Press "Enter" to skip to content

Dysfunctional HECC now wants UO & PSU to beg for tuition increases

Update: OPB’s Rob Manning reports on the latest from the HECC, here:

… HECC commissioners were critical of the large universities, suggesting they had not done enough outreach to affected groups, like students.

One commissioner also suggested that by rejecting tuition hikes it would send a message to state lawmakers that more funding is needed for public universities.

… In a statement released Thursday night after the meeting, HECC executive director Ben Cannon signaled an expectation the big public universities would come back to the commission to make their arguments again.

Meanwhile, InsideHigherEd reports that UO’s old friend, former OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner, will soon be available to help out the HECC:

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association has hired Robert E. Anderson to be its new president, beginning in August. He will replace George Pernsteiner, who has led the group for four years.

5/12/2017: Pres Schill responds to HECC’s denial of tuition increase

Dear University of Oregon community members,

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s decision yesterday to reject the University of Oregon’s tuition plan is disappointing and creates uncertainty on our campus. If it stands, we will be forced to make even deeper cuts at the UO than are already anticipated, including cuts that will likely affect student support services, academic programs, and jobs. While we would like the HECC to reconsider its vote, we are already evaluating additional budget reduction steps that can be taken if this decision holds and the state does not provide additional support for public higher education.
No one wants to increase tuition, but the university is left with little choice given that tuition is the UO’s main source of revenue after decades of declining state support. Prior to the HECC’s vote, the UO’s tuition plan would have required more than $8 million in budget reductions next year, which would come on top of more than $6 million in cuts made in the previous fiscal year. I have steadfastly expressed my view that we will try to shield the academic part of our university from the impact of this year’s budget cuts, but if we are forced to limit our tuition increase to less than 5 percent, then that aspiration will likely be impossible.

In the face of cost-drivers that institutions do not control—including retirement and health benefit costs—Oregon’s public universities have been clear that significant additional state support for higher education is necessary to keep tuition increases low and to maintain critical student support services. State legislators still have the opportunity this session to approve a higher-education budget that prioritizes Oregon students and their families and makes the proposed tuition increase at the UO and other institutions unnecessary.

The state of Oregon deserves a world-class research institution like the UO. The HECC’s decision to overturn a tuition plan that was reached through months of inclusive campus engagement and careful deliberation by our institutional Board of Trustees, however, threatens our ability to deliver on that promise for all Oregonians. We will continue to work with students, faculty, staff, and alumni to make the case in Salem that cutting higher-education funding and usurping campus independence will lead to untenable outcomes for the UO and all of higher education in Oregon.
As we have said repeatedly, the UO stands ready and willing to provide HECC commissioners with the information they need to reconsider their decision about tuition on our campus. This situation is very fluid and time is of the essence, given that the fiscal year starts on July 1, but you have my commitment that we will communicate with the campus community as we hear more. I appreciate your patience and understanding.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

5/11/2017: HECC turns down UO’s 10% tuition increase

That’s the bad news from the HECC meeting today. The tuition increase for in-state student tuition will be capped at 4.99%.

The vote on UO was 4-4, and a majority was needed. Will Campbell has a “to be updated” report in the Emerald here.

The docket is here, the official HECC statement is here:

PRESS RELEASE: HECC Takes Action on Public University Tuition Proposals, Approving Increases at OIT, SOU, WOU 

MAY 11, 2017
Contact: Endi Hartigan, Communications Director, Higher Education Coordinating Commission, [email protected], 971-701-4032 cell

Salem, Oregon  — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) voted today at a public meeting in Salem to approve three out of five requests for resident undergraduate in-state tuition increases at Oregon public universities. The Boards of Trustees for Oregon’s seven public universities generally set tuition for their students, but under Oregon law* passed in 2013, HECC is required to determine for the State of Oregon whether any public university proposal for undergraduate in-state tuition and fee increases greater than five percent is appropriate.

Facing significant budget shortfalls in 2017-18, five of Oregon’s seven public universities** proposed 2017-18 tuition and mandatory fee increases above the five percent statutory threshold. These proposals were based on anticipated state funding levels, as described in the Governor’s Recommended Budget for higher education. The Commission’s action today approved proposed tuition increases at Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), Southern Oregon University (SOU), and Western Oregon University (WOU). The proposals for Portland State University (PSU) and University of Oregon (UO) were not approved, in part related to concerns about student involvement in the tuition-setting process. Both PSU and UO fell one vote short of the five Commissioner votes required for passage. The vote followed nearly four hours of public testimony from students and other stakeholders over the last two days of Commission meetings, as well as vigorous discussion among the Commissioners.

Institution ApprovedTuition Increase**
OIT 7.42%
OIT-Wilsonville 8.08%
SOU 11.43%
WOU* 7.45%
Institution Not Approved
PSU 8.37%
UO 11.48%
*=Weighted Average Increase
**Resident undergraduate tuition and mandatory enrollment fee

Cognizant of the precedent-setting nature of its action, the Commission’s votes followed a careful evaluation of the universities’ requests against a set of criteria substantially shaped by Governor Kate Brown, who on April 10, 2017 issued a letter to HECC Commission Chair Neil Bryant detailing conditions for tuition approval. In her letter, the Governor expressed concern for whether universities gave serious consideration to alternatives, how tuition increases would impact underrepresented students, how they would be balanced with institutional cost-saving measures or cuts, the degree to which students and faculty were involved in tuition-setting processes on campuses, whether additional state funding would reduce these tuition levels.

Institutions prepared detailed responses about how they satisfied these concerns; those responses, along with HECC staff analyses are available on the HECC website under materials for the May 10 and 11 public meetings here. The Chairs of the Boards of Trustees of all five universities joined senior university administrators before a HECC subcommittee on May 10 to personally attest to how they met the Governor’s conditions.

Neil Bryant, Chair of the HECC, said, “This was an unprecedented scenario for our Commission, as Oregon faces stark challenges in higher education funding. We appreciated the Governor’s student and equity-focused vision, which we share, and her clear criteria, which reinforced HECC priorities. The fact that universities are committed to reducing tuition increases should the Legislature provide additional state funding was an especially important consideration to the Commission. Although the Commission did not approve the UO and PSU proposals, we are committed to supporting the institutions in every way we can on next steps.”

The Commission’s discussion focused heavily on the insufficiency of state higher education funding levels, which has a direct impact on tuition. A recent national report on higher education funding showed that while Oregon made significant investments in 2015, this was in the context of many years of underfunding. Oregon still ranks substantially low (37th) for educational appropriations per student, and has seen some of the steepest reductions in the country since before the 2008 Recession.

Ben Cannon, executive director of the HECC, said, “Our Commissioners were faced today with the same unwelcome dilemma that has tested university Boards of Trustees: namely, the gap between steadily rising costs and flat state funding levels. Under these circumstances, the Commission concluded that the proposed increases represent the ‘least bad’ option for WOU, SOU, and OIT. We look forward to hearing how UO and PSU intend to either adjust their tuition proposals or present additional information to the HECC that could result in reconsideration.”

In their remarks, Commissioners expressed appreciation for the institutions, students, agency staff, and all who testified and contributed to the public process. Commission Chair Neil Bryant said, “I commend all public testimony, both pro and con, concerning the tuition increases. The HECC understands the tremendous burden that is placed on students and their families and is committed to supporting additional funding to reduce tuition.”

Under Oregon law, UO and PSU will need to do one of the following before finalizing their 2017-18 tuition rates for resident undergraduate students: 1) Modify their plan such that it falls below the 5% increase threshold requiring HECC approval, 2) Receive approval from the HECC for a modified or resubmitted proposal that is at a level of 5% or greater, or 3) Receive approval from the Legislative Assembly for a tuition increase greater than 5%.

*ORS 352.087(1)(i) and ORS 352.102(4).
**Eastern Oregon University (EOU) and Oregon State University (OSU) did not seek HECC approval, as their boards approved tuition increases of less than five percent.

The HECC is dedicated to fostering and sustaining the best, most rewarding pathways to opportunity and success for all Oregonians through an accessible, affordable and coordinated network for educational achievement beyond high school. For more information, go to

More here:

2.0 DRAFT March 8, 2017 Minutes
4.0 2017-19 Community College Strategic Fund
5.0 Community College Support Fund Distribution: Growth Management
6.0a Public University Support Fund Distribution: Overview of SSCM Model
6.0b SSCM Funding Model Overview presentation
6.0c SSCM Summary
6.0d SSCM Calculation Map
7.0a Public University Tuition and Fee Increase Requests
7.0b UO Tuition & Fee Increase HECC summary
7.0c UO Tuition & Fee Institutional Board Packet
7.0d PSU Tuition & Fee Increase HECC summary
7.0e PSU Tuition & Fee Institutional Board Packet
7.0f PSU Tuition & Fee Institutional Finance Committee Packet
7.0g Letter from Governor Brown to HECC re  tuition increases


  1. HECC saves the day 05/12/2017

    Go HECC! Thanks OSU! UO’s gambit to blackmail extra money out of the legislature by holding in-state tuition hostage failed. More important is that our rich out of state Trustees who thought they could do anything they want can suck it. Go tell Taggart you need your money back.

    • hamstrung Senate 05/12/2017

      How is blowing all UO’s cash on athletics not a matter of academic concern now? UO has no credibility in Salem until they start cutting back on lavish coaching salaries. Even 3rd tier assistant coaches here make more than the most esteemed professors, and guess where Schill wants to start cutting back instead?

    • UO Matters Post author | 05/12/2017

      Taking delight in the misfortunes of your enemies is a sin, but understandable.

      Taking delight in the misfortunes of your own side is a sin, and not one that an economist can understand.

      • Miss Cleo 05/13/2017

        How many pink slips and football victories until you change your mind?

  2. Salty 05/12/2017

    Time for some “shared sacrifices” again?

  3. Plain Interested 05/12/2017

    Is “shared sacrifices” include in-state students that are squeezed to the limit, or are the adults in the room going to handle it?

  4. Captain Nemo 05/12/2017

    a voice crying in the wilderness asks “what about the administrative bloat”?

    Surely there must be some data on how compensation and numbers have increased in recent years.

    Is there any way to reverse the trend?

    • Dog 05/12/2017

      go to
      and its on the first page

      number of administrators has actually gone down from
      previous years

      number of OAs, however, continues to rise

      • DWD 05/12/2017

        This is not entirely accurate. From a note at the bottom of the chart:
        “Note: For 2014-15, the definition for Administrators was refined to specifically include only Executive Administrators, defined as the President, Sr. Vice President & Provost, all Deans, Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, the General Counsel, and the Athletic Director. This excluded 8 positions that had historically been included as Administrators (6 Associate VPs, 1 Associate Dean, and the Police Chief), as well as any other positions coded as executives as of the fall 2014 census date. The intent was to provide consistency so that the 26 individuals counted as Administrators could be identified from the President’s organization chart. Brad Shelton was included in his primary position as Interim VP for Research. ”

        Number of ‘Administrators’ has gone down because the definition was changed. But the positions – presumably high paid – that were previously defined as Administrators haven’t all been eliminated. There surely exist some standards that could be better used to measure ‘bloat.’ Anyone know any economists with a focus on employment?

      • noda 05/12/2017

        I really do not know, but didn’t the UO have a funny way of counting Administrators? Something like only senior admin were counted because everyone has a faculty appointment and nobody would buy that the president and provost were faculty? This also applies to ‘coaches’ who are faculty. I remember the old days when people like John and Herb did all the jobs that now take 12 or more {not} administrators with a dozen staff a piece to support their fraction of workload (Francses, Roger, etc). It would probably be fun to see a slideshow of the org chart changing over time from say 1990 to now.

      • Dogmatic Ratios 05/12/2017

        That’s the headcount, not the cost.

      • Just call me skeptical... 05/12/2017

        I may be wrong, but CAS has a relatively new dean for undergrad affairs. and did not the Bus School just create a new ‘school / college’ of accounting? presumably with another associate dean?
        and are there not similar movements under way in AAA?

  5. honest Uncle Bernie 05/12/2017

    Not at all surprised UO tuition increase was turned down. 10+% was shocking tone-deaf, especially after our dear friends at OSU went for 4%. How do they do it?

    But surprised that other schools were allowed big increases! What makes them special?

    • small schools 05/12/2017

      They have relatively small budgets and their budget shows they scrape by every year. The Ducks spent millions buying out the last football coach, millions more on a new football coach, and now want Oregonians to foot the bill.

    • XDH 05/12/2017

      How did they (OSU) do it? Based on recent feedback from science friends there that I have heard from the last couple of weeks, their Dean came and said “Guess what, suckers?!? You lot have to teach 1.5-2.0X more than you are currently teaching”. Please do NOT sing the praises of our brethren up north for their smaller proposed tuition increase as their President and their upper administration threw their hardworking professors’ a$$e$ under the bus. I may not always support our faculty union in all of its endeavors, but the folks at OSU now most certainly have reason to rally around such a call…

      • Fishwrapper 05/12/2017

        Well, Ed Ray spelled it out – you can read it here.

        Classified staff are going to take it on the chin, too, as many positions will be lost to attrition and then left open – already a few departments have reorganized around vacancies, keeping the position vacant and using the lack of that payroll expenditure as a savings. I have a few friends who chose to take retirement in June based on this plus the whole up-in-the-air PERS questions. By this time next year, OSU will be a lean, mean, budget-fighting machine!

        Then again, this is a campus that, when furloughs for classified staff happened, the Faculty Senate voted to take voluntary furloughs as a sign of a.) solidarity, and 2.) belt-tightening; by not paying furloughed staff – voluntary or otherwise – overtime to make up the difference, OSU proved it can find ways to live within its reduced means.

        How will they do it? By taking the cuts and taking the pain, and doing so to keep as much pain as possible away from the tuition-paying students.

        • Max Powers 05/18/2017

          At SOU Administrators took furloughs right along with the Classified employees for nearly 4 years. Faculty also had furloughs for at least one of their 2 year contracts.

      • Galapagos tortoise 05/13/2017

        At UO on the other hand, a department can hire a bunch of NTTFs to teach large classes and give its TTF professors a 2 course per year teaching load, even research-inactive faculty who haven’t published a paper or gotten a grant in years.

        • Which department is that? 05/18/2017

          I’d love a 2/0/0 load….

          • Dog 05/18/2017

            Most any department that claims it is ‘research intensive’ (physics, biology, chemistry, cs, economics, to name a few) tries to operate
            this way – some of these departments are “worse” than others. I know of several specific cases where it is just counterproductive
            to have one of these research intense profiles teaching classes. AT some other research Universities, that profile does not teach classes.

            In any event, the teaching “load” among faculty at the UO has always been highly differential. Yeah, people bitch about this, but
            no corrections are ever made – I am not even sure they should
            be made.

  6. Old timer 05/12/2017

    That’s all true, but the bottom line shows that UO has the least state support per resident student of any public college in Oregon, barely half what OSU receives. how does OSU do it? They relieve more state support per resident than any other public college in Oregon, plus they run a tighter ship on costly, ill defined ventures, at least those that the legislature doesn’t fund them for.

    • Thedude 05/12/2017

      Hey. Due to their groundbreaking research we know that sheep dont like wolves.

  7. HECC YEAH! 05/13/2017

    Hooray for HECC. They should give the UO even more HECC. Here’s a budget cut idea: Cut the Schill’s million buck salary package in half. Cut all the money wasted on staffing the out of town, out of state and out to lunch board of dysfunctional trustees and return control to state officials that actually represent the interests of Oregonians– the true owners of the University of Oregon.

    • UO Matters Post author | 05/13/2017

      Congratulations, you win the UOM award for “Best Idea of the Month, in Theory”

      • actually it was Moonlight 05/13/2017

        I thought the best idea on paper was to give control of the University to a bunch of rich assholes that were supposed to bankroll the academic side, not ask for handouts.

Leave a Reply

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