UO takes admin hiring secrecy to next level for CAS search

We’ve all heard about the controversial practice of closed presidential searches, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a closed search for a Dean before – not even at LSU. But UO seems to be trying, so here’s my public records request for a little transparency:

From: harbaugh <harbaugh@uoregon.edu>
Subject: Public records request, CAS Dean finalist info
Date: April 12, 2022 at 3:39:00 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
Cc: Elliot Berkman <berkman@uoregon.edu>
Dear Ms Thornton – 
This is a public records request for the cover letters and cv’s of the finalists for the CAS Dean position. I ask for a fee waiver on the basis in public interest in the hiring of a public university official who will have responsibility over the bulk of UO’s academic matters and a large chunk of its budget. 
I’m ccing search committee co-chair Elliot Berkman, as he should be able to provide these documents without your office’s usual fees and delays. 

Thanks,
Bill Harbaugh, UO Economics, harbaugh@uoregon.edu

The ask:

Candidates interview dates:

Candidate A: Monday and Tuesday, May 2-3

Candidate B: Thursday and Friday, May 5-6

Candidate C: Monday and Tuesday, May 9-10

Candidate D: Thursday and Friday, March 12-13

Public Presentation

There will also be a public presentation by each candidate. The presentations will take place on the second day of each candidates visit from 10:00 to 11:00a with a reception immediately following at 11:00 to 11:45a on the dates below. The presentations will be hybrid and the Zoom link will be available later in April. Please hold these events on your calendar.

  • Candidate A Presentation: May 3 10-11a, EMU Gumwood Room, 245 | Reception 11-11:45a, EMU Cedar + Spruce Rooms, 231-232 
  • Candidate B Presentation: May 6 10-11a, EMU Gumwood Room, 245 | Reception 11-11:45a, EMU Cedar + Spruce Rooms, 231-232
  • Candidate C Presentation: May 10 10-11a, EMU Gumwood Room, 245 | Reception 11-11:45a, EMU Cedar + Spruce Rooms, 231-232
  • Candidate D Presentation: May 13 10-11a, Chapman Hall, 220 | Reception 11-11:45a, Tykeson Hall, James Commons area (first floor)

Please be aware that candidate names will not be made public. Members within UO will be able to access candidate materials in the secure   search folder. Materials will be added to this folder the week of April 25. We ask for all participants to maintain confidentiality in regard to candidate names and materials.

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17 Responses to UO takes admin hiring secrecy to next level for CAS search

  1. Slowly Boiled IT Duck says:

    If one of them is Elon, he has my vote.

    • Environmental necessity says:

      You mean, a man who is on record saying college degree have no value and people should not in particular aspire to attend college?

      Even if one is inclined to agree with both propositions, isn’t that disqualifying for the position?

      • Slowly Boiled IT Duck says:

        He’s probably not the one. But Academia needs someone to upset the cart and remind us of what it once meant. It’s becoming hard to remember.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjR6nHhc6Rg

        • CSN says:

          What would “upsetting the cart” look like for CAS, in your view?

          • Dog says:

            Upsetting the cart: Get rid of Academic Departments and all these silly department heads that only protect budgets and never exercise initiative. Instead combine various departments into academic programs centered around some interdisciplinary issues – get rid of dept based degrees. Appoint program managers for
            those areas and get read of thematic deanlets …

            Yes I know this is never gonna happen here (steps towards this
            have happened elsewhere).

            • CSN says:

              Interesting ideas. What would happen to faculty in this world?

              • Dog says:

                Most likely faculty would end up teaching courses and mentoring students in a more real way that is more closely related to their research interests. There research interests would most likely be broaden at well. The only thing that
                changes in this model is that admin stuff is reduced- also
                students likely get better trained for the real world and get more relevant degrees …

                • uomatters says:

                  As Yeltsin said of communism, “It seems like such a great idea. I just wish they’d tried it on some small country first.”

        • Jane says:

          OK. So the university was in a way a kind of secular temple. And, in the analogy, it has been corrupted by its addiction to revenue streams and marketing and ideological capture. So where now are the true teachers? What would their motivations be? What would count as truth?

          • Slowly Boiled IT Duck says:

            Worthy questions, and I’m not qualified to answer. But I’m an American, so that won’t stop me.

            Who are the true teachers? (“/So where are the strong?/And who are the trusted?/”) I’ve encountered a number, and a common thread is that they are utterly apolitical, at least in their professional roles. I might have tried in vain to guess their opinions on any political controversy of the day, but I never knew. Think of The Keymaker in the Matrix movies. Utter excellence in his discipline. Absurd to imagine him endorsing any candidate or temporal trend.

            Motivations? To pass on the light of knowledge, as it was passed down to them, through the centuries, significantly through the Enlightenment, through many paths leading to Plato, but also through a multitude of other paths now obscure, only a few of which may yet be retrieved. And if the dark ages come again–as now seems possible–in a few thousands of years, more such teachers will arise.

            Truth in the Academy is through trial by the fire of rhetoric. How does one convince, particularly within the boundaries of valid argument as discovered over thousands of years? Even the scientific method is a mere extension of this foundational idea.

            UO has a Common Reading. How about a Common Writing? We could call it the Mill Race. (“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.”)

            Choose a reasonably controversial topic of the day (e.g., “Shall unlawful immigration into the US be broadly encouraged or discouraged?”). Each student is to produce two short essays, one in favor, one against. Essays submitted as a pair, but otherwise blinded. Evaluated by a panel of judges (perhaps from some other University), and ranked according to overall depth of argument combined with lack of bias.

            In plain English, the student has produced two substantial essays capturing the best arguments of either side, in such a manner that no blinded judge can guess the author’s opinion on the subject.

            A study guide would be provided: Read up on the Veil of Ignorance. Consider unintended consequences. Is it worse to live in hunger or to risk being trafficked or killed?

            I would argue that this exercise would require one to think deeply and to step into the shoes of those one disagrees with and to think long and hard about one’s reasoning. And that that would lead to a better society.

            • moss defender says:

              UO and the Nike Shadow Campus have degraded the Millrace to such a great extent it should be renamed the Philrace

  2. paws says:

    Won’t the names be released when we see the materials,or at least at the presentations? Isn’t this standard so candidates’ institutions don’t know they’re on the market right away? This doesn’t really seem like a conspiracy of secrecy but maybe I’m missing something.

    • just different says:

      Once it’s down to four finalists, why continue to be secretive? If it gets out in a couple of weeks anyway, why not make it public now?

      The (dubious) justification for closed presidential searches is that they are huge national headhunts for high-caliber executives. That’s hardly the case here.

      • uomatters says:

        Yeah it’s your basic pass-the-trash scheme. The search firm would like to keep the finalist names secret for as long as possible, to reduce the chances that some professor will email a friend and find some dirt that they missed or chose to ignore, to get their commission.

        • just different says:

          Is that really what they told you? That the search firm wanted to keep the finalists secret? No red flags there.

    • uomatters says:

      No, they’re really trying to keep the names secret. Quoting from the confidential email I received,

      “Please be aware that candidate names will not be made public. Members within UO will be able to access candidate materials in the secure search folder. Materials will be added to this folder the week of April 25. We ask for all participants to maintain confidentiality in regard to candidate names and materials. You will be able to provide feedback for each candidate using a Qualtrics form which will be posted in each candidate’s folder.”

  3. paws says:

    Was hoping that was just sloppy writing and they meant “…not mbe made public until closer to the presentations.” Looks like there aren’t any docs in the “secure search folder” yet, so who knows.