4/22/2010: From Jeff Manning at the Oregonian. Obviously Lariviere has some guts and he is now taking charge:
Melinda Grier, the attorney at the center of a controversy surrounding the University of Oregon athletic department, appears to be on her way out.
University President Richard Lariviere and Oregon Attorney General John Kroger have reached out to a handful of potential replacements as UO’s general counsel in recent days. Officially, the university’s general counsel is part of Kroger’s staff….
Grier, who did not return a message seeking comment, has come to personify the culture of secrecy that has developed at the university, particularly with regard to its athletic department. Grier repeatedly rejected or sat on requests from the media for additional financial details about Bellotti’s contract and a number of other high-profile athletic department issues. ….
Neither Lariviere nor Kroger would comment, but four sources confirmed that the university president is searching for a successor. Paul Kelly Jr., a Portland attorney and president of the State Board of Higher Education, said he learned Wednesday that Lariviere had made the decision. The other sources asked to remain anonymous. …
Kent Robinson, long-time federal prosecutor in Portland, has emerged as one candidate to replace Grier. Robinson is a respected veteran prosecutor who for years has worked in a senior role at the U.S. attorney’s office. …
Fantastic news for UO. Melinda covered up for Dave Frohnmayer for years, and her office is piled high with documents on the sleaze. She is taking the fall for his decisions – because she never had the guts to say no to him. It will be interesting to see how much of it now comes to light.
Not so good for the tight circle of administrators she has been protecting. There will be a lot more turnover to come. Very good sign that Lariviere is apparently not considering either of Grier’s assistants, Doug Park or Randy Geller for the job. Ms Grier is the wife of Jerry Lidz, appointed Oregon Solicitor General by AG John Kroger. This decision must have been politically difficult for Lariviere.
UO Matters would like to claim some credit for this – we pursued ethics complaints against her with the state DOJ and the Oregon Bar – but the truth is she got fired because she embarrassed Lariviere in the newspapers, and the newspapers only cared because it was about sports.
4/22/2010: The ODE Editors manage to combine most current UO issues into one opinion:
… The library parking lot is central to preserving the divide between those who work and those who drink. On any given night, good, clean, sober students exiting Knight Library in the wee hours of the morning are forced to mix with the inebriated heathens stumbling home from campus bars. As the wholesome, sober scholars weave their way through the dimly lit parking lot back to their vehicles, they risk exposure to the dark and seedy underbelly of college culture, where one is likely to encounter a veritable bevy of intoxicated hoodlums who want nothing else than to ruin the lives of the sagacious Knight Library denizens.
Library-goers can’t handle the ugly forces of peer pressure and could easily succumb to the brutal jocks loitering in Lot 16, trying to prolong their inebriation after the bars close. And, as we all know, when these two colossal forces collide, the scene is seldom pretty: Textbooks, calculators and pocket protectors lay strewn across the parking lot, the lone testament to the fracas from the night prior. The broken spirit bottles line the sidewalk parallel to the broken spirits of the academics who managed to make it home.
And, would you believe it, this happens every night. Are you scared yet? …
It’s clear the University likes to keep things under wraps, and administrators need a bigger place to dispose of those silly public records requests, inexplicit contracts and other important documents. Conveniently, Lot 16 is big enough for a bonfire pit. We probably would have been livid if we’d seen the Frohnmayer/Bellotti contract. Ignorance is bliss. …
4/21/2010: President Lariviere is apparently going to implement a system whereby all faculty will have access to the BANNER accounting system, and he is going to remove authority over public records requests from Melinda Grier and Doug Park’s office, and give it to the UO Archivist or to Media Relations. This will be a huge step forward in restoring trust and faith in the administration. Which will make this blog pretty boring.
The other news of course is that Lariviere has begun sending the tuition money from all our new students back to the academic departments, to use for hiring, raises, etc. Last time UO got new tuition money Dave Frohnmayer gave it to VP Frances Dyke, who spent it remodeling Johnson Hall. Which meant we didn’t meet federal expectations on research spending, so we lost millions more in ICC money.
I am beginning to think Lariviere may be the person to turn UO into the university it should be, and that’s pretty damn exciting.
4/20/2010: Dave Martinez and Alex Tomchak Scott have an excellent article in the Daily Emerald today about parking. Takeaway is that UO raised the student parking fee from $125 to $300 and the quantity demanded fell from 4000 to 1000. I’m no economist, but I think they call that elastic, meaning that total revenue a) rose or b) fell?
It’s the first in a 3 part series. In the next story they will address how UO will pay for the parking garage we had to build for the new arena. My guess is that the athletic side will not be paying for it. But of course athletics breaks even, right?
4/20/2010: Bill Graves of the Oregonian has a long story on President Lariviere:
The State Board of Higher Education expects him to “get things under control” and put athletics “in proper perspective,” said Paul Kelly, board president. “The indications are, he is going to be a good leader,” Kelly said, “assuming he meets the leadership test on this Bellotti matter.”
That’s pretty outrageous, Mr. Kelly. You and the rest of the OUS board winked at Frohnmayer for years while he set up the Bellotti deal and many even sleazier other ones. Then you gave him a sweetheart retirement contract – $245,700 from UO, while he took a second job at Harrang, Long, etc. “Leadership test” you say?
With state support declining, Lariviere and presidents of the other state universities want more autonomy from the state Board of Education and the Legislature. They’ve discussed seeking authority to define their missions, set tuition and faculty salaries, manage their costs and revenues, sell bonds, borrow against assets and possibly levy taxes.
Lariviere’s plan is politically risky given that both the state board and the Legislature may be reluctant to relinquish power. But the president said the quality of the university is at stake. He said he must find a way to raise faculty salaries, now at about 80 percent of their peers in comparable institutions.
“The quality of a university is determined by its faculty.”
In my experience, good students don’t hurt either.
4/19/2010: Rumor control reports that Brad Shelton’s new budget model has already translated into new money for some academic departments for next year, and that Pres Lariviere has developed a 5 year plan to raise UO faculty salaries to the average of UO’s “peer” institutions, with the first round of raises starting in Sept.
4/18/2010: If you got an email from the Senate Executive Committee last week on the union poll, please fill it out. (The link is specific to your email address, so I can’t post it here.) I have no association with this poll but I think it is important to understand the extent of faculty support for a union and whether the faculty think their bargaining unit should include OA’s.
Also, I’m happy to run more completely unscientific polls on the RHS of the blog. Post a comment if you have an idea for one.
4/18/2010: I missed the Wed Senate meeting but have heard a few reports:
First, Pres Lariviere appeared and made a brief statement about transparency. Leaving Melinda Grier and her lackey Doug Park in charge of public records has been a disaster for UO. Now that it has led to embarrassment for Larviere over the Bellotti contract he is pushing for more transparency. Apparently RG reporter Greg Bolt made 3 public records requests to Grier and Park for the Bellotti contract. They ignored these, and never told Lariviere that people were asking to see a written contract and it did not exist. The result was pretty bad for the credibility of President Lariviere and therefore bad for UO. When he goes to the legislature or the OUS board to argue for UO, this is what everyone is going to remember: $2.3 million on a vague promise from a booster, and his staff hid it from him for a year. Does he know what’s going on this time?
So Lariviere is now planning a revision to UO’s policies and practices. We are trying to get the details – which should be a public record!
Second, Brad Shelton announced the new budget model is moving ahead and will be implemented starting in July. It seems from this and other signs that Frances Dyke is no longer pulling the strings.
Contracts for UO’s senior administrators are up for renewal July 1 and discussions are already underway. So we will know soon if Lariviere is going to make substantive changes at UO, or take the easy way out and keep Frohnmayer’s team on until they slowly fade away. At this point he can hardly argue that he’s surprised by how they run the place.
4/17/2010: Steve Duin of the Oregonian has a column about Poli-Sci firing instructor Ken De Bevoise. I’d honestly never heard of this guy until his students started a movement to reinstate him. From the interview with VP for Academic Affairs Russ Tomlin, it appears possible that UO will in fact do that:
“They framed their arguments,” Tomlin said, “in ways that require thoughtful engagement. Clearly, a review is ongoing. We heard the students, and the students are giving us pause to reconsider.”
4/16/2010: Wondering how Pat Kilkenny’s search for a new basketball coach is going? Me neither. But I was curious about how sports columnists are tracking his movements. Turns out it’s public info, and on the web:
Here’s the link for his tail number: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N228PK
comments were broken for a few days – seem to be working now
4/14/2010: From Insidehighered.com
Controversy is growing over an invitation by the foundation of California State University at Stanislaus to Sarah Palin. Jerry Brown, the attorney general of California, is starting an investigation into the foundation and whether it is appropriate for it to use funds to bring the former vice presidential candidate to campus, the Los Angeles Times reported. Meanwhile, students say they have found in a trash bin shredded documents — which the university failed to turn over to legislative committees — about the visit. Brown said his inquiry would include the issue of the documents’ authenticity and — if they are real — how they ended up in the trash.
Note: We’ve been asked how much Lariviere’s consulting contract paid. Looks like $70,000 a month. (Maybe only $35,000 a month.) It’s funny how it’s never the right time politically for faculty and staff raises, but politics never seems to be a problem when it comes to pay for administrators. Ha Ha.
4/12/2010: President Larivere took office July 1 2009. But he was actually getting paid on a consulting contract starting around April. In March, he started an official blog, here. From the topics you can get a taste of how athletics has dominated his first year. Ignoring the inevitable fluff, almost all of the substantive posts are about various crises in the athletic department – and this is without anything on Bellotti’s payoff. I’m guessing that’s fairly close to how he has had to divide his time. I know the academic side gets many hard-to-measure benefits from athletics. This is just one of the many hard-to-measure costs
4/10/2010: A reader asks what I think of this story:
MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison canceled its licensing agreement with Nike Inc. on Friday, becoming the first university to take that step over concerns about the company’s treatment of workers in Honduras.
Chancellor Biddy Martin said Nike hasn’t done enough to help workers at two factories that abruptly closed last year to collect severance payments they are owed.
I don’t know the details. In general, I think that by contracting with producers in developing countries Phil Knight has increased the wages, working conditions, and future opportunities of hundreds of thousands of the poorest people in the world. And that Dave Frohnmayer was an idiot for having UO join the WRC – or have I mentioned my feelings about Frohnmayer before?
4/10/2010: The Oregonian’s readers are skeptical:
Just how long does a new college president get to bear no responsibility for the continuance of bad oral contracts, an interim athletic director to mislead the public as to the amount involved and a general counsel to commit an oral agreement to written form? Suggestion: Something less than the time to send University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, the “new kid on the block,” to Asia on university business, leaving no highly paid administrator able to answer any questions other than the time of day.
On the other hand, we should probably allow a little more than the few minutes it will take the taxpayers to realize that asking for more donations now for this bad cover-up will mean less in donations later and, ultimately, less educational services or more fees and/or taxes.
Between the coach owing apologies for his players’ poor behavior and the administration now owing millions for its poor business decisions, shouldn’t the school be renamed University of Oweregon?
As an employee of a public institution, Mike Bellotti is eligible for generous retirement benefits through PERS. Thank goodness he has this pension to make up for all the years his salary was less than he would have received had he worked in the private sector.
University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere says he wanted Mike Bellotti out as athletic director because of Bellotti’s lack of business experience and acumen. There isn’t a written employment contract anywhere stating that Bellotti should ever get a dime in case he resigns. Thus, he deserves nothing. I think the university president is the one short of business experience and acumen.
Contributions to University of Oregon athletics are tax-deductible. So even if donors finance Mike Bellotti’s $2.3 million payout, the taxpayers will still be stuck with a significant portion of the bill.