulas and bike racks. I’m betting there are oodles of jobs in this field.

    • Anonymous 09/25/2012

      This is a case of the comments on this site going too snarky, with folks commenting on stuff they know nothing about. I have no connection to the Product Design major and am not an expert in that field so can’t comment on its suitability as a UO major. I do generally trust my fellow faculty in their fields of expertise to oversee these decisions with care and integrity. Provided this wasn’t a “boondoggle” cooked up by clueless administrators and forced down faculty’s throat (a perfectly reasonable scenario), I would hope we could give our fellow faculty the benefit of the doubt about their own disciplines.

      We could all make equally snarky comments about any number of majors (history, exercise and movement science, theater, sports business, etc – these just came to me…I have no snarky comments to make) and their “worth” related to some criteria (employability, academic value, attractiveness to students). But we shouldn’t without further investigation.

    • Anonymous 09/26/2012

      Too snarky? Is that even possible? UO matters performs a valuable service for the UO community. But it’s also just plain entertaining!

      Seriously, I think there are some issues here that are worth thinking about.

      First, UO faculty face incentives related to the budget model which reward increased enrollments that result from new degree programs regardless of their academic merit. I’m not sure that these incentives always lead to the best decisions.

      Second, it appears the product design program was partly driven by a $1.5 million donation from Tim and Mary Boyle (that’s not a lot of money to fund a new degree program). Outside funding is not necessarily bad but it’s not clear if the program design program was driven by a faculty initiative rather than the opportunity to secure external funds.
      Here’s the link about the gift – note that the Boyles also donated $3.5 million other programs:

      Third, the product design program is partly housed at UO-Portland (from the A&AA web page):

      “The Product Design Program offers a BA/BS degree in Material and Product Studies in Eugene, and a BFA degree in Product Design in Portland.”

      See this link for a more complete description:

      Again being in Portland is not necessarily bad, but the A&AA Dean has said many times (to many people) that, shortly after coming to UO, the Provost demanded that she make a decision about A&AA’s involvement in the UO-Portland venture. Without much knowledge about the situation and under pressure from above, she decided that A&AA was in. This seems like a poor way to make important decisions about the allocation of UO resources. However, it is consistent with the empire building story that we’ve heard about UO-Bend and UO-Portland in other contexts.

      Finally, the student cited in the RG story has a shiny new degree in product design and no job. I don’t think we should put much weight on a sample of one, but this is a new program and one of the criteria for creating new degree programs is whether or not there is a job market for graduates. Was this analysis undertaken in a serious manner?

      Perhaps someone with some inside information could provide some additional background about how product design was created at UO?

    • Anonymous 09/26/2012

      All good points and questions – and without the snarkiness.

  3. uomatters 09/26/2012

    Thanks for all this. One of the reasons I started this blog was so that UO would have an institutional memory. Comments like yours really help with that.

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