“Issues Management” spokesperson says UO paid professors $170K to avoid inconvenience

12/4/2019 update: Daily Emerald reporter

“For the reasons outlined in the University’s previously filed Answers and the settlement agreements, the University of Oregon and former Dean Christoph Lindner disagree with the plaintiffs’ allegations,” UO spokesperson Kay Jarvis said in a statement about the settlement. “The settlements were made to eliminate the cost and inconvenience of proceeding through trial.”

And President Schill still wonders why people don’t trust him? Come on, we all know Lindner fucked up. Why not have your Issues Management Director write these professors a nice apology, so we can move on.

12/3/2019: UO admin settles discrimination lawsuit for $170K+ costs etc.

No, I’m not talking about Prof Freyd’s gender discrimination lawsuit, this is the age discrimination lawsuit brought against former CoD Dean Christoph Lindner – it seems his email calling for “new blood” cost UO $250K or so. The Faculty Union’s Dave Cecil gets some well-deserved credit, and the end of the statement is worth getting to:

PRESS RELEASE

December 3, 2019

UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS WIN SETTLEMENT IN AGE DISCRIMINATION DISPUTE

Two Architecture Professors this week finalized a settlement of their age discrimination claims against the University of Oregon and former Dean Christoph Lindner. The monetary terms included payment by the University of $170,000 to Professor Warren (Gerry) Gast and Professor Hans Joachim (Hajo) Neis, who sued the University and Lindner for age discrimination and retaliation after an attempt to permanently reassign both professors from their long-standing faculty positions at the Portland campus to the Eugene Campus.

“The principles we stood for in the lawsuit are more important to us than the monetary settlement,” explained Gast. “When a former Dean who had less than one year in his position and no previous experience as a Dean transferred the oldest Portland tenured faculty members and retained younger and adjunct staff without credible justification, we felt we owed it to the program and to our faculty colleagues in the Department of Architecture to take action,” he added.

Both Professor Gast and Professor Neis maintained permanent residences in Portland and enjoyed strong ties to the Portland architecture community. Professor Gast had recently been appointed by the Portland Superintendent of Schools to the Master Plan Committee for Lincoln High School and participated in the successful Bond campaign to raise $790 million for public school reconstruction in Portland.

Professor Neis was the previous director of the Portland Architecture Program for more than seven years and is still the director of the internationally recognized Portland Urban Architecture Research Lab (PUARL), with yearly international conferences, research efforts and projects in Portland, the West Coast and internationally, with current work on the refugee crisis in Europe and its effect on cities, urban life, and housing: https://refugee.uoregon.edu/.

The settlement of the age discrimination and retaliation claims comes after the United Academics successfully resolved grievances for the professors providing for their continued assignment to the Portland campus for at least two years. In addition to the monetary terms, the settlement provides that Neis and Gast retain their ability to bring suit for breach of contract if they are thereafter reassigned to the Eugene Campus. According to Neis, “retaining that right to sue for breach of contract is necessary because our full status in Portland remains officially unresolved.”

“Our personal and professional lives were disrupted for two years while our Grievance and lawsuit played out,” stated Professor Gast. “The graduate courses we normally taught in Portland were subsequently taught by less expensive part-time adjunct faculty,” added Professor Neis. “This is a troubling precedent for a research university,” he said.

“It took two and a half years to reach this result for Gast and Neis,” said Portland Employment Attorney Craig Crispin, who represented them. “I was impressed by my clients’ dedication and persistence in pressing for what they thought was the right thing,” he added. “It was a combined effort with David Cecil of United Academics to achieve justice for our respective clients,” Crispin concluded.

Gast noted that “most disconcerting in our case was our belief that the University made unsubstantiated statements in its response to our lawsuit and complaint before the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. This conduct undermines confidence in the integrity of the University administration.” Both professor Gast and Professor Neis report being satisfied with the settlement of the lawsuit and of their grievance. “We look forward to a new era of more respectful leadership within the College of Design,” Gast noted.

 

-30-

Contact:

Craig A. Crispin

Crispin Employment Law PC

1834 SW 58th Avenue

Portland, Oregon 97221

Telephone: 503-293-5759

crispin@employmentlaw-nw.com

 

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12 Responses to “Issues Management” spokesperson says UO paid professors $170K to avoid inconvenience

  1. just different says:

    Maybe it’s just a coincidence that this successful discrimination suit against UO was filed in Portland. Or maybe not.

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  2. Inquiring Minds says:

    Well isn’t the TRP super elite 6%, 3-year bonus supposed to move people like this on? Hmmm perhaps that bonus (which also amps up the UO’s obligations in PERS for the life of the recipient), isn’t such as important factor. I know this is heresy for eligible faculty, but what if we reduced the TRP bonus to 2%? How much would that save the State/UO?

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    • uomatters says:

      You’ve got it backwards. (Don’t feel bad, Jamie and Brad are just figuring this out too, and I’m not sure my explanation below is exactly correct either – but the gist is)
      ~70% of UO’s PERS payments go to build the investment pool up for people who have already retired. This is mostly Tier 1’s who retired in the early 2000’s when payouts hit 105% of salary. But these catchup payments from UO to PERS are apparently calculated on the basis of UO’s current number of Tier 1’s, not the number of past UO retirees. So when a UO Tier 1 retires (which includes starting TRP work), UO’s PERS costs goes down in three ways:
      1: We don’t have to pay anything into PERS for them specifically anymore. 31% of salary saved.
      2: Since the cost of their “unfunded liability” is shared among all state agencies, our proportion of this cost goes down. If you look at Jamie’s budget documents, you’ll see that UO saved $500K this way just last year.
      3: we replace them with a younger hire who is paid less and gets PERS lite.

      A more aggressive TRP program could save UO millions. Brad has been “running the numbers” on this for a few years. We should hope he gets it figured out before the E&G bucket is half-empty. You’ll see some acknowledgment of these savings from Moffitt, page 67 here: If you take a look at page 67 here: https://trustees.uoregon.edu/sites/trustees2.uoregon.edu/files/full_bot_12.10.2019_-_meeting_packet_v3.pdf

      That page also points out that PERS is now charging UO a fee for PERS retirees who “double-diP” by coming back to work for UO while collecting PERS. This includes TRP faculty, as well as administrators like Brad Shelton, whose admin raises – far above the 6% faculty get – spiked his three year salary by about 50%, and mean he’s collecting $181,134 from PERs under the “full formula”, plus $135K from UO for 1/2 time work. I don’t know how large the additional PERS charge to UO for this is.

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    • Dog says:

      there are about 50 faculty a year that go on TRP
      so you can calculate if 6% of 50 faculty is a large
      or small amount relative to global budget

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  3. Louis Can't says:

    And we’re now $250K poorer and stuck with them. If only our university had competent deans and lawyers who could figure out how to spend this sort of money to encourage the deadwood to retire gracefully, instead of providing Mr. Crispin with a continuous stream of clients and lucrative contingency fees.

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  4. Frank Lloyd Wrong says:

    It’s not at all surprising that their lawyer’s statement makes the plaintiffs sound amazing and productive, but in fact these guys are (famously) the deadest of dead wood. Gast hasn’t written anything in years, and Neis’s “PUARL” is a circle jerk where the same gang of the same five or six old pals get together annually and self-publish the same old stuff.
    As awful as Lindner is, he may have been on to something here….

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  5. Richard Bohloff says:

    Losing a lawsuit would be very inconvenient, yes.

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    • uomatters says:

      And violate the principle that no Johnson Hall administrator ever makes a mistake. Better to pay them off, then have your spokesperson throw shade at them.

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  6. Dogmatic Ratios says:

    Lindner’s biography lists no actual experience in design, art, architecture, or urban planning -(https://www.christophlindner.org/bio) – which anyone can discern by listening to him. So, how could he lead the AAA? It’s very mysterious, and probably indicates as much about the standards of today’s institutions as it does about him.

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  7. Feisty Otter says:

    Who hires these Deans???

    This is the second time that a first-year Dean of the College of Design (formerly A&AA) cost the University a quarter mill or more in a settled lawsuit.

    Previously: https://www.dailyemerald.com/archives/university-settles-with-stockard-for/article_ea4554ce-b061-5df1-905b-58ae5911bd46.html and https://www.chronicle.com/article/U-of-Oregon-Settles/1855

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    • uomatters says:

      Thanks Otter, I’d forgot about this one. Frances Bronet is now President of the Pratt Institute, and presumably she learned something from this, at UO’s expense. Her brag sheet is here – https://www.pratt.edu/the-institute/administration-resources/office-of-the-president/about/

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      • Dog says:

        Yes Bronet was relatively long lasting dean here with pretty good effectiveness and initiative. Yes, anyone that exercises initiative at the UO rubs most people the wrong way and certainly becomes a problem for the inertia driven JH occupants. But I thought (again, who the hell cares what I think) she had real ideas for change and implemented some of them but eventually the UO inertia dominated (the UO inertia is this: we are excellent, we have always been excellent, why change, why evolve?) and drove her out.

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