IRES faculty call out Admin for not retaining Prof Hames-Garcia

In the Eugene Weekly, here. Some snippets:

The University of Oregon is on the verge of losing one of its only professors who studies race and the criminal justice system within a social justice framework.

Ironically, this is happening at a historic moment of national crisis, where anti-Black violence is not only rampant but newly visible, where multi-racial coalitions all across the nation are demanding justice, and where leading scholar-activists have an enormous role to play in helping us understand a way forward. Professor Michael Hames-García is a national leader in the study of race, incarceration and policing. He has been teaching and institution building at the UO since 2005, and he has earned two of the UO’s most prestigious research and teaching excellence awards. …

The UO Makes Excuses and Undermines Activist Scholars of Color

We often hear white faculty and administrators at the UO say that the UO can’t recruit and retain top ranking faculty of color because they don’t want to live in Oregon.

The irony of this statement is that Oregon is Hames-García’s home. This is where he grew up, this is where his extended family currently lives, and this is where he would continue to maintain his active commitments to community development. He will be forced to split his time between a job in one state and his life’s work in another precisely because the UO administration refuses to admit that its commitments to racial justice, at this historical moment, remain thin. They are rhetorical gestures that allow the administration to claim to value racial justice at the same time that they actively undermine justice in practice.

… In 2002, the university signed a racial discrimination settlement, known as the Joe Wade settlement agreement, that established a number of affirmative action requirements, among them a promise to conduct exit interviews of all faculty and staff of color leaving the UO. To this date, those exit interviews do not happen. Many faculty of color have left in just the past five years, so many that we have lost count, and we have yet to see university accountability measures that take stock of why these faculty left and what their experiences were.

Faculty of color have nowhere to go with complaints of racial bias, hostility or discrimination. We used to have an Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. At a time when a large group of faculty of color reported a systematic experience of racialized harm by a white dean, the university fired the affirmative action officer overseeing the complaints.

Notably, that officer was the only woman of color to ever hold that position. She also happened to have made comments that sounded supportive of the faculty union. Once fired, faculty of color were diverted to a newly restructured system of “Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance,” which was overseen by a hand-picked former UO law school graduate. Does any of this sound familiar?

Charise Cheney, Lynn Fujiwara, Brian Klopotek, Sharon Luk and Ernesto Martínez are associate professors in the UO Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies.

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16 Responses to IRES faculty call out Admin for not retaining Prof Hames-Garcia

  1. C1133 says:

    I agree with Raiseyourhand. How can this be happening? And what is the scoop — he got an offer of a higher salary elsewhere? Isn’t this ALWAYS the case with our faculty of color? We lose them because Johnson Hall just doesn’t care (but says it does).

    WHAT CAN WE DO?

    PS All that money the UO just spent on flagpoles and flags at the new zillion-dollar track stadium — how much did THAT set us back?

  2. thedude says:

    Retention is a key reason salaries are low here. The UO doesn’t do enough to retain people. They don’t have to match. They just need to do more than a 5 or 10 percent bonus. That of course costs a lot of money, which deans just don’t have.

    Is retention something the union needs to take up bargaining on to make sure it’s done fairly and without deans or provosts only fighting to retain their favorites??

  3. Observer says:

    Okay, let’s play devil’s advocate here. Let’s say that Prof. Hames-Garcia makes what you would expect a UO full professor in Ethnic, Indigenous and Race Studies to make, which would be around $125,000. (Salaries are public if you want to go dig up the real figure.) That’s quite a bit for the UO, though not as much as some full profs make in departments like, say, Economics. Let’s compare that salary to some salaries in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. A full professor there might have made $189,447 — as of 2018, their most recent reporting year that’s available. So the UO is looking at a cut of at least $50 million for AY 2020-21, and laying off a good many employees. just for starters. (Some of whom even fit in the categories of racial minorities.) To meet the offer of a place like UC Berkeley would presumably cost around at least $64,000 per year, or $320,000 extra over the next five years. Is it better to spend that $64,000 raising the salary of one faculty member, or to put towards keeping a career faculty member or other employee from total unemployment? That’s the kind of choice that’s being made.

    • Excellence and Inclusion says:

      OK, Observer. I’ll play. Is it “is it better to spend that $64,000 raising the salary of one faculty member, or to put towards keeping a career faculty member or other employee from total unemployment?” Why is the price of retaining excellent faculty always the NTTF? If “these are the choices that are being made,” they are false choices. The University’s money mismanagement is so legendary, it’s like one could devote an entire blog to the topic.

      Moreover, how do you know this faculty member isn’t worth it? Reducing recidivism is an enormous cost-saving measure for our community, not to mention, it makes our county a better place. UO should also consider that Professor Hames-Garcia will be a leading voice in the aftermath of the current unrest, and thereby increase the profile of our campus.

      • uomatters says:

        Agreed. $64K is roughly what UO is spending on, say, maintenance for the unoccupied Tree-Tops mansion. The administration doesn’t even blink an eye on spending that kind money – unless it’s for faculty.

        • Observer says:

          Yeah, y’all make good points. I sure wish they’d use some of the sacred football money to keep faculty employed, but apparently it is behind a sacred wall. As far as I’ve heard, the people who make the decisions are stuck moving faculty pay around among faculty, and their inclination to rebel against this constraint is undetectable. But I’m a little lost on “Reducing recidivism is an enormous cost-saving measure for our community, not to mention, it makes our county a better place.” “Recividism” means “the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend.” How does that relate to the retention of faculty?

          • Vhils says:

            Here’s a simple solution, end the invented improperly created/hired Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives position (which seems to be largely devoted to organizing ‘writing circles’), take the 50k in CAS admin salary savings and pay it to MHG to retain him. Maybe throw in the free parking permit too. He’ll then probably still be making a little less than that person when they return to their ‘home’ unit. Better value for our scarce dollars all away around.

  4. Excellence and Inclusion says:

    This is really disappointing. Every week, we faculty receive long-winded emails from administrators about UO’s commitments to “excellence” and “diversity.” Prof Hames-Garcia is a world-class scholar whose rigorous *humanities* research contributes tangibly to social change. Why UO wouldn’t fight to keep him, especially in these times, is beyond me.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t there money in the Knight Campus for Accelerating Social Justice to retain this important scholar…oh nevermind. If only he did work in extending the life of a megalomaniac shoe salesman.

  6. Raiseyourhand says:

    This is not only about retaining Hames-García, it’s a stunning indictment of the UO around race in academia. As a new person around the UO, I cannot understand why there is not more of an uproar at this university about these issues. It’s shocking. What’s going on?

  7. Ostrich says:

    “One of its only professors who studies race and the criminal justice system within a social justice framework”? How many professors do we have who study race and the criminal justice system within a social justice framework?

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