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UO Law Prof not impressed by UO’s expensive lawyers

Diane Dietz has the latest in the RG:


On Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016, the University of Oregon improperly released a flawed investigative report into events surrounding a Halloween party that I hosted in my home. This release violated rights of employees to confidentiality guaranteed by law. In addition, the report contains numerous mistakes, errors and omissions that if corrected would have put matters in a different light. For example, it ignored the anonymous grading process, the presence of many non-students as guests, and the deceptive emails that created a firestorm in the law school.

I, and my legal advisers, were preparing a response to the draft report. Although the University was aware of our intention to submit our corrections by noon (local time) yesterday and to deal with its errors in-house, the Provost’s office or its advisers cynically decided to try to publicly shame me instead.

As the UO’s press release itself notes, the University is prohibited by law from disclosing personnel matters. But the press release and uncorrected Report act as a supremely public retaliation against me for seeking, even if clumsily, to raise issues of insufficient diversity in American professions. My attorney and I are evaluating our legal options.


(Note to reporters and editors: Pending the submittal of our comments to the UO, out of respect for all involved we will not comment any further on this ongoing process.)


  1. dog 12/22/2016

    Cool, the UO might now be historically recorded as the veritable birth of the academic shit storm, as that is
    certainly what this episode will turn out to be. There is no right side to be on here, anymore, everyone has
    gone way too far and in fact, have passed the point of
    no return …

    keep on posting this stuff UOM

    • uomatters Post author | 12/22/2016

      Thanks Dog, will do.

  2. honest Uncle Bernie 12/23/2016

    The mother of all UO lawsuits coming. At least this will serve as distraction from the various athletics mishaps.

    I won’t be surprised if in the end, they have to buy out all three — Shurtz, Schill, and Coltrane.

    UO reputation going to be in ruins on academic freedom, free speech, upholding Constitution.

    I’m no lawyer but I wouldn’t want any of these assorted legal geniuses on my team if I got in a jam.

    Surely our esteemed law school can do better PR ops than this!

    • Dog 12/23/2016

      yes it will make the Jean Stockard and Joe Wade cases of the past pale in comparison.

  3. Eugenenative 12/23/2016

    What a shitshow.

  4. UOGrad 12/23/2016

    So, where’s the faculty union on this?

    • Publius 12/23/2016

      The law faculty opted out of the union, so Nancy is not formally protected by it. Too bad, because the union has been the major support in other recent cases of administrative attacks on faculty.

  5. "I know nothing" 12/23/2016

    Recall that according the report, Prof. Shurtz claimed to have never heard of blackface and to have never appreciated that it was racist.

    Is there a single person on this site that finds that incredible claim of ignorance credible? Even a little bit?

    I grew up in one of the whitest areas in the country and I knew about blackface no latter than middle school. This professor grew up in the civil rights era and is a 35-yr veteran teacher and she had no idea about blackface? Bullshit.

    I was slowly becoming more sympathetic to the professor’s situation until I read she was claiming the Sergeant Shultz defense.

    • Inquiring Minds 12/23/2016

      “know nothing”: the Register Guard article today states that the UO attorney report was widely published before Shurtz’ corrections were considered. She reportedly notified administration of “multiple errors and corrections” So this issue of never hearing of blackface may be one of them — she possibly was mis-quoted.

      • Anonymous 12/23/2016

        We do not know what corrections she would make. If that is one of the corrections it means she was aware of blackface and its meaning and went ahead anyway.

        • uomatters Post author | 12/23/2016

          Please adopt a nom de plume.

  6. Don't be fooled! Social justice causes depend on free speech. 12/23/2016

    “The UO needs to examine the insularity that breeds racial insensitivity, and it needs to find constructive ways to respond to racial incidents when they occur. Both needs can be pursued without diluting academic freedom or limiting free speech. They can be, and they must be — the path to understanding, in matters pertaining to race and anything else, will be found only if those values are vigorously defended.”

  7. Roger 12/23/2016

    “But the press release and uncorrected Report act as a supremely public retaliation against me for seeking, even if clumsily, to raise issues of insufficient diversity in American professions.”

    I understand her being upset about the admin releasing the report before she had a chance to respond to it, but she completely lost me at this line. It’s pure, unadulterated delusion to think the UO was “retaliating” against her for raising an issue about diversity. First, that’s not even close to “retaliation” in the employment law sense; second, the fact that she’s ascribing “retaliation” to the UO’s actions rather than to her own stupidity in wearing blackface shows that she’s not willing to take full responsibility for her actions.

  8. thedude 12/23/2016

    Maybe Schill just secretely subscribes to the any press is good press vibe ala Trump. This is probably cheaper than most marketing campaigns relatively to our national coverage….

  9. feichangdao 12/23/2016

    I’m not a big fan of Schill or the administration, but it’s interesting how so many people here are bewailing the way Schill is going to ruin this university’s reputation by releasing this report. You’d think people who care about such things would have considered them before putting on minstrel garb at a party with faculty and students present, especially at a time when Oregon’s racist past is increasingly prominent in the news. Then again, given the stance of commenters here on Deady Hall, I expect many will soon be calling for the new campus to be named after her.

    The simple fact is that there was no right answer because what she did was indefensible. Either the university does nothing and enrages the students with an obviously nonsense “academic freedom” argument that relies on her laughable “I was just trying to start a discussion/had no idea what blackface is in 2016” defense, or Schill publicly denounces her and gets roasted by professors for not protecting her, which really isn’t his job in the first place. Perhaps if the Law School hadn’t opted out of the union, she would have had an organized force to protect her and prevent the reports release. Then again, perhaps if she had spend literally 10 seconds thinking about her supposedly thought provoking piece of performance art, none of this would have happened in the first place.

  10. former employee too 12/23/2016

    UOMatters readers: If you have not already done so, do yourself and the whole UO community a favor and listen to the Daily Emerald podcast interview with Professor Emeritus Edwin Coleman. You can find it by digging a bit deeper into the UOMatters site.

    While not wishing to commit some epistemic fallacy here, I suggest to the UOMatters readership that it is quite likely that Dr. Coleman knows a good deal more about living in Eugene and working at UO as a black man than anyone else around, and in the podcast he certainly schooled others about the complex history and variant meanings of “blackface” and its performance.

    Of course, Dr. Coleman’s experience is his own and he does not speak for everyone. The corollary is that the UO administrative leadership cannot presume to speak on behalf of the entire UO community here and presume to dictate the precise nature, degree, and impact of offense from Prof. Shurtz’s actions.

    To wit, during the podcast Dr. Coleman talks about his own exposure to blackface minstrelsy while growing up in Arkansas. As a young child, his father took him to see a traveling show. The troupe consisted of black performers, and it was at that show (meeting one such performer backstage) that Dr. Coleman says he began to develop his love of the violin.

    Dr. Coleman is also a renown expert in theatre and has a keen appreciation of nuance in the realm of American theatre, culture, and history.

    A better version of UO as a university, one more committed to the humanities, liberal arts, and education, would have done a far better job handling this incident and would have taken time to engage with real experts of relevance, not some hired-gun law firm which, like the current UO administration, is in over its head.

    • PBF 12/24/2016

      You mean the podcast were Dr. Coleman justified Shurtz’s actions by dipping into respectability politicking? Or the part where he failed to explain that often times Black performers did minstrel shows because there were limited opportunities to preform otherwise? Or better yet, the part where he had more anger to the person who reported Shurtz’s blackface than the actual blackface? A person would be better served reading the Wikipeida page on blackface than listening to that interview.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 12/24/2016

      former — good to direct people to Ed Coleman’s take on blackface. I am hardly an authority on the phenomenon, but at the risk of getting myself undone by the local thought police, I have to say that the fact that blacks like Louis Armstrong apparently performed willingly in blackface, and the fact that whites who wanted to bring black culture to an otherwise unwilling white society also employed blackface, tell me that whatever the meanings and significance of blackface and minstrelsy, it was a more complex phenomenon than the caricature employed in the charged exchanges that pass for discourse today.

      By all means check out Ed Coleman.

      • PBF 12/24/2016

        honest Uncle Bernie

        Again, a person would be better served doing their own research on the issue of blackface than listening to that podcast. When I was listening, I kept wondering if the thing was edited to focus primarily on Dr. Coleman’s take on blackface than an actual discussion about the situation from two opposing sides. Even his take on it was an extreme over simplification. Armstrong may have used blackface in his act on occasion, but he caught a lot of crap for it from his contemporaries.

  11. UOGrad 12/23/2016

    Josh Blackman is neither.

  12. chuck desler 12/24/2016

    what else are these morons at Oregon going to do?

    They build some Taj Mahal with moat for stupid athletes that is anathema to collegiate design, which they name after some shyster attorney, Jaqua, which should instead be a jail for all the criminal athletes Eugene now seems to embrace thanks to NIKE.

    And now, some Law School attorney is charged with dressing up in the “wrong” attire for Halloween for some nefarious crime.

    I have one word to describe the current state of the University of Oregon Administration, Governance, Alumni Association and Athletic Department, “ASSHOLES”…

    fuck them all

    Chuck Desler

    Charles Desler Architect California
    BA Oregon 1968
    BArch/MArch Tulane University 1975
    Corp of Engineers School, 2LT 1969

    • uomatters Post author | 12/24/2016

      And a merry Xmas to all!

    • PBF 12/24/2016

      I genuinely respect the fact that you put your name and contact information on your response.

    • Focused anger cuts 12/25/2016

      May I suggest some focus to your anger, Chuck? This comes off quite a bit like Bluto’s zit.

  13. Charles Fort 06/05/2018

    Those things must have passed.

    Follow up, anyone?


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