Budget cut Town Hall 2PM April 22, EMU Gumwood room

Update: RG photographer Chris Pietsch has taken many wonderful photos over the years and he is one of the reasons we still subscribe. And this may be his best:

Story here.

A little lite live-blogging. Usual disclaimer: Nothing is a quote unless in quotes. 

Two TV cameras, about 200 town hallers.

Intro from Provost Banavar, followed by a long explanation of UO’s revenue and cost problems from VPFA Moffitt. Neither looks particularly thrilled to be stuck with the job of explaining Pres Schill’s budget cuts.

In response to a bond Q and followup, Moffitt says the academic side is still paying $500,000 a year in debt service for a portion of the Knight Arena land.

Student question on Pres Schill’s salary and recent raise.

Q’s on why they are cutting LERC to the bone, while top administrator salaries continue to grow. A: Trying to protect schools and colleges. About impact. Student follows up with how impact was measured. A: Well known research. It’s kind of obvious. Plus Mike told us to protect advising and student success (and athletics and police). Q: No metrics? A: Brad or Scott can you answer, if you are here? Scott Pratt: Can’t talk about the metrics. We were looking at things that provided direct instruction.

Q: Why didn’t you look at cutting executive salaries? A: Supply and demand.

Q: Can we get a breakdown of salary costs by administrative units? What cuts is athletics going to face to do their share? A: We choose not to.

Q: Any potential growth in potentially lucrative on-line learning? Answer from AVP for online: Paraphrasing the answer: that’s really unlikely. particularly in the short term.”

Q: How can Mike Schill expect the legislature to give UO more money for tuition when UO goes to them year after year for money for athletics, Knight Campus, IAAF, etc. A: It’s politics.

Student Q: Why do I have to pay for Jaqua Center (aka Jock Box) when I can’t use it?

Q from Ed Davis (MNCH): Are you lobbying to increase state appropriations for units like Museums, LERC, Bach? A: Not really. Do try to protect them from cuts.

Q: Why has the university failed to recruit enough out-of-state students to offset the decline in international students. A: We tried. Apparently the $160K we blew on 3D googles wasn’t such a great idea. Who would have guessed.

Q from classified: Why do these budget crises always come up during contract negotiations? A: Timing and PERS. SEIU bargaining happens at same time we are trying to finalize state appropriations.

Update:  Budget cut Town Hall 2PM April 22, EMU Gumwood room

VPFA Jamie Moffitt will be there to explain why UO is not asking the Duck athletic department to share the pain.

4/21/2019: Provost Banavar signs Register Guard op-ed on museum cuts

I wonder who really wrote this? Obviously President Schill is making the decisions on budget cuts – not Provost Banavar, who has already announced that he will be stepping down on July 1. The takeaway? Johnson Hall believes that Duck sports are more important than arts, culture, and Oregon’s natural history.

The UO Senate will take up a resolution against these cuts at its Wednesday meeting. Page down for that resolution, which, unlike the JH op-ed actually quotes from UO’s mission statement, and makes clear that General Fund dollars are not all tuition dollars. Page further down for a recent news report on UO’s subsidies for the Ducks, and for some data on coaches salaries.

Also see the related Bob Keefer report in the EW here, and information on the official “Requiem for Transparency Town Hall”, on these cuts, 2PM Monday in the EMU Gumwood Room, here,

Here’s the Johnson Hall op-ed from the RG:

The University of Oregon has long provided educational and cultural programs to Eugene, Lane County and the state of Oregon through the Oregon Bach Festival, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

Our firm belief in the value of these programs and commitment to community service remains steadfast, but persistent disinvestment in higher education by the state of Oregon — combined with a multi-year drop in international enrollment and rising labor, retirement and health care costs — is putting incredible pressures on the university’s budget and requires a re-evaluation of how we support these cultural resources.

UO President Michael H. Schill recently announced $11.6 million in campus-wide budget reductions. This round of trimming is forcing the UO to focus on our core teaching and research mission, and to prioritize things such as scholarships for Oregon students, advising and tutoring programs, career faculty and campus safety.

Of this $11.6 million, $8.9 million rests within my office, the Office of the Provost, which includes the schools, colleges and units such as undergraduate education, information services, global engagement and cultural programs. I have had to engage in a very serious analysis of how much each specific unit in my portfolio should be reduced.

Last week, I let leaders of the OBF, JSMA and MNCH know that they would take reductions in their general fund support of $250,000, $314,000 and $225,000 respectively over the next two years. The OBF, JSMA and MNCH will experience larger relative budget reductions than most of the rest of campus to ensure that tuition dollars and state funding go primarily toward our teaching and research mission and impact students’ ability to succeed in the classroom.

The OBF and the museums are an important part of the university — vital to our faculty and key components of a liberal arts education — so we will continue to provide each significant general fund support. We also recognize that each of these cultural programs has a deep and committed pool of patrons, and to the extent possible, we will work to offset budget reductions with additional fundraising efforts and develop new ideas to earn revenue.

People often see construction cranes on campus, hear about contract extensions for coaches or new academic initiatives and think budget reductions are unnecessary or that administrators in Johnson Hall are being disingenuous about the budget situation. This is simply not the case.

First, we are very fortunate that the UO’s athletics department is one of the few in the nation that receives very little tuition or state funding. Athletics must live within its means — which includes revenue from ticket sales, media rights, philanthropy etc. — even as it faces the similar labor, pension and health care expenses as the rest of campus. We cannot tap athletics to offset budget reductions within our educational enterprise. [UOM: Why not? Why does President Schill allow the Ducks to continue to take from the General Fund, and allow their budget to continue to grow while the university’s academic budget is cut?]

Second, the vast majority of construction projects and programmatic investments we are making across campus are the result of dedicated donor gifts, specific state capital allocations or auxiliary funding sources such as student-paid fees. In most cases, such dollars cannot legally or contractually be diverted, and these projects and investments — which involve few to no general fund dollars — are the very thing that will keep the UO on a path toward excellence even as it wrestles with the volatility of state funding and international enrollment.

Budget cuts are never easy, and we don’t take these decisions lightly, but we have an obligation to Oregon’s students and families to allocate reductions in relative alignment with our mission. The simple reality is that we cannot continue to use undergraduate tuition dollars to fund the OBF, JSMA and MNCH at the levels we have in the past and must find new revenue streams to secure their long-term financial health.

As President Schill has said, these reductions are difficult but not insurmountable for the UO. That is certainly true for our cultural outreach programs as well, and I hope you will join me in the search for new ways to sustain and support these community resources that we all cherish.

Jayanth Banavar is provost, senior vice president and a professor of physics at the University of Oregon.

The Senate Resolution is here:


Date of Notice: April 18, 2019
Current Status: Notice Given
Motion Type: Resolution
Sponsor: Ed Davis, Senator

Section I

1.1  WHEREAS the University of Oregon’s mission statement says that it strives for, “… the generation, dissemination, preservation, and application of knowledge”; and

1.2  WHEREAS the Values enumerated in the mission statement include, “We value the unique geography, history and culture of Oregon that shapes our identity and spirit,” and, “We value our shared charge to steward resources sustainably and responsibly”; and

1.3  WHEREAS the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art are both accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, reflecting the uniformly high quality of their curatorial practices, collections-based research, and public-facing outreach programs, placing them in the highest ranks of museums in the United States; and

1.4  WHEREAS the exhibits and collections at the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art are used by faculty in allied units in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Design for both undergraduate education and original research; and

1.5  WHEREAS the Museum of Natural and Cultural History is the designated repository for anthropological and fossil collections in the state of Oregon and was recognized with a National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2018; and

1.6  WHEREAS the Labor Education and Research Center has, for the last 42 years, strived to improve the lives of Oregon’s workers, their families, and their communities through integrated education, research, and public service that supports a strong, inclusive union movement; and

1.7  WHEREAS the Oregon Bach Festival has, for almost half a century, presented masterworks of J.S. Bach and composers inspired by his work to audiences in Eugene and across Oregon, offering educational opportunities, children and family programming, and community events, while supporting the academic mission of the School of Music and Dance; and

1.8  WHEREAS the University of Oregon must balance its budget through $11.6 million in expenditure reductions, but has chosen to reduce the budgets of these units by a combined $1.2 million, or 10% of the total of the University’s expenditure reduction, averaging out to 23% of the overall budgets of each of these units (including both UO funds and state allocations); and

1.9  WHEREAS the budget reductions of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art will be 15.1%, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History will be 16.6%, the Oregon Bach Festival will be 24.4%, and the Labor Education and Research Center will be 45% of each of their overall budgets. [UOM: should probably say “general fund budgets”.]

Section II

2.1  THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Senate of the University of Oregon affirms the intrinsic value of the academic work of these units, recognizing that their work in preserving and educating Oregonians in the unique geography, history, and culture of Oregon is central to the University’s mission,

2.1  BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the disproportionate cuts to these units that serve to generate, disseminate, preserve, and apply knowledge of Oregon’s labor relations, arts, cultural history, and evolutionary and geological history, do not reflect an appropriate stewardship of those resources sustainably and responsibly. Consequently, we, the Senate, request that the University of Oregon rethink its plan for expenditure reductions to distribute them more equitably across all units.

A recent report in Oregon Business by Caleb Diehl gives a pretty comprehensive review of the $5m in subsidies from UO’s academic budget to the Duck athletic empire, here. Some snippets:

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a nonprofit that regulates college sports in the U.S., oversees a $13 billion college sports industry powered mostly by its premier league, Division I. The University of Oregon and Oregon State make millions off lucrative TV contracts, ticket sales and apparel deals. The 2018 budget for the University of Oregon athletic department, fueled almost entirely by men’s football and basketball, was $113.2 million.

The large amounts of revenue generated by college athletics stand in contrast to the frugality of academic departments at Oregon’s public universities, which decry the continual decline in state funding for tuition. In an era of record student loan debt and escalating tuition fees, academic departments are trimming costs wherever they can. But athletic departments continue to spend freely and even accept money from academia that could fund academic programs. Oregon Business examined their budgets and contracts, received through public-records requests. …

The University of Oregon athletics department reports to the NCAA that it doesn’t get any funding from student fees. But in fact, the department’s critics say students pay athletics a combined $5 million a year at the very least.

The university does not publicly acknowledge these subsidies, leading to what Kenny Jacoby, an alum who covered athletics spending for the online student news site, Daily Emerald, calls “the greater myth of self-sufficiency.” The department shows a balanced budget, he says, but “a lot of this stuff at UO is spelled out in building contracts, memoranda of understanding, ASUO [student and faculty government] financial arrangements.”

One of these financial arrangements governs revenue from ticket sales. All students chip in to watch sports, whether they’re fans or not. In 2017 the student government paid $1.7 million for tickets to games. The amount is specified each year in a contract between athletics and the school senate, a governing body representing the interests of students and faculty. The money comes out of the student government budget, funded by part of a mandatory $250 student fee.

The academic budget also pays around $2.2 million (as of 2014-15) for student-athlete tutoring. This service comes at a much higher cost than tutoring for nonathletes. Athletes get their tutoring inside a $41.7 million modernist cube called the John E. Jaqua Center. The university drops $4,000 a year on academic support for each athlete, according to a 2014 University of Oregon senate estimate. Nonathletes get $225 each.

The academic side also remains on the hook for athletics subsidies it agreed to in a 2009 memorandum of understanding that then-president Dave Frohnmayer signed with the athletic department. Nike founder Phil Knight donated a portion of the funds for the Matthew Knight Arena, a new basketball stadium, but the university paid $22.2 million using tax-exempt general obligation bonds for the land.

The athletic department couldn’t pay all of the debt service on the land and facility, so they turned to academics. Consequently, roughly half a million dollars comes out of the academic budget each year for a quarter of the debt service on the bonds. Another $375,000 a year pays for luxury box seats for the university president, and more goes to debt on an underground parking garage.

And here is some data on how much UO pays the Duck coaches:

[coming soon]

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23 Responses to Budget cut Town Hall 2PM April 22, EMU Gumwood room

  1. UO Ethos says:

    UO leadership would cut entire museums, all of LERC, every academic department, and their mother’s throat before letting you touch a dime of the athletics budget. Also Schill wants you to know his salary is off limits, because reasons. Banavar is taking one for the team, another valuable sports metaphor we learned from athletics.

  2. Richard Zeller says:

    I’m curious. As a former director of grant funded projects in the College of Education, we were assessed about 25% of all funds we received to cover “indirect costs.” Some of those funds were return to out units to support the time for future grant writing. Most of it supported larger University administrative costs. I accept that accounting is an art form rather than a science, but I wonder to what extent money generating athletics are assessed in support of larger institutional costs. Should be.

    • uomatters says:

      Last I looked VPFA Moffitt had cut a special deal for Duck athletics, and they pay about 4% in overhead to UO. We pay all their legal expenses for NCAA violations, OCR complaints, etc.

  3. Update says:

    Oh, well if Jamie Moffitt is going to explain everything then I’m sure it will all be fine. Like when she presented alternative facts about UOPD saving the University money. What she may conveniently neglect to mention is the huge portion of athletic funds that could be unrestricted and put towards academic use. Athletics just makes sure to spend that portion first, so the actually restricted funds can’t be clawed back later. Why wasn’t she jumping in to say the University was insolvent when Altman and Schill were getting their raises authorized? No doubt she quickly spent anything of significance in preparation of her upcoming performance of the “dry well report”, which I set my clock to alongside contract bargaining season.

    • dog says:

      actually what moffit will say is that our PERS and other obligation is what is bankrupting the University. This is all because we are financially incompetent at managing our future.

      • thedude says:

        She’s not too wrong. Its’ pretty hard when 20-40 percent of your total compensation is increasing by 10 percent a year to spare a ton of money for COLA raises much less anything else.

        • Big XII says:

          Spot on. If you don’t think PERS is eating universities, state and local governments and public schools alive you are not paying attention. Contribution rates keep climbing. Just take a look at the comparison between 17-19 rates and 19-21. For that matter go back to 2015.

          The entire time higher ed was being cut, PERS rates were going up. Couple that with rising administrative cost driven by chasing enrollment to survive and the “business-ification” of higher education and you have a recipe for where you are today. The very model that developed and kept you growing is now too heavy a weight. Most of your admin cost likely came in academic units…vice and associate provosts for everything and a million student affairs admins. There are sections of administrative and support units that never grew and have suffered from chronic understaffing. I imagine custodial services never kept up with all the buildings going up and square footage being added.

          Stop lumping good hard working colleagues in with the ever amorphous “bloated adminstration.” Get specific with big, real numbers. There is lots or tired talk about bloated adminstration with few specifics. You can argue the “sexy” things like athletics and a president’s salary but you likely won’t win the argument about a president’s salary although it sounds good in press clippings. You also likely won’t win over the public or big donors who love to yell “Go Ducks.” You need to seriously examine where the vast majority of discretionary spending has gone over the last few years. Chasing a few dollars here and there might feel morally good but unfortunately morals don’t always balance the budget.

          Why not ask how many millions more the university spends today on PERS than it did in 2015? Then seriously examine if there is something to be done about it. That might be really tough for some people to stare down. It is the ugliest, hairiest, most expensive beast in the room. We are talking millions and millions of increased real expense that could have been going to COLAs or anything else.

          Why not ask about head count of admins over that period of time in specific units? Academic departments? Student affairs? HR? Finance? Facilities?

          Your budget is all tied up in people. People all day long. When you are talking about cutting you are talking about laying people off. Make sure you know where the “bloat” to really is.

          • Dog says:

            why not have moffit explicitly show “how many millions more the university spends today on PERS than it did in 2015?”

            the fact that nobody, the UO senate, or anyone else, besides
            Moffitt, knows where the expenditures go and the amounts
            associated with that.

            No intelligent discussion can happen without a public release
            of those figures, and hence, no intelligent discussion has happened – only qualitative and uninformed speculation (don’t we have a Dean of uninformed speculation to be in charge of this?

          • charlie says:

            I will argue that PERS, while very important, isn’t the most vital issue. That would be the massive amount of bond debt clogging the balance sheet. Jaime is a senior finance administrator, and when asked how much debt is on the books, and how much debt service UOwe pays, she didn’t know. The single most important element of university finance, and she couldn’t say what those amounts were, or how they’ll be paid when enrollment declines accelerate.

            Keep in mind bondholders are the ones who will determine the future of UOwe. Not JH, not the FS, not the BOT. When the admins decided that they needed hundreds of millions of dollars of outside money to fund arenas, student spas, and EMUs, they gave up autonomy. You’ll not have any say when owners of the debt tell you what you’ll do to make sure they’re paid.

            • uomatters says:

              I love GOT too, but our VPFA’s name is Jamie, not Jaime. And while our $235M in athletic debt has raised the cost of borrowing for the academic side, there is no sign, as of yet, that the Iron Bank doubts that UO will always pay its debts. That said, the most recent bond rating did mention UO’s ability to increase enrollment and tuition, two things that are now very much in doubt.

            • Big XII says:

              Your 2007 PERS contribution rate for Tier 1/2 before the recession took hold was 6.54% of salary.

              Your coming 2019 PERS contribution rate for Tier 1/2 is going to be 22.24% of salary.

              Mind you this is not just eating your budget just because of your employees. Money that could be going to reduce tuition of give COLAs is going to the entire state to feed this beast.

              Currently there are 21,392 active Tier 1 eligible employees in Oregon and 35,136 Tier 2 eligible employees. Let’s imagine all of those make 40,000 a year. Total=2,261,120,000. Imagine further their salary stayed the same between 2007 and 2015.

              2007 contribution rate was 6.54% so the entire PERS bill for this estimated group would be 147,877,248

              Fast forward to 2019. The rate is now 22.24% with a bill of 502,873,088

              So in 12 short years your bill has increased by 354,995,840.

              These estimates are probably veyr light compared to reality which is likely much worse.

              • Anonymous says:

                What were the contribution rates right after the tech bubble burst (2001-3) and housing bubble burst (2009-11)? If the contribution rates were lower than they are now (most likely), what that says is that PERS was on more financially stable footing after the markets were halved than they are now after a ten year bull run. This is going to end very badly. I’m wondering if UO risk management has looked at this.

              • thedude says:

                Anything except for fixing PERS (reducing benefits) is dollar wise and pound foolish when it comes to the general state of the state budget.

  4. Dog says:

    Gee all the A’s are such such a surprise in terms of their depth and empathy, I really feel a whole lot better …

  5. New Year Cat says:

    Fight the good fight, Senate. Not that the administration gives a flying woohoo for what you say….but say it anyway!!! Cuts to arts, history, sciences….how can these not be called cuts to direct instructional programs when so many learn so much from them? (including so many taxpayers who come and enjoy music, learning from the museums, etc.)

  6. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Two questions:

    1) Did anyone ask Moffitt why UO doesn’t charge athletics the $2.2 million it is supposedly spending on special tutoring for the athletes? I would be very interested to learn the real answer — though I don’t expect ever to have this experience.

    2) Did anyone ask her why UO is spending millions of new money on advisors for the Tykeson center? (Way to go, undertake a significant new obligation just as you are running short of money. This was not exactly unforeseeable — though I admit, 20-20 hindsight is very convenient. I guess this is what Schill means by protecting “student success” spending.)

    It is my understanding that together, these two items would cover the better part of the deficit.

  7. JustAnotherBurntOutGradStudent says:

    OK, OK. Dumb question, I know, but maybe it’ll make me feel better: Would it even be worth writing our state representatives and pleading with them to do something? Or are state schools state schools in name only?

    • Big XII says:

      Most public higher education institutions are becoming “state” schools in name only. I would wager to say the state of Oregon’s share of the U of O’s budget is tiny tiny, less than 10%.

    • Please consider joining us as we lobby state legislators at UO Day at the Capitol, Wednesday May 8. Transportation and lunch will be provided.

      Registration here: https://oregon.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_57GrQNVHGdlidXD

      Can I guarantee it will have the desired effect? Nope. But the best thing we can do is communicate the need in a reasonable and informed way to the folks who make the decisions. Those people represent you, and they want to hear from you.

  8. Alfred E. Neuman says:

    What me worry?

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