Live-blog: UO Board to meet Jan 23rd and 24th in Eugene

1/24/2014 update: The UO Board has elected Chuck Lillis as chair, and Ginevra Ralph as vice-chair. RG report here.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion of what people said, meant, or should have said. Nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

1/23/2014: Cocktail party version from day one, caveat being I missed the last two hours, including Coltrane on “academic plan”, Andreassen on fundraising, Moffitt on finances. Sorry, I was unable to attend day 2. Presumably the minutes will be posted soon.

  • Low turnout, as in me and 2 or 3 others, probably because UO was unclear about the fact this was a public meeting. Good work Tim, you’re earning that $218K.
  • Gottfredson wasted a lot of time on vague generalities and mission statement. Avoided AAU issues, etc.
  • Brad Shelton was generally forthright about UO’s academic and financial weaknesses, but did not explain where the money was going.
  • Randy Geller was unusually in control of himself, and generally lucid for a guy who is no longer allowed to update his website or email the faculty.
  • Trustees: Chuck Lillis and Kurt Willcox were the most engaged and informed. Allyn Ford is no dummy, Connie Ballmer, Ginevra Ralph, and Mary Wilcox had some good questions. Most of them hadn’t done the reading.
  • Elephants in the room: How much debt will Gottfredson take on to expand undergrad capacity and get more out-of-state and Chinese students? What strings will be attached to Phil Knight’s $1B donation? Are we trying to stay in the AAU or will we fold and concentrate on sports product design?
  • Jamie Moffitt said that there are economies of scale in administration. I think she means in theory, not in practice.
  • Bylaws set up so that board will be dependent on UO administration for information. No independent legal counsel or access to information about UO finances or academic issues. Gottfredson controls Counsel, Treasurer, Auditor, etc. No discussion of how the Board – which includes only one PhD and no one with experience at a research university – can possibly execute its responsibilities while being spoon-fed by Johnson Hall administrators with every incentive to make themselves look good.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 9.12.55 AM

Agenda and draft bylaws here. It looks like Randy Geller will add the job of General Counsel for the UO Board of Trustees to his portfolio, with help from Marla Rae, a longtime Frohnmayer loyalist, former Oregon Fish and Wildlife Director, and Harrang et al. lobbyist. This should be entertaining, I wonder how much we’re paying her.


8:23: Just got here. Gottfredson wraps up report: “Might be seen as a call to action”.

8:24: Senate Pres Margie Paris on shared governance, Senate and Committees. Example is Committee on Courses, what it does. (This is the committee that killed the athletic department’s athlete only FHS 199 course and the law school’s CNC program last year.) Invites Trustees to attend Senate meetings (what about Senate Budget Committee meetings? The faculty can’t attend those, can the Trustees?) Mentions ROTC motion debate. Under Constitution Senate has role in policy matters, of course you will decide ultimately. Two current policies under discussion: 1) Academic Freedom and Freedom and Speech, meeting w/ Gottfredson to prepare a joint policy proposal on these. 2) Legal Services, working with Randy Geller, we now have two versions, will try to get a meeting with Geller to reconcile. (Nothing on the motion to end academic subsidies!)

Q from Chuck Lillis: Example of faculty getting sued over publishing? MP: Margie gives the law school case, where General Counsel refused to defend professor, claiming publishing was not part of her job description.

8:35: ASUO Pres Sam Dotters-Katz. Budget of $14M, contracts with LTD and the athletic department, hundreds of student organizations. (Sam’s appointment to the Board was unusual, according to the Oregon Daily Emerald he intercepted the email from Ben Cannon via the OSA, and nominated himself, without review or discussion by student government. He’s a 3rd year law student, so it’s also not clear if he can stay on the board next year, once he’s no longer a student.) Sam goes on to remind the board that they will see examples of student government not at its best, examples of students making mistakes because they are young.

8:46 Call for public comment, none.

MG: Board will have authority over fees and the budget next year, we will observe and acknowledge it this year. Calls on Randy Geller to talk about the transition.

RG: (Randy is too intimidated to come to Senate meetings – afraid of what he might get asked, e.g. his threat of a defamation lawsuit against the former Senate Pres. Good to see that he’s at least willing to talk to Board.) OUS will transfer all money it’s holding for UO to the UO Board, Board can issue bonds. All existing OUS regulations continue in effect, until and unless you decide them. Approx 500 policies. OUS and UO jointly responsible for providing revenue for general state obligation bods is coming. OUS board will give us the statement of what we oew (~$200M left on the debt for Knight Arena, I wonder if the secret Frohnmayer Kilkenny MOU requiring the academic side to subsidize that is consistent with the rules on those bonds?) Real property will be held by the State of Oregon, acting through the UO Board.

Q: from Lillis on allocation of future state funds between UO and other universities.

Jamie Moffitt: It’s tricky, up to HECC. There are formulas but these are based on policy questions. E.g. we get more money for a minority student? No real plan yet for how UO will have input.

VPFA Jamie Moffit: Talks through transition of responsibilities. UO will take over responsibility for issuing debt, has now hired a Treasurer. We are searching for a chief auditor. (Is this good or bad? Need some independence to investigate and criticize.)

Q: What’s the cost? JM: We are adding 11 FTE, ~1.8M, but there are cost savings as our OUS assessments will fall.

JM: We will bring tuition and fees for next year to the OUS board in March, after we bring them to you.

Lillis: And we’ll discuss the UO budget at that meeting also? JM: (That makes her a little nervous, she starts talking faster) March, June?

Geller: We’ll ask the board to delegate authority for fees like parking to the President, and more generally we’ll also ask you to decide what other authority you want to retain and what you want to delegate. We’ll also need to discuss administration of the ORP. This is currently done by OUS, UO will take it over for all state universities. (Will this give them authority to change contribution rates?)

Ginevra Ralph: How much money is involved? JM: I don’t know, TIAA and Fidelity manage the funds. University have committees, oversight. This will not be a big change.

Moffitt: Lot of policy work to do over the next several years, looking at OARS, board policies, IMD’s. We will need to do some work

Hans Bernard: (UO’s new Associate Vice President for State and Community Affairs): UO is happy with SB270 as is. But the Technical and Regional Universities are holding legislative meetings and could change the law to make it more advantageous to them. Anything could happen in the legislature.

Gottfredson calls 10 min break.

Gottfredson gives flowery introduction for Marla Rae, to talk about board responsibilities and bylaws. She hands it back to him. UO’s statement is based on Dartmouth.)

Kurt Wilcox: Was concerned about COI clause.

“Avoid personal involvement with University advisory groups, boards and affiliates and with
student and employee organizations.”

How can I function as UO employee and union member? Trustees *should* be engaged, e.g. museum trustees, ASUO. Also thinks it’s important that the staff, student, and faculty representative be conduits for info from those constituents. Also concerned about statement that board is to promote UO independence. We have other obligations. (Dartmouth is of course famous for its independence, as I recall there was a SCOTUS case about it a while back.)

Rae asks Geller to respond to point about members from designated constituencies. Geller passes it to Gottfredson. He says all board members should represent the entire university, are full members, don’t represent groups. Susan Gary says she is rep from the faulty, but doesn’t represent the faculty. Agrees with Kurt this is bad language, we should delete it.

Ginevra Ralph: We’re already getting lobbied by groups, deans.

Board agrees to take out the passage.

Wilcox moves on to the importance that speaking frankly with the board about problems raised by particular constituents, e.g. a plan to contract out custodial work, will not be construed as meaning we are speaking for their interests and not the overall interests. Wants affirmative statement on this. Current language:

Advance the mission of the University of Oregon

• Represent the University positively in words and deeds, particularly and proactively to
University constituents.
• Serve the University and the State as a whole, rather than the interests of any constituency.
• Help the University secure the financial, human and other resources necessary for the
institution to achieve its mission.

Allyn Ford: I’m opposed to your proposal, based on my years of experience on the OUS board. Lillis: Agrees with Ford.

Susan Gary: We want to bring information we have, current language seems consistent with that goal.

Wilcox: Legislation says there should be constituent members, presumably to bring their info and concerns to the board, just want the document to be clear.

Ford: I’m concerned about “micro-managing”.

Lillis is worried about language about bringing interests of specific constituencies to the board. I think it’s assumed, new language is redundant. Rae starts to lose the thread. Wants Geller to massage the language over the break.

Joseph Gonyea: Wants to include an expectation that trustees will make financial contributions to the university, and 40-40-20 goal language from Kitzhaber. Mary Wilcox: What happens when we get a new Gov with new goals?

Ginevra Ralph: Wants to take out the minimum gift requirement, wants to add something about recognizing and giving through the UO Foundation. (So donations to the DAF will count?) Gottfredson: Actually, it’s the role of the University to fundraise, the Foundation is just the steward.

Geller: Rare for a public board to include an expectation of donations from board members. Wilcox: Board will soon approve capital campaign. Trustees are expected to give time, talent treasure, we should make that explicit.

Peter Bragdon: Explicit language would constrain the Gov on future appointments.

Marle Rae tries to summarize the discussion and proposed changes, stumbles a bit. Move to bylaws?

Ginevra Ralph: Who’s the secretary and treasurer, why doesn’t the board select? Geller: comes out of SB 270, these will be UO employees, controlled by Johnson Hall so that we can limit the information we give you to stuff that makes us look good.

Wilcox: Language makes written minutes optional recordings are too cumbersome. We need to require written minutes, notice of actions taken by board. Geller: Uh, OK.

Wilcox: Article 9, conflict of interest and labor negotiations. Geller’s language limits my ability to talk about things that affect staff. Ban on me discussing collective bargaining and labor relations or attending executive sessions is too broad, would even prevent me from discussing faculty matters. I’m fine with an SEIU exclusion because of the COI, but this language is too broad.

Andrew Colas: Allow participation in discussions, not votes?

Geller: New legislation will prohibit board member participation in bargaining that affects them.

Gottfredson: Motion to approve bylaws? Changes:

Art 5 sec 6: “Board will provide written minutes…”

Art 9, 2: “Labor negotiations: Fac and Staff members may not attend meetings that discuss labor negotiations”

Q: Including the President? Geller: No, he’s not the fac member.

By-laws approved.

Marla Rae: Moves on to committee structure.

Gottfredson: Working committees that will do most of the boards business. (Hence public meetings). 3: Academic Affairs, Budget and Finance, Exec Committee.

Lillis: Do committees make decisions or bring them to the board? Committees should make recommendations about their authority.

Discussion about pushing work out to committees, advantages and disadvantages. Marla Rae makes it clear that all meetings will follow Oregon public meetings law. Geller agrees that’s what the law says, Wilcox also wants written minutes. Agreed.

Recess until 1:00.

1:13: They’re back, members of the Executive Leadership Team will give presentations. Gottfredson: Passion for excellence, quality and competition with world’s best universities and this is in the interests of the state, including access.

We have a plan. Step one, forming this board. Step two, benchmarking, resource needs. Provost Coltrane will discuss the 2009 draft academic plan, capital campaign. We do have a mission statement:

University of Oregon Mission Statement

The University of Oregon is a comprehensive research university that serves its students and the people of Oregon, the nation, and the world through the creation and transfer of knowledge in the liberal arts, the natural and social sciences, and the professions. It is the Association of American Universities flagship institution of the Oregon University System.

The university is a community of scholars dedicated to the highest standards of academic inquiry, learning, and service. Recognizing that knowledge is the fundamental wealth of civilization, the university strives to enrich the public that sustains it through

  • a commitment to undergraduate education, with a goal of helping the individual learn to question critically, think logically, communicate clearly, act creatively, and live ethically
  • a commitment to graduate education to develop creators and innovators who will generate new knowledge and shape experience for the benefit of humanity
  • a recognition that research, both basic and applied, is essential to the intellectual health of the university, as well as to the enrichment of the lives of Oregonians, by energizing the state’s economic, cultural, and political structure
  • the establishment of a framework for lifelong learning that leads to productive careers and to the enduring joy of inquiry
  • the integration of teaching, research, and service as mutually enriching enterprises that together accomplish the university’s mission and support its spirit of community
  • the acceptance of the challenge of an evolving social, political, and technological environment by welcoming and guiding change rather than reacting to it
  • a dedication to the principles of equality of opportunity and freedom from unfair discrimination for all members of the university community and an acceptance of true diversity as an affirmation of individual identity within a welcoming community
  • a commitment to international awareness and understanding, and to the development of a faculty and student body that are capable of participating effectively in a global society
  • the conviction that freedom of thought and expression is the bedrock principle on which university activity is based
  • the cultivation of an attitude toward citizenship that fosters a caring, supportive atmosphere on campus and the wise exercise of civic responsibilities and individual judgment throughout life
  • a continuing commitment to affordable public higher education

Gottfredson: We plan to be a premier public research university, first-class. (Skips over the AAU part). Sustainability is part of our essence, enhance quality of life worldwide, …, …, … Board members getting restless. Starts reading mission statement. AAU flagship of the OUS…, keeps reading, explaining, comparing with other university’s. Board needs to contemplate, reflect, adopt a new mission and provide it to the HECC.

Q from Ballmer: Maybe we should ask the UO branding people for advice? Coltrane: We’ll need to involve the entire university. Good way to keep the Senate distracted. Lillis: We need to remind everyone about the importance for constant improvement.

Gottfredson: Moving on to how we’re doing, let’s have VP for Budget Brad Shelton talk about the chilling benchmarking reality check.

Shelton: General background, UO compared to AAU publics. Gottfredson explains the AAU to the board. Shelton: Lots more students, not necessarily an increase in the resources needed to handle them. Shift in student credit hours, most growth in CAS and journalism, not professional schools. Within CAS, move towards sciences. Impact of growth is not equally spread. Social sciences don’t show much growth.

Lots of growth in staff, OA’s non tenure track faculty. Classroom space per student down 5%, office space per faculty down 15% to 145 sq ft per.

Lillis: How do we compare to public AAU’s. Small? Yes. Why did our peers decide to become larger? Economies of scale? Shelton: We’re growing at the same rate as others. We started small. Moffitt: We’ve slowed growth recently because of capacity constraints. We’ve looked at economies of scale. These certainly apply to administration (Really, she said that? So, why is there so much growth in the administrative budgets?)

Shelton pulls out the increasing GPA slide. Will he also show the flat SAT’s? Apparently not. Flat resident enrollment, all the increase is in out-of-state and international, now 10%. Success story, but also lots of challenges.

Ford: What % is online? Coltrane: Very small.

Shelton: Shows faculty student ratio. Includes NTTF’s to make it look good, but we’ll still the worst. Here’s the IR data, by faculty type:

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 2.06.28 PM

Compare with the student enrollments, here.

Lillis: Asks about about grad student numbers. Shelton: I don’t believe % of grad students is the right metric (Huh?) If we look at grad students per TTF, we’re pretty close. Coltrane: Bean’s 2009 plan was to grow grad student % from 15 to 19, actually it’s gone down. (Shelton and Coltrane are not doing a good job explaining these data and their implications. Shelton is getting lost in the details, not getting good questions.)

Shelton: Some comparisons to other AAU publics. Well below in SAT’s and we are flat over time while they are increasing. Same with graduation rates etc. Ballmer: I was really surprised with low graduation rate. What causes it? Shelton: #1 reason is students can’t pay their tuition. Class availability is not that much of a problem.

Allyn Ford notices the GPA/SAT trick: Why did entering GPA go up and not GPA?

Shelton: Research $ per faculty. (He takes the time to explain why he normalizes.) Even then, we are in the bottom, but rising. Small ray of hope. But we are not doing that well – though many of these schools have medicine and engineering. But these are the numbers the AAU is looking at.

Shelton on faculty productivity: We look good on books, OK on awards, not on academic citations. Ballmer: What about applied research? Shelton passes the Q to VP for Research Kimberly Espy. Ballmer: Lots of talk about getting out of ivory tower, doing research that impacts people. Is that counted? Espy: AAU doesn’t really count that.

Student to tenure track faculty: We’re at 35 to 1, peers are at 24 to 1. Really bad for students, but lots of graduates per faculty member.

Not as many PhD’s as peers, and we are slipping rapidly. PhD students are expensive. They don’t pay tuition, we actually pay them. (something, see GTFF contract negotiations.)

Shelton: Here’s the scary slide, expenditures per student. Even if we count athletics, we’re still very low. We’re dead last. Would take $44.5M to move up to next-to-last.

Annual giving: Normalize by total expenditures, and include athletic giving, we look OK. Take out the athletics, not so good, but Shelton’s not going to come clean with our new Trustees about that:

2:57: break time. Sorry, I had to bail after that.

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14 Responses to Live-blog: UO Board to meet Jan 23rd and 24th in Eugene

  1. Anonymous says:

    That’s how we kept a shallow cost-curve (replacing TTF with NTTF). It didn’t effect quality. It just changed how we deliver education. It was a move from a more expensive to a less expensive employee.
    –Brad Shelton, in his presentation to the Board

    Faculty are employees, and TTF->NTTF does not effect quality. From the horses mouth.

    • dog says:

      so if it didn’t effect quality then obviously we don’t need research faculty that teach and in principle can bring that into the classroom, because, hey it didn’t effect quality …

      and of course, the result of this is to have a TTF to student ratio
      of 35 – extremely large and not what the AAU wants …

      • dog says:

        actually Dog is an idiot

        we don’t need research faculty at all because, Institutionally,
        we really don’t give a flying _______ about our graduate
        student problem and our embarrassingly low PHD production for a “Research University”

        Clearly faculty are here to primarily process the masses

      • Ferris Bueler says:

        The other question is we really care about educating the masses, why don’t we pay the NTTF’s better, give them opportunities for professional opportunities, and make sure they have a career track, and ways to keep up with the rest of their field professionally.

        Of course even doing all of that for NTTF’s, starts to sound a lot more expensive. NTTF’s can be fantastic teachers and mentors. But those who are, don’t come cheap, and any one who has delusions that they would be cheap is really naive.

  2. Old Grey Mare says:

    Consider the tiny increase in the number of tenured professors in the last twenty years (forty-six!), during the period in which the student body grew from roughly 16,000 to 24,000, and consider also the number of tenured faculty who have moved into the rapidly proliferating administrative positions–and it is no wonder that the tenured faculty are feeling burnt out.

  3. All Philled Up says:

    First of all, quality of what? That statement is way too simplistic. We could look at metrics for quality of teaching of TTF and NTTF, but it ignores the research mission.

    Second, this is a nationwide trend – lessTTF and more NTTF. What it does, among other things, is increase control of administration over the academic direction. When there are more faculty who do not have the protection of tenure or continued expectation of employment, academic freedom and faculty governance over the academic mission erodes.

    Reducing the decision to hire TTF or NTTF to a simple economic choice is bad for higher education and for the University of Oregon.

    We can hope the Board gets this but we shouldn’t assume they will.

  4. Ferris Bueler says:

    Of course revenues have grown by 100ms over the last couple of years. Spending another 45m a year should be affordable, shouldn’t it? Or are we stuck paying off bounds on arenas, etc.

  5. Wanda says:

    So depressed to hear our President talk about that aborted 2009 academic plan as if it had any basis in reality. By this point he should have a clue, or at least be able to pretend he does. Instead he cites Jim Bean?

  6. uomatters says:

    I missed roll call, and I have prosopagnosia. I think everyone was there except celebrity trustee Ann Curry.

    • answer says:

      Well, having Curry absent was predictable. There certainly is some interview somewhere that requires stilettos and breathlessness.

      • uomatters says:

        That’s just mean. I heard she’s on assignment in Gabon, investigating deals between corrupt President Ali Bongo, former US Ambassador Eric Benjaminson, and UO.

  7. Ferris Bueler says:

    Lillis as chair seem like a good thing.

  8. Elephant #1 says:

    One Billion?
    This sounds a lot like the arena funds going from phil paying $200 million down to the State paying the entire bond to be backed by the private ‘legacy’ fund. I think the hearsay in Salem was phil was going to give two billion dollars which still is not enough to replace the state funds. And now it is down to a billion and still nothing more than a lingering vapor hanging awkwardly in the air.