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Forensics Director Jacobsen on fund modification and debate at UO

12/19/2019 from Forensics Director Trond Jacobsen:

I’d like to thank him for sending this very interesting letter on the history and present of debate at UO. It also explains his work on the fund modifications, which will allow these gifts to be used to benefit our students. And follow his link below to the Daily Emerald article, which has much more.

As the Director of Forensics at Oregon, and an alum of the forensics program, thank you for bringing attention to the good work of Oregon Forensics. Oregon Forensics traces our origins to October 1876, a week after the university opened, and we are among the most successful co-curricular activities at this university.

Oregon students participated in some of the first intercollegiate forensics competitions, the first radio and televised debates, and the first world tour of debate. An Oregon economics professor in 1926 invented the type of debate dominant in the United States, one that is practiced in modified form in parts of Asia as “Oregon-Oxford” debate. There is no public university in the country with a more impressive forensics legacy. Now based in the Robert D. Clark Honors College – President Clark was also the Director of Forensics in the 1940s and 1950s – we are and will always remain open to every undergraduate student on campus, regardless of background or experience.

That legacy attracted modest gifts over the years designed to promote and encourage student participation. As the Director of Forensics I became aware that three such gifts, totaling $140,000 as of 2018, were dormant, benefiting no one because they imagined a speech and debate environment that no longer exists. For instance, the smallest and most recent envisioned distribution through a Department of Speech that no longer exists. The other two imagined a world where 2500 people would buy tickets to see Oregon debate Oxford on campus and where competitive speech was the cultural highlight of a small and remote campus.

More students now compete in forensics activities at Oregon than perhaps any time in our nearly 150-year history, with more than 120 students in speech, debate, and mock trial, up from about a dozen when I arrived in 2013. Unlike competitions in 1889 or 1920, our competitions now take place mostly outside Eugene, at institutions like Washington, Berkeley, Utah, UCLA, UC-Irvine, Texas, and Cornell.

Using the regular and normal process we succeeded in ensuring that every cent of the income from these endowments will support students competing in modern forensics activities, rather than supporting precisely zero students, perhaps awaiting some future use removed from the intent of the donors.

Here is a link to an Oregon Emerald article about my efforts:

Trond Jacobsen
Director of Forensics and University Forum
Career Instructor, Information Science
Robert Clark Honors College
University of Oregon

12/17/2019: UO Foundation’s latest donor fund modifications: communism, oratory

Back in early 2018 I had a series of posts about the UO administration’s successful effort to seize control of a $2.5M fund donated by former professor Marion Dean Ross to the Department of Art History, for the purpose of buying books and photographs on architectural history. Full post here. The gist was that, over the objections of Ross’s executor, UO GC Kevin Reed and Foundation CEO Paul Weinhold were able to eliminate the restriction that the money go for books, and get control of spending from the fund removed from the department’s faculty, and put under the discretion of the CoD Dean – at the time Christoph Lindner.

Since then I’ve been keeping an eye on these fund modifications, thanks to the Oregon DOJ’s Public Records Office, which sends them on request without the fees and delays Kevin Reed’s office here at UO uses to subvert the clear intent of the law.

Most of these are sensible modifications to small gifts from long ago, with “impractical and impossible” (sic) restrictions, e.g.,

Although that doesn’t stop our INS from asking something similar on their Application for Naturalization:

In any case the court has agreed with UO to remove this test:

Here’s another one, dating back to 1889. That year about one out of a hundred Americans got as far as a Bachelors Degree, and the possession of one was apparently enough to attract a crowd, eager to hear your thoughts on matters of the day:

Times have changed:

What’s perhaps most remarkable about this modification is that Jacobsen didn’t have to give spending authority to his Dean – instead it gives it to him, the program director, where it should be. With the Ross modification, GC Kevin Reed argued that it was standard practice in gift modifications to take spending authority from the faculty and give it to the Administration. Glad to see it’s not.


  1. charlie 12/17/2019

    Gotta wonder what potential donors think of a uni that will go to court to override their requests and provisions..

  2. Conservative Duck 12/18/2019

    Hindsight is 20/20, and McCarthy was right. There absolutely was and still are communist subversives in our government and society. Free speech has its limits, and promoting communism is one of them. Like sharia law, it is incompatible with the constitution of the United States and our way of life.

    • charlie 12/18/2019

      Uh huh…

    • Fishwrapper 12/18/2019

      Hindsight is, indeed, a useful tool, and it shows us that McCarthy was a power-drunken demagogue, and the deeper he drank from the chalice of malice, the lower he sank from humanity. That he was the standard bearer as the chief red scarer is its own reasoned response to your comment.

      • Conservative Duck 12/18/2019

        Reasoned response? Fishwrapper, all I see there are ad hominems. Are you trying to say he was wrong, and that there weren’t communist influencers and subversives in our government and society? They table at the end of 13th near the Duck Store!!

        • Fishwrapper 12/18/2019

          C.D., yes, I am saying he was wrong, in an overall, general assessment. To be clear, no, I am not saying there were not “communist influencers and subversives” in our government and society. I am so grateful he spent so much time going after such un-American activities as, say, the KKK. (That there is what us subversives call “litotes,” by the way; if you are preparing to parse these words I type, that may help you decode them a bit more accurately than your previous effort.)

          • Conservative Duck 12/19/2019

            Fishwrapper, ok, first off, if you are going to come off as Mr. Smarty Pants The Intellectual Superior, you might want to actually read the definition of those big ol’ words you are throwing around:
            ironic understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of its contrary (e.g., you won’t be sorry, meaning you’ll be glad ).
            “I am so grateful he spent so much time going after such un-American activities as, say, the KKK.” is just plain old sarcasm, Mr. Smarty Pants. How’s that for parsing? Here’s a real litote for you: rooting out communists from our government is no small task (no small task, as in it actually is a big task, the understated negative of its contrary).
            Also, my calling you out on the ad hominem attacks (first against Saint McCarthy, second against myself) WAS the decoding. I took your poor arguments and decoded them into their base components. Turns out there was no argument there at all, just hot air!
            So, on that same note, care to explain to a dummy such as myself how you can both say that, “no, I am not saying there were not “communist influencers and subversives” in our government and society” and at the same time say that “he was wrong, in an overall, general assessment”? I’m such a nincompoop I can’t seem to parse or decode these seemingly contradictive statements.

            • Fishwrapper 12/19/2019

              C.D., with respect, try reading comprehension classes. It’s all there in what I typed. I beg the court’s permission to quote our collective record, in which you asked two questions, to wit:

              Are you trying to say he was wrong

              and, by the rules of English grammar applied to your query, if I were also trying to say:

              there were not “communist influencers and subversives” in our government and society.

              Despite your pairing those two questions in a single sentence, they are, in fact, not (necessarily) related to each other. To be fair, one could parse that sentence another way, with the “and” linking the two thoughts, but those two notions – McCarthy’s rightness or wrongness and the the existence of “communist influencers and subversives” – though they may have connecting threads can, with regard to your question, offer contrasting answers. So, in the interest of clarity over hyperbole, I took the liberty of separating the clauses and replying to them in turn. As I clearly typed previosuly, I think in an overall sense – using that gift of hindsight with which we have been blessed – McCarthy was wrong. You might (or not) appreciate that my notion was reinforced by honest Uncle Bernie in a separate comment elsewhere on this page.

              Also, my calling you out on the ad hominem attacks (first against Saint McCarthy, second against myself)

              ad hominem? Calling him power-drunk was a satirical barb, hardly ad hominem. While it is true that Senator (I do hate to point this out, as there appears to be a great risk of coming off as a smarty-pants, but you misspelled the appellation) had his own personal struggle with alcoholism, the use of the phrase “power-drunken” refers to a person intoxicated with power, such that one would abuse that power. Did I use a word with a double meaning (drunken) to make the barb that much sharper? Mea culpa, but it’s a legit bit of satire, made even more so because of that connection. An aside: this blog may soon become a repository of much thought and insight as to the definition of satire. Feel free to use this example.
              If my use of words in a precise manner offends you, and suggests to you that I am somehow intellectually superior, well, that’s between you and your pillow. Go back to your online reference from which you copied and pasted the definition of litotes, read it again, then re-read what I typed:

              I am so grateful he spent so much time going after such un-American activities as, say, the KKK.

              If ever there was an ironic understatement, that one belongs in the textbook. Rather than making a negative statement about a positive, I instead crafted it as a positive about a negative. (No wonder you missed it.)

              As to an ad hominem attack on yourself, C.D., please cite, specifically, what is ad hominem in suggesting that using a man whose tactics, methods, and results have been decried beginning in his own lifetime, such that the term “McCarthyism” has been used by persons of all political stripes to refer to shameful behavior – what is ad hominem about suggesting the defense of the source of that term is wholly vulgar, and thus, that person defending him might have wiped some of that vulgarity on their very own self?

              In the meantime, I will concur with probably anyone else who has made it thus far: this is enough. They’re probably going to ask us to get a room.

    • honest Uncle Bernie 12/19/2019

      CD — on the whole, McCarthy did great damage to the worthy anti-communist cause.

  3. Peter Keyes 12/18/2019

    With slight amendments:

    There absolutely was and still are [Communist] Republican subversives in our government and society. Free speech has its limits, and promoting [communism] Republican authoritarianism is one of them. Like sharia law, it is incompatible with the constitution of the United States and our way of life.

    I’m obviously not really proposing this, but I like it more than your version. And it’s better supported by the facts.

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