Press "Enter" to skip to content

Does UO have a strategic plan for Portland yet?

5/24/2015 update: I don’t have anything new on this. Does anyone?

7/8/2013: The Lane County DA’s office has finally prodded UO into releasing the 269 page Canoe Group report on Portland. UO sent me a very low quality pdf, I’ve asked for something better and here it is, thanks! Full pdf here.

UO decided to completely redact the 2012 PWG report. If anyone has a copy of that pass it on and I’ll post it.

The Canoe doc is a “situational report” and is mostly lists of the programs, history, and interviews with people. The RFP seems to have included a call for a financial analysis, but the report is just qualitative.

The White Stage lease costs UO $2.4 million a year, and is up for renewal in 2014, an issue which comes up repeatedly. I don’t know much about UO Portland, but the tenor of the report is that UO has spent a lot of money on Portland operations with little to show for it, that there has been too many reports and talk and not enough action, and that a lot of stakeholders inside and outside UO are angry.

I’m guessing that the White Stag building will be kept despite its cost. It’s already home to a large Duck Fundraising operation, and will presumably become the clubhouse for the new UO Trustees. Maybe they should turn the bottom floor into practice space for the cheerleading team, and try to get some Duck donor money for the rent?

Some excerpts from the report, starting with the usual consultant’s pablum from the exec summary:

The consultants note that UO had just completed another report on Portland, without much impact:

One natural activity for Portland is fundraising. No surprise, UO’s efforts there, as everywhere, are heavy on raising money for the Jocks, who have three development officers to the academic side’s one:

The report gets lots of quotes from internal and external stakeholders that are plenty pissed about the lack of leadership from the UO administration, without naming names:

Presumably the good stuff from the PWG report starts on page 231, but UO redacted it and the next few pages:

Followed by 3 entirely redacted pages. Lisa Thornton’s explanation for the redactions was a curt

“Any redactions made were in accordance with ORS 192.502 (1)”

Comments welcome. It was a fight to get UO to give up this report, I hope it means something to someone with more background information than I have.

6/30/2013 update: We are paying $2.4M in rent for the White Stag building, less about $185K for sublets. That’s just part of the bleeding. 3 weeks since I made a simple public records request for a copy of the Canoe Group consultant’s report on what to do about UO Portland and Hubin’s office is still sitting on it – even after I filed a petition with the Lane County DA:

Mr. Harbaugh,

I asked the UO public records office if they have a document or documents related to your public records request and was advised they do.  Ms. Thornton told me she is reviewing the document(s) and will release according to public records law.  Your appeal is denied at this time.


Patricia W. Perlow
Chief Deputy
Lane County District Attorney’s Office 

This is what Pres Gottfredson calls transparency? For the nostalgic, here’s our former interim provost James C. Bean in 2009, who apparently will rake in $322,140 next year not teaching any classes, claiming we make money in Portland:

6/8/2013 update: See bottom for the Canoe Group report info. Anyone got a copy?

6/6/2013: Hard to tell – lots of people working in the White Stag building though. List here.

Rumors are that UO Portland is losing $3.5M or so a year. The 2012 report on Portland is here. It ends:

Before the end of the next academic year, the University should have a common understanding of its Portland initiatives, their importance, their structure, and their financial model.

In order to move the institution toward this goal, we recommend that a significant portion of the university’s summer 2012 retreat be dedicated to this topic. This will require the President and Provost to be prepared with at least a draft of a vision of the strategic importance of Portland and of its potential shape in the next decade. We understand that even under the most optimistic scenarios, the new President will have been on board for a short amount of time at that point. But we are deeply concerned that waiting another year will leave us poorly situated to take advantage of strategic opportunities, will force interim decisions that may be at odds with our eventual strategic direction, and will frustrate the many communities who continue for hunger for clarity around this important issue. This will also require the deans and unit heads to be prepared for a robust conversation about Portland. We must not spend our time in the retreat merely doing a survey of existing programs and arrangements. To be certain, understanding such background will be important for the conversation. But we should all expect to do homework in advance of the retreat, so that we can dedicate our collective time to the consideration of the institution’s overall strategy in Portland.

Does anyone have a copy of the material presented at this retreat, or any follow-up? I asked VP for Portland Wendy Larson for some info about a year and a half ago:

From: Bill Harbaugh []
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 11:46 AM
To: Wendy Larson
Subject: Re: portland budget

Thanks Wendy – do you know if there are any plans to produce any sort of a budget report or financial plan for the Portland operations?
Bill Harbaugh
UO Prof of Economics

I got this response from her:

From: “Wendy Larson” <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: portland budgetDate: January 3, 2012 12:02:58 PM PST
To: “Bill Harbaugh” <[email protected]>

Best to ask this question to Frances/Jamie, as I am not aware of all of their plans.


Wendy Larson
Vice Provost for Portland Programs

and then this from Jamie Moffitt:

Hi Bill –

Many units operate out of Portland.  Investment decisions regarding their operations are made at the school & college / unit level and are incorporated into individual budgets.  I am not aware of any plans to try and centralize this process or data.


Obviously that changed, according to the document above there should now be a plan to stop the bleeding. I’ve asked Wendy Larson for a copy. No response from her yet, but a helpful commenter sends me to the Canoe Group consultant’s web page – they submitted a 331 page report to UO this February:

VP Larson will not share the report, so here’s a public records request for it:

From: Bill Harbaugh
Subject: request for a copy of the Canoe Group report on UO PortlandDate: June 8, 2013 10:54:02 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton
Cc: Wendy Larson , Michael Moffitt , Dave Hubin , Gregory Rikhoff , Margaret Paris , Robert Kyr
Dear Ms Thornton:
This is a public records request for a copy of the 331 page Canoe Group consulting report on UO operations in Portland, referred to at
I’m ccing VP for Portland Wendy Larson and Law School Dean Michael Moffitt, who worked with the Canoe Group, and should have copies of the report, and should be easily able to forward it.
I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest, which is large given the expense of UO’s operations in Portland and the costs of the consulting contract.


On SaturdayJun 8, 2013, at 10:59 PM, Wendy Larson <[email protected]> wrote:
For clarification: I am on sabbatical, and did not work with the Canoe Group. I have not seen the report. The Interim VP at UO PDX is Kate Wagle, and I am her copying here.
Best regards,
Wendy Larson


From: Bill Harbaugh
Subject: Re: request for a copy of the Canoe Group report on UO PortlandDate: June 8, 2013 11:02:04 PM PDT
To: Wendy Larson
Cc: Public Record Requests , Michael Moffitt , Dave Hubin , Gregory Rikhoff , “Margaret Paris” , Robert Kyr , Kate Wagle VP PDX
Thanks Wendy.
Kate, I’d appreciate it if you would forward a copy of this report without making me go through the pain and expense of dealing with UO’s public record’s office.
Bill Harbaugh


  1. Anonymous 06/06/2013

    When we don’t have enough money to run the campus in Eugene, it would really be nice to know what we are spending in other areas like Portland. I am tired of being told that we can’t have the most basic infrastructure here on our campus. If this is indeed a money maker and not a crystal palace, then prove it. We can’t do everything. We only have so much money so let’s start being clear about where we spend and attempt to prioritize things like research and teaching.

    There has never been a transparent accounting about what we spend up there. Why not?

  2. Anonymous 06/07/2013

    Portland has turned into an even bigger money sinkhole than Bend and with even less rationale for its existence. There’s absolutely no justification for the bloated apparatus that Larson has created. Having a minor Portland presence for the sake of fundraising makes sense, but that could be accomplished for a lot less money than we’re paying Larson and crew.

    • Daffy Duck 06/07/2013

      Wasteful and faddish initiatives and ‘reform’ flourish in a vacuum of competence and good judgement. Read for example, the letters of interest for the VPUG studies and guess each applicant’s probability of appointment under the current JH regime. Or perhaps I’m just Daffy as usual.

  3. Anonymous 06/07/2013

    Do we have this yet?

    “What the university needs –

    1. A clearly articulated vision of the university’s strategic interests in and plans for Portland, regardless of whether it is consistent with the present patchwork of academic and non-academic units’ activities there.

    2. An infrastructure designed, for that vision of a Portland presence, regardless of whether it is consistent with the present investments and constraints.”

    I haven’t heard it.

  4. Bernie Madoff's rabbi 06/08/2013

    I just try to keep everyone honest, even in difficult cases.

    Is Portland really losing $3.5M per year? Just a rumor, then why don’t they publish the numbers?

    Let’s see, $3.5M divided among, say, 200 full professors, that would almost solve the compression problem they’ve been farting around on for 13 years, right? (I say 13 years because 2000 was the year that Frohnmayer and Moseley announced that they were going to bring faculty compensation to competitive levels, no?)

    • UO Matters 06/08/2013

      Thanks! updated.

    • Anonymous 06/08/2013

      More consultants. Seems we pay admins high salaries for their ability to hire consultants to do their jobs.

      Wonder if they were paid by the page.

  5. Anonymous 06/08/2013

    Yep… keep digging around here and things turn up. (Hi Wendy.)

  6. Anonymous 06/08/2013

    $3.5 million per year makes the Athletic Department look like a bargain…

    • Anonymous 06/09/2013

      The AD is more like a 6-8m tax on the academic side.

    • Anonymous 06/10/2013

      You should ask for the AHA reports and costs too. Lorraine tried to clean this up.

  7. Anonymous 06/10/2013

    Consultants, just a high price form of ass-covering when an admin does not want to do the work themselves.

  8. Daffy Duck 07/08/2013

    Several quick quacks:

    To BPFA Moffitt above. having budgets and plans at department and college levels is great as long as either:

    1) the costs of those plans are not subsidized by everyone else or
    2) If they are subsidized, the subsidies are clear, understood, and explained openly to those on the paying end of subsidies.

    As it is, almost everything is hidden or at least very hard to find. Any decent grad student in LCB or PPPM should be able to turn out a feasible business plan. Why don’t we have a good plan for Portland that has been shared and discussed with faculty on campus? The fact that we don’t would seem to make the answer obvious wouldn’t it?

  9. Awesome0 10/02/2013

    My research has attracted both regional and national attention. I’d be willing to along with others present my research to reach out to potential donors. I can imagine there’s a whole industry that would wanted to attend. Many of us would do that. Just set up the train tickets and we’re there.

    • Anonymous 10/02/2013

      Train tickets are too cheap for the Oregon Way. You should ask if you can “move” into Treetops and have them pay for your mortgage in PDX.

  10. Anonymous 10/02/2013

    Anyone know why they transferred Matt Roberts into state relations?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *