VP for Research Kimberly Andrews Espy to leave UO for Arizona

4/22/2014: The UA student paper has a bit on Espy’s hiring, here:

The criteria for candidates was that they be leaders with the vision and capability to meet the priorities established by the “Never Settle” strategic plan, according to Nikolich-Žugich. The plan’s goal regarding research and development is to double research expenditures at UA in the next 10 years. … Espy added that she was impressed by Hart’s Never Settle strategic plan. She said it is exciting to join the leadership team in an environment with such a bold vision, and that the goals in the plan are well-articulated.

Nearly two years into President Gottfredson’s presidency, and UO still has no research plan – though the Duck athletic department sure as hell does:

4/15/2014: This is a big win for President Gottfredson, for the UO Senate which has been pushing for this for more than a year at the urging of much of UO’s research community, and for the review committee that the Senate established and which Associate Dean Bruce Blonigen chaired. UA President’s announcement here, UO’s below:

From: “President’s Office” <pres@uoregon.edu>
Subject: Vice President Espy to take research position at University of Arizona
Date: April 15, 2014 at 3:07:39 PM EDT
Reply-To: pres@uoregon.edu

Dear Colleagues,

Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the Graduate School, has accepted the position of vice president for research at the University of Arizona. She begins May 27.

I wish Dr. Espy the very best in her new appointment, and thank her for her outstanding service to the University of Oregon. During her nearly three-year tenure at the UO, she has provided valuable leadership and guidance that has greatly benefited our research mission. Dr. Espy led efforts to significantly expand the university’s research infrastructure and began the University’s Research Development Services, which assists faculty in proposal development. She also built strong partnerships in Oregon to accelerate research application through start-up businesses.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Espy as she takes her new position.


Michael Gottfredson, President

Tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to VP for Research Kimberly Andrews Espy to leave UO for Arizona

  1. Happy says:

    Makes me wonder who posted that yesterday…whomever it was had some good intel!

  2. LISBian says:

    Does this mean I can take back our lab space?

  3. Anon says:

    Lateral move?

    • thedude says:

      Most importantly, its a good move.

      • alum says:

        Do you think UO will be able to bring in a high calibre replacement that will win the approval of the various parties?

        • awesome0 says:

          Yep. The big question is if the UO will be committed to enhancing research with its newfound bonding capacity and independent board. I certainly hope so. We shall see.

    • Anonymous says:

      Upward I’d say

      • dog says:

        The UA is ranked by the NSF as third overall in the nation in research profile/expenditures in physical sciences. The overall research + graduate student scale of the UA is an order of magnitude more than the UO.

        I would say this is most definitely an upward move. According to all predictions and comments about Espy made in this forum, this should be the death of the UA.

        But quite possibly the A is different than the O.

        I am not here to defend Espy, I think she clashed with the UO
        culture and that made her ineffective. I don’t believe, however, that she is incompetent.

        • Dogs bark when they don't know says:

          After a while the charade of your reasonable tones is ruff to take. You don’t know about the true extent of her incompetence, but you insist on speaking as if you do.

          Good for us that you’re just a dog without real influence around here.

          • anti-dog says:

            Dog is well known in his Dept for barking on many issues where he has limited background. His experience with Espy reflects what a majority of the small grant holders know, the large players see a very difference management style.

          • dog says:

            acknowledged; I am a lowly commoner, not of privilege, consequence or broad scope; all I can do is bark, out of turn …

        • relieved says:

          understanding local culture (e.g., respect for productive faculty is good) and ability to learn from initial missteps (e.g., COI is bad) are crucial for a VPR. With that missing, I am not that interested in whatever hidden competencies UA may discover.

          • anon says:

            The unfortunate pattern for making change with Espy was an e-mail out of the blue informing the parties involved of the change, followed by condescension and anger at any questions or pushback.

            I thought many of the changes were needed. The fundamental problems still exist. Part of the VPR job is getting buy-in from faculty. She never cared about that, and it hurt her performance.

  4. Told you so! says:

    Yes, I did have good intel. This is the second time UOM has deleted one of my posts on juicy topic, which is most annoying! Perhaps all my posts should have the code words about beating “a dead horse”…

    • Happy says:

      Very cool told you so!

      Maybe email UOM from an anon account when you post something like that so he’ll leave you alone?

    • uomatters says:

      Sorry, I just didn’t want to jinx it.

  5. fact says:

    I just realized, didn’t UA walk all of the football team this fall. Maybe there was a deal behind the scenes. We throw the game, they take an admin off our hands. See athletics does improve academics!!

  6. anon says:

    Interesting how Gottfredson highlights the starting of Research Development Services, which is a pretty clear example of “hire several people to do an ill-defined job with no good metrics for success and little chance for researchers to weigh in if this actually a priority use of funds.”

  7. dog says:

    In case anyone cares,

    the other two finalists for the position at UA were

    Dr. Ingrid Burke is currently the director of the Helga Otto Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. She is also the Wyoming Excellence Chair of Ecology and Professor in both the Department of Botany and the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. In her role as Director of the Haub School, Dr. Burke oversees all academic programs and two research application and outreach institutes housed within the School.

    Dr. James Tracy is currently the Vice President for Research at the University of Kentucky, where he is also Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry within the College of Medicine. As Vice President for Research, Dr. Tracy oversees the administration and operation of the university’s $370 million research enterprise, the university’s federal relations and lobbying activities, and several campus-wide multidisciplinary research centers and institutes. In addition to this position, he is Vice President and Executive Director for the University of Kentucky Research Foundation and serves on the President’s Council.

  8. x-duck says:

    Espy inherited a complete shit show. I’m not sure if she knew what she was walking in to. Granted, she didn’t make things better with her style of management, but I can’t help but think that there’s no small level of sexism in the comments about her. If a man had her management style, would it be regarded as just being tough and getting business done?

    Lest you think I’m trying to defend her, I am an x-duck, in large part because of her inaction to retain me. quack quack.

    • unrevised history says:

      When people bring up that Espy inherited a bad situation, what they are failing to remember is that her situation was widely known and appreciated. And she was actually received with a lot of optimism and good will, due to her credentials and the fact that she was an external hire brought in through a competitive national search. From the getgo, a lot of people expected that she was going to have to make some tough decisions to get out of the hole her office was in, and we were prepared for it.

      That’s why when things started going awry, there were a lot of conversations along the lines of, “why did she do that? where’s she going with this?” Some things, like tightening up compliance, made sense. But other decisions were not consistent with any version of sound stewardship, or even unsound, penny-wise pound-foolish stewardship. They were just point-blank screwed-up decisions. That, not necessary sacrifice, is what dried up the goodwill she arrived with. No doubt it made it harder for her later on, because the combination of early screwups and lack of communication meant that people stopped trusting her (probably even when she was making good decisions).

      Has there been sexism in the response to her? Undoubtedly there has been some; sexism is part of the air we breathe in our society, and some people do things like reflexively reach for the b-word when they are unhappy with a woman (though it hasn’t happened nearly as much as I would’ve thought, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see people called out for it pretty quickly). But in what I have witnessed sexism has not been the driving force behind the criticisms. People are not primarily focused on style and demeanor. Rather, the strongest and most persuasive criticisms are about specific decisions and the objective consequences of those decisions. We should be vigilant for sexism, but that shouldn’t stop us from holding her accountable for legitimate shortcomings in her work.

    • anon says:

      I think there were sexist comments about her and her management style. However, non-sexist commentators had the same issues with her, so the sexist comments were an unfortunate and distracting avenue to express the same disgruntlement felt by many.

    • Espy's failures went FAR beyond style says:

      Most involved agree that Espy’s style was abrasive and bullying, but it is really important to highlight the fact that she was a disaster because of her DECISIONS. This point has been made repeatedly, so I won’t both making it in detail.

      Read the Blonigen report. Try to come up with a rationale whereby “style” explains the huge conflicts of interest that characterized her attempts to re-shape research at UO. Try to explain how “style” accounts for the failed retentions and recruitments that happened because of her actions (not just because she was abrasive and disrepectful).

      The whole “sharp elbows” characterization of the discontent with Espy is a plain and simple whitewash of the deeper problems with her attempts to fill a leadership role.

      Her ham-fisted style was just the putrid icing on a cake made of shit.

    • WTF says:

      My Dean and Associate Dean are bullies and idiots. They are both males.

      • Bullies and Idiots says:

        So why aren’t you naming them and calling for their jobs?

        • WTF says:

          Well, they are also vindictive and I don’t have tenure. Not a battle I can choose right now.

  9. ScienceDuck2 says:

    Enough already – both sides here are cherry-picking facts and figures from Espy’s reign as described in the RIGE report. I have seen too much of both faculty complaints and malicious mischief along with admin bumbling and incompetence to know the following:

    Did Espy eff up a significant number of research decisions?
    You bet.

    Did many UO faculty do their best to undermine her needed reforms of the research enterprise?
    You bet.

    Did Espy blow it on retention issues?
    Some yes, some definitely not.

    Did some biology faculty commit federal crimes yet their admin person got thrown under the bus while they got off scott free?
    You bet.

    Did Espy make some questionable decisions in regard to PSI that smacked of COI?
    You bet.

    NO ONE here that reads or posts on UOM is guiltless, and if you think you are, you have a completely undeserved, holier-than-thou complex…. myself included.

    • ScienceDuck2: "Fair and Balanced" like FOX news. says:

      If ScienceDuck2’s comments are intended to suggest that “both sides could have done better”, and that Espy was just one half of a bad relationship, then ScienceDuck2 is disonnected from reality.

      Espy was made to leave. Why do you think?

      Don’t be naive.

    • ScienceDuck2's disingenuous spin says:

      Espy’s new institute centered on her research interests, directed by her own office’s associate VPR, and housing her own postdoc in highly limited and disputed research space, did not “smack” of conflict of interest.

      It is a PERFECT prototype of conflict of interest.

      Espy embraced that conflict, and built her own position (and that of her close colleagues) through the auspices of her powerful office.

      ScienceDuck2, in case you haven’t figured it out, is obviously an anonymous insider from Espy’s office, with a vested interest in revising the history of the disaster of RIGE. Don’t buy his spin.

      • Anon says:

        We need an interim VP from outside RIGE. Both reports on RIGE found so many problems, not all of them Espy’s. Promoting one of Espy’s AVPs, even just as interim, will only raise a new round of suspicion and distrust.

        • UOM for VPR says:

          Outside of RIGE would be a good start.

          I nominate Harbaugh or Tublitz for the job!

  10. Ed school insider? says:

    There’s some talk that Ed Kame’enui might get the interim job, though the Reading First scandal would seem to be a dis-qualifier.


    • uomatters says:

      That seems like a very unlikely appointment. RIGE has had enough recent trouble, and there are still some JH people around who remember the $500,000 we had to pay federal lobbyists to deal with the RF fallout: https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/client_reports.php?id=D000030683&year=2007

    • Conflict of Interest says:

      Wow. Who in the inner circles of RIGE is NOT associated with blatant self-promotion and conflict of interest?

      If our administration can’t figure out how to navigate this interim appointment without falling prey to these scandals, then they deserve the storm that would surely ensue.

  11. Anon says:

    Agreed. MG is a stickler for maintaining the appearance of propriety. EK is a non-starter.