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UO deserves better from president

6/20/2013: Louise Bishop, English and HC and co-chair of the FAC this past year, defends Gottfredson in an op-ed in the RG here, in reaction Gordon Sayre.

6/13/2013: An Op-Ed in the RG by prof of English and former senate president Gordon Sayre:

… We may never know why Lariviere was fired, but it seems obvious where Gottfredson’s priorities lie: He wants a UO board stacked with wealthy donors such as Nike co-founder Phil Knight or his allies. The unstated promise is that these boosters will give millions to the UO that they were unwilling to give before they could be appointed to the board. 

Yet for nearly a decade Knight himself has given money only for UO athletics, not for our academic mission. In light of that history, what should the UO, and Eugene, really expect from an independent UO board? President Gottfredson needs to deal openly with UO faculty, staff and students and clarify his plans and priorities for budgets, tuition, salaries and academic excellence.

If you want to get a glimpse of how Phil Knight, the biggest supporter of an independent UO board, might treat ours, watch this video of this talk at Joe Paterno’s memorial, “Who are the Real Trustees?”:

This Oregonian story reports that Knight has appointed Duck athletics booster Pat Kilkenny as trustee of several Nike stock trusts. Not exactly a good sign for the academic side for anyone who has followed Kilkenny’s successful efforts to use academic money to subsidize sports.

If you want an honest discussion of the pros and cons of independent boards, read this letter from OSU’s president, Ed Ray, or watch this video:


  1. Uncle Bernie 06/13/2013

    Come on, the independent board is a (very mild) condition for the boosters forking over a large amount of money to UO. They must rightly be worried that they will get swindled by the state — just transfer an equivalent amount to the other OUS schools.

    After all, looking at how the state has swindled the faculty for decades on PERS!

    It has been reported widely that Uncle Phil is set to fork over close to $2 billion or so. That can’t possibly not be mainly for academics. UO can’t afford to let that pass by. It was part of Lariviere’s plan for UO, with the independent endowment and all. (A great plan it was.)

    Whatever happened to the kinds of reports on faculty salaries and compensation that the senate budget committee used to put out? Haven’t heard a peep about that lately, whether it exists or not.

    Hey, I wish I could help you out as much as Uncle Phi, but I’ve had a reversal of fortunes the past few years — my days of philanthropy are probably over.

    Better get Uncle Phil’s dough before it’s too late!

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      “It has been reported widely that Uncle Phil is set to fork over close to $2 billion or so. That can’t possibly not be mainly for academics.” It must be nice to be so naive. What could make you think it wouldn’t be mainly for sports? Nike is in the sports biz, and there may still be some sports we haven’t engorged to the max yet on campus….

    • Uncle Bernie 06/13/2013

      Well, I haven’t seen his will — have you?

      People who have say it’s mostly for academics.

      A $2 billion endowment for sports would be unheard of. He’s given on the order of $200 million total to Stanford business school and OHSU cancer research. Why not UO?

      If you have other info, please make it public.

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      Bernie, aren’t you the one making assumptions and spreading rumors? Where has this been “widely reported”? “People who have say it’s mostly for academics”? Right.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      It is to be part of the University’s endowment, which is not athletics. This has not been widely reported.

    • Bernie Madoff 06/15/2013

      It has been fairly widely, if not openly discussed. I heard it from people in Johnson Hall right below the level of Lariviere when they were talking about the state-funded endowment deal. I’ve also heard it from faculty members whom I trust.

      It was reported in the Register Guard in a big article a couple of months ago. The names of “the donors” not mentioned, but even someone with a brain made of artichokes — mmmm, haven’t tasted those for a while — would be able to figure it out.

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      Bernie Madoff–ever the guy with all the knowledge giving everyone else “the scoop”.

  2. Pure Academic 06/13/2013

    I too was going to remind Gordon Sayre that Phil Knight supported Lariviere and Mr. Knight has also supported a lot of the academic mission at the UO: Knight professorships, Knight Library, to name two. Even though he got so mad at the faculty at UO for standing up for worker wages and rights in the garment sweatshops, he still seems to be a big supporter of UO. And, I very much agree with him that the trustees at Penn State really “dropped the ball.” I don’t think Phil Knight is the donor the faculty need to worry about — it’s the donors who supposedly refuse to do anything for the academic side and the athletic department, which refuses to pay to the academic core what it’s supposed to pay. I suspect that Phil Knight would not be happy about investing in a company, university, or foundation that didn’t come through on its promises.

  3. Anonymous 06/13/2013

    PK … always enamored with himself.

    A couple questions:
    1. What is meant by “a very mild condition”?
    2. Where exactly has “it been widely reported that Knight is set to fork over $2 billion or so”? Got sources/links?

  4. Anonymous 06/13/2013

    Something very key in these comments:

    “Mr. Knight has also supported a lot of the academic mission at the UO: Knight professorships, Knight Library, to name two. Even though he got so mad at the faculty at UO for standing up for worker wages and rights in the garment sweatshops, he still seems to be a big supporter of UO.”

    So, faculty took a principled stand against violations of worker rights and one of our biggest donors threw a tantrum. I’d be interested to see the numbers on giving from Knight to athletics/academics pre and post workers’ rights tantrum.

    The point is, an independent board of corporate/wealthy citizens may very well have very different ideas and values than faculty. To the extent that they can “impose” those ideas/values on what happens around here when they disagree, we risk the erosion of the very foundation of what a University is supposed to be.

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      I imagine “key donors” already have ideas and directions which vary significantly from ideas, principles and values that some faculty members hold otherwise the UO Foundation wouldn’t be working to keep voting rights out of faculty hands. Neither would Gottfredson be so unsympathetic and weak when it comes to faculty and students who raise questions. The very meaning of “what a university is supposed to be” will be re-written; eventually new compliant faculty will arrive singing donor praise and naming rights will tell who won which departments.

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      That is one potential future. Maybe it can be prevented.

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      Yes, and hopefully it will be prevented.

    • UO Matters 06/13/2013

      We’re all whores. But our pimp should make sure the John puts the money on the dresser first.

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      Another allusion to Ayn Randism?

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      UOM should consider adding a “Like” button. On second thought, we could also use a “Dislike” button.

    • Old Man 06/14/2013

      What is the situation regarding the future of our Constitutional system of shared governance?

      Resident Gottfredson says (on his website):
      “Senate Bill 270 does not introduce a change in shared governance. The rules and policies of the State Board of Higher Education, including those regarding shared governance and the internally prescribed methods of changing the UO Constitution, will remain in effect with an institutional board as proposed in SB 270;”

      By what action will the President ensure that the UO constitution will remain in effect? He writes:
      “I will recommend to the institutional board that the State Board of Higher Education’s rules and policies concerning shared governance remain in place and that the UO Constitution be amended only pursuant to those rules, policies and the procedures articulated within the University of Oregon Constitution;…”

      He then repeats, apparently for emphasis:
      “[The Constitution] is in effect as ratified and will remain so under an institutional board unless it is modified by procedures delineated in the constitution itself.”

      Since the President lacks power over the Board (State or Local), these statements are, at best, statements of good intent or, perhaps, of secret knowledge of the Board’s disposition. The UO Faculty has, for multiple reasons, come to view Presidential statements of intent as being of little value. Consequently, the Faculty remain concerned that the Local Board will, indeed, exercise its SB270 authority to alter internal UO governance in a manner that cripples our Constitutional governance.. An on-line copy of SB270 says:

      “(3) The president of the university is the president of the faculty and is the chief executive officer of the university. The president of the university has authority to direct the affairs and operation of the university, subject to the policies and direction of the institutional
      board. (4) The institutional board may delegate to the president any of the powers, rights and duties granted to the board.

      We may hope that President Gottfredson will be successful in persuading the Local Board to adopt a policy protecting the UO Constitution, as the State Board has already done. However, his apparent unwillingness to seek amendment to SB270 that would mandate such protection is worrisome.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Taking a very wide view, the symmetry between Lariviere and Gottfredson is striking, each from the opposite perspective as it relates to faculty, Constitution and reading between the lines. Possibly both realized the situation they became bound to too late and hoped/hope the aware observers, such as Old Man, catch nuances and remain firm in their convictions.

      Will Gottfredson be around to see the end of this? Doubtful.

  5. Anonymous 06/13/2013

    Maybe Knight is poised to give $2 billion to UO. Thought exercise – what would be willing to give up for that? Academic freedom? Faculty governance of academic matters?

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      Seriously? A “thought exercise”?

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      With all the shit going on around here and on this blog, that’s what got you riled up? Seriously?

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      Who’s riled up? I’m merely expressing incredulity at the idea of giving up academic ideals and freedom, and that the mechanism to do so could be boiled down to a simplistic seminar-type activity of ‘thought exercise’. Funny stuff, that!

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      We have any faculty governance now?

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      We agree. The phrase on my part had no underlying meaning. Point was to suggest folks think about it.

  6. UO Matters 06/13/2013

    Knight has two good reasons for not supporting UO’s academic side:

    1) When UO joined the WRC Frohnmayer blamed it on the faculty, and there was enough truth to this to make it stick. So, he hates us.

    2) He gave a lot for the Knight Library and the Law School. The Lillis’s and Lokey gave still more for new buildings. OUS reacted by shifting bonding for capital construction to OUS and to the regionals. (Look at what WOU got this biennium – ridiculous.) Call it a conspiracy, a rational reallocation of resources, or jealousy, the end result is the same – donor’s know their gifts will be offset by politicians.

    An independent board will fix problem 2, but it would be naive to think that Knight has forgotten about the WRC. Any gifts will come with lots of strings. Gottfredson is either incredibly naive about this, thinks the faculty are, thinks the strings will be worth it, or figures he’ll get credit for the board and the gifts and will then move on and the strings will be someone else’s problems.

    • Anonymous 06/13/2013

      I’ve never gotten the impression that Knight likes to surround himself with intelligent free thinkers. Remember, his hero was JoePa. Yikes.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Fortunately, Phil Knight is not one to hold grudges or live in the past. It is you, Bill, who is holding on to the resentment over the WRC. You have no idea how much Phil has given to the academic side of the University. His 25 million for faculty salaries (remember the Knight chairs?) only scratches the surface. I’m sorry you feel so personally aggrieved by his gifts to athletics, but as you point out, his business IS athletics and the last time I checked donors get to give money to what they want. I think you don’t know Phil very well.

  7. Anonymous 06/14/2013

    I literally cannot believe how stupid Gordon Sayre is to write this op-ed. What a clumsy, naive, idiotic move.

    • UO Matters 06/14/2013

      I thought it was a pretty accurate piece. Please elaborate on your statement – do you mean it was untrue, or impolitic?

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Umm, did you read the part where he took a swipe at the man who’s given us a law school, a library, $25 million in scholarships, and has the capacity–and who knows, maybe even the interest–to do something truly transformative and unprecedented? Sayre is mad that Knight has not given to the academic side in ten years. Hmm… what might change that, donkey? Publicly insulting the man–who is known to be sensitive–in the HOMETOWN NEWSPAPER, donkey? I’m beside myself. Sayre is a donkey. An absolute, fucking moron.

      Is that sufficient elaboration?

    • UO Matters 06/14/2013

      This part?

      “We may never know why Lariviere was fired, but it seems obvious where Gottfredson’s priorities lie: He wants a UO board stacked with wealthy donors such as Nike co-founder Phil Knight or his allies. The unstated promise is that these boosters will give millions to the UO that they were unwilling to give before they could be appointed to the board.

      Yet for nearly a decade Knight himself has given money only for UO athletics, not for our academic mission. In light of that history, what should the UO, and Eugene, really expect from an independent UO board? President Gottfredson needs to deal openly with UO faculty, staff and students and clarify his plans and priorities for budgets, tuition, salaries and academic excellence.”

      These seem like entirely reasonable questions for a professor at a public university to raise publicly.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Bill, this isn’t arguable.

      Sayre implied that Phil would only give money to the academic side if he’s on an independent board. That’s ludicrous. Phil gave millions and millions before anyone was even whispering about a UO board. Furthermore, Sayre’s complaining about the length of time since an academic-side donation was also ridiculous. Ask this: are OHSU Cancer Research Center staff complaining that’s it been five years since Phil made a $100 million donation to them? Are Stanford GSB professors carping about how it’s been seven years since Phil made a $105 million donation to the GSB? Much less writing EDITORIALS saying it publicly? No! Why not? Because they’re not idiots. They CELEBRATE Phil; they honor his philanthropy.

      I am sure Phil is thinking very seriously about his legacy. We all want the same thing–a world-class university with well-paid faculty and top-notch students paying low tuition. Who is literally the ONLY person who can make that happen? The man that Sayre just insulted.

      Seriously. Not arguable.

    • UO Matters 06/14/2013

      I don’t mind people using my name in their comments, but it’s a bit incongruous when they won’t use their own. It also might give your arguments more weight. Or less?

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      I think most people publish anonymously because you insult and plague them. I think people fear your loose relationship with the truth, your exaggeration, your tendency to be bitter and antagonistic. Maybe if you were not so enamored with your self appointed mission to save the world from what you see as evil, people would be more willing to use their names. Until you stop trying to destroy people’s reputations I bet most people will choose to be anonymous.

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Dog Congratulates UOMatters

      for reaching Plague status

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      I couldn’t agree with “insult and plague” comment above more. I’ve been posting here regularly, and my reasons to remain anonymous are exactly those stated above Dog’s silly comment here. Tone it down, UOM. If you back off the personal angle, the sophomoric comments and the ad hominem attacks, names will start appearing. Or as my grandmother used to say – we can all agree to disagree, as long as we agree to do it respectfully.

  8. Anonymous 06/14/2013

    Mikes job one is to get donor money.
    $2 Billion is going to be donated the day the booster board takes the head coach position.
    The @2,000,000,000.00 is not going to go to the Legacy fund?
    It will immediately be vested and working for the University of Oregon academic mission

    If that did happen that would put the foundation up near UNC, OSU, and UW.

    Why is it not there already? Didn’t Dave raise a billion dollars just a couple years ago? Benny the beaver is catching up.

  9. Anonymous 06/14/2013

    Why would someone willing to donate $2 billion sweat whether or not the state was going to pull its paltry $50 million?

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Why would someone willing to donate 2 billion care whether he is on the board? Did it occur to you he may not want to be on the board?

    • Anonymous 06/14/2013

      Yes, I assumed that rich people have folks do that kind of work for them. Did you think Phil was actually going serve on the board himself? Of course, not having an overwhelming majority of donor interests represented on the board is a deal-breaker, if you’ve been following what’s happening in Salem.

    • Bernie Madoff 06/15/2013

      The return on the $2 billion that UO would be able to take out is about $80 million/year. So the $50 million state contribution is still a big deal.

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      Good point Bernie, people also seem to forget that the citizens of Oregon (the state) has been putting in factors more than $60 million per year, every year, for the past 137 years! Do not forget the capitol construction, state scholarships, debt services, other funds, and covering short falls over the years. (adjusted for inflation)

      This is the university of Oregon

      if Knight wants “Knight University”, I hear there will be a GIGANTIC vacant campus in Beaverton less than a decade after he is under ground. I really do think that would be an amazing thing and more in line with the robber barons of old (Stanford et al). Much better than the (what do you call rubber when it breaks down) rust belt that will take its place. That really could transform Oregon and the UO will do just fine. o

  10. Anonymous 06/15/2013

    It’s reasonable to raise questions about the degree to which an independent board will represent the interests of the academic side of the university, but it makes no sense to raise those questions in a vacuum (i.e., with no reference to whether the independent board would be better/worse than the current board). We’ve heard concerns that the members of an independent board may impose ideas/values that could erode the foundations of what the university is about. But what, exactly, do the people making such claims think that Pernsteiner and his colleagues on the State Board have been doing in recent years? I’ve seen enough of how the current situation works–and the type of people on the state board–to think that it’s a reasonable risk to trade that situation for an independent board of folks committed to our university (even if their notions of commitment aren’t always the same as mine).

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      Very well said.
      So why are the architects of the legislation absolutely killing key things like shared governance, faculty representation (, student representation (one undergrad is not a voice its a free vote), transparency, an a statewide mission for all of Oregon. If the boosters want they very own Toy University then they should sign away the $2,000,000,000.00 openly and now and heck the state has already proven she is a sellout by entertaining this bill. Actually, I do not think two billion is enough.

      Is there an economist in the house or at least a business major?
      What would be the value of the UO?
      as in

      For Sale: University of at Oregon
      Thought of as a world-class teaching and research institution
      Was Oregon’s flagship public university.
      Currently a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU). *
      Top 10 FBS NCAA Division 1, 18 teams and emphasis on sports created by plump donor list.

      137 years of public support has grown a cherry that is ripe for the pickin.
      Two beautiful campuses in Eugene and the state major metropolitan area Portland, worth multiple BILLIONS that citizens of Oregon and students so generously built for you.
      Fully accredited.
      2.5 BILLION dollar endowment!* (depends on passage of booster board bill)*
      Revenue Potential in excess of TWO BILLION dollars* (depends on slumping CA economy and continuing NCAA sleight of hand, and its own police force to make sure it stays that way ;)
      State System Recently rated as one of the most efficient systems in the sector.
      Cash flow and profit positive with over $30 MILLION cash on hand and fee structures due to increase this year by 6%
      For the right investors there is a framework underway to reduce costs even more estimates are academic admin and instruction can be reduced by over 60% relative to revenue with new technologies, outsourcing, and redundancies.

      University of California at Oregon?
      University of Phoenix Oregon?
      University of ?

      The sky is the limit for the price of:
      $ ??,000,000,000.00 o

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      University of

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      Sorry keeps eating the brackets:

      For Sale: University of {YOUR NAME HERE} at Oregon

    • Bernie Madoff 06/15/2013

      Knight University of Oregon.

      I think $2 billion would be a good deal for all concerned.

      But if I were Uncle Phil, I’d be worried about getting taken to the cleaners.

      What is the word of the State of Oregon worth?

      Ask faculty who signed up for the Optional Retirement Plan.

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      Oh Bernie, such drama!

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      Just hand the deed to Sotheby’s with a floor set say 6 billion, and see if there are any takers. Lock, stock, and CBA! If not we can give it away in the next short legislative session.

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      Making sure the legislature did not steal that $6 billion would be the hard part. Strange enough $6 billion is about what they pay the Oregon Department of Education every two years.

      If it did make it in to a Foundation to fund a strong university system according to NACUBO (above) that would just about equal the UC system endowment, and as Bernie points out even a $6 billion is not enough to replace the states disinvestment in higher education. That would only be about $150 million a year and the state still puts in almost $500 million a year. I guess there is no winning the money game, except perhaps the way bernie did.

  11. Anonymous 06/15/2013

    The argument isn’t about pitting the current board with Pernsteiner and Co. against having an independent board of folks “committed to the university”. I imagine the current board is just as committed to furthering higher education as the proposed one inspite of the many biased attempts by various UO groups to claim otherwise.

    The question, in my view, is and always has been about control–who has it, who doesn’t and how could the balance of power be changed if necessary especially when one of the most important aspects of ‘University’ is still up for definition. Obviously the union ensures a degree of control for those who used to be ‘the University’ and are rapidly becoming just employees of ‘the University’ (or University lawyers?), which would effectively BE the board if that phrasing doesn’t get resolved.

    What is a reasonable risk when untold notions of commitment might be spread all over the map and there isn’t an option for do-overs? Would you take the risk without knowing the direction intended for ‘the University’ or if the new board will jump in with a new “sustainable” and “brandable” model of education (see online classes) and diminish or dissolve your department/school as one of their first mandates?

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013


      I would first argue that the provost is the chief academic not the president and second I would argue that the president’s “Job One” must be to academic excellence, even in his role as chief executive. Even better “Job One for everyone is academic excellence”. As Pernsteiner stated, the structure of governance really does not matter all that much, although NACUBO shows that the largest public endowments are at strong state systems and the schools that are part of them like the UT System and UC System.

      I like the idea of selling the UO on the open market. I think the land and cash in the bank is worth more than a measly two billion. I bet OSU will have a one billion endowment before the UO does.

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      Of course the argument to that is the Oregon University System is not a “strong” state system.

      Perhaps we should just put the admin of the big three in a cage match and whoever emerges victorious gets all the spoils and become the new state system. o

    • Anonymous 06/15/2013

      To the first Anon –
      Yes, totally agree that Job One for all should be academic excellence. But, how to achieve this now with sports virtually taking over as the driving mechanism at more and more universities? I think a strong state system would be ideal in the long run combined with some reasonable local control and the Athletic Dept kept within bounds and run transparently. OSU looks most likely to achieve this.

      I agree that $2 billion is too little. What is completely obvious is that Knight and friends want, deceitfully, to own UO and for the cheapest *price* possible. If the university community and the general public continue to remain in denial about this and the potential future for UO this kind of ownership could entail, then that small, self interested group will dictate.

  12. Anonymous 06/15/2013

    The amount of idiocy in this thread is breathtaking.

    First, it is NOT TRUE that Phil is “close” to making ANY donation. I don’t know what your sources are, Bernie, but I guarantee that I’m closer to the truth than you are. This idea has been around for some time, and there is a chance that it could happen, but there’s also a chance that it never will.

    Second, being involved in internal governance and putting up with petty faculty/administrative disputes is literally the LAST thing Phil wants to do. The “Knight University” scenario is cynical fantasy. The actual goal would be to put Oregon on par with Virginia, rather than continue to be a mediocre regional state school.

    Hope that helps.

    • Anonymous 06/16/2013

      That is an AWESOME PLAN!

      Does the Athletic department know the plan? We are playing UVA as one of our three non-conference pushover auto W games.

      To get to the status of Virginia we would have to:

      Remain in the AAU!

      Go 2-9 in conference for football

      Drop competitive Cheer

      Increase the endowment by 10 fold to 4.79 Billion (the rumors of massive philanthropy to justify the bill does not get close).

      Drop the Athletic Budget 16% from $93 to $78 Million and run a 10% surplus (and $36 million of this is donor funds).

      And if anyone out there cares
      Reduce resident Cost of attendance from $14,700 to $11,600

      Increase Graduation Rates from 66% to 94%

      Cut Loan Defaults in half

      Rank in the top 25 in USNWR

      And have generally better quality students

    • Anonymous 06/16/2013


      Every single UO surrogate including the president, say that the legislation is the only thing standing between the foundation and a vast pool of philanthropy just waiting off stage.

      It has been so effective in fact that the legislators are parroting these sound bites.

      So if TWO BILLION DOLLARS is not the number then what is this number that has the UO admin jumping around? Because, as bernie Said even this $2 billion is not enough, when the state turns its back on the UO in favor of OSU and its six branch campuses.

      OHSU is the role model, it churn a lot of dollars but how is it doing on its educational mission? How many Oregonians are getting degrees? According to IPEDS it looks like they train about the same number of doctors for Oregon as they did a decade ago when they had 1/4 the dollars and this path will not be an option for the UO, unless of course it uses the eminent domain as drafted in the legislation to acquire a couple of choice hospitals.

    • Anonymous 06/16/2013

      The admins do what they’re told. What motivates them? Fear. Fear of losing the perks to which they’ve become accustomed and which could propel them into the next higher level of refined ass kissing. Same for the legislators.

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