Paul Omundson on UO Board’s failed search plan – endorses Coltrane

2/22/2015: Paul Omundson on UO Board’s failed search plan

An Op-Ed in the RG, here:

Despite spectacular success on the football field, these are hardly good times for the University of Oregon. … Donors gone amok in self-aggrandizement, with a growing cadre of campus development and donor relations personnel, is one cause. Lack of real leadership from the administration in Johnson Hall is another. And the state doesn’t help by reducing public funds for competitive teacher salaries.

In this poisonous cauldron of self interests, the fabric of the UO as an educational institution is being destroyed.

The school’s new Board of Trustees can help change all that with its power to select a new president. But right now the board is blowing it.

The solution, and probably the only lifeline that can rescue the university, is to select a new president who can truly lead and rise above the tumult. Because of the depth of the tumult, this individual must be someone internal — a person who knows the nuts and bolts of the institution and can stand up to campus piranhas; one who has gained respect of constituents; one who has survived the craziness that now prevails; and, most importantly, a healer who can restore the balance between academics and athletics.

There are such candidates. Start with Scott Coltrane, who is shackled by that “interim president” title and can only tread water right now. But there are other worthy internal candidates. Here’s why it’s so important to change course right now:

The current model for selecting a UO president doesn’t work. The same process was used to hire the last president, Michael Gottfredson. A national executive search committee selected him as best candidate, ran him through pretentious dog and pony shows on campus, and the UO hired him. He was shortly run out of town. No one wants a Twilight Zone experience like that again. …

2/15/2015: Nathan Tublitz on UO’s troubling times

An Op-Ed in the RG, here:

…The unusually high turnover rate of presidents and upper administrators has not helped our academic standing. Neither has the financial disinvestment by the state of Oregon. Also contributing to UO’s academic stagnation is the growing number of decision-makers who do not understand academia, because they have never been faculty members. The situation has been further exacerbated by a series of university scandals, poorly handled labor negotiations, decreased fiscal transparency, and retaliation against those who speak up.

The consequences have been a major decline in morale among faculty and staff and a loss of trust in the administration. This is not a good framework for positive change.

Enter the new UO Board of Trustees. Created by the state of Oregon, the board is mandated to oversee and improve the UO, something the state Board of Higher Education, with seven institutions to manage, could not provide. It is hoped a UO-specific board will reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies, stabilize finances and support strong leadership inside the university. Indeed, board members seem genuinely committed to improving the UO.

But what is their vision? What do they want the university to be? …

As an experiment, I’m not going to allow comments on this post – please add yours on the RG website instead. They have some thoughtful ones already.

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