Update: New VP for Diversity Yvette Alex-Assensoh shakes the table

Update, from the comments:

One of the groups leading the attack against the restructuring is the Oregon Indian Education Association. Their president is Alison Ball. http://02af27e.netsolhost.com/OIEA/welcome-to-oiea/board-of-directors/

She is the wife of Tom Ball, one of the 3 AVP’s that was just reassigned: http://diversity.uoregon.edu/dr-tom-ball-assistant-vice-president 

I haven’t seen any acknowledgement of this rather obvious conflict of interest in any of the statements her group has made opposing the OIED restructuring, including this online petition: http://02af27e.netsolhost.com/OIEA/calltoaction/

12/28/12: And it’s about time someone did. Diane Dietz has the story in the RG, which focuses on complaints from local minority leaders about lack of consultation. My view is very different. This office has been horribly mismanaged for years. Yvette Alex-Assensoh was brought in by Lariviere to change things, after a petition from more than 60 faculty, staff, and OAs. And it seems like she’s got the courage to make change happen. Good for her!

UO’s Diversity office was started by Dave Frohnmayer and John Moseley – but only after they lost a discrimination lawsuit to UO administrator Joe Wade, who forced them to create the office in his legal settlement:

Joe Wade’s complaint against Frohnmayer and Moseley was valid. The court ruled in his favor, and UO’s central administration still shows minority under-representation – a legacy of Johnson Hall’s continuing failure to hold open searches for executive positions:

Frohnmayer even appointed insider Charles Martinez to run the Diversity office without conducting an AA compliant public search. And he let Martinez double dip at an off campus job. Not surprisingly, Martinez ran the office into the ground.

Eventually the faculty and the diversity office staff rebelled. I heard 60 people signed the letter of protest. Richard Lariviere then fired Martinez and held an open, public, AA compliant search for a new VP for Diversity. CAS Dean Scott Coltrane ran the search, with plenty of input from the local community – including many racial and ethnic minorities and community leaders, such as 4J superintendent George Russell, on the hiring committee. Coltrane held 5 “visioning sessions” to get input from various stakeholder groups, including local minority community groups. The hiring committee was a notably diverse group, in terms of race and ethnicity:

Scott Coltrane, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Robin Holmes, Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Allison Davis-White Eyes, OSU Director of Office of American Indian Initiatives
Sergio Ibarra Bolanos, UO MBA student
Maneesh Arora, UO undergraduate student
Rasheid Light, Multicultural recruiting, UO Admissions
Edward M Olivos, Associate Professor of Education
Gregory Rikhoff, UO Director of Community Relations
George Russell, 4J Superintendent
Carol Stabile, Director, UO Center for the Study of Women in Society
Roger Thompson, UO VP for Enrollment
Mia Tuan, Director of the UO Center for Diversity and Community
Carmen Urbina, 4J Schools 

Three candidates came to campus, with well attended public meetings. UO then hired Yvette Alex-Assensoh from Indiana. She was the top pick of the committee. She has stellar credentials: poli-sci professor, law degree, administrative experience, and a record of real accomplishment. From her application letter:

Legally proper. Retention. Good jobs. I like. She started this fall. Give her a chance to set a long, long series of wrongs right.

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40 Responses to Update: New VP for Diversity Yvette Alex-Assensoh shakes the table

  1. Anonymous says:

    The story in the RG is in stark contrast to your commentary on the matter. Apparently some people in the community were quite content with the status quo.

  2. Publius says:

    I gather that these adm were let go because their roles were considered no longer necessary. Will the U of O apply the same standard to other (non-minority) entities? In the 1980s, the U of O decided to abolish the “graduate school” as unnecessary, and distribute its functions to the different units. For a while, the “dean” of the graduate school was a half time associate professor of English. The decision was reversed when the adm decided to hire Sted Upham, and made him “dean” of the grad school, in addition to head of research, to meet his salary demands. Since then its size has continued to increase–their assistant deans are now “vice provosts”, they have numerous “specialists”, etc. I have been a senior faculty for many years and cannot think of single positive contribution this office has made to my work, or that of the university.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Publius may not be sufficiently senior to remember Aaron Novick’s successful tenure as graduate school dean in the late 70s. His was a two-person office; himself and a secretary.

    • Old Man says:

      CW has it that Aaron criticized an action of Moseley’s, and was fired as a consequence.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog says

      Not sure the CW is correct here.

      1. JTM doesn’t become provost until July 1 1993

      2. By then, Upham is already dean of the graduate school

      I am, however, quite sure that Aaron was on the shitlist du JTM – after all, how do you avoid being placed on that?

    • Old Man says:

      Reporting again, for what it’s worth:
      Personal Observation: JTM was extraordinarily influential in Olum’s Presidential Office when JTM was (I believe) VP for Research. Lacking a full calendar (and possessing little memory), I speculate that Aaron got offed during that period.
      CW has it that JTM’s influence was such that Olum (in early stages of Alzheimer’s) allowed JTM to compose the search committee that, in due course. selected JTM for provost. During this period JTM dallied with another University regarding a provostship, but, according to CW, professed to an intimate that he had no intent of taking that position since he had Olum all wrapped up.
      Of course, none of that behavior is illegal but, if true, it could help us understand the debacle that followed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog to Old Man

      agreed. Moseley was VPR during this time and could have influenced things via that office. JTM is one of the most insecure and manipulative people I have known.

      Here is one small JTM story, among many that I would get arrested for if told, but this one is just stupid.

      In 1987 I ran into JTM at the airport in Denver. We had a brief conversation about the internet, its research value,
      and campus networking.

      To sum it up, his response was

      “What do we need email for?”

    • UO Matters says:

      This is getting off topic.

      Does anyone know anything about what jobs Ball, Hernandez, and Gary were supposed to do, and whether or not they were doing them?

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog to UOmatters


      the JTM is never off topic

  4. Anonymous says:

    Long, long past time for a change in OIED. Kudos to Yvette for giving the new blood a chance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thumbs up to Yvette. Give new blood a chance. It would wise for the community to do some research before making broad statements. They may find valid reasons to support this move.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would love to do some of that research, but am not sure where I would find information about the history of OIED and reasons for these firings. Where would you suggest I start?

      -Anon for now

    • Anonymous says:

      It could be argued that any difficulty you have finding information is a testament to why they would be fired.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Dear UO Matters,

    Please provide some reasons for your belief that firing three full-time administrators (of color) charged with making the UO a little less White is a good idea. Dietz’s story in the R-G foregrounds the community’s reaction, but I want to hear your reasons–not jabs or innuendo or something I’m supposed to already know i.e. “of course it’s a good thing they fired three vice presidents because administrative bloat, also everyone knows diversity is a waste of time.”

    Thank you,
    Anon for now

    • UO Matters says:

      Salaries and benefits for these three totalled over $300,000 a year. That kind of money will fund a lot of summer school programs, scholarships, and outreach programs.

      OIED does have a few small outreach programs, but their main accomplishment has been Carla Gary’s OYSP program. This program is pretty impressive – but it hires most of its organizers and staff from outside OIED. For $300,000 I would think these three should be able to run a two week summer program!

      So yes, I would say OIED has been a case study in administrative bloat – 3 well paid middle manager administrators, with very little in the way of real accomplishments to justify their costs.

      The fact that Ms Alex-Assenhoh had the courage to fire them is a very promising sign that she will lead UO beyond the window-dressing diversity efforts we’ve seen in the past, and on to some real accomplishments.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for the reply. Do you have an inkling whether the money that went towards the 3 VP salaries will be redistributed to schools/colleges/departments, to whom it sounds like the workload and responsibility for diversity and inclusion is being shifted? Or are we supposed to do yet more with less, as the trend goes here?

      -Anon for now

    • UO Matters says:

      I don’t know about the money. I do know plenty of competent engaged people working on diversity efforts outside of OIED. And I’m guessing they could find plenty of ways to use that money to expand their programs. But I don’t know what will happen to it. Keep in mind that administrators typically get one years notice – so it will be a while before this money is available to fund diversity efforts, assuming that is the intent.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The comments made by the group in the RG story represents the usual suspects regarding minority issues and they have done nothing to improve the climate except create angst. They have backed two ineffective minorities in JH for too long. It is time we get some fresh blood, and Yvette is a well respected faculty and professional who did what Charles Martinez should have done (but that would be expecting too much of someone who had no clue what he was supposed to do so how could he have lead).

    The University Community supports Yvette and the changes she has proposed, to make the UO welcoming to all students, faculty and staff.

    • Anonymous says:

      This monolithic, homogeneous entity you have titled “The University Community”–who is this? Does TUC include students? -of color? faculty? -of color? lower-level administrators? -of color?

      Who is it that you believe you are empowered to speak for?

      -Anon for now

    • Anonymous says:

      Who does the group who met at the Longhouse represent? “Longtime minority community leaders” Really?

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon for now: The “Longtime minority community leaders” supported the non-action perpetrated by the former VP so their credibility is shot.

    • Anonymous says:

      You have deflected, but not answered, my question.

    • Anonymous says:

      By the same powers vested to the “Longtime minority community leaders’. Why do you think they speak for minority leaders?

    • Anonymous says:

      I repeat:
      Who is it that you believe you are empowered to speak for?

      -Anon for now

  7. Publius says:

    Some of us have been calling for more adm accountability for a long time. This is especially important for mid-level adm, that have daily dealings with faculty and students. To return to my theme of the grad school, I had dealings with T Deemer and M Friestad for years – no one ever asked me about their competence. Isn’t anyone concerned that the first instance in which a group of adm were “let go” for allegedly not doing their jobs well involves–people of color? Why is the only unit doing housecleaning the one that deals with diversity issues? Isn’t this a case of double standards?

    • Anonymous says:

      This may stretch back to the days of Martinez, perhaps even Vincent in some ways. When Holmes took over as interim, one would have to expect that the permanent person (someone from outside) would quickly make real changes to the office if there were problems that went back many years. The Grad School and Friestad fell under someone else’s portfolio and decision-making, indeed an entirely different upper admin. It would only be a double-standard if the same person supervised both units and permitted incompetence in one unit but not the other and racial/ethnic diversity was a contributing factor to the decision to retain or terminate. You’re reaching.

    • Publius says:

      I am not sure I entirely get your argument, but the point is we are dealing with a culture. My understanding is that Martinez was considered incompetent; now he is gone, as are some other long term adm in that office. Fine. Is there any indication that this same concern with competence will be extended to other adm units? It took three months for the new diversity director to address the problems in her office. Why did it take years to address the incompetence of Russ Tomlin, who did much more damage to this university than any asst director of diversity ever did?

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog to Publius

      While I share your long earned pain about various aspects of the UO I remind that we all work at an institution that continually confuses mediocrity with excellence. Until this is confronted, no culture change can occur and we can continue to expect mild to rampant incompetence in our various admins because that is called excellence that yields pay increases …

    • Old Man says:

      Russ Tomlin’s incompetence was merely a reflection of Moseley’s unwillingness to have anyone in his Administration who was smarter and more principled than he. Clearing out the mess will take a while.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have this right? The JH administration has skipped town for the Fiesta Bowl, leaving UO Matters home alone to deal with the backlash from an RG story on angry community reactions to an OIED policy change. And he’s *defending* the OIED VP’s decisions. Excuse me while I load up another bowl of Purple Kush. Things have really changed around here.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think it is also important to consider the source. On the one hand, for too long the RG has been an apologist, placing just about anything the UO does or says in a positive light. But now Dietz has published a series of edgy articles over a number of months. One that dealt with a unit on campus that I am familiar with had serious problems with facts and interpretations. If her purpose here was to make a new administrator that dares to challenge the status quo with forceful change look bad, she succeeded.

  10. Anonymous says:

    One of the groups leading the attack against the restructuring is the Oregon Indian Education Association. Their President is Alison Ball. http://02af27e.netsolhost.com/OIEA/welcome-to-oiea/board-of-directors/

    She is the wife of Tom Ball, one of the 3 AVP’s that was just reassigned: http://diversity.uoregon.edu/dr-tom-ball-assistant-vice-president

    I haven’t seen any acknowledgement of this rather obvious conflict of interest in any of the statements her group has made opposing the OIED restructuring, including this online petition: http://02af27e.netsolhost.com/OIEA/calltoaction/

  11. Anonymous says:

    Take the “facts” and balance in Diane Dietz’s article with a grain or three of salt. The front-page article she wrote a few weeks ago about EWEB was rife with unverified (and unverifiable, if anyone had happened to bother trying) assertions and statements that misrepresented the facts. She and her editors should be ashamed of the quality of writing that they are putting out.

    • UO Matters says:

      I agree with you on this article, but in general I think the RG has been taking a tougher and more skeptical line with the UO administration ever since Frohnmayer left, and in the long run I think that’s good for us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nope, disagree. There is no excuse for the inaccuracies and cheap innuendoes to be found in virtually every story Dietz writes. And as for the R-G in general, it’s a heckuva time to wake up and become a scandal rag. But look, they’re just serving the populism of the wider community. UO may be the pipsqueak of the AAU, but to the locals, we’re towering elitists who need to be taken down a notch. God forbid any Oregonian should aspire to excellence.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Did you see Jimmy Dean Bean’s response to the RG article in “Around the O*”? Every time he opens his mouth I laugh a little, I cry a little, and I die a little.

    * aka “The Rimjob Blog”

    • Sittin on the group W bench says:

      Yvette AA for Provost? Do we have a movement? Should I print buttons?

      Bean’s response is the usual JH drivel. The only time I’ve ever heard him care about anything is when he’s talking about the online “Obaverse”, or when he wrote that op-ed in the Oregonian, defending his Jock Box subsidies.

  13. Anonymous says:

    If I were any one of the three former VPs of OIED, I would be saying “ouch” right about now: http://jobs.uoregon.edu/unclassified.php?id=4127

    -Anon for now

  14. Anonymous says:

    to anon… why would they say ouch? the job description is so nonspecific (not working on behalf of any specific group) and is all about assisting with changes they may not agree with.


  15. Anonymous says:

    BTW, it’s been awhile, what exactly if the VP for equity and inclusion DOING, besides hiring support staff and hosting events? I’ve heard she is implementing her plan, what plan? how? with whom?