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Provost Scott Coltrane to retire 7/1/2017, Geri Richmond to lead search

Coltrane recently gave business school dean Kees de Kluyver a remarkably generous golden parachute – 1/2 a Gottfredson, more or less. Will that now be the precedent for Coltrane? Presumably he’ll get a well earned sabbatical year – but at his professor’s salary, or his provost’s salary? The difference is enough to fund a lot of merit scholarships:

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Retirement announcement:

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Over the last few years, as the University of Oregon weathered some tumultuous times, Scott Coltrane has stepped up time and time again to provide clear vision, strategic leadership, and a welcome sense of calm. He has worn nearly every academic leadership hat there is at the UO—dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, interim provost, provost, and interim president. The university community owes Scott a tremendous debt of gratitude for all that he has achieved since arriving on campus in 2008.

Scott recently told me that he plans to retire as provost on July 1, 2017. As a friend, I am sincerely excited for Scott and his family as he enters a new phase of life. As president of the UO, I will very much miss Scott’s wise counsel, his deep appreciation for and understanding of our faculty and all elements of our university, and his grace under pressure. He is the epitome of what a great provost and academic leader should be in today’s higher education landscape.

Scott helped lay a strong academic foundation here at the UO, which will benefit this university for many years to come. Most recently, he led the effort to hire three world-class deans and our new vice president for research and innovation. Over the next year, Scott will play a vital role in helping these new leaders find their footing here and ensure their smooth transition. In addition, Scott has been pivotal in helping us attract and retain a talented corps of academic and research faculty members, including those connected to the funded Clusters of Excellence. It is impossible to overstate the positive impact of these hires on the future of the UO.

In addition, Scott oversaw the completion of our strategic framework, championed diversity and inclusion on campus, launched the public phase of our current campaign, served as a tireless and successful fundraiser, helped the university enhance its Title IX policies, and improved the UO’s focus on issues related to student success. As dean of CAS, he successfully guided the college through a time of tremendous growth, established several new majors, created new quality metrics, and reorganized the dean’s office. He accomplished all of this while maintaining his academic and research standing as a sociologist.

Perhaps the most important thing Scott has done for our university is the thing he was not hired to do. Not long after Scott was permanently hired as provost—a job his entire career prepared him for—President Gottfredsen’s term in office came to a premature end. Scott stepped in without a moment’s hesitation. His leadership, intelligence, and decency calmed our university and made it possible for me to get a good start this past July. All of us can be truly grateful to Scott for his service and his love of this institution.

Please join me in wishing Scott the very best in retirement. As is tradition in academia, Scott will not be heading off into the sunset immediately. We will have plenty of time during the coming year to properly celebrate his accomplishments and contributions to the UO.

In the meantime, we will launch a national search for a new provost and start the necessary planning to ensure a smooth transition. I am delighted that Geri Richmond, Presidential Chair in Science and professor of chemistry, has agreed to serve as chair of the search committee. We will share additional information about our plans in the weeks and months to come.

Sincerely, Michael H. Schill, 

President and Professor of Law


  1. Kitten 06/09/2016

    Isn’t this just a straight-up regular retirement? Why would there be a sabbatical or a severance package? Coltrane is mid-60s and he’s ready for to quit working and start living off his retirement plan, no?

      • Duckologist 06/09/2016

        Yes. I love that kind of 90s-00s sociology! Kind of like reading a conceptually reflective etiquette/advice column that’s data-driven! And written for young adults. Its social reform agenda was more grandfatherly/grandmotherly than what we get today. More: We know you all want to grow up to be good progressive people–and we can help you–and less: Your bodies are and always will belong essentially to groups marked by privileges and grievances that will never be resolved, so suffer it until the transhuman comes to deliver you. Wonder how he would write in this context…

      • anonymous 06/10/2016

        He should write up that field experiment on parental leave that he made the GTFF the control group for.

        • uomatters Post author | 06/10/2016

          Comment of the biennium. Contact our AVP for Swag.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 06/10/2016

      kitten, maybe he just wants to retire as provost and return to being a regular professir.

  2. unknown 06/09/2016

    Don’t you have to come back for a year after your sabbatical year?

  3. honest Uncle Bernie 06/10/2016

    If he’s not doing a taxing administrative job, I don’t see why he should be getting an administrative salary. Same goes for The Hat, Dave F, everyone else.

    In any case, he would make himself a hero by going back to a professorial salary during his sabbatical and beyond.

  4. Anon 06/10/2016

    right, HUB, Coltrane is a hero – that is certainly my first impression of him …

    • honest Uncle Bernie 06/10/2016

      Please note my use of “would be.”

      Hero or not, I don’t denigrate his work here, by and large. He helped hold it together while a lot of others were helping it to fall apart.

      • uomatters Post author | 06/10/2016

        I agree, despite the fact that he tried to fire me over the Presidential Archives. Harder to forgive him for manipulating Adrienne Lim into using the archives as a pretext for firing two librarians.

        • just different 06/10/2016

          And then there’s the part about the GTF negotiations and the resulting strike.

      • Dog 06/10/2016

        I actually don’t believe we have any objective criteria for
        “holding it together” vs “falling apart”. I would say our TTF to student ratio indicates “falling apart” as does our trajectory as a research university. However, I believe this is perceived as “holding it together”.

        Now, if any higher ed institution requires being held together, then that is a symptom of deep foundational issues. Such institutions need to constantly evolve forward in their academic programs and student credit hour portfolios in response to changing real world conditions (rather than remaining insular to those conditions and cite that as evidence for “holding it together”).

        Personally I don’t know what a “would be hero” is – remember, dogs don’t translate highfalutin academic language very well nor do we, as a breed, know shit about nuance.

        In any event, would be or not, I have never observed Coltrane in any capacity taking initiative on academic matters. He is a caretaker and now praised for “holding it together” and perhaps that is the coin of the realm at the UO.

      • Anonymous 06/12/2016

        Coltrane may not have set fire to Rome, but he sure as hell watched impotently as it crackled. He was someone who did all it took…to keep his pretty compensation package and even upgrade it a couple of times. Such courage.

  5. Captain Nemo 06/10/2016

    It is hard for me to see much good that SC has done. I suppose ‘do no harm’ might bring redemption in some quarters, but his judgement in administrative appointments has been very weak…not that he is alone in this failure. He had opportunities to do some good, and frankly did not achieve anything notable.

  6. Anonymous 06/11/2016

    This is yet another sign that President Schill is taking care of business.

    Whatever the cover story that they trot out to explain people like SC moving on…it matters little…as long as the remaining vestiges of the “leadership” team that watching (and helped) UO sink into the muck are removed, President Schill is moving this place in the right direction.

  7. honest Uncle Bernie 06/12/2016

    Speaking of what the Provost has accomplished, here is one item that comes to mind the past few days —

    Is it just my incompetence, or is it really the case that UO has a miserable system for uploading grades to Duckweb?

    And is it just my incompetence, or is it really the case that there is miserable interactivity between Duckweb and Canvas?

    • XDH 06/16/2016

      Sorry HUB, but it is pretty easy to do. Export the data from Canvas as a cvs file and then upload to Duckweb. It took me all of 90 seconds to “enter” 200+ grades.

  8. Duckologist 06/13/2016

    OK,if we’re going there, what about the library search page?

  9. Plain Interested 06/13/2016

    This is great really news. Instead of running the hopeless deer in the headlights down like I’m temped to do, let’s just let him wonder off in the woods on his own and let the UO excel.

  10. Good Riddance 06/16/2016

    The Provost needs to be someone who will not be bullied into bad decisions by others in JH.

    • Dog 06/16/2016

      This is exactly the kind of flippant throw away statement that appears too often in these blog comments.

      1. Who in JH is the bully?

      2. Who do you actually think is making “decisions” at the UO – once upon a time, a recent provost made a very bad decision, all by themselves, to turn the UO into a community college but increasing undergrad enrollment by 50% while hiring no new faculty. In that case, the provost WAS the bully.

      3. I think most “decisions” are made using the following criteria:

      a) what is the lowest risk and most conservative decision among the choices

      b) what choice does NOT commit us to long term sustained funding

      c) what choice can generate good PR for the UO’s image – that is – our decision are guided by style over substance

      • Anonymous 06/17/2016

        Not sure what your point is, Dog.

        JH bullies have come in many forms. Kimberly Espy’s self promoting and ham fisted creation of an institute shaped by her personal aspirations, Bean’s vacuous but far reaching blunders and “big ideas”, a subsequent VP for Research who never held a major grant and whose myopic view of the numbers did nothing to support research.

        They are human and bad ideas will surface. The real problem is that there had been nobody to call out the bad ideas. Nobody to raise a ruckus when idiotic plans were seen to be what they were. That requires more than the kind of glad handing wagon circling behaviors that we got from Coltrane and others.

        President Schill is turning the page. And that is sweet.

        • Dog 06/17/2016

          Actually there are some memos floating around where Coltrane did raise a mini-ruckus – particularly about some decisions that Bean had made – but by in large he was asleep at the wheel.

          And while Schill to date has a reasonable positive trajectory – it remains to be seen what substantiation changes will actually occur as a result of “re-alignment” and whether such re-alignment will result in new academic programs.

          I am not sure where the cluster hires fit into your list of “bad ideas” but Schill has clearly bought into this and those selected clusters were, to me, clearly the result of a decision between the Provost and the VPRI.

          • Kitty 06/23/2016

            I think Anonymous has it exactly right–but I agree with Dog on Schill & the cluster hires and other things, where it’s not clear if he’s drunk the koolaid already or just hasn’t got the bandwidth to pay close attn. the much ballyhooed but still unknown “revised budget model” will prove the real test.

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