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Gottfredson: Weak on Freedom?

Last updated on 05/02/2014

4/16/2014 update: It’s been a week now, no signing ceremony. The rumor is that President Gottfredson has stuck Dave Hubin with the job of finding some explanation – plausible or not, doesn’t really matter – for why although he would personally love to sign this policy, it would be a violation of his fiduciary responsibility as “The University”.

4/10/2014 updates: Senate passes academic freedom motion unanimously

InsiderHigherEd has a report on the “months of contentious negotiation” between the Senate, the union, and Gottfredson over academic freedom, and Betsy Hammond has a story on this in the Oregonian here:

Gottfredson, in an emailed response to The Oregonian, said, “I look forward to closely reviewing (it) …I fully support the strongest policy on academic freedom possible. Academic freedom is central to our mission and underlies everything we do as a university.”

This is our passive-aggressive president’s typical non-response. “Asked and answered.” “I’ll take that under advisement”. ” “I look forward to reviewing it”. Then nothing.

Here’s some more history, with his Randy Geller’s redlines of an earlier Senate draft. And here’s Gleason and Rudnick’s restrictive proposal on academic freedom, from 2/17/2013 during the union bargaining. All about the limitations, authority, and of course that easily abused requirement for “civil dialogue” – and if The University thinks it’s not, then discipline!

After refusing from the start of negotiations in December 2012 to agree to include robust academic freedom in the faculty union contract, Gottfredson has been negotiating with the Senate ad hoc freedom committee since October 2013. The Senate put me on the committee, but Gottfredson said he wouldn’t meet with the committee if I was there, because I use my academic freedom too much.

I won’t report hearsay on what went on at those meetings, but at the Wednesday Senate meeting the frustration of the committee members who were allowed to meet with Gottfredson was obvious. As it was reported by them to the Senate, Gottfredson would agree to one thing, then change his mind. The committee would ask for an explanation, they couldn’t get one. They’d give him a draft, and get no response, then a month later, vague objections. They’d ask him to propose his own language, he wouldn’t. Or he would add backdoor language to give him a way to limit academic freedom and punish those who use it, and again not explain why he wanted the language.

Finally, the day before the meeting, we got what we thought was an final agreement on the language. Then, hours later, we got an email from Hubin objecting to it – but not proposing alternative language. Then Hubin buttonholed us, literally on our way to the Senate meeting, and tried to convince us to take the proposal off the agenda at the last minute. Then, to top off it off, Gottfredson wouldn’t explain his position on freedom for students or non-faculty employees to the Senate. This is nuts, or, as John Bonine (Law) said to Gottfredson in the Senate, “insulting”.

The Tuesday meeting with the President included former UO School of Advertising and Public Relations Dean Tim Gleason. Gleason’s hostility to including academic freedom language in the union contract was bitter and persistent. Now we are now paying him $240K a year to advise Gottfredson on “strategic communications”. Geller and Gleason with Hubin as the messenger. Who knows what will happen next.

4/8/2014: Elevator version:

A very poor showing by President Gottfredson, who refused to answer questions about the academic freedom policy, much less endorse it. A golden opportunity to remake his relationship with the faculty blown.

Fed up with Gottfredson’s filibustering, the Senate then amended the policy to include staff, OA’s and students and voted it through unanimously. Gottfredson has 60 days to decide if he will sign it, or veto it and explain himself to the Senate and then to an assembly of the entire faculty. Remember that Mac Court assembly meeting about the Lariviere firing? Now imagine Gottfredson at the podium, instead of Pernsteiner. He will sign this policy or face a vote of no-confidence.

Lots of other good business was done, but unfortunately no time for the Open Meetings motion.

Some history: September 2013 InsideHigherEd story on Gottfredson’s objections to having academic freedom in the union contract here. Links to more new reports here.

Only a little live-blogging below, but the live video feed is here. Page down for previous posts addressing many of these issues. President Paris had to miss the meeting, President-elect Kyr is running the show.

Senate Meeting Agenda – April 9, 2014

115 Lawrence, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

3:00 pm     1.   Call to Order

3:05 pm     2.   Approval of Minutes March 12, 2014

3:10 pm     3.   University Update

3.1       Remarks by President Gottfredson

Gottfredson: Spring break board meeting, major transition, watershed moment, great opportunity, path to allow us to climb ever higher in prominence…

Compressed timeline for trustees, pleased with progress and thoroughness.

Policy on delegation of authority: Intended to apply OUS rules to UO. Gottfredson doesn’t take responsibility for the attempt to hide the policy from the faculty, but he does regret it happened.

Clusters of Excellence: Hire 10-15 new faculty, best in the country and world. $1.5M for phase one. (UOPD’s budget has meanwhile grown by $2M). Praises Coltrane and Moffitt, no words for Shelton or Espy.

New mission statement stuff, required by HECC. Unlike the sneaky delegation of authority attempt, the faculty will be fully consulted on this mostly public relations document of a paragraph or two. No mention of staying in the AAU.

3.2       RIGE Review Report from Provost Coltrane

More mission statement filibustering from Coltrane. Really Scott? Honoring our history, etc…

Meanwhile, RIGE report is here. Will Coltrane announce substantive responses to its specific recommendations?

Coltrane discusses reform of Espy’s RAB to strengthen advice and oversight. (Yes he said oversight). Mentions the audits, but no discussion of Espy’s issues or potential conflict of interest. He will present a full report on implementation of those 7 specific recommendations by end of the term.

4:25 pm     5.   Open Discussion (Moved up in the agenda by voice vote.)

5.1        Information from the Ad Hoc Committee on Delegation of Authority (Robert Kyr, Professor [Music] and UO Senate President-Elect) and Board of Trustees meeting discussion

Kyr: Very pleased with the board’s approval of a collaborative process with the Senate, to clean up after Geller. Senate is preparing a redlined version of Geller’s policy. Encourages wide participation (I went to the committee meeting today, they are making lots of progress.)

Inspiring Bonine speech about how well the board dealt with the situation. Sorry, too busy to type.

4.   New Business

4.1       Motion (Legislation): Senate Liaison to the UO Board of Trustees; Robert Kyr, Professor (Music) & UO Senate President-Elect

Passed unanimously.

4.2       Motion (Legislation): Clarification of Senate Procedures for the Election of President-elect (Vice President); Robert Kyr, Professor (Music) & UO Senate President-Elect


4.3       Motion (Legislation): United Academics Senate Liaison; Robert Kyr, Professor (Music) & UO Senate President-Elect

Passed unanimously.

4.4       Motion (Resolution): Faculty to be Consulted on Review and Selection of the Faculty Athletics Representative; William Harbaugh, Professor (Economics) & UO Senator

Passed unanimously.

4.5       Motion (Legislation): Amending Bylaws Regarding Deadline for Posting Motion Text; Lisa Raleigh, Director of Communications (CAS) & UO Senator

Passed unanimously.

4.6       Motion (Policy Proposal): Academic Freedom Policy; Michael Dreiling, Professor (Sociology) & UO Senator

This is the big one. Dreiling introduces the long and painful history of dealing with the administration on this, and the last minutes changes the administration tried to cram through, including their effort to totally exempt employees and hen even students from academic freedom.

Strange, I’m looking around the room and I don’t see Randy Geller here to defend his work on this.

This policy will give the faculty back the freedom language that Geller and Gottfredson were so insistent on keeping out of the faculty union contract that they paid Sharon Rudnick for many hours of nasty bargaining:

c. POLICY AND SHARED GOVERNANCE. Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance. The freedom of non-faculty employees to address matters under this paragraph may be limited with adequate notice by policies appropriately adopted by the University.

The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious violations of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences. Any such determinations shall be made in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers.

Bonine got the administration to cave on this language, and UO faculty will now have a policy like that of most other universities.

What about staff, OA’s, and student employees? The administration insisted on excluding them. This policy at least makes sure they can’t be thrown under the bus “ad hoc”:

The freedom of non-faculty employees to address matters under this paragraph may be limited with adequate notice by policies appropriately adopted by the University.

Ahlens moves to delete above. Seconded. Harbaugh asks that President Gottfredson or his staff speak to the reasons why staff should be excluded from UO’s policy on academic freedom. Gottfredson declines to give a substantive response.

Dreiling doesn’t want this sentence in. Bonine: I don’t want it either. I added it to attempt to reach out to the administration, incorporate their concerns. But since Gottfredson won’t explain those concerns…

Bonine: After many months of the faculty’s hard work on this, I’m insulted that no one from the administration is even willing to speak publicly to this issue.

Gottfredson says he will “take this under advisement” but won’t tell the Senate what he thinks. Great leadership.

The Senate votes unanimously to strike the sentence that would allow Gottfredson to develop policies to limit staff and OA’s right to speak freely on UO policies and practices and therefore participate in shared governance.

The Senate then unanimously passes the academic freedom policy. President Gottfredson has 60 days to sign it, or veto it and explain himself to the Senate, and then to an assembly of the entire faculty. Remember that Mac Court meeting with Pernsteiner? Gottfredson will sign.

4.7       Motion (Policy Proposal): Legal Services Policy; Gordon Sayre, Professor (English) & UO Senator

4:52: We’re out of time – motion to extend passes.

Sayre: Long delays with this, but we were finally able to get Geller to meet with us. Made some compromises.

Another excellent policy. Geller’s original draft had typically nutty language saying faculty could only get legal opinions from Geller.

Passes unanimously.

No time to take up the following motions at this meeting:

4.8       Motion (Legislation): Open Committee Meetings; Frank Stahl, Professor Emeritus (Biology), Nathan Tublitz, Professor (Biology), and Jennifer Freyd, Professor (Psychology)

4.9       Motion (Resolution): A Report on UO’s Academic Support for Student-Athletes; William Harbaugh, Professor (Economics) & UO Senator

4:40 pm     6. Reports

6.1       Report on tenth-year committee review and April 23rd University Senate meetings; Robert Kyr, Professor (Music) and UO Senate President-Elect

6.2       Spring Term Elections and Appointments Process; Margie Paris, Professor (Law) and UO Senate President

6.3       Report from Faculty Athletics Representative Search Committee; Andrew Karduna, Professor (Human Physiology) [ONLINE ONLY]

6.4       Report on Intercollegiate Athletics Committee; Robert Illig, Professor (Law) and Chair of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee [ONLINE ONLY]

6.5       Report on pending motions: Faculty Input into Hiring Executive Administrators and Review of Executive Administrators; Margie Paris, Professor (Law) and UO Senate President [ONLINE ONLY]

4:50 pm     7.   Announcements and Communication from the Floor

7.1       Notice of Motion: Final Examination Schedule Revision; Randy Sullivan, Senator (Chemistry)

4:55 pm     8.   Other Business

5:00 pm     9.    Adjournment


  1. Explanation 04/09/2014

    I recommend everyone read the IAC report in the above link. Your audience needs your view of this report Bill. It appears you are personally responsible for the closure of the IAC. Which Univ Comm is your next target? Can we make suggestions?

    • confused 04/09/2014

      Your comment can be read two ways. Might be time to be frankly obvious and not beat around hoping someone will get your point.

  2. hmm .. 04/09/2014

    There are a few conclusions one could come by watching Gottfredson’s lack of explanation on the academic freedom policy, all negative and some more than others. The least toxic would be he doesn’t engage because he can’t talk extemporaneously and likely doesn’t even know why Geller has conceived the policy ideas he promotes and therefore can’t speak to them. The next conclusion one comes to is that Geller thinks he’s running ‘the University’ in absence of serious leadership.

    • Same Song 04/09/2014

      I’ve never heard Gottfredson answer a question in public in a clear, direct and substantive way. He strings lots of words together that are mostly pablum.

      He has missed opportunity after opportunity to engage meaningfully with faculty in public settings.

      • Poison 04/09/2014

        The academic freedom motion was a gift for Gottfredson. Why not endorse it and gain a little respect. Instead he sat there mute, letting Geller and Gleason’s poison spread. How can a university president have nothing good to say about academic freedom?

        • bystander 04/09/2014

          ” … he sat there mute …”

          Let your reasonable imagination run a bit and figure why that would be so and why it’s happening at UO. Give it credence. The Senate and Constitution have real power, Gottfredson does not.

  3. Three cheers for Kyr! 04/09/2014

    Well run, and we got through several issues that the Senate has been stalled on for a year. Yes it was 2 hours on a sunny afternoon, but we got important work done efficiently.

  4. hmm .. 04/09/2014

    You offer the link to the Inside Higher Ed story that Gottfredson supposedly talks about “his objections to having academic freedom in the union contract” … but .. he doesn’t really ever state ANY objections. He spins platitudes and wastes time, just as he did today. He’d be fine having more discussions and talking political nonsense because it buys time. This has been mentioned before… he’s a placeholder and nothing more. The Senate made a significant stride today and god forbid gets remorseful, thinking *just* another meeting or committee of talk, talk, talk, blah, blah, blah until next Fall, Winter or Spring will fix anything. Along with attempting fundraising, this is exactly what he was hired to perform.

  5. Gleason's blog 04/09/2014

    I can’t wait to read Tim Gleason’s $240K post about this meeting in tomorrow’s “Around the O”

  6. Conflict of interest 04/10/2014

    Coltrane’s RIGE “report” was yet another attempt to whitewash the widespread dissatisfaction with Espy’s performance as VPR. His failure to even allude to any problems with her conflicts of interest and her broken relationships with “virtually all groups” interviewed by the Blonigen committee just shows business as usual at UO. Circle the wagons, spew out pablum, and GET PAID.

    Scott, you are such a huge disappointment. You finally glad-handed your way to the position you wanted, and even now you have no courage. Pathetic.

    • Anonymous 04/14/2014

      Sorry, I’ve deleted your comment on the grounds that it defames dead horses.

      • Peon 04/14/2014

        Sorry, I’ve deleted your comment on the grounds that we must preserve some shred of hope. UOM.

        • I searched ALL of Google's databases 04/14/2014

          Sorry, I’ve deleted your comment on the grounds that my colleagues will leave if it’s true.

        • Peon 04/15/2014

          WOOT WOOT WOOT!!!!!!!!!! Read your email from the gott.

      • Dead Horse 04/15/2014

        I think you misunderstood when I commented “neigh”.

  7. anon 04/10/2014

    It’s time for Gottfredson to go. Plain and simple. He’s had nearly two years and faculty confidence in him as done nothing but slide from day one.

    • So sad 04/10/2014

      Yes, he needs to go. When he started everyone so badly wanted him to succeed. But he has screwed up at every turn. UO can’t take any more of his mis-management.

  8. Redemption 04/10/2014

    All Gottfredson would have to do is fire Geller and then announce an open and rigorous search process. This one action would fuel a new surge of hope and energy on campus — the action would display wisdom, strength, vision, integrity. It could turn everything around.

    • no redemption available 04/10/2014

      No way. After all you’ve seen, do you really think he could grow a backbone over Geller now?

      How do you evaluate between political grandstanding and serious reform? Firing Geller is an obvious move in the right direction, but should Gottfredson get credit for it and then use it as political fodder? Besides, he won’t fire anyone until someone “out there” suggests he do it and thought that it would be, in THEIR so-called wise estimation, prudent.

      • uomatters Post author | 04/10/2014

        There will be a motion for a vote of no confidence in Geller in time for a vote at the May Senate meeting.

        • non nom 04/11/2014

          And the no confidence motion on Gottfredson? Because it can’t wait until Fall.

  9. flip flops on freedom 04/10/2014

    First Gott was for freedom. Then against it. Then for it. Then at the Senate he could not say what he was for without checking with his lawyer. Soon he’ll sign this and claim he was for it all along. Whatever, I’m done with this fool.

    • Severinus de Monzambano 04/17/2014

      Gott mit uns…nicht

  10. anon 04/10/2014

    I just read rob illig’s IAC report. First, he writes as though he actually ran a committee this year. Odd, what we’ve read here. Second, I thought Rob Mullens did drive more athletes to drink.He must have it backwards.

  11. mousey 04/11/2014

    You’ve really hit the problem straight on when you discuss up above “our passive aggressive president…”. Dealing with that is crazymaking and leads to all sorts of responses from surrounding individuals who have to work with ‘the condition’. From my experience, it’s poisonous and the only way out is to move on, and quickly.

  12. Passive-agressive disorder 04/11/2014

    The DSM no longer recognizes PAD, but it is characterized by “resentment of the fact that you have responsibility”. Most counselors see poor career choice as a contributing factor. Some report success with SSRI’s, if CBT fails. Therapy includes exercises such as envisioning yourself in a situation where you do make a decision, and then exploring how you will feel self-actualized if you use your internal anger to take charge. Results from randomized trials are mixed, however.

    • non nom 04/11/2014

      Interesting. Likely they no longer recognize it because there are too many PADs in the DSM bureaucracy leading to it’s recognition as continued C.R.A.P. … which was recognized by credible experiencers long ago.

  13. WTF 04/16/2014

    Obfuscate and delay – Gott’s default strategy when dealing with faculty and shared governance.

    “I fully support the strongest policy on academic freedom possible.”

    Of course, “possible” means whatever Geller tells him he can do.

    What nonsense – when is he going to realize dealing with faculty through politispeak only widens the divide? Or, maybe he doesn’t give a damn.

    I guess real leadership from this from our leaders just isn’t going to happen.

  14. nobody 04/16/2014

    Well … you remember the Clinton excuse: “it depends upon what the meaning of is, is”. Takes some time for a ‘great mind’ to come up with that nonsensical jiberish. The interesting thing now will be to see who actually stands behind it, tries to promote it or gives him credit for his … uh … reflective insight which he still hasn’t stated. Placeholder.

  15. chuck 04/16/2014

    Gotfredson is the same jackass who told a group of undergrads that they wouldn’t be capable of understanding the financial statements which supported higher tuition. He got away with that due to the fact that most of U of O’s undergrads are simply too lazy, apathetic or distracted to mount much of a protest. Not so much with faculty, who are fed up with the constant dissembling emanating from Johnson Hall. But then this guy has taken his cue from the Frohnmeyer playbook, who when asked why a several hundred dollar surcharge was tacked onto tuition each quarter, responded with the equivalent of “Yaba daba do.” Why the hell would anyone attend that place is beyond me, oh I forgot, it’s all about the O…..

  16. Anon 04/17/2014

    Poor Dave. He looked so miserable at that Senate meeting, but he’s the definition of “loyal to a fault”.

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