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Candidate update: Bean forces Karen Sprague to step down

Updated 5/24/2013: Having fired Karen Sprague for being insufficiently servile, Bean now has a list of replacements. Quality ones, actually. No doubt it’s a lot easier to get good people to apply when they know they’ll be working for Coltrane instead of Bean:


We present, for your consideration, an outstanding pool of finalists for Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies: 

Dr. Robert L. Davis, Professor of Spanish; Director of Language Instruction, Romance Languages; and Scholar in Residence, Global Scholars Hall 

Dr. Lisa Myōbun Freinkel, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Head, Department of Comparative Literature 

Dr. Amalia Gladhart, Professor of Spanish and Head, Department of Romance Languages 

Dr. Ben Saunders, Professor of English and Director, Undergraduate Minor in Comics Studies 

Letters of interest and CVs are posted at 

Please engage them at their public presentations and any other meetings to which you have been invited.  The schedule will be available next week at the link listed above.  After each candidate visit, a survey link will be activated on the same webpage as a way for you to give me your feedback. I look forward to reading your perspectives on the candidates.  Please contact me at [email protected] if you have any concerns or comments on the process. 

Jim Bean
Senior Vice President and Provost

Update 2/16/2013: Apparently this happened Friday. I don’t know much about this but it seems to be yet another non-sensical Bean decision. Or just as likely a Lorraine Davis one, since Bean doesn’t know how to make decisions. A commenter says it all:

She wasn’t fired – she was asked to step down as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies. Just one more example of Bean focusing on the wrong thing. Instead of taking care of real problems ( Espy, deKluyver, Union negotiations) he’s focused on an area that doesn’t seem to be a critical issue right now. Something about deck chairs comes to mind. 

And now Gottfredson and Bean will have to redraw their org chart. The Executive Leadership Team will be in a tizzy for months.

Sprague Letter 10/15/2012: We’re get an increasing number of emails like this – please keep forwarding them. Given Johnson Hall’s abysmal track record the faculty needs to be in the loop sooner, rather than later:

Jim Bean has let me know that he is considering eliminating Undergraduate Studies – presumably dispersing the offices within it to other units.   New Student Orientation has already been moved to Enrollment Management – something that Lorraine Davis did shortly before this summer’s orientation began in July. 

               Jim’s decision does not seem to be based on dissatisfaction with performance — either mine, or that of Undergraduate Studies generally.    He prefaced his discussion with me by saying that he thought the creation of Undergraduate Studies was a “stroke of genius” and that I’d done a good job.   He gave three reasons for thinking that Undergraduate Studies is not needed, or perhaps no longer needed: 

1.      1.  “The portfolio is a potpourri of things that don’t make sense.”   Apparently, the rationale for bringing together the units within Undergraduate Studies (Orientation, First -year Programs, Academic Advising, Teaching and Learning Center, and Accessible Education Center (formerly, Disability Services) ) has never been clear to Jim. 

2.      2.   “When Undergraduate Studies was created, there was nothing else.  In particular, there was no Enrollment  Management or Office of Equity and Inclusion.  Now we have those things, so functions connected with students can be handled differently.”    It’s actually not true that Undergraduate Studies was created because there was no Enrollment Management group to provide its function.   At the time, Enrollment Management was headed by Jim Buch and it included the traditional units:  Registrar, Financial Aid, and Admissions.   Moreover, it was Jim Buch, along with John Moseley, who saw the need to connect units like those in Undergraduate Studies more tightly to the academic heart of the university, and so they moved them out of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs and into Undergraduate Studies.  In my opinion, that need still exists. 

3.      3.   “There are too many Vice Provosts, but we need another one (VP for Integrative Programs) and the faculty won’t stand for an increase in administration.” [Emphasis added.]

I don’t agree with Jim Bean’s ideas, and think that Undergraduate Studies has accomplished a lot, that our influence will continue to be needed, and that we are poised to accomplish even more in partnership with Ian McNeely in CAS.  I’m sending this message because I think it’s important for faculty to know what may happen to Undergraduate Studies.   If you want to talk with me directly, just give me a call or send an email. 

Karen U. Sprague
Professor of Biology
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies


  1. Anonymous 10/15/2012

    I hope that the VP for Undergraduate Studies remains. That seems to be one of the more sensible administrative positions. That Beam is considering removing the office in favor of ??? reflects a severe lack of priorities.

  2. Anonymous 10/15/2012

    Thinly veiled KS. Its a waste. I agree with JB, oops what’s going on here? I agree with JB?

  3. Anonymous 10/15/2012

    Just leave us alone Jim. Take a couple million dollars for the MBA program and hole up in Portland, or do your online thing, but just stop messing with us. Please.

  4. Anonymous 10/15/2012

    Dog says

    why can’t undergraduate studies evolve into integrative programs?

    • Anonymous 10/15/2012

      What IS “integrative programs”? I presume it will exclude all programs that are non-integrative…

    • Anonymous 10/15/2012

      Dog says

      I am not sure what the admin means, but to me it integrates
      different disciplines together to produce new types of degrees that are likely more relevant to the real world (but I could be wrong here).

      I have posted extensively on this idea already here (2 years ago)
      so will not repeated it.

    • Anonymous 10/16/2012

      Not that I’m opposed, but that can’t be right. Why would UO need a VP for that?

  5. Anonymous 10/15/2012

    This may or may not be a good idea, but the decision should not be made without at least consulting with ug council and relevant cas folk In many places many of these functions are housed in cas for obvious reasons.

  6. Anonymous 10/15/2012

    “Enrollment Management” strikes me as a poor label for Undergraduate Studies. The former label gives a misleading impression about what we are attempting to acheive with our undergraduates. Surely there is more than just managing the numbers.

    That being said, one may also wonder if KS and Undergraduate Studies have been reviewed over the last ten years.

    Personally I find there is a great deal of incohernece in our undergraduate program(s). And as the responsibility for that incoherence is so disfused it really is difficult to correct and improve.

    With some reluctance I give JB some credit for statrting the discussion; but also fault him for proceeding unilaterally. I give some credit to KS for what she has attempted, but also fault her for failing to manage the coherence more successfully. She has had plenty of time.

    I am not confident that the McNeely – Sprague nexus will yield much. The central problem is that tuition money is being bled off to meet other expenses and that no one has really offered a vision of where we might go.

  7. Anonymous 10/15/2012

    KS salary = $155k.

    JB: “There are too many Vice Provosts, but we need another one (VP for Integrative Programs) and the faculty won’t stand for an increase in administration.”

    To JB: Keep pruning! That whole branch of the organizational chart could be significantly cut back.

    • Anonymous 10/15/2012

      More to JB: Don’t add another VP to the chart.

      Lorraine Davis couldn’t decide between Blandy and Altman so she created a new position. Bean should pick one and cut the other.

    • uomatters 10/15/2012

      Bean should not be making any decisions. Lorraine didn’t trust him not to screw it up, and neither do I.

  8. Anonymous 10/15/2012

    LD picked DB over BA. Some faculty rebelled, so she held sham public Q&A sessions then gave BA a 1/2 time job too.

    • Anonymous 10/15/2012

      That’s about what I would expect from LD. She’s certainly not a leader. Look, I’m no fan of JB or LD. But we can’t have faculty second guessing every administrative decision. We’ve seen how that kind of pressure affects JB’s math abilities. Perhaps it makes more sense to have a system that includes serious review of people in administrative positions.

    • Anonymous 10/15/2012

      KS did have a recent (positive) performance review.

    • Anonymous 10/15/2012

      That makes her more qualified than JB. I say cut her position, fire Bean and then make her the provost.

      Regardless of who is the provost, we still need to shrink administrative overhead.

    • uomatters 10/15/2012

      Bean still won’t give me the list of recent or planned performance evaluations. I can’t imagine what he’s hiding.

    • Anonymous 10/15/2012

      If you compare last year’s org-chart to this year’s, you’ll notice: having created a 1/2 job for BA, just to cover the faculty’s frustrating with the choice of DB, KS got demoted–so that instead of reporting directly to JB, she now reports to BA who reports to DB. This was clearly a post-facto decision, to legitimize creating BA’s position not a rationale for doing so.

      Note too that, as we learned in the latest Beangram, what’s really happening is Roger Thompson getting a promotion. (Has RT had a performance evaluation yet?) Enrollment rates higher than Undergraduate Studies, regardless of who occupies the chairs.

  9. Three-toed sloth 10/17/2012

    The Defenestration of Sprague

  10. Anonymous 02/17/2013

    well she is 70+ years old and has been in this position for 12-13 years – nothing last forever. I am also inclined to agree that our student situation now is much different than it was when she was

    • UO Matters 02/17/2013

      We’re talking about the same person? Karen doesn’t look a day over 55.

    • Anonymous 02/17/2013

      she got her BA in 1964

    • UO Matters 02/17/2013

      I was being a gentleman. I’ll compromise: She doesn’t look a day over 60.

  11. Anonymous 02/17/2013

    She has orchestrated a number of ham handed personnel decisions herself over the years. Karma is a…..

  12. Anonymous 02/18/2013

    Sorry to hear this. I have worked with Karen on a few projects and I have relied on her for help with some others. She had her numbers under control and was always utterly reliable and effective. What is more important to me is that, more than any other administrator I’ve worked, she always had the academic mission in first place–that includes teaching but also includes true intellectual curiosity and basic research and the promotion of human knowledge in all fields. She was unusual because she honestly took this into her role as Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Studies. Whenever issues came up, I could count on her to keep her perspective, to stay focused, and to make sound judgments that kept first things first.

    I can hear the objection: But we ALL care about these things all the time. But we don’t. Some of the people we have worked with recently have been pure managers, applying algorithms and wielding power without any real knowledge or understanding of the academic mission of some campus entities.

    For someone like me, this is a great loss. We can engage in ceaseless improvement of our processes if we want to, but there needs to be a stronger countervailing force to prevent this from being a purely technocratic operation that thinks only of efficiency and not of the ultimate goals of our work.

    • Anonymous 02/18/2013

      I agree. This is a loss.

    • Anonymous 02/19/2013

      Not me.

  13. Anonymous 02/18/2013

    Bean is an asshole. We can’t write that glowing recommendation letter fast enough. (Thank you to those on the Senate for moving ahead with the evaluation.)

  14. Anonymous 02/18/2013

    Karen Sprague might have made decisions some didn’t like, but she was always capable and honest – she gave this university her full commitment and as far as I can tell never drank the Johnson Hall Kool-Aid. I’ve never distrusted her full concern for undergraduate research and her constant work for excellence in teaching undergraduates. She has always been respectful, curious and generous with her time towards me and my colleagues.

    BTW, has anyone looked into Bean’s recent reversal of a tenure case at Theatre Arts this past week? Completely irregular decision process, against all recommendations over two years of negative review in a row all the way up – LD said no last year – an appeal this year – JB reverses – fete accompli – with not even one question to those who work with the person. A false appeal process with no counter to the appellant arguments, included a public and desperate smear campaign, still ongoing, threat of lawyer, law-suit, as always. I heard the story and immediately thought of Bean’s recent statements about the “right” to “capricious decision,” on the union blog.

    Get him out of here!

  15. Anonymous 05/25/2013

    When did age become a qualification for a job? Funny that in some cultures older persons are revered…Shame on you.

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