$272K VP for Equity emails faculty about Love, Authenticity, Courage and Empathy

Sent out today. Full email here. More on the VP for EI’s excess cash problem here. The average faculty salary at UO is about $70K.

Dear Colleagues:

As a tenured faculty colleague who is currently teaching a course in our School of Law, I’ve experienced firsthand the panic of suddenly transitioning to the remote-teaching environment in mid-semester. I want to echo the messages of gratitude from President Schill and Provost Phillips, and offer my appreciation for all of the sacrifices that you are already making to ensure that all of our students continue to receive a high-quality education at the UO.

As you are aware, many of our students are in precarious situations, and as a result, the way that we show up in our classrooms will have a very real impact on their academic success and overall wellbeing. We therefore need to be exceptionally caring and present in interacting with our students, especially remotely. As a parent and a faculty colleague, I’m writing to raise awareness about some of the invisible challenges around equity and inclusion that many of our graduate and undergraduate students are facing, and to ask for your support in addressing them.

COVID-19 is axiomatically shining a “bright light” on what Gloria Ladson-Billings and other researchers refer to as the “education debt”; the idea that our students come to the university against the backdrop of historical, economic, socio-political, moral decisions and policies that characterize our unequal society. Consider the following situations that all too many of our UO graduate and undergraduate students continue to face:

    • Many of our students live in households as well as rural and tribal communities, where these services are either unavailable or not affordable.
    • Domestic violence has increased during the COVID-19 crisis and some of our students are now living in environments where verbal, physical and/or psychological abuse is a  daily reality.
    • According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 3.4 million American children live with parents between the ages of 18 and 24. Some of those parents are our students, and they are frequently parenting without a partner while studying, teaching and sharing technology with their own children.
    • For our African American and Native students in particular, as well as  other students of color as well, whose community members are reportedly dying disproportionately from COVID-19, many are currently studying under the cloud of both grief and uncertainty.
    • We have students with cognitive and physical disabilities whose overall successes depend on specific accommodations that are strained in the remote learning environment.
    • Asian American students and their families are experiencing blame and scapegoating for a virus for which they are not responsible, while harassment and discrimination against Jewish,  Muslim and other students of color is on the rise.
    • Our international students are contending with different time zones and varying levels of English proficiency.
    • Unemployment can add an additional layer of stress for first generation students students of color, and immigrant and DACA students whose employment is crucial for survival.

Despite these impediments, our students are doing their best to thrive. Following are five ways that we can actively support our students’ academic careers during this precarious time:

    1. Find additional ways and means of showing kindness, listen closely when students are asking for help, and respond to their needs with patience and resourcefulness. Assume good intent. Just as our Provost has offered faculty the opportunity to stop their tenure/promotion clocks, and suspended all non-critical service obligations, in turn let’s find creative ways to enhance learning and care for our students.
    2. If you are struggling to adapt your teaching to the remote environment, avail yourself of the resources of the Teaching and Engagement Program (TEP). Find ways to adjust workload expectations in ways that are reasonable for you and your students. TEP is committed to your success as a teacher, and hosts a wealth of resources and tools, timely news and workshops, personal consultations, and a blog where you can connect and share advice with your colleagues.
    3. Remember that students with technology and other access issues are bona fide students with legitimate needs that we must be willing to address. We should never ask them to drop our classes because of access issues.  Be proactive with communicating to your students, listen to understand their issues and adapt course materials so that they can be accessed via phone and other devices. Ensure that your assignments, assessments and workloads, under current circumstances, are reasonable.
    4. Attendance is not to be graded this term.  Our students are accessing our classrooms from time zones all over the world, and with differing levels of internet access. Some may be caregivers for sick relatives or children, or have unpredictable schedules, or be in a home with under-resourced or competing tech needs. Please make sure there are asychronous ways for students to engage with you as an instructor and access course content such as recorded class session/lectures, and office hours – both scheduled and by appointment.”
    5. Consider adopting relevant parts of the L.A.C.E. – Love, Authenticity, Courage and Empathy framework. L.A.C.E. is an aspect of my own research, and is not an official UO policy or framework. However, the concepts, when used in ways that are consistent with UO policies and practices, are helpful in facilitating engagement, active learning strategies and to diffusing “hot moments” in the classroom. You can learn more about L.A.C.E. here. Know that our Division of Equity and Inclusion team and I are available to talk through any equity-related concerns that you are dealing with in your classes. For prompt assistance or appointments, please reach out to us at vpinclusion@uoregon.edu.

Lastly, I want to stress that the UO’s anti-discrimination policies and our commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity are as important as ever in the online environment. These protections are for the protection of students and faculty alike.  Staff from DEI and our Center for Diversity and Community, as well as TEP, are available to discuss issues of equity and inclusion issues in the classroom. If you have questions about reporting instances of harassment or discrimination, please contact the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance. If you, as a faculty member, are experiencing harassment or forms of discrimination from students, please contact the Office of Conduct and Community Standards for support in addressing and resolving these issues. Self-care and self-empathy are important during these challenging times.

Every one of us has had to face enormous personal challenges in this uncertain environment, and we appreciate all that you have done to adapt in such a short period of time. As compassionate members of our faculty, we are best positioned to help our students to weather this storm and, in the process, ensure they continue to receive the very best education the UO has to offer. Let’s do our part in helping them to succeed.

Take good care,
Yvette

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23 Responses to $272K VP for Equity emails faculty about Love, Authenticity, Courage and Empathy

  1. Mercedes says:

    What the actual F? — Is anyone considering a vote of no confidence in the current president? This person’s office and overpaid staff, if cut, could pay for the cost of upcoming non-TT faculty cuts.

  2. union_gal says:

    Please in the name of all things holy let JH be reading UOM.

    • Dog says:

      I can assure that JH reads this and has since day 1 – hence the development of the blacklist criteria. At one point in its existence
      there was an attempt to identify frequent critics of JH that posted
      on this blog. Fortunately, the people that tried to do this were
      completely inept.

      But, rest assured, it is read although they would all refuse to admit this.

  3. Mira says:

    Yeah I saw that email. Shook my head. Hit delete. Now excuse me I have actual work to do, I don’t have time for this nonsense.

  4. Angry Otter says:

    In all seriousness….the decision to pay a VP $36,000 to teach a small Law class is indicative of just how truly problematic budget related decision-making at this university is. This is deeply disturbing.

    I am not questioning the value of the class or her teaching – it could be profoundly important. But even pre-COVID, the Law School and the University overall were in a serious budget bind. The idea that a $272k VP needed to be paid a 13% overload to teach one class is preposterous. It suggests that her busy VP schedule (doing what exactly?) couldn’t possibly be adapted for one term to accommodate teaching within her normal work load. That’s hard to believe.

    This is a failure on the part of her supervisor. (Check the org chart for that info: https://president.uoregon.edu/files/leadership_org_chart_022820.pdf).

    Schill frequently admonishes us to ‘be nice’, ‘have grace’ and assume that administrators are working very hard to protect the university and acting with the best of intentions. But he MUST start to understand that it is this kind of circumstance creates the appearance of administrators feathering their own nests and the appearance that he is either aiding and abetting, or at a minimum, doing absolutely nothing to stop it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes! Please UOM make sure the union sees this! It is an insult to those who of us who teach in packed classrooms and get so so so much less per head. Unbelievable. How is the law school getting away with this?

  5. Captive audience says:

    I sat through an hour of slides from this VP. As someone pointed out, it was mostly about the organization of her office. Despite this, I still couldn’t actually figure out what she or anyone in her office actually *does*.

    • uomatters says:

      You people are just being mean. No way I could find someone willing to organize my office for 2x this.

  6. Selective Reader says:

    It’s hard for me to imagine that anybody actually read this letter. I read the first three sentences or so when it appeared, then quickly hit delete as it became obvious there was no useful information being conveyed, just more self-serving posturing by an overpaid admin. I agree with the other post that unless I hear about Ex. VP positions such as these getting significant salary reductions, I’m not voting for a pay cut. (FYI, I’m NTTF, teach between 200 and 300 students every term, and earn about $46,000 for the pleasure — and it generally is a pleasure.)

  7. Per Se says:

    I have seen two presentations by the VP and they concentrated on describing a complex organizational chart that constituted the bureaucracy of her office. There was little, if any, talk of equity and the term was never defined. Now it’s refreshing to see this discussion of economic and other forms of inequality among our students, but these issues were paramount well before covid. Also lets hear a word or two about equity among those who work at UO. Less lace, more equity, please.

  8. Disappointed says:

    I was under the impression that she’d agreed to retire from the VP job after her most recent evaluation. Meanwhile the deans have been hiring their own diversity people to do the work the DEI won’t.

  9. faculty says:

    OMG. The good news is that there are $275K of salary savings right there without anyone noticing! I am not voting for any salary cut while she is on the books.

  10. Oryx says:

    Is there anyone who actually finds useful content in this email? I honestly want to know. I read and re-read it, asking “ok, and… ?” What is the VP for Equity actually offering to do? What am I being told to do that isn’t already stated in so many other emails or that isn’t obvious? Couldn’t we use $270k to fund activities that directly help students?

    And I don’t think the VP for Equity understands what “axiomatic” means.

    • LemonCrisp says:

      I think that “axiomatically” is used here to mean “obvious or self-evident”. I don’t think it’s exactly wrong per se, but apart from being overwrought it certainly isn’t the best choice of words.

    • Hibernating Otter says:

      I had exactly this same reaction. The info she provided in that email was all stuff I’d seen on the news or in the NYTimes. Made me feel like our administration thinks we are morons….it was all obvious…

      If anyone out there is telling students to drop their classes because they have technical challenges, then I stand corrected…

  11. thedude says:

    Clearly we need another dean vp of equity to make sure our admins aren’t tone deaf in how they communicate to us.

  12. thedude says:

    How about we hire a Russian bot to email this stuff. I bet it will do a better job at a fraction of the price.

    • Vlad's Bots and PPE says:

      Given the demand for fake-news Coronavirus posts we are currently unable to accept new clients. However, once your government declares that the November elections have been postponed we expect to be able to take on new Bot work at our usual low rates. Meanwhile we are able to provide genuine N95 masks and Hydroxychloroquine, with guaranteed overnight delivery.

      Bitcoin preferred.

  13. Pre post-career-non-professor says:

    She has 16 students. I have 299. In one of my classes.

  14. Bapu ji says:

    This pay difference does not seem …. equitable.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am glad to see how the UO spends 272K on cheerleading …

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