Schill: Obviously, if I get savaged, I might have some behavior modification

The Portland Tribune’ story on UO President Mike Schill’s comments regarding the Morlok / Stokes retaliation lawsuit against UO is here. Today they’ve posted more from their Nov 11 interview with Schill, here:

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FWIW, I hear the University of Nike domain name is for sale. More from the interview:

PathwayOregon grants

Schill says he hopes to reduce student cost and improve performance with an expansion of a program called PathwayOregon. The program offers free college to Oregon high school graduates who are eligible for federal Pell grant funds. But Schill says these low-income students need more than just money. They need academic advising and clearer paths to graduation. Schill also wants to offer completion grants to students who run out of money before they finish their degree.

“Those kids are the worst off because what ends up happening to them is they get all of the debt and none of the degree,” he says.

Schill says that in addition to hiring 80 to 100 more faculty to offer more classes, he wants to hire a “retention czar” and three or four academic advisers to “really focus with a laser beam on getting these folks to succeed.” That includes using predictive data analytics to attempt to find students who are at risk of dropping out, so when a student fails a math class or doesn’t register for a gateway class, “We’re going to send in the advising SWAT team,” Schill says. …

Oregon tax structure craziness

Schill says he worries that a fear of elitism is holding Oregonians back.

“In that case, really they hired the wrong president for the University of Oregon,” Schill says. “That is Martian to me to hear that we don’t care about excellence.”

Schill says he is angry that smaller, less expensive universities get more state money per student than the UO does. He also takes aim at Oregon’s school funding structure based on property taxes.

“It’s actually craziness,” he says. “This state is uniquely ill-suited to fund anything that’s not mandatory.”

Though the Legislature boosted funding to the seven public universities by $30 million in this biennium’s budget, the UO president says it’s still “horrible.”

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful,” he says. “We just need to do a lot better this year.”

Schill acknowledges that he tends to speak bluntly.

“Obviously, if I get savaged in this next year, I might have some behavior modification,” he says.

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17 Responses to Schill: Obviously, if I get savaged, I might have some behavior modification

  1. AL says:

    1. I’m just wondering whether the Portland Tribune is the new PR machine for President (in place of Tobin Klinger). If Mr Schill is really serious about transparency, he should have offered Eugene Register Guard (local) or The Oregonian (largest) an interview.
    2. In the original article published on Nov 11, 2015, Portland Tribune emphasized that Mr Schill is an attorney and former law school dean before his arrival at UO. Bad move again! President Schill is declaring once more that when it comes to legal issues involving UO, he knows better than anyone else. He maintained none of the university’s actions was illegal. If he is so confident, he should serve as the defense lawyer for the university, win the case, and save the taxpayers some money.
    3. In the same article, he maintained a few bloggers/citizens are helping the plaintiffs by offering salacious details. Where are the evidence for that? In reality, he is the one who gave away his legal team’s litigation strategy. On August 4, 2015, in an interview with Daily Emerald Mr Schill emphatically stated that the UO Administration was spending far too much time and energy on litigation/complaints and he was ready to settle these cases. He has more important things to attend to.
    4. Mr Schill said Morlok was setting it up this way. Much has been written about the painful paths whistleblowers had to walk on to achieve some justice. The authors of these articles/ books include, to the surprise of some readers, former judges, who presided in some of these trials.
    5. Mr Schill should also have a chat with his Provost, Dr. Coltrane. Not too long ago, Dr Coltrane handed a campus award to Stokes and Coltrane for their courageous act of whistleblowing on their boss Dr. Kerr. It appears UO Administration is “shooting its own foot” or “speaking from both sides of its mouth”.
    6. Mr Schill expressed his distaste for lawyers who work on contingency. I plead for Mr Schill’s understanding. This is the only route for people with limited financial resources to see justice when they want to go to trial. UO can draw on taxpayer money; Stokes and Morlok cannot.

    Disclosure: I am not related to or a friend of Stokes and/or Morlok. I have no formal legal training and have never worked for any law firm in my life.

    • Harsh says:

      Don’t be so hard on Schill, there’s a big business out there of University Presidents doing this sort of thing. Presidents can offer constructive criticism without victim blaming. Or, alternatively, actions that are really just designed to generate money for the administration.

      Schill is just calling attention to a lawsuit that is legal, and that is fine. UO’s zealous defense in court is not a surprise. Everyone knew that UO was setting it up this way.

    • Trond Jacobsen says:

      “I have no formal legal training and have never worked for any law firm in my life.”

      This disclaimer was entirely unnecessary.

      • AL says:

        Trond: Thanks for pointing out. I always welcome comments and criticisms. English is my second language. I was trying to convey that “I do not work for the law firm (including its contractors and subcontractors) that Stokes and Morlok have hired”.

    • AL says:

      To Harsh: UOmatters link to the Portland Tribune article is an abridged version. Under #2, I did say “original article”.

  2. SaveUofO says:

    Still waiting for Schill to start cleaning house. Starting to look like more of the same song and dance. Please make me wrong.

    • AL says:

      What UO needs is a complete cultural change at the very top. We need leaders with excellent soft skills. UO has several past presidents, whose achievements are still held in high esteem today. Old timers know their names. Several had long tenure. Unfortunately a few managed to stay for a short time. They shared a unique trait. They all were selfless. They put the interest of the stakeholders of the university ahead of their own. They quietly executed keeping in mind what is written in the university mission statements.

      I want the best for the University of Oregon. Thank you for reading.

      • Dog says:

        At any given time, any institution needs a “complete cultural change at the very top” and this almost never happens because institutional inertia and legacy are very hard to overturn, especially quickly. Moreover, it is incumbent to actually define what “culture change” means and how us constituents would know that it is happening.

        For me “cultural change” is manifested in one simple way – that the Academic Mission of the university is CLEARLY the number one priority and that is reinforced at the top every day. So what is the academic mission – to produce responsible and relevant citizens of the world that make positive contributions. While that’s a glorious statement I suppose, I would settle for the UO producing graduates with good skills relevant to the real world that facilitates them having careers. Admittedly few Universities are accomplishing this these days precisely because of legacy issues and the inability to evolve legacy academic programs into ones more relevant to the actual real world. The UO is certainly in this heap of universities that live in a state of denial and maintain their belief that they are excellent and highly successful.

        So change at the top begins with redefining success in the context of the actual real world and acknowledging the real world does indeed evolve (both forwards and backwards). That’s difficult for any institution to do and leadership that tries to aggressively do that will likely fail and be highly resented among the legacy content faculty.

        • Chicken says:

          Dog for president … he/she/it of hot air has already acquired the necessary resentment factor

        • Bat Girl says:

          Every day when they go to work, Michael Schill and his Johnson Hall team would be well-served if they remember that the mission of the UO (regardless of what the mission statement says) is simple: good teaching and good research. And they should ask themselves: “How can we help the faculty achieve these goals?”

          • dukdukgoose says:

            They think that steroid infused …. [Editor: I’ve deleted the remainder of your comment, though I did find the combination of excessive generalization and ad hominem specificity rather novel.]

        • risky business says:

          If we think back on our student experiences, I think most of us would agree that there are several things that made it worthwhile and others that hinder. If we developed relationships that made us feel part of a community, we probably carried those with us into the “real world.” Also, if we had an opportunity to work on an extended project with a mentor, we probably developed skills that serve us well in our “real lives.” I’d also emphasize that starting out our “real lives” under a suffocating pile of debt would tend to take away from our overall happiness and feelings of “success.” And it seems obvious to me that a hostile environment doesn’t bode well for success. Some cultural change is cheap in terms of funding, other change not so much. But until we eschew the “super chicken model of leadership” so prevalent in higher ed, everyone loses. I recommend listening to Margaret Heffernan’s TED talks. She points out that when we think we can achieve success by picking superstars, the result is often aggression, dysfunction and waste. Sound familiar? You know who the super chickens are, the problem is what to do about them before they peck you to death.

  3. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    For the first time, I’ve thought that Schill has spoken with a tin ear. In expressing his contempt for Oregon’s tax structure and it’s use of property taxes to fund schools. In the first place, property taxes are not the major source of Oregon K-12 school funding (and not a source at all for the 4 year public colleges, in case he is confused on that point). Second, using property taxes for schools is not that unusual nationwide, plenty of states use them as a partial funding source.

    Third, and most important, he was hired to run UO, not spout off about Oregon tax policy. Expressing contempt for the way Oregonians do things is not going to win UO many favors with the state government. (Hopefully, UO has learned not to expect much by now). Previous UO presidents have unloaded on what they view as the stupidity of the state — Olum, Lariviere come to mind — and it didn’t do either them or UO any good.

    Schill is welcome to think private thoughts about what a dumb place Oregon is. Many of us do it frequently. Expressing those thoughts in public is not usually a good idea. It has not even worked for Phil Knight, it won’t work for Michael Schill. And remember, Mikey, this isn’t Princeton, or UCLA, or the University of Chicago.

    • AL says:

      he latest updated version of this Portland Tribune article no longer reports the original blunt remarks made by Mr Schill (regarding his displeasure with the amount UO receives from the state legislature). Some powerful person is pulling the strings behind the scene. This is worse than lack of transparency since this is an act to hide the truth.

      • uomatters says:

        I don’t know the specifics here, but it’s pretty common to see changes in an online story these days. The reporter writes and posts the story, with brief attention from an editor. Then Klinger or some other flack calls the news editor and complains that the story is unfair, says the reporter is out to make UO look bad, says UO won’t schedule interviews with that reporter, etc.

        Frohnmayer would sometimes take it a step farther and have his lawyer send the newspaper a letter threatening a defamation suit. Gottfredson did something similar at least once, though I don’t think he took it quite that far.

        Newspapers are surprisingly susceptible to this sort of pressure, and hesitant to report on these sorts of interactions and threats.

    • uomatters says:

      Thanks for your comment HUB, but next time please note the UO M policy against making fun of people’s names.

      Thanks, Bill Hardballs

  4. Dean Wormer says:

    World class university? How can one university be “world class” when they all are?

    I am so over meta-talk about UO I could throw up.