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Chronicle of Higher Ed quotes Coltrane on Senate strike vote, Board Chair Lillis speaks.

Scroll down for the Senate agenda and live-blog.

Institutionalized News Media Updates:

Once again Johnson Hall’s administrative incompetence crowds out the important news, in this case Chuck Lillis’s speech. Alexandra Wallachy does have this in the Emerald: UO has “bad reputation” for faculty-admin relations, Lillis says. And well paid former TV journalist and UO PR flack Jennifer Winters has the spin in “Around the 0“.

Chronicle of Higher Education: University of Oregon Draws Criticism for Response to Threatened TA Strike

The University of Oregon’s Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to rebuke the institution’s administration for planning for a threatened strike by graduate teaching assistants in a manner that bypasses the faculty and stands to bring about “the dilution and degradation of teaching standards.”

The Senate, which includes representatives of the faculty, student body, administration, and staff, adopted the motion in response to a confidential memorandum that Oregon’s top academic and human-resources administrators sent to deans and directors last month. …

Scott Greenstone has a good report in the Emerald on the dilute and degrade legislation, here:

By supporting this resolution, University Senate is saying two things:

– University Senate does not support the administration’s plan to change finals and called it “diluting academic standards” in the resolution. The plan includes turning final essays into multiple-choice tests, shortening long essay finals, or hiring non-GTF graduate students, officers of administration or even upper-level undergraduates.

– University Senate doesn’t appreciate the UO administration sending the plans to department heads instead of discussing the plans with the senate. University Senate wants to instead work with the university and come up with a solution together.

Originally, the plans were sent out with a stamp of ‘confidential,’ which the faculty pointed to as an attempt to hide the plans from them in the resolution. Barbara Altmann, senior vice-provost of Academic Affairs, denied this. Altmann said the watermark was “vestigial,” and that the university knew emails would be shared and faculty would learn of the plans.

Altmann says she and Blandy marked the plan as confidential, and only addressed it to deans and directors – not department heads, not faculty – because they knew that meant they’d get a lot of attention and feedback from the faculty. And these people wonder why no one trusts them?

GTF Union updates:

GTFF responds to today’s flex-time proposal from the administration here, and officially calls the strike for Dec 2nd, press release here.

Senate Meeting Highlights:

1) UO will dump Blackboard course management software for Canvas. Live Spring 2015. Yea!

2) Lillis speaks, answers questions. Very honest about UO’s situation and in the Q&A. (See below.) He wants administration and faculty to cooperate more to help UO. But will the Johnson Hall administration step up to the plate? Their refusal to work with the faculty on how to deal with the GTF bargaining and strike planning is not encouraging.

3) Opposition to administration’s efforts to dilute and degrade academic standards in the event of a GTF strike. AKA “educational malpractice”: dropping essay exams, canceling classes, having students watch videos, etc. Blandy: Tries to cover his butt, it’s all about protecting our undergraduates. Altmann: THe confidential stamp was there to attract more interest for what was an initial draft. We knew it would get leaked in 30 minutes to UO Matters (WTF? It wasn’t stamped “draft”, it was stamped “confidential“. And it took me days to get it. Embarrassing. And Altmann just can’t keep from digging that credibility hole deeper and deeper.) Dreiling: Sometimes good people make bad decisions. This secret memo was a bad decision. Just Settle. Lots more discussion, Coltrane gives a weak defense of how he’s handled the situation, gets called out on mis-statements by many in the room. One speaker gives HLGR’s $300-an-hour lawyers a special mention for abusing and insulting our grad students, during the year of botched negotiations that led UO to this point.

Legislation passes unanimously almost unanimously (25 to3?) at 5:10, Senate then adjourns. How’s that for Senate action to help UO improve its research standing, by making clear we stand behind our grad students? Now it’s the administration’s turn to show they can work together on this important goal.

Packed room. I’ll try and live-blog a little. No promises, check the livestream link. Usual disclaimer: nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

Senate Meeting Agenda – November 19, 2014

115 Lawrence, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Livestream here.

3:00 pm     1.   Call to Order

3:00 pm     2.   Approval of Minutes 

3:05 pm     3.   State of the University

3.1       Remarks by Interim President Scott Coltrane with questions

Coltrane: Planning for strategic plan almost done. Announcements soon. Notes that UO gets $270M in federal funding a year (mostly student aid) versus $50M or so from state.

Sought *outside* legal advice regarding Ombud confidentiality, expects to get that done via Board motion.

Will meet with Prof Freyd AAU rape before signing on to AAU rape survey.

Wants to avoid GTFF strike, but thinks administration has moved considerably. Will not let faculty participate in bargaining process, this is handled by administrators. (Seems to be trying to argue that Senate legislation on academic standards in event of strike is out of line.

Asks Senate to delay on open meetings legislation, so FAC, SBC can continue with secret meetings until Senate works out exact procedures. (Very nice to see Coltrane doing this constitutionally.)

Talks about “extravagant and uplifting” fundraising campaign event at Hayward Field and taking it on the road for Alumni. Notes $50M Ballmer gift for Pathways, etc. Gives shout-out to 160over90 branders.

Question Time:

Q: LCC transfer asks why research and athletics and scabs have a higher priority at UO than undergraduates, and asks why any woman would come to UO given sexual violence. A: We don’t discriminate against women. We will serve our undergraduates/ Willing to talk more with you about it.

Q from Green about “flex-time”. A: (He evades).

3.2       Remarks by Chuck Lillis, Chair of the UO Board of Trustees with questions

Chuck Lillis has been a big supporter of UO academics over the years, he’s the only board member with real academic experience, and he has some strong views on how to improve UO. Should be very interesting, and the agenda is packed with other important Senate business.

Kyr introduces: We are forming a real relationship with the board, appreciates Lillis’s willingness to come to the Senate and give “a bracing speech” and proposals to the Senate for how we can work with the board.

Lillis: I thought I knew about universities when I started, but I’ve learned a lot. Wants to talk about what Senate does, wants to convince Senate to work with the administration on UO’s “top 10 problems”. Supports shared governance – when it is done well. He believes it is disfunctional when based on confrontation. (Of course this problem’s roots are with JH and its history, and we’ll get nowhere if Lillis doesn’t read them the riot act.) Says that relationship with Coltrane and Bronet is much improved, faculty should respond positively. (Yes, we like them, but we haven’t yet seen them fix any of Berdahl and Gottfredson’s various screw-ups – or Frohnmayer’s for that matter.)

UO is good but not great, can be great.

Says search firms say UO has a reputation as a place where faculty and administration don’t get along. Problem for hiring a new president.

Biggest problem: We are weak financially, outspent 2 to 1 by other AAU’s. Last of the AAU publics. Need private money to fill gap.

Too few tenure track faculty, by about 150 (out of 750). Enrollment has grown 25%, no increase in TTF. (We’ve been telling JH this for years. Anyone remember Provost Bean’s denial? Good to hear some straight talk.)

Student quality is not good enough. More of Oregon’s top 400 HS students go to OSU than to UO. (Asks trick question about discount rates) We don’t give large enough discounts to best undergrads.

We don’t do a good enough job explaining what a research university does. Hence state disinvestment. Hence the branding effort.

Need to speed up process for approving new courses and programs. rams (This cuts both ways. Too hard to approve legit courses, but way to easy for the sleazy athletic department to slip in athlete only gut classes.) How did we get here? Distrust, coming from incompetence. (I’m not getting why this made it onto Lillis’s top ten list. What courses and programs is this really a problem for? Sports Product Design?)

Need $1.4B more for endowment: This campaign will bring in about 1/2 that. Not enough. We are a private school, financially, like it or not. The reason he agreed to serve on board, be chair. Passion for academic quality, need money for that.

Disastrous presidential turnovers: Hard to raise money without a permanent president. We had to – urgent. And board thinks current leadership team is good enough to go forward.

Need more science labs: Wants to hire 50 new science faculty, need $300-$400M for labs all gift money.

Need IT infrastructure for big data.

Asks faculty: Is the UO Senate doing anything to address the above top 10 problems? Thinks that many things the Senate spends its time on are not that important. Appreciates Kyr’s leadership on this.

Closing: Wants UO to be a top-ranked research university.

Question time:

Tublitz: Thanks for talking to us so directly. Faculty mostly share your list. You need faculty help. Are you going to reach out to faculty?

Lillis: Yes. We’re doing that already. I don’t know the history, but new administration is committed to shared governance. I will meet with any of you about this.

(Sorry, I’m not doing a good job blogging the Q&A.)

3:40 pm     4.   New Business

4.1       Announcement by Andrew Bonamici, Director of Academic Technology

UO will dump Blackboard course management software for Canvas. Live Spring 2015. Yea!

4.2       Motion (Legislation): Opposition to Efforts by Academic Affairs to Dilute and Degrade Academic Standards in the Event of a Graduate Teaching Fellows Strike; Monique Balbuena (Senator, Clark Honors College); Jane Cramer (Senator, Political Science); John Davidson (Senator, Political Science); Diane Dugaw (Senator, English); Deborah Olson (Senator, Education); Gina Psaki (Senator, Romance Languages); Gordon Sayre (Senator, English)

Opposition to administration’s efforts to dilute and degrade academic standards in the event of a GTF strike. AKA “educational malpractice”: dropping essay exams, canceling classes, having students watch videos, etc. Blandy tries to cover his butt. It’s all about protecting our undergraduates. Altmann: Confidential stamp was there to attract more interest. We knew it would get leaked in 30 minutes to UO Matters (WTF? It wasn’t event stamped “draft”, just “confidential“. And it took me days to get it. Embarrassing.) Dreiling: Sometimes good people make bad decisions. This secret memo was a bad decision. Just Settle. Lots more discussion, Coltrane gives a weak defense of how he’s handled the situation, gets called out on mis-statements.

5:10 PM. Legislation passes unanimously almost unanimously (25 to3?).

Meeting then adjourns with plenty left to do, starting with legislation to set up a Senate committee to fix the administration’s sexual assault prevention failings:

4.3       Motion (Legislation): Committee on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence; Randy Sullivan (Vice-President, University Senate & Co-Chair of the Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support)

4.4       Motion (Resolution): Senate Support to Uphold and Implement a Confidential Ombuds Program and Office; Committee on Respectful Workplace (Carla McNelly, Chair), UO Ombuds Search Committee (Carol Silverman, Chair), UO Senate Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support (Carol Stabile and Randy Sullivan, Co-Chairs), Officer of Administration Council (Teri Rowe, President)

4.5       Motion (Resolution): UO Foundation Fossil Fuel Divestment; Jane Cramer (Senator, Political Science); John Davidson (Senator, Political Science); Helena Schlegel (Senator; Undergraduate, Spanish)

4.6       Motion (Legislation): Proposed Revisions to Student Conduct Code Dealing with Sexual Misconduct, Part 3; John Bonine, Professor (Law) and Caroline Forell, Professor (Law)

4.7       Motion (Legislation): Proposed Revisions to Student Conduct Code Dealing with Sexual Misconduct, Part 7; John Bonine, Professor (Law) and Caroline Forell, Professor (Law)

4.8       Motion (Legislation): Proposed Revisions to Student Conduct Code Dealing with Sexual Misconduct, Part 8; John Bonine, Professor (Law) and Caroline Forell, Professor (Law)

4.9       Motion (Legislation): Proposed Revisions to Student Conduct Code Dealing with Sexual Misconduct, Part 9; John Bonine, Professor (Law) and Caroline Forell, Professor (Law)

4.10     Motion (Legislation): Change of Membership for the Graduate Council; Joe Lowndes, Professor (Political Science) & Graduate Council Chair

4:55 pm     5.   Open Discussion

4:55 pm     6.   Reports

4:55 pm     7.   Notice(s) of Motion

4:55 pm     8.   Other Business

5:00 pm     9.   Adjournment


  1. Three-Toed Sloth 11/19/2014

    “Educational malpractice” sums up the scabbing plans I’ve seen. The only honest and reasonable approach for faculty who rely on GTFs is to give out “X” grades, let financial aid deal with the consequences of the impasse for undergraduates, and hope that Johnson Hall and the GTFF settle quickly.

  2. Anonymous 1 11/19/2014


  3. what the? 11/19/2014

    GTFs in my department all talking about working through any strike. They are not well informed about any of the tradeoffs, it would seem (e.g., not even sure if they get paid). Advice?

    • Anonymous 11/19/2014

      Send them here for info :

      You could also contact them for advice. Might help if someone from the GTFF came and talked to folks in your unit.

  4. GTF what the what 11/19/2014

    Re: above … If you have not joined the GTFF FB page, you should, and post this query there. (Send a request to one of GTFF officers).
    Thoughts off the top of my head – email (or print and copy, and hand out/put in mailboxes) info from the GTFF bargaining update page … or, here is a short blurb responding to the latest “proposal” I found by some other commenter on this website:
    “GTFs are salaried employees – we’re already on “flex-time”. The only change this does is allow GTFs to possible push time into other quarters if they need time off. That is, of course, if GTFs are hired for more than 1 term, while many are not. If a GTF only has a contract for 1 term, they can only flex-time in that same term, which GTFs can already do! “Flex-time” is not a serious change to the administration’s proposal – it is just a way to pretend they are making progress. In reality the flex-time offer is what is already in our collective bargaining agreement.
    The same is true for $61 fees, 95/5 insurance splits, and tuition waivers. ALL of these are in the current CBA. In fact, the GTFF had to fight to preserve the fee limit and insurance split during this bargaining cycle. The administration worked to take these benefits away from the GTFF, and now they are patting themselves on the back for not further damaging the poor financial situation for GTFs.”
    Also, I would connect w/ officers/stewards (see for more help.

    • The ghost of Scott Coltrane the sociologist 11/20/2014

      Flex time seems like a bizarre option for parental leave. You get 2 weeks off after you have a baby, and then you need to work extra to make up for it? Because weeks 3-4 are totally when things get easy.

      • UO Grad Student 11/20/2014

        Or you can work extra leading up to having the baby, since you can plan ahead for that sort of thing. It’s the sudden illness/injury issues that bump up to the edge of a term that would probably cause the most issue with “flex time.”

        • The ghost of Scott Coltrane the sociologist 11/20/2014

          In many circumstances you absolutely cannot plan ahead. There’s a lot of variability in when even “full-term” babies arrive, and of course they may be born premature. Adoptions sometimes come together quickly. Health considerations in late pregnancy can make it difficult to work extra. And even of none of that happens, the baby may be due too soon after an appointment begins to bank up hours.

          • UO Grad Student 11/20/2014

            I just had a baby 3 months ago and he required a relatively long hospitalization after birth. You don’t need to tell me about unexpected things happening. I still planned ahead for it though. So while there are certainly extenuating circumstances, my point remains that it is *possible* in many cases to plan ahead for pregnancy.

      • grad student 11/20/2014

        sounds like a suggestion made by someone who has never had a baby or had major surgery…

  5. TJ 11/19/2014

    If the faculty senate is serious about shared governance then they need to start acting like it.

    The senate never gets through its agenda! therefore it must continue to meet after hours and on weekend until the work is done.

    And after that start fixing the stuff that really matters.
    And after that stat showing up in the summer when the foundation and JH really move all their big ticket items.

    Some of Lillis’s statements could be interpreted that he is looking for a partner to make the UO a better place and if the senate is functional and making change then he will support us.

  6. Clueless 11/20/2014

    Yet, ironically, the reason the Senate did not get through it’s agenda is because Lillis, while discussing more efficient decision-making, went way over his time.

    • TJ 11/20/2014

      at least this quarterly meeting
      but that does not matter
      the job is not done
      the job from the previous meeting was not done
      and still is not done
      please someone shared governance is not three times a year.
      JH and the foundation is there every workday
      and at all the big bowl games!

  7. anonymous 11/20/2014

    I missed Lillis’ speech on the livestream. Is it available anywhere, either as audio or transcript?

  8. nom 11/20/2014

    Having a hard time getting beyond the irony of Chairman Lillis’ comments delivered to the Senate about “bad reputation” between the UO admins and most everyone else on campus while the GTFF strike looms large.

    Did he represent himself as a person with power, or a seemingly powerless observer unless it comes to private donations to the clusters? He made clear the view that an increased endowment is a private endowment that will be controlled, yet he distances himself from even offering verbal or political support in the current crisis. He demonstrates the growing bifurcation between what we could call ‘tier one and tier two’ for UO education in the future.

  9. dirtysouth 11/24/2014

    Too many mid-senior level faculty are quite content to ride the tenured gravy train at UO all the way to retirement. Likewise they are not willing to risk a chance for a golden parachute ride before retirement should their senior colleagues continue to falter……they will have to be replaced eventually! Risk averse behavior does not facilitate excellence in the academy instead mediocrity reigns supreme….

    • that effing Dog again 11/24/2014

      Shit, there is a gravy train? Where is it? And, there is a golden parachute – is that at the end of the gravy train? Indeed, I am happily riding the train of contentment (I would actually rather ride the train of CON-TENT), practicing risk averse behavior on a daily basis. No boat-rocking for me – I love the entrapment of mediocrity …

    • anonymous 11/24/2014

      Yes–thank you. I was hoping that someone covering the speech had a transcript or audio file that was immediately available, given its importance.

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