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Prof Harbaugh announces candidacy as “The Half-Price Provost”

5/14/2019 update:  I’ll be submitting my application tonight, and I’ll post it along with letters of recommendation. Thanks for your support.

 4/28/2019: Dear Colleagues –

I am writing to ask for your support for my candidacy as UO Provost. I’ll be submitting a full application per President Schill’s call, but my campaign platform is simple:

  1. I’m cheap. I’ll do the job for just $250,000 – half the going rate. And, since I drive a paid-off ’87 GMC Caballero, I’ll donate the $12,000 car stipend to SAIL for scholarships.
  2. I’ll keep Johnson Hall’s focus on core academic matters – not distractions like “research metrics”, faculty tracking software, Concur, and big-time sports.
  3. I think UO should tax Duck coaches salaries, not subsidize them. The tax revenue should go towards the university’s academic, cultural, and extension missions.
  4. I’m transparent. If I can’t make “Around the O” tell us what’s really happening at UO and show us where the money’s really going, I’ll keep blogging on UO Matters – but from the inside.

My only non-negotiable demand is two reserved parking spots, since my ride is a bit wider than the usual JH beemer or Prius.


  1. Anonymous 04/28/2019

    Thank god

  2. Hippo 04/28/2019

    (1) You really do own an El Camino, albeit a GMC branded one. I am impressed.
    (2) You should be ticketed for driving on 13th.

    • uomatters Post author | 04/28/2019

      Let’s just say I know a guy in the General Counsel’s office.

      • Hippo 04/29/2019

        That two-tone paint is looking fine. That anything that rolled off a GM assembly line in 1987 is still actually running proves that miracles can happen, and maybe there is a non-null probability that you are appointed Provost.

        • uomatters Post author | 04/29/2019

          Still running great. Does burn through the scotch though.

          • uomatters Post author | 04/29/2019

            Whoops, I meant gas.

            • Hippo 04/29/2019

              Those seats look mighty posh.

              • uomatters Post author | 04/29/2019

                Thanks, but my campaign is not about the Caballero’s luxurious blue velvet interior. It’s about making UO a better university.

  3. Cat Girl 04/28/2019

    maybe you can find a dog to do the other half …

  4. charlie 04/28/2019

    Not only can you be Provost, you can be UOwe’s entry at the Ventura Car Show in June. That’s a sweet rig…

  5. ODA 04/28/2019

    You will NEVER get the job. You demand too much. There is no way you will ever get two parking spaces at JH, or SCH/JSMA.

    • uomatters Post author | 04/28/2019

      As with all non-negotiable demands, this is negotiable.

  6. Bob Keefer 04/28/2019

    Hey, can I be your press representative? I don’t think Johnson Hall has enough communication specialists….

    • uomatters Post author | 04/28/2019

      You’re on my short list, along with Diane Dietz, Kenny Jacoby, and Josh Hunt. Meanwhile I’ll be happy to answer any questions from the EW etc myself.

  7. Starving artist slash UO Prof 04/28/2019

    OMG you had me at “I am writing”

  8. Anonymous 04/28/2019

    I honestly can’t think of anyone who would be better for this position, this university, and this particular moment. Bill would make a great provost.

    Let’s take this seriously.

    • uomatters Post author | 04/28/2019

      To be clear, I am totally serious about wanting to be provost – at half the price. I’ve worked at UO since 1995, the better part of my adult life. I’ve shown my commitment to UO and my ability to work with others to change UO for the better many times. And I’d like to think I’ve kept my sense of humor too.

  9. Larry Kenton 04/29/2019

    Your very best points, Sir, are #2 and (esp) #3… The outrageously DEEP cuts in the Arts funding and programs could well be offset by taxing and reviewing salary issues in the sports departments alone…

  10. Old Gray Mare 04/29/2019

    Will you make the Library fountain run again? Pleeeeeeese?

    • uomatters Post author | 05/01/2019

      No. I am not the plumber of my younger days. But I will promise to try to protect our librarians from budget cuts.

  11. Publius 04/29/2019

    The People’s Provost!

  12. Leporillo 04/29/2019

    You’d be great, no kidding. They’d be lucky to have you, and I know you’d do a great job. They’d be terrified to have you in the rooms.

    I think they should all drive state cars for trips, like the rest of us. It that’s not good enough, they make enough to buy their own.

  13. marmot 04/29/2019

    Rule #1 is know the job you’re interviewing for. You’re saying you know UO inside and out but your cover letter suggests you think the Provost sets policy for the Athletic Department and not vice versa. You’ll never get hired this way!

  14. Cheshire Cat 04/29/2019

    I support the self-nomination. If any anyone understands the personnel and structural defects of the UO it is WTH aka UOM. And if he succeeds and gets the appointment, I recommend that Dog be offered a position in the Provost’s office. A word of caution, however. Recall the words of my hero, Lord Action, about how power corrupts. I will laugh myself all the way to the hospital should WTH get the position and be compelled to compromise on his values in order to get the system to work at all. I have seen WTH walk on water at Odell Lake, but it will be a challenge to preserve his integrity in this case. With much love and affection, the Cheshire Cat.

  15. cdsinclair 04/29/2019

    I am strongly in support of this dark horse candidacy. There are some admin types that might initially revolt, but I think this would be a positive jolt to UO culture.

  16. Texas Guy 04/29/2019

    Make it so!

  17. It's classified 04/29/2019

    You have my endorsement!

  18. New Year Cat 04/29/2019

    If only I could vote for you but I am only a cat.

  19. Dogmatic Ratios 04/29/2019

    Although you’re a great ‘people’s candidate’, let’s get real. The University of Oregon is a dictatorship. Lillis-Schill (Schillis?) would only hire you if they were forced to, by the governor, or with a massive grassroots campaign by the people of Oregon. The search committee alone, and endorsements from the campus community, cannot help you. Schill is transparent about this: “I will ask the search committee to provide me with a report on each finalist’s strengths and weaknesses, and after reviewing feedback from the community, I hope to announce a decision in mid-June. If it turns out that we are unsuccessful in this effort, we will begin a national search in the fall.”

    • uomatters Post author | 04/29/2019

      “Dictatorship” is over the top, and your portmanteau is borderline offensive. I am running a positive campaign for provost, and I hope my supporters will help me keep it positive.

      • Dogmatic Ratios 04/30/2019

        According to Merriam-Webster: “dictatorship … (2) autocratic rule, control, or leadership” … but, dictionaries are notoriously over-the-top …

  20. Richard Bohloff 04/29/2019

    Another insider candidate who knows where the hard drives are buried…

    But seriously, let you single handedly save one of the museums? I doubt that’s ever going to be allowed on Around the O.

  21. just different 04/29/2019

    Let’s start with transparency in the hiring process and hold a debate with the full roster of candidates to see where everyone stands. Town-hall or moderated?

  22. Curious George 04/29/2019

    Would you work to eliminate Concur?

    • uomatters Post author | 04/29/2019

      Concur? Roadkill.

      • Matt 05/02/2019

        OK. That does it. I’m all in. You will save me untold hours and great inconvenience.

  23. Environmental necessity 04/30/2019

    Inverting LBJ, you are better on the outside pissing in than on the inside pissing out. Keep your stream true.

  24. prof from another school 04/30/2019

    Hi Bill; I assume your serious. OK, please tell the community if you are in favor of UO remaining a member of AAU [ and I don’t mean Amateur Athletic Union].
    If your answer is yes, then discuss how your mandate will align with the AAU membership Policies; they are here:

    While we can not know for sure but I suspect that UO falls short, as some AAU schools have recently been kicked out; Your administration may even have correspondence from AAU on this. Perhaps a records request is in order.

    If you don’t think it matters if UO is a member of AAU, that’s fine…..but UO administration sure does make a big deal of being an AAU school.
    Lots of discussion in this blog makes one doubt that many faculty care 2 cents about AAU. Although Faculty do not think about being member of AAU, they certainly do think about doing the stuff that AAU counts… at least in my experience in knowing lots of AAU schools’ faculty.

  25. Don Bishoff 04/30/2019

    I support you on the things you’ve posted. But how do you stand on saving LERC?

    • uomatters Post author | 04/30/2019

      LERC is part of UO’s extension mission. UO should have been lobbying the state for more appropriations for it. It’s cheap. Instead they were busy lobbying for $100M for Knight Campus and $40M for the IAAF. Misplaced priorities.

      • Richard Bohloff 04/30/2019

        That’s neat, but how do you stand on saving LERC?

        • uomatters Post author | 04/30/2019

          If the state won’t step up to the plate, I’d cut baseball and fund LERC, the Museums, and a bit of Bach too.

          • Richard Bohloff 04/30/2019

            The provost is not given authority to cut an athletic program. To be crystal clear, the unofficial org chart is mostly vertical and based on income. As provost you would have less influence on University matters than an assistant coach.

      • ODA 04/30/2019

        OSU does really well at funding their extended state mission. This is one of the reasons people say that OSU is better funded by the state than UO; It is true but their statewide agriculture extensions and Newport research with its very expensive boats (research vessels) cost a lot, are legislatively popular, and not useful for ed and general.

        And yes LERC is comparably cheap and should be easily supported by those lefty and socialist types, not so much by conservatives.

      • uograd 04/30/2019

        “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santanya)

        LERC was established and funded in 1977 at the behest of the Lane Labor Council and the Oregon AFL-CIO, who were, at the time, powerful interest groups relative to the legislature. Although PSU fought hard to have it located in Portland and under its aegis, after a somewhat acrimonious struggle, the State Board of Higher Education decided to locate it at the UofO. Part of the reasoning at the time was that OSU had a powerful statewide presence through its Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Stations and Agents in each county, PSU had a growing political base in Portland as witnessed by its attaining university status and doctoral degrees in 1969, and UofO had noting comparable as a powerful interest group to help lobby on its behalf. Flash forward forty-odd years. The UofO administration is unwisely alienating a powerful interest group by its short-sighted budget cutting proposal relative to LERC. Its proposal almost ranks up there with a UO faculty vote in the late-1940’s to not take over the Vanport Extension Center in Portland. The center, of course, ultimately became PSU, while UO spends precious dollars trying (failing?) to establish a Portland base. Moral: The past matters if you’re smart enough to consider it when taking significant actions.

  26. Political Science prof. 04/30/2019

    You would be a great Provost, but I can not support you. UO should show some respect for diversity and inclusion and NOT have both: the President and the Provost to be white males. We need a female ( or other gender ID), a person of color etc, but not another white male. You should continue this blog, though.

    • Richard Bohloff 04/30/2019

      So, in this period of insolvency you’re supportive of keeping the President who takes a raise and pushing away the Provost who volunteers a paycut? Gotcha.

    • Campus Worker 2 04/30/2019

      The professor could heed the notions of expertise, merit, and past performance when discussing items with which to judge qualifications.

    • just different 04/30/2019

      I’d rather have a white guy provost who enforces diversity initiatives from the ground up than a provost who looks good in a brochure but does next to nothing to improve diversity for everyone else.

      • uomatters Post author | 04/30/2019


    • Deplorable Duck 05/01/2019

      I’m reminded of that scene from CaddyShack in which Chevy Chase notes that he never keeps track of his golf score. His colleague, incredulous, asks how he then measures himself against other golfers. Chevy’s reply: “By height.”

  27. Anon 04/30/2019

    Let’s get real here. The President appoints the provost; even the search committee has nothing more than an advisory role. And Shill is highly unlikely to be willing to appoint WTH. Even if Shill were willing to do so, he would know that the BOT would fire him if he made that move given the withering attacks that WTH has leveled against them.

  28. John 04/30/2019

    worst. idea. ever.

  29. Glen 05/14/2019

    As a colleague, I have witnessed in Bill a regard for others that I think goes under-appreciated. A stalwart for transparency and the greater good, he still shows a sensitivity to the university community, recognizing that it is fundamentally a community of people and for people. Nothing rises to the level of exemplifying this more than the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning. Now well known on campus, and one of the go-to examples of the best of what the UO can offer, SAIL reaches middle and high school students from underrepresented backgrounds, encouraging enrollment through early exposure and exploration. Bill identified a need and, instead of doubling down on old, failing, and obvious efforts to target populations that sounded right to administrators, with ideas that never really sounded right to anyone, he innovated. And he did so with effort. Today, growing numbers of students and others in the community (administrators included) benefit. Classic Bill, in my book.

    • Gina Psaki 05/14/2019

      Hear, hear, for the excellent SAIL program! I remember when Bill was pilloried as an anti-diversity contrarian for calling the (oh God which one, 2007?) diversity plan too expensive and too ineffectual for the problem it was trying to solve. He’s made a great deal of difference to a lot of people with SAIL

      • uomatters Post author | 05/14/2019

        Thank you Gina, your comment means a lot to me.

        For the record, Bruce Blonigen was SAIL’s cofounder. His experiences as a first generation college student were part of the inspiration for it, and his organizational and political skills were crucial to its survival. As was our early support from Helen Neville, Andy Karduna, and Raghu Parthasarathy (the 45% provost), and a very generous anonymous donor.

        What started as an outlaw diversity movement now has the full support of President Schill and Provost Banavar, about 20 UO departments running camps, and hundreds of UO faculty volunteers, OA’s and staff supporters, and student mentors. And Lara Fernandez.

        This summer we expect to have about 550 students on campus, including our first ever overnight camps for students from around the state. We also have, thanks to Lara, extensive mentoring and tutoring support programs in local high schools. She hires the SAIL alumni who come to UO as undergrads, and sends them back out to help in their old schools.

        We’re always looking for new volunteers – the website is at

  30. Curious George 05/14/2019

    May the odds be ever in your favor.

  31. Publius 05/14/2019

    Have they announced who is on the provost search committee, beyond who is chairing it?

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