CAS Structure Task Force to meet


Task force meeting schedule

The first meeting of the task force will be on December 13 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. This meeting will be organizational in nature and is the time for task force members to meet each other, review the goals, and plan. It will be held in Friendly Hall 109.

The following dates and times for future task force meetings are set. Agendas and locations have yet to be determined but will be added once space is confirmed.

January 22: 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
February 12: 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.
February 26: 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.
March 12: 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
March 19: 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.

The meetings are open to the public and the task force will seek input from the campus community in connection with its deliberations. We have already scheduled a meeting with the Senate and the task force chair on February 13, 2019. Input will also be solicited through an online survey and through open task force meetings, and individuals can provide feedback or ask questions via

To see the information under consideration by the task force, click on the links below.

CAS Task Force information packet – December 10, 2018



    Task force charge and outline distributed


    Consultation with stakeholders and Senate President and Vice President regarding task force membership


    President and Provost visit CAS Department Heads meeting on November 2


    Leadership announces CAS task force members


    First meeting of the task force. This is an organizational gathering where members meet each other for the first time to discuss the work.

    Friendly Hall 109 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.


    Research and information gathering as desired by task force completed by staff and shared with committee


    The following dates and times are for task force meetings.

    Jan. 22: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

    Feb. 12: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

    Feb. 26: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

    March 12: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    March 19: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

    *Locations for the meetings have yet to be determined but this will be updated when location information becomes available.


    Additional time for meetings as needed; window of time to draft analysis for submission / review by committee

  • APRIL 15

    Task force report due to President and Provost


    Target for decision by President and Provost about how to move forward

  • JUNE 3 OR 4

    Discussion at Board of Trustees meeting and likely announcement date

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26 Responses to CAS Structure Task Force to meet

  1. Anonymous says:

    Most everything Dogs say on the Internet is

    a) non clever
    b) never true
    c) always in jest

    It is hard for dogs to engage in serious reflection, we tend to forget to breathe and we then have nose problems, and the only cure to wake a dog out if its reflective thinking stupor is to sniff another dog’s butt – in case you were wondering how that all started.

    The UO and Universities in general are not businesses that sort out component priority via some spreadsheet algorithm, but that is exactly what is going on here. At a University there are no inferior and no superior areas of academic inquiry and subsequent teaching.

    Almost 300 years ago, the philosopher John Amos Comenius penned these words:

    “It is lamentable, utterly unjust and insulting that while all men are admitted to God’s theater, all are not given the chance of looking at everything.”

    Indeed this is the essential ideal of the Academy, we should do exactly the opposite of tearing it apart into individual disciplines and then prioritizing their component value to God’s theater. Instead we need to unite the various discipline lenses to better expose God’s theater in new and interesting ways that makes the discovery of the complex, compelling.

    But fuck me, I am just a dog, I don’t even have a discipline …

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  2. Sun Tzu says:

    It is always worthwhile to dig deep when faced with potential large scale change to determine ulterior motivations.

    Here’s what we know:

    1) The CAS dean stepped down after JH assume control of major CAS financial decisions and fundraising. They also took over new hire allocations.

    2) Under the current president, all old deans have been replaced and the new deans have had their responsibilities curtailed. Thus, it is quite likely that when the CAS restructuring dust has settled, the new post-CAS deans will have much smaller and less interesting portfolios.

    3) Most Science faculty believe they are superior to their colleagues on the rest of campus and have saved their strongest enmity for the other 2/3rds of CAS. They don’t give a shit about the social sciences or humanities and in fact have for decades pressured JH to create a separate College of Science. Rod Capaldi, when chair of Biology, led this charge with support of the majority of Biology faculty as well as many in Chemistry and Physics. Some Science faculty (including one who frequently comments on this blog) believe that humanities should be jettisoned not only from CAS but from the entire University along with other “weak” departments and units because they are not doing “real” research (whatever “real” means). In fact one prevailing view among a not small number of science faculty is that any new College of Science should exclude the Psychology, Computer Science and Human Physiology because they are not “true” science.

    4) It was John Moseley, when he was provost, who was the first higher administrator to actively support the dissolution of CAS. Towards that goal, Moseley initiated a small administrative committee to determine the feasibility of a CAS breakup, however he was forced to focus his attention on the existential fiscal issues facing the University at that time, so nothing came of that committee.

    5) Whatever one can say positively and negatively about the past crop of acceptable-to-mediocre-to-poor CAS deans, CAS has always survived and in fact for the most part has become stronger, at least over the past 30+ years I have been on campus.

    So, the question remains, who will benefit and who will lose in a CAS break-up?


    1) JH. They will control all aspects of the post-CAS decision-making. JH administrators will also undoubtedly highlight this “re-organization” on their CV when looking for new jobs (and it is an open secret that for most JHallers, UO is a mere way station to other more lucrative/prestigious positions).

    2) The Sciences, as in “Natural Sciences”. The Sciences will no longer have to feel that the Social Sciences and Humanities are “holding them back”. They also will insist on higher indirect cost returns, even less teaching than they do now (including hiring NTTFs to teach their classes) and more University funds directed towards science infrastructure (at the expense of the rest of the University naturally).

    3) The new Knight Campus of Accelerating Scientific Impact. The new campus has not been erected but it is already sucking funds, positions, time and energy from the rest of campus (this line alone is guaranteed to generate a vociferous rebuttal from Patrick Phillips who would be happy to explain the TRUTH to you). If you think a break-up of CAS will not benefit the new campus, then you probably believe that the University Administration has the faculty, staff and students’ best interests at heart, that the University Trustees are doing a fantastic job and that Phil Knight is a benign donor).

    4) Intercollegiate Athletics. The Athletic Department, which already receives a higher percentage of the total University budget than any other PAC-12 school, will receive an even higher percentage of University funds (either directly or indirectly) as the percentage of funding to the “weak” departments declines even further.

    (N.B., While we are on the subject of “weak” departments, John Moseley, who started the relentless drive towards the JH centralization of all decision-making, was quite fond of saying that “all [departmental] boats will rise and fall but not at the same rate because some are stronger than others”. This has led to 25+ years of underfunding of out-of-favor departments such as Sociology and Political Science as well as forcing other departments, such as Romance Languages to hire buckets of NTTFs solely to increase SCHs in order to stay afloat).


    1) Humanities. The current chronic underfunding situation will only get worse, forcing many Humanities departments to go the route of Romance Languages. I pity the new Dean of Humanities and predict many current humanities departments will be reduced to a shell of their former selves if they survive at all.

    2) Social Sciences. May not survive at all. The current viewpoint by the campus scientific elite (with few exceptions) and which has also permeated through JH is that most Social Science research is a steaming pile of *&^% not worthy of “true” scholarship. Thanks guys (and it is all “guys”).! There may not even be a College of Social Sciences after CAS is dissolved.

    3) Students. Student majors and course choices will be significantly reduced because there will be fewer number of humanities and social science faculty due to the CAS re-structuring. Students will go elsewhere to study these subjects, JH will reduce funding to the social sciences and humanities (choosing instead to redirect funding to focus on “excellence” of course) and the remaining Hum/SS faculty will look for other jobs. This will lead to even fewer and poorer choices for the students who remain.

    4) University Reputation. The University of Oregon has always been a liberal arts institution, eschewing fields such as medicine, veterinary science and engineering to maintain strong programs in liberal arts. A CAS break up will undoubtedly mean less emphasis in the humanities and social sciences. The impact on the University’s reputation is anyone’s guess however it is unlikely to be positive. But hey, our administrators are only here for 3-5 years. What do they care as long as this re-organization adds a new line to their CV and enhances their opportunity to get a job somewhere else? After all, loyalty and integrity are such provincial values these days (see White House).

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    • Dog says:


      Biology actually needs to Rule this place

      they are the most preeminent of the preeminent

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  3. Reading the information packet for the first meeting (link below) feels like peering into the future. We are not unique in facing these issues and we’re not the only faculty body that has been skeptical about admin’s motives while grappling with them. Interestingly, that skepticism was shared between faculty with multiple colleges (wary of a merge) and those with one college (wary of a split).

    From OSU’s report (Winter 2007):
    Virtually every group we polled expressed dissatisfaction with the process they were asked to participate in. Overall they felt that the process had no strong concept or premise, that it was poorly thought out, and that it was rushed. These attitudes represent a deep skepticism that has emerged from repeated requests over several years from university and college administrators for the faculty to invest time and energy into developing recommendations that are later ignored or overridden by the administration. These comments emerged first, above all others, and were often hard to get past in order to have a more substantive discussion.

    From PSU’s (Winter 2014):
    1. Many departments feel that they (or their disciplines) are not understood by administrators, and desire a greater sense of advocacy on their behalf. Some suggested that smaller colleges would mean greater advocacy for each department.
    2. There is a desire for transparency from administrators around issues such as budget, distribution of resources, and decision-making processes.
    3. Departments—and individual members of the faculty—desire greater
    autonomy, and do not want to feel “managed”.

    Interestingly, this opinion [for a radical change] was largely voiced by those in some science departments, and much less often by those in the social sciences or humanities. Within the survey, specifically related to the structure of the College, respondents from one cluster of science departments (identified in the demographic choices as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics & Statistics, and Physics) answered the question “What in your opinion would be the ideal structure for what is now the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences?” with a majority expressing the opinion that the College should be split:

    Split — 58%
    Keep as is — 15%
    Other/Unclear* — 27%

    This is in stark contrast to all other respondents to the survey:
    Split — 22%
    Keep as is — 44%
    Other/Unclear* — 34%


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    • Dog says:

      But of course we should split

      us scientists are unique and valuable, we are the ones that bring in the overhead

      the rest are unnecessary

      instilling a balanced view of the world in our students is pointless

      bringing in overhead money based on built gadgets for humanity is everything

      after all, didn’t we go to the moon 50 years ago to make Tang?
      (by the way, an anyone find Tang anymore …?)

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      • Deplorable Duck says:

        Actually, the sciences are the preeminent departments instilling a balanced view of the world.

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        • Dog says:

          yeah, sure they are

          none of that liberal crap in the sciences …

          but you used unnecessary words

          “preeminent depts” says it all, actually

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          • Deplorable Duck says:

            To clarify my point: I think the sciences are pretty good at contemplating ideas from different perspectives, even when they’re unorthodox. And if you’re a good scientist, most others would forbear many personal oddities (e.g., your Trump hat). Students benefit from all of this, and with any luck do absorb some “balanced views”.

            I haven’t sat in any Sociology (for example) lectures, but my sense is that the allowable range of ideas is far narrower there these days. Which is regrettable. I still remember my undergrad Sociology 101 course from decades ago. The professor was gifted, and I believe I could have asked virtually any question or argued in favor of almost any position without her taking offense. No doubt she would have reduced that position to rubble, but with a good-natured patience and kindness that sometimes seems lacking these days.

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            • Sun Tzu says:

              Why, Deplorable Duck, as an obviously intelligent person, why do you maintain the belief that Sociology 101 or any other Sociology class today has a smaller range of “allowable” perspectives than when you were an undergrad decades ago? Maybe you should come back to UO and sit in on a Soc class before arriving at any conclusions. I never cease to be amazed at the conclusions smart people are willing to draw without much if any evidence. And then use those beliefs to rail against the lack of political diversity on campus, as if personal political views have any place in any university course.

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              • Oryx says:

                Deplorable Duck’s evidence- and experience-free claims about Sociology are exactly as stupid and false as Sun Tzu’s claims that UO Science faculty don’t like the humanities. It is therefore amusing to see him complain about DD’s comment.

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              • honest Uncle Bernie says:

                Sun — right — all those UO law professors who signed the petition to confirm Kavanaugh — their personal political views play no role in any course, ever. Right!

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    • The task force documents from the other universities did a good job of explaining the different needs of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and the different ways that each college contributed to the overall mission of the university.

      What continues to be puzzling to me is exactly how different structures actually help or hurt those contributions. What is missing is a clear articulation of what could be done after a split/merge that could not have been done before.

      This feels like the big hole in our case as well. I’m guessing that, as in other places, our natural sciences faculty are more likely to favor a split than other faculty. But – why? Is there something we cannot do right now, or some specific way that being in a unified college impedes our forever-striving toward excellence? There may be real answers to that question, but right now I am not aware of any that overcome even the cost of the upheaval a change would require (let alone any academic costs to the other units that might be incurred).

      It would be very useful to me as a member of the task force if people could try to answer:

      – Is there some mission-related function (scholarship, teaching, service) that you cannot do or is very hard to do because of the current structure?

      – Is there some mission-related function that you can only do because of the current structure, or would become very difficult in a different structure?

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    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Elliott, I take it those are UO stats, right?

      I wonder how many people answered the survey — they may not be representative.

      My guess is a few selfish people, who also don’t understand UO finances, might be behind this.

      I strongly suspect, if you look at tuition flows, hum+SS may well be subsidizing the natural sciences within CAS.

      I don’t know if Schill is savvy enough to understand this. If it is correct.

      But look at the sch, the salaries, the expensive student labs — don’t need excel, a sheet of paper will suffice.

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      • Those stats above are from the 2014 Portland State report. We don’t have comparable numbers from UO yet but perhaps the task force will conduct a survey.

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        • honest Uncle Bernie says:

          I would be interested to know what UO faculty think in a representative survey, if such is possible, because I am not hearing too much objection coming from humanities and social science faculty. One reason may be that so many of them, the newer ones, come from systems like the one proposed for UO. Maybe some of them think they will be better off financially (and they may be right — see what I wrote about tuition flows — IF the administration lets them keep the money).

          But the level of indifference really surprises me. In past eras, the faculty would have been up in arms.

          By the way, I never had any reason to think that John Moseley wanted to split things up.

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  4. Dog says:

    Because only the Science departments (and actually within that,
    only one department) are relevant to the Knight Campus and the future status of the University of Oregon, Nike, uh non-liberal arts.

    Everything else is just clutter …

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    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Dog, which department is that? Human physiology? Biology? I would guess at least both of those. But I don’t see how you can leave out at least a couple of other science departments.

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      • Dog says:

        if you have gone to any of the Open Knight professor position talks over the last 6 weeks

        a) all the talks are exactly about the same thing, and done
        in a very narrow way

        b) one the talks was actually quite good, but I doubt we
        can recruit that person since there is no infrastructure for
        that person.

        In short, at the moment this is all about bio-medical engineering,
        and we have zero campus history in that area.

        You can be vague and general and make up shit that makes sense to you (and others) about science department involvement.

        I am just telling your what is happening on the ground right now. Surely there will be some evolution in the nature of research done by the Knight campus – but I have no idea how long that evolutionary timescale is – since I am not a biologist so I don’t even know what an evolutionary timescale is …

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  5. Concerned says:

    Why isn’t anyone discussing why JH wants to dismantle CAS?

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    • UO CM says:

      Is that a bad thing?

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      • Concerned says:

        If you prefer JH to run academics, rather than the faculty and college the answer is yes

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    • the spotlight kid says:

      Just look at what has happened to the other colleges in the past two years and you will have your answer: command and control.

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  6. Deplorable Duck says:

    I’m almost tempted to attend, just to see what a couple of dozen academics can actually get done in a one-hour meeting.

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    • Diogenes says:

      If they are wise, and they may be, then they will try to discover from each other what has already been decided, and so not waste honest work on what is not really under their control. It is difficult, however, to discover this in an acceptably polite and respectful manner.

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