Senators and Presidents at the Faculty Club, January 29, 2019
The Faculty Club is open this week, at the usual times (5-8 on Wednesday and Thursday). Wednesday, rub elbows with the UO Senators, many of whom repair to the Faculty Club after their body adjourns—this is an excellent way to get the scuttlebutt without having to sit through the full Senate meeting!
And on Thursday we up the ante; UO President Michael Schill will be with us, hobnobbing with the crowd and delivering the Six-o-Clock Toast. As the President’s office is the primary sponsor of the Faculty club, let’s try for a record turnout to show how well this “noble experiment” is working.
I hope to see you one night or the other (or both nights — remember that attendance awards, with mystery prizes, are given at the end of each academic year).
Yours, James Harper
Chair of the Faculty Club Board
WHO: The UO Faculty Club is open to all UO faculty—tenure-track faculty, non-tenure-track faculty, library faculty, and OAs tenured in an academic department, as well as people retired from positions in these categories. Eligible people may bring any guests they like.
WHAT: Cash Bar with beer, wine, liquor and non-alcoholic beverages; complimentary hors d’oeuvres.
WHERE: The Faculty Club meets in a designated room on the ground floor of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Enter at the museum’s main entrance and turn right; the club room is right off the lobby.
WHEN: Wednesdays & Thursdays 5:00-8:00 pm. We will meet through the last week of classes in Fall Term (i.e. through November 29); activity will resume in the Winter and Spring terms.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Faculty Club Board Chair James Harper (Dept. of the History of Art and Architecture), [email protected]
A good chance to ask Mr. Schill what lots of people are wondering, scratching their heads about — why are they considering breaking up CAS? What problems are they trying to solve, or what do they hope to achieve? Is it the administration that is really pushing this? Is it really just a move to centralize power, or is there more to it than that? Those who know have not talked much, as far as people in the faculty can tell.
Rumor has it that it will take strong opposition from the CAS faculty to prevent it from happening. Take note, CAS loyalists!
One thing I predict about tonight — it will not be a 6 o’clock toast to CAS!
Then, frequent commentator HUB – go there and ask him that yourself and report to the rest of US what is said …
Thanks for your confidence, but I really would prefer to hear what others report, see discussion nearby. Admittedly, am still in the dark re CAS.
I was there and asked Schill two questions:
1) What is his plan to improve the University’s academic standing?
2) What is he doing to help faculty do their job (i.e., research, teaching and administration)?
He walked away without answering and started schmoozing with someone else.
His evasive, non-response was not surprising.
I don’t trust him. He has no loyalty to UO as an institution or to faculty, staff and students. And he has no vision other than talking in hypothetical terms about the pursuit of”excellence” and how we will be great again.
Sounds just like another President in the news.
On the other hand, he did persuade Phil Knight to give $500M for something unathletic, and another donor to give $50M unrestricted, which is going to academic causes including faculty chairs and improving graduation rates.
not so sure about Schill and the 500 mill
am sure about Schill and the 50M
How will the $50 million be used to improve graduation rates?
More advisors, and programs to keep advisors and students more informed about their progress to degree and the consequences of straying from the path. [Full disclosure: As someone who switched majors from philosophy to engineering to forestry to soil science to agronomy to agricultural economics to economics, and went to 3 different colleges before I got a B.S., it’s clear you can’t save everyone.]
Is it possible he didn’t care for your tone?
I’ve checked, and UO’s policies on free speech and academic freedom protect the first amendment rights of all members of the university community, including the president’s right to wander away from persistent questions at a cocktail party.
“1) What is his plan to improve the University’s academic standing?
I believe he has talked about this many times at various public events:
80-100 new faculty over 5 years
More endowed positions
Better graduation rates
He has also brought in new deans and senior administrators to do the dirty work. Meanwhile research expenditures have been increasing.
I think if Schill wants a new job he will probably get it. I’m not saying he deserves all the credit.
We got lucky and we desperately need to get a few more good years out of this guy before we have to make another random draw from the AGB’s secret pool of generic presidential candidates.
That seems a bit much. What are we really going to remember about him once he makes his inevitable jump to another place where he can feign personal investment for a while — his legacy of centralizing power?
Nah, the next president will decide to decentralize power. There’s some sort of natural cycle, like with locusts. Maybe not 17 years, but definitely a prime number, for reasons Jayanth can explain.
Watching Schill pretend to enjoy football in the presence of his betters is a true testament to the depth of his talents. After seeing his performances in the “owners box” I’m convinced he can sell the White House black paint, and can get a ticket to whatever school he wants to lead next.
Sounds great. Question is, how much has the debt load increased during the time Schill’s been at UOwe? That balance sheet item, along with the accompanying debt service expense, will determine the future of the institution.,…
charlie — I think it all depends on how much of it is covered by outside sources, especially donors, also the state. I would bet that the Knight center, the new track facilities are covered by Phil Knight. Don’t know about the Tykeson Center. New dorms? Health Center? Don’t know. Nor, how much old debt has been retired.
Moody’s doesn’t seem worried about our credit rating: https://www.moodys.com/credit-ratings/University-of-Oregon-OR-credit-rating-902190032
UO’s Debt Burden Ratio took a huge hit from the Knight Arena, but Uncle Phil’s $100M legacy fund donation is covering those payments, and the ratio has been flat at 6% since. See page 26 here: https://trustees.uoregon.edu/sites/trustees2.uoregon.edu/files/meeting_packet_-_ffc_final_12.3.18.pdf
Bottom line, the trustees, who have fiduciary responsibility for the budget, thought we were flush enough to give Pres Schill a very large raise and bonus package this year. Faculty union bargaining starts in December, and I’m sure they’ll find the money to provide similar raises to our excellent faculty too.
Here are the data where available:
a) 80-100 new faculty over 5 years? Not close.
2014-2015 (yr before Schill arrived): 2066 faculty (includes NTTF)
(data from https://ir.uoregon.edu/)
b) More endowed positions: No data available however my educated guess is that there has been an increase in endowed positions due to fund-raising.
c) Knight campus. YES obviously. However the KC is sucking funds, time and other resources from the rest of campus. Just ask any dept head who is facing budget cuts.
d) Better graduation rates: Not clear as the measurement is now 6 yr grad rates. Between 2011 and 2016 grad rates have increased (http://www.collegeresults.org/search1a.aspx?institutionid=209551).
e) More scholarships. Again data is not easily obtainable but probably yes.
We have all new deans and senior administrators who are doing all they can to help JH centralized everything. Research expenditures have NOT been increasing if you use the measure of percentage of the university budget.
The university has either stayed the same or declined in ALL national and international rankings. For that, Schill deserves all the credit.
Some clarification on the previous data analysis
a) that’s suppose to be 80-100 TTF faculty, but yes we are not
b) small increase in endowed positions
c) this is NOT true, it is perceived reality, but that doesn’t matter
since everyone believes its true.
d) yes 4 year graduation rate (which used to be terrible) has
e) On paper this is true – how much of it as to do with Schill is
I agree fully with the last sentiments. University research, in fact, is in decline, if you measure that in a more proper, relative way.
Hiring more TTF faculty should lead to more research dollars,
this has not happened.
Oregon’s US News ranking went from 106 to 102 during Schill’s tenure.
Depts are facing budget cuts. Why are you claiming this is due to the Knight Campus?
A change from 106 to 102 is well within the noise. Depends entirely on how many other institutions are tied with us. Being in the same ranking with Clarkson University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Drexel University, and below such stalwarts as University of San Francisco, University of Vermont and Miami University at Oxford is quite an achievement for an AAU institution. Wasn’t that way when I arrived 3 decades ago. And let’s stop blaming the State of Oregon. That old whine stopped being relevant 25 yrs ago.
As for the relationship between departmental budget cuts and the Knight Campus, one does not need to be an economist to realize that this university’s funding is a near zero-sum game and if you spend on something new, you must take away funds from existing entities whether directly or indirectly. Why should we be even interested in building an academically second rate monument to soothe the vanity of the ultra-rich and pad the CVs of the JH crowd when much of the rest of campus is being slowly starved of funds and is sinking into a quagmire of mediocrity?
Many existing depts are crying out for financial assistance to help them return to or achieve national prominence but are being told to generate their own funds or die. If your children tell you that the ceilings in their rooms are leaking but you say you have no funds because you insist on buying a new BMW every year, it must be the fault of the children that they are not doing enough to stay healthy, right?
Welcome to the University of Oregon, where buildings are leaking, bathrooms are overflowing, faculty and students do not have enough space to work and students cannot take the classes they need to graduate without waiting up to a year yet we are spending hundreds of millions to support the monster called intercollegiate athletics and a new academic initiative which has no chance of being in the same league as its top competitors.
This is the new world of academics, where administrators who have never taught or done research and who have no understanding of a university (and less loyalty), are making 100% of the decisions without so much as a discussion with faculty, staff and students.
Schill should spend less time schmoozing with donors at basketball games and more time talking to the faculty. Unfortunately that will happen when the kids’ ceilings are repaired.
You sum up the issues pretty well. I don’t see Knight making a $500 million donation to fix overflowing bathrooms, though, so I don’t draw the same conclusion as you. I can agree that Oregon (and many other places) have a terrible problem getting money to the right places, but I also don’t think the absence of a Knight campus would magically make these real problems go away.
You may be right however diverting the $500 million to the south side of Franklin Blvd would do wonders for such pressing needs as: 1) Improving graduation rates; 2) Increasing grad student numbers and pay; 3) Supporting low SES students; 4) Decreasing teaching loads in those depts with onerous teaching (5 courses per year is not compatible with top flight scholarship); 5) Providing better wages for all current employees, particularly NTTF and staff; and, 6) Hiring more TTF, particularly in non-science depts. The list is much longer but you get the idea.
Most importantly, using $500 million to support existing campus academics would go a very long way towards improving internal morale and external rankings (both at an all time low). Instead we have a meglomaniac, it’s-my-way-or-the-highway megadonor who has been pushing around our weak-kneed presidents for the past quarter century (For more details, read “The University of Nike”). We don’t need sports or the KC. We need strong leadership with an academic vision that includes supporting every part of campus as befits a functional AAU institution. Sadly I do not see that type of leadership in the current JH occupants.
No one gives $500M without a binding gift agreement ensuring that it will be spent in accordance with the giver’s preferences. While the UO Foundation and our General Counsel Kevin Reed has succeeded in breaking a ~$5M agreement with a dead professor, a live Phil Knight is a different proposition entirely.
So the ethical decision is to vote Democratic and hope that they will deliver higher marginal income and death taxes, and perhaps even a wealth tax, so that investments in the public good will be guided by the rational decisions of our elected legislatures and their donors and lobbyists. Good luck.
Meanwhile, Mike Schill is playing best response, just as we are paying him to do.
Knight is a smart man and he wants to increase the state’s economic potential. Diverting the $500M to the rest of the campus will not improve the state’s economic prospects.
what is the noise in ranks, roughly square root of 100 if your
ranked near 100?
You seem to reply that the rest of the University doesn’t matter with respect to the State’s economic prospects. You must be a legislator from Eastern Oregon
So this must be fake news
“And let’s stop blaming the State of Oregon. That old whine stopped being relevant 25 yrs ago.”
Why is that irrelevant, either now or 25 years ago? It darn well seems relevant to me.
I agree. Let not only continue to blame the State for cutting Higher Ed funding 25 years ago but also let’s continue to pick on the Japanese for Pearl Harbor, Jimmy Carter for messing up in general, and Teddy Roosevelt for not doing more to protect our environment. Blaming the past is much easier than accepting that it occurred and trying to solve today’s problems.
I thought it was the Germans who bombed Pearl Harbor…
No, Pearl Harbor was a Russian Hack
It looks like IR no longer easily separates out TTFs from the rest.
However, if you go to the operational metrics link and
then go to page two where it lists Departmental TTF FTE
from 2012 to now you can see if its grown
my Dept has remained constant at 25 FTE give or take
a few tenths – i.e. no growth that is consistent with Schill’s
promise to grow FTE.
Is’t quite possible that JH, however, doesn’t like departments that have Dogs in them …
If Schill and his JH underlings had something to crow about, the data would not only be easy to find, they would be trumpeted in every possible venue, publication, speech, tweet, email etc. As always, the University is transparent only when it is in their self-serving interest. Perhaps the Senate Transparency committee should get on this. Oops, they haven’t met this year and have met only 4 times since 2016. Great job Senate leaders!
Please email me at [email protected] if you are interested in joining the STP.
If I thought the STP had the slightest chance of making a difference, I would have signed up years ago. But it has no chance as the committee became permanently non-functional shortly after it was commissioned and has never recovered. Useless also are 95% of Senate Committees which is why there remains unfilled positions on many Senate committees and even the Senate itself. We faculty aren’t completely stupid. We do the math and the answer these days is always the same: the Senate is a bloody waste of time. Didn’t use to be the case. Sadly shared governance no longer exists on this campus despite the frequent protestations to the contrary by Senate and Union leaders (the leadership overlap is significant). Even JH no longer pays lip service to the concept of shared governance. Please email me at [email protected] when you can demonstrate the STP is doing good work.
One final point: It is obvious that any major donation to a university comes with stipulations that must be followed. However it is the job of the University President to make sure the donation addresses the most pressing issue(s) facing the institution. Whether it is the ACLU, the Red Cross or my alma maters, each one requests that part if not all of every donation goes towards the institution’s top priorities. Of course if the President’s priority is raise as much money as possible without considering the consequences and/or to advance one’s career prospects, then the result will be whatever the donor wants regardless of the overall impact of the donation on the institution. Phil Knight’s insistence on getting what he wants coupled with his promise of “more” if he gets what he asks for has put our past 6 UO presidents in a very uncomfortable position. However none have had the cajones to insist that Knight’s largesse be directed towards our most pressing academic needs.
Keep defending our current President. Given his current record, he will need all the support he can get when he goes looking for a new position in a few years (after raking in an $800K bonus for sticking around for 5 years).
Over and out.