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President Schill on Johnson Hall’s “gang that can’t shoot straight”

Last updated on 04/13/2016

Diane Dietz’s report on Schill’s campus conversation is here.

Some extracts, carefully selected to support my spin:

“The fact is, we have not carefully watched our central budget over the years. We should have done that. Resources shrank and we weren’t watching. We have been digging a hole for many years, and if we don’t act now, the hole will get bigger and the decisions we have to make will be more painful.”

VPBP Brad Shelton and VPFA Jamie Moffitt have been in charge of UO’s central budget for years, along with Scott Coltrane off and on. They still are – but for how much longer?

“What university in one year is really turning over all its senior leadership? We’re going to be doing that. We’re going to get great deans into their positions and a vice president for research. We’ve already changed a lot of my office. Instead of the gang that can’t shoot straight, we’re going to be the gang that really can transform a university.”

These aren’t the only optimistic quotes in Dietz’s story. Read it all. Here’s one on athletics:

“Instead of demonizing athletics and saying, ‘you know, athletics are getting all of the resources,’ and being envious of athletics, we actually want to model ourselves on athletics in that a wonderful investment of resources and careful, strong execution can lead to excellence.

One UO M commenter has some followup questions on that:

What does he mean by we should model ourselves after pursing the efficiency of the athletics department model?

Does he mean that we need to get tentpole programs that attract nation attention and donations, and that we will use revenues from those programs (football) to subsidize everything else?

Or does he mean that we need to find slave labor, that churns in and out of the university and is quickly forgotten, that will work in essence for free while we pay high salaries to a few people who supervise the work of the slave labor?

Actually, the preferred nomenclature for the NCAA’s labor model is “unpaid student internships, but with brain damage” although there is no denying the racial element in a scheme that is run for the amusement of rich white boosters, nets millions for the overwhelmingly white coaches and athletic directors, gives the mostly white and privileged “student-athletes” in the safe non-revenue sports full-ride scholarships and free travel and coaching, while the mostly black football players take the hits. The general rule of big-time college sports is that “no black man shall make money off college football”

UO’s Official Organ has their spin on the meeting here. It’s by Greg Bolt, so it’s much more accurate than the usual Tobin Klinger PR flack piece.

Liveblog of Pres Schill’s 4/12/2016 campus  conversation on realignment. 

President Schill’s conversation will followed by a Senate organized Town Hall on realignment, currently scheduled for 3:30PM Wednesday April 27 in the new ginormous Straub Hall classroom.

(The livestreaming link is now down, I’ll post the archived video when it’s ready).

Here’s a little live-blogging. Usual disclaimer, nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

I got here a little late, Pres Schill was addressing the need to make budget realignment now, not later. Makes sense, we’ve seen what happened in CAS when Coltrane let things slide.

Talks about the importance of on-time graduation and new initiatives to increase this via better advising and retention grants. (Interestingly it turns out these are not UO ideas, they are mandates from the state, which has also provided all the publics with funding to implement them.)

Refreshingly honest about UO’s failure in fumbling the basketball rape allegations, and his resolve to set up procedures that will encourage students to report sexual assaults and build confidence that UO will handle them well.

Shout out to the UO Board: obviously I think they are good, they hired me.

Thinks we should stop demonizing athletics and being jealous, and instead use them as a model for how to use money to buy excellence. (Great  – when are faculty going to get the same bonuses the coaches get for graduation rates?)

Claims that UO has become more transparent. (Certainly he’s far more open than recent past presidents and interims, but the Public Records Office has, if anything, become a blacker black hole – more on this in a future post. The VPFA has become more transparent because of the need to report to the board, but the VPBP and the latest budget reform process is not very open.)


Classified employee: Specific complaint about income inequality in the athletics department and the many contingent staff there. How can you call this inequity a good model for UO?

Schill: Don’t know what the term equitable means (me neither). Athletics uses their budget well, tremendous focus, spirit, commitment to excellence.

Faculty: What specific programs to increase undergraduate engagement in research?

Schill: We have two new funded programs. Josh Snodgrass in CAS and another in VPRI.

NTTF faculty – Director of Composition: I appreciate your candor. We run a large award winning program serving thousands of students, with initiatives to help international students, etc. I support your efforts to increase the number of TTF. But where are we, the excellent NTTF, in your vision for UO?

Schill: In a healthy university many educational decisions are made by the Deans. I shouldn’t be making decisions about whether or not we should spend money on more econ profs or on the composition programs. This realignment process will empower the deans – with constraints regarding overall goals of more grad students and TTFs. Regarding the Q of where NTTF’s fit in, under previous presidents and provosts UO increased NTTF numbers without thinking about where they fit in. But we will never be in a situation where we do not value or use NTTFs. But the priority is to increase the numbers of TTFs. Shout-out to UAUO: We’ve established much more job security here than at other universities. (Boy has he learned a lot in the past 6 months!)

Student: Lots of recent conversation on race, but not much focus on how tuition increases effect graduation rates of minorities who are disproportionately affected?

Schill: Do you have an alternative? Student: Cut spending. Schill: We are cutting spending. You just heard an NTTF worrying about that. Student: Cut research, athletics. Schill: You’re being honest with me, I’ll be honest with you. The answer is not as simple as “just cut spending”. Look to the state legislature to increase their support. (Again, what a difference from when he arrived, and thought the boosters would provide money for academics.) We have the Pathway Oregon program for low income students, fully funds 10% of our students – 20% of our in-state students. The state just cut funding for this, UO is making up with internal funding and philanthropy. (Yeah Connie Ballmer!)

Psaki: We all agree with the lofty goals you have articulated. UO has run for a long time on a skeleton crew when it comes to teaching and research. Possible because of a shared commitment and solidarity – an excellent way of getting extra work from people. But we were struck by the way the CAS cuts were done. I know you don’t want to get into the weeds, but that’s were the devil is. The process was demoralizing – perhaps the most yucky experience I’ve gone through in 20 years here. This kind of instability hurt or ability to work for our common goals.

Schill: I am responsible for what happens at UO. You are not quite being fair to Dean Andrew Marcus and his process for managing the cuts. Marcus restructured the cuts in response to some of the concerns you raised. Any university that is not constantly rethinking how to reallocate resources so as to equate the marginal cost and marginal value product. I can’t tell you that we will not go through this again. I hope and pray that the legislature will provide more funds – we’ve requested $100M more for the next biennium. (I think it’s good to hear that Schill is expressing his willingness to work with the legislature, despite the UO Board’s efforts to hold it at arm’s length.)

Gina: I just sound sarcastic because I’m Greek. Schill: And I just sound whiny because I’m, well you know. Gina: An Attorney? (Both laugh.)

Gina: We need to fix Shelton’s Budget Model.

Schill: Yes. We are going to make the budget model about promoting academic excellence, not about rewarding Doug Blandy for online AAD 250 courses that pass out A’s like candy and suck students away from CAS Humanities. (OK, he didn’t really say that last bit, but plenty of people are thinking it.)

Meeting ends. My quick take is that Schill dealt very well with some serious questions, and that the faculty left the meeting with a sense that he’s quickly learning about UO’s problems and strengths and that there is broad support for him and his goals – and worry about how they wil be implemented.

From “Around the O”:

UO President Michael Schill is inviting the University of Oregon community to participate in a campus conversation focused on the university’s strategic objectives and priorities. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, at noon in the Ford Alumni Center Ballroom. (New time and location Tuesday at noon, Ford Alumni Ballroom).

Schill will talk about the priorities and strategies needed to help the UO secure its place among the pre-eminent public research universities in the United States. His presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

“I am very enthusiastic about the positive reaction I have received from faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends about the plans we have announced over the first nine months of my tenure as president,” Schill said. “But I understand that change can be challenging, so I want to provide our campus the opportunity to talk about the important work still ahead.”

Over the past several months, Schill has held question-and-answer sessions on multiple occasions with the University Senate and the faculties and staffs of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, Lundquist College of Business, College of Education, School of Journalism and Communication, School of Law, Clark Honors College and School of Music and Dance. He has done the same with College of Arts and Sciences department chairs in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

The university recently completed its strategic framework process, is in the midst of a budgeting allocation alignment effort, is hiring five academic leaders and is nearing the midpoint of its $2 billion fundraising goal. Schill said he will address those and other initiatives as part of his remarks.

“We have a historic opportunity to elevate this university in ways that serve students, the state and our nation, as well as benefit the greater good by educating future generations and producing knowledge,” Schill said. “We must change, adapt and align our operations and resources with our goals if we are to achieve our lofty aspiration and continue to meet our mission as a pre-eminent public research university.”

The Office of the President will send Schill’s invitation to everyone on campus at the start of spring term.


  1. Dog 04/11/2016

    Generally speaking – re-alignment means there was an alignment to begin with …. perhaps this was is just a re-focusing effort, much like the once upon a time Process For Change, which was supposed to create an Institutional re-alignment …

  2. Inquiring Mind 04/12/2016

    Is it going to be a “conversation?” interested to see. Were people able to submit questions (anonymous?) ahead of time?

  3. awesome0 04/12/2016

    What does he mean by we should model ourselves after pursing the efficiency of the athletics department model?

    Does he mean that we need to get tentpole programs that attract nation attention and donations, and that we will use revenues from those programs (football) to subsidize everything else?

    Or does he mean that we need to find slave labor, that churns in and out of the university and is quickly forgotten, that will work in essence for free while we pay high salaries to a few people who supervise the work of the slave labor?

    • uomatters Post author | 04/12/2016

      Comment of the month. Contact the UO Matters swag office for your U of Nike coffee cup.

    • solidcitizen 04/13/2016

      I was the presentation, so I can flesh out what Schill meant. After saying that we should not be envious of athletics, but seek to emulate them, he followed up.

      He said that athletics has tremendous spirit and heart. The athletes he has met (something about basketball) are excellent students. They have a commitment to excellence. This is what academics needs. He briefly discussed Eugene, mentioning the mountains and fishing, saying Eugene is a great place. He reiterated that academics needs a commitment to excellence.

      Unlike our dear correspondent, I did not take Schill’s remarks as a positive statement at all. Running throughout his remarks was the idea that the UO is not excellent because the faculty are not excellent. The faculty are not excellent, apparently, because the faculty do not have a commitment to excellence. Or maybe spirit and heart. And maybe we do too much fishing.

      This is not, of course, the first time Schill has implied that the UO faculty are too lazy to be excellent. I know this crowd has a heightened appreciation of the “deadwood” problem, but I wonder how extensive our new President thinks this problem is it can move us out of the category of “excellence,” and how it is not a problem at UCLA, Michigan, and Virginia. I rather get the sense that Schill thinks all the faculty are a bit lazy and what we need is some heart and spirit and commitment to excellence.

      • awesome0 04/13/2016

        I think the key here is how much the university and deans are willing to pay.

        Great faculty here at UO from my department have left in the last several decades (and I almost left) because outside offers are better, and while the UO counteroffers, they don’t match.

        In my field, faculty who have left UO are now senior professors at many the universities he’s saying we should aspire to emulate. You want to emulate those universities… their salaries and the talent will follow.

        So now,to admins that want excellence, put your money where your mouth is.

        • Anonymous 04/13/2016

          believe it or not I too have received outside offers (the lastest
          two weeks ago) – i have never gone through the UO counter off crap because I would be embarrassed by it.

          In my case, I am not interested in increasing my salary that way, but I am interest in the far better facilities and infrastructure I would get from these other places.

          If I had known what I now know, 10 years ago, I would have left at that time to experience these better facilities. Indeed, I believe this is the main reason that Andy Berguland left, Florida offered him facilities that would never happen here.

          So, this is not just about salary for many of us.

        • Alec H. Boyd 04/13/2016

          A serious question from an alumni:

          Now that UO faculty has unionized, it is possible for the Admin. to reward those deemed worthy without across the board raises? When funds are scarce, it would seem that targeting might be wise.

          I ask because I was shocked to learn that UO faculty unionized. While I strongly support unions for occupations where workers are essentially fungible and without bargaining power, I have always viewed Professors as, well, professionals who should individually rise or fall on their merits. While I know lesser schools like community colleges and Cal. State schools have unionized faculty, I didn’t view UO in that lesser category.

          Does the union adversely impact the ability of the UO to attract and keep talent by offering disparate pay?

          • Dog 04/13/2016

            brief answer

            A) To date most of the raises have been ATB and the amount for merit is insufficient to reward those deemed worthy (assuming we have a reliable process for such judgement).

            B) The equity issue on campus (internal and external) has not been properly dealt with (yet) via the union channel.

            C) The union is not a driver of disparate pay willingly – although their 8% PTR raise has actually produced some disparaty (which again should even out over 6 years). If I had delayed my PTR for one year I would have gotten 8% instead of what turned out to be 3.1%

            D) There are bigger issues at the UO which affect faculty retention than the union (much documented in the annals of UO matters)

            E) However, if I thought I was a promising young faculty candidate (I personally never was) – I would not want to go to a University with a unionized faculty because of my perception that merit based on research would not be properly considered by that University.

            • uomatters Post author | 04/13/2016

              My department has effectively used the existence of the union and its merit and ATB raise packages to recruit some excellent new faculty. We’ve also lost some excellent faculty to other universities, because the UO administration has refused to give them retention raises that recognize their merit.

          • uomatters Post author | 04/13/2016

            I am a full professor at UO. I initially opposed unionization of UO’s tenure track faculty, and ran for Union Treasurer so that I could keep an eye on things. I’ve been the treasurer since.

            I can report that, from the beginning, it has been the *union* that has been the driving force for merit based pay at UO. We’ve now negotiated 2 contracts, with 2 different university administrations. During both negotiations the union repeatedly pressed for more money for merit, after minimal (i.e. less than COLA) across the board raises.

            The UO administration repeatedly rejected the union’s proposals for merit raises. In the end the union was able to negotiate contracts with substantial merit components – including merit for post-tenure reviews.

            Some UO administrators then told particular meritorious faculty that they could not receive merit raises beyond what the union contract provided. The union replied with a public letter making clear that this was absolutely false: the union CBA does not in any way restrict the administration from making additional raises for merit, retention, etc.

          • solidcitizen 04/13/2016

            I admit I am totally biased in favor of the union…

            More than 50% of the raise packages bargained by the union have been for merit raises. There is no bar on the administration offering retention raises. There is also no bar on the administration giving raises above and beyond those bargained by the union.

            Professors unionized, in part, because they were not rising and falling on their merits, but because it seemed like the state was always amidst a “wage freeze” that only impacted non-unionized workers or raises were only given to those who could go out and actually get hired somewhere else for more money. I think it’s also possibly to say that the notion that the academy is a meritocracy is overblown.

          • Dog 04/13/2016

            at UOmatters

            I am not faulting the INTENT of the Union, but like atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the only thing that matters is throughput – not intent.

            For whatever reason, IMHO, merit raise has been insufficient for quite some time to be use strategically and the Union has not significantly impacted that tendency

          • lol 04/13/2016

            You got it backwards, UO is getting the leftover students from the Cal State schools. Counting on it in fact. Individual unionized employees (faculty and otherwise) do rise and fall on their merits, so not really sure what you mean about that. Another example is the Sacred Heart doctors who recently unionized, as a group workers of all socioeconomic classes tend to get stepped on without one. At UO funds aren’t particularly scarce, the recent layoffs were about reallocating NTTF money to fund new TTF hires, not filling any shortfall. I never heard of unions complaining when their companies want to shower money on a particularly great employee, ATB raises don’t exclude Merit raises.

          • awesome0 04/13/2016

            My take.

            Most of the raises have been merit raises.

            Total raises to date with union (including those scheduled)

            1.5+1.5+1.5+.75+.75(last two schedule)=8.0 ATB raises

            0+2.0+3.5+0+2.25+2.25=8.0 Merit raises

            1.5 in equity adjustment

            Tied promotion raises to percentages instead of fixed dollar amounts.

            So raises have been split on ATB and merit.

            I would say one with with merit is that outside universities/departments almost solely care about publications/grants. Whereas internally departments (at least ours) recognizes merit in service/teaching/etc. Because usually young professors just publish, and more experienced professors might start to focus on service, the merit pools often even out a bit. So the people publishing the best/most recently always will be getting outside offers of higher amounts even with merit raises.

            I think the faculty union has done ok so far, but hasn’t done much (and probably won’t do much) to address equity issues on campus where some departments are far behind peers. This is in part because the admin doesn’t want to go there because it will cost a lot, and they know are peers might change a lot depends on the universities future AAU status.

            As far as I know the union has voiced no obligation to retention raises, or to extra generous promotion raises, or to unrelated raises to specific individuals or departments. I believe they need to be notified, but they have been very supportive of increasing salaries.

            Should be unionized, I’m not sure. But we are, and the leadership seems sensitive to the importance of merit pay.

      • Old Grey Mare 04/13/2016

        Wait a second; weren’t mountains and fishing part of the famous “second paycheck”?

        • Anonymous UO Alum 04/13/2016

          Over 20 years ago the second paycheck included the PERS Tier-1 retirement program, the great Orygun living and recreational environment, and Eugene’s low-cost of living. Especially the low-cost housing before 1978. Those three factors helped make up for the relatively low UO starting pay years ago…

  4. Inquiring Mind 04/13/2016

    Also clarification regarding pathways Oregon — I wasn’t there so not sure exactly what was said, but it is important to note that Pathways Oregon is an “excellent” initiative. However, it does not fully fund students. After federal Pell grants and similar federal funding and Oregon Opportunity state funding is applied, the UO picks up the rest of tuition and fees. Students are still responsible for housing, books, and living expenses. That’s easily $15,000/year if staying in the dorms.

  5. Audit 04/13/2016

    Too bad Jamie Moffitt chased off our independent auditor. I wonder what sorts of expense savings and other VPFA problems she identified before she left.

    • Dysfunction 04/14/2016

      Not just the Auditor – the entire office left. Not a good sign when the Chief Auditor, staff, and executive assistant all leave. They are now starting over from scratch again. More of the same. Even if they get it out back together JH will still ignore them and put up the normal roadblocks and political garbage to make the office ineffective.

  6. Dog 04/14/2016

    There is a UO faculty profile in all of this that is being ignore. I am not part of this profile but in brief the profile is this:

    1. You were hired as an assistant prof in the 1980s at a time where all the “second” paycheck reasons were in abundance so you were given a rather low starting salary.

    2. As a consequence of number 1 – you have NEVER gained ground.

    3. In addition, you want through tenure and promotion raises that were at fixed dollars (and small, like $1800) before CAS converted raises to percentages in either 2004, of 2005.

    Faculty in my department with that profile (they have not all retired yet) are a good 30-50K below the average full prof salary. This is an EQUITY issue!

    • Hippo 04/14/2016

      Dog, stop barking. Yeah, for use younger (relatively speaking) folks, we came here when home prices were not cheap and got saddled with crappy Tier III benefits. So our salaries may be somewhat higher, but compensation is comparable, if not less, and fixed costs are higher. So stop whining. If you want to talk about salaries, then take a look at the travesty that is Tier I (or even Tier II) vs Tier III benefits. You’re doing just fine.

      • Anon 04/14/2016

        I think the comment of the Dog is not a whine – the dog said explicitly they were not part of this profile. Indeed, what the dog
        says is also true in my department for some full profs hired
        at that time.

      • honest Uncle Bernie 04/15/2016

        Hippo, it sounds like you have a whining problem too. I have argued endlessly here that the Tier 1 benefits are a great deal that largely compensate for low salaries. You younger faculty have pretty darned good salaries with your not so bad Tier 3 pension. So stop tour whining already!

        • Hippo 04/15/2016

          “Tier 3 pension”???? This is largely my point. I have no pension, unlike my baby boomer Tier I colleagues. I do have a defined contribution plan. Night and day, my friend.

          • honest Uncle Bernie 04/16/2016

            Actually, Tier 3 is a hybrid defined contribution/defined benefit (pension) plan, unless you deliberately opted out of Oregon PERS (as I did, as a Tier 1 ). And yes, Tier 3 is still a pretty valuable plan, it adds about 12% to your compensation. Most of the people who pay our salaries will never have such a plan. You younger people have a lesser pension plan but much more competitive salaries than the boomers. So yes, you should stop whining, along with the rest of us.

  7. honest Uncle Bernie 04/14/2016

    I think Schill has quite a lot of nerve talking about all the money UO has been wasting until he came along. I’m sure that UO could probably do quite a lot with the money wasted at the University of Chicago and UCLA (even if those are reasonably well-run places; I’m not judging, though from where I sit, both seem to have been drifting for decades).

    So far, Schill seems to be mostly talk without much to show for it. He certainly hasn’t brought in the big bucks, as far as I know. What is he doing to earn his big salary? Well, he’s not gotten himself fired yet. He also has some good ideas about making UO a better place. But dumping on the people who maintained the place during decades of declining support is not helping. There is an arrogance there that is off-putting. He kind of reminds me of a certain type of faculty member who gets satisfaction out of complaining about how mediocre our students are.

    Mike, where is the $500 million or $1 billion gift? Where are the $100 million gifts? I hear that Uncle Phil is reluctant to part with the big bucks partly because UO lacks “vision,” unlike certain places to the north (in Portland, not Seattle) and Palo Alto. Who is responsible for making the “vision thing” happen? If not the Pres, then who?

    Please pass the steak, along with the sizzle.

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