Union

I just glanced at the administration’s updated info site, at http://hr.uoregon.edu/er/unionization/index.html It’s a hodgepodge – different info about their take on the dues in different places. Does anyone know why the union organizers are so quiet? I heard they are busy hitting up the OAs?

The Union site is here, the Faculty survey on unionization here.

Still no action from Lariviere on salary issues, and I’m guessing after the Bellotti fiasco that’s going to be a real hard sell to the state.

April 9, 2010

MEMORANDUM

TO:        University Community

FROM:        Linda King, Associate Vice President for Human Resources

SUBJECT:    MORE INFORMATION ON UNION ORGANIZING WEBSITE

We have updated and revised the website on union organizing for faculty, researchers and officers of administration.  I hope that you will take the time to visit the site and review the information:   http://hr.uoregon.edu/er/unionization/index.html

Hmm

4/9/2010: From KVAL:

A new study found Oregon State University women are paid more for their eggs than women at the University of Oregon.

To find intelligent young women, fertility clinics often advertise in college newspapers. Georgia Tech studied those ads at 306 schools and found that Oregon State University women were offered $5,000 for their eggs while women at the University of Oregon were offered a thousand dollars less. … 

But some questioned the ethics. “It’s an undue inducement for a poor student and it begins to really commodify the process,” said Dr. Susan Tolle who heads the Center for Ethics in Health Care at Oregon Health and Science University. …

So, it’s more ethical to pay poor students less. Very interesting.

Whose head will roll before UO regroups in wake of Bellotti payout?

4/8/2010: That headline on Steve Duin’s column in the Oregonian does not say it all. There’s plenty more in the article about Melinda Grier’s role in recent events:

Let me see if I can get my arms around the challenge facing University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere if he is serious about confronting business as usual in the Ducks’ athletic program: Pat Kilkenny is still charged with dredging up a new basketball coach. Melinda Grier, the university’s general counsel, continues to orchestrate UO’s culture of secrecy. 

The rest is well worth reading. Meanwhile the UO Matter’s poll has 40 out of 55 people saying Grier will leave UO before Lariviere. Given how popular (OK, maybe that’s not the most precise usage) this blog is over in Johnson Hall, that’s a pretty informed opinion.

You’ve got to wonder what sort of buyout deal she’ll get. She’s not tenured, so she can’t get the usual sweetheart TRP package for people like Moseley. Maybe Larivere should start a fund over at the UO Foundation and ask for tax deductible donations? Just a thought. Actually, as Duin mentions, she’s already got a courtesy appointment as an Oregon “Special Assistant Attorney General.” Maybe the DOJ has to take her back? Yet another good reason not to be too tough when they interview her for their investigation of the Bellotti buyout.

Arena Reserve Fund

4/8/2010: 2 years ago, when Frohnmayer and Kilkenny were selling the Legislature on the arena bonds and they didn’t believe the ridiculous revenue predictions, Frohnmayer said UO would create a special reserve fund to cover shortfalls by adding a $1 surcharge to all athletic tickets. So what’s the balance up to on that by now?

From Melinda Grier’s office:

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for an accounting statement showing payments and disbursements involving the Arena Bond Reserve Fund from its establishment to the present.  Deposits to the fund will be applicable to all tickets sold starting July 1, 2010.  Accordingly, the University does not yet possess documents responsive to your request.

It’s zero. They decided not to start building a reserve until they were also repaying the bonds! But the restrictions on how they can spend this – they can’t until all of Knight’s money is gone – will knock another $600,000 or so out of the Athletic budget next year.

A small

problem with Lariviere’s plan to use new donations to the athletic department to fund Bellotti’s payoff, from Lewis and Clark Tax Law Professor Jack Bogdanski. The IRS says “You cannot deduct contributions to specific individuals, … “. That rule will approximately double the cost to the donors of the buyout. Plus they may have to pay a 10% gift tax. Of course, Bellotti won’t have to treat it as earned income – so it will be worth twice that to him. Or maybe Melinda Grier can figure out a way to scam the IRS on this too?

President Lariviere puts down a few markers:

4/7/2010: From Rachel Bachman in the Oregonian:

“This institution did not follow acceptable business practices in the past,” Lariviere said. “That will not be repeated under my administration.”

 and Greg Bolt in the RG:

The university’s legal department late last month said it didn’t realize that there was no contract for Bellotti until last winter, after Bellotti told Lariviere of the ESPN job possibility. However, The Register-Guard had been asking the legal department since the previous summer for the document but received no reply. The newspaper submitted requests for the contract on June 25 and Nov. 11, and again on Jan. 14.

Asked about the UO’s failure to respond to those requests and the difficulty of getting public records in the past, Lariviere acknowledged the university has not lived up to the spirit of the open records law and pledged changes.
“As a result of our discoveries in this, we are going to change a lot of the university’s practices,” Lariviere said. “At this point I can’t tell you exactly what the response will be to any individual request, but I can tell you we will be as responsive, open and transparent as we possibly can be.”

We’ll see.

Bellotti’s retirement deal is hardly the only fishy one

4/6/2010: There will be a lot of attention paid today to the unusual verbal contract which, apparently, Frohnmayer and Kilkenny negotiated with Bellotti with the help of UO General Counsel Melinda Grier – leaving President Lariviere holding the bag.

Here’s another case of the sort of sweetheart deals that have become common among UO administrators:

Former President Frohnmayer’s unusual contract with former Provost John Moseley is here. It seems to be a blatant attempt to subvert the PERS rules. OUS auditor Pat Snopkowski looked into this, and her report forced UO to write this contract amendment, signed by Moseley and UO Provost Jim Bean.

Moseley’s new contract gives him responsibility for only one of the 4 job duties laid out in his original contract. He’s now “Liason with Central Oregon”. He does this from his fishing retreat on the Deschutes – you can rent one of his lodges here, for $4300 a week during the high season. Meanwhile UO pays Moseley 1/2 time at a $248,941 FTE, until 2012.

Another tax deductible giving opportunity

4/6/2010: From reporter John Hunt in The Oregonian:

Are you a donor with money still burning a hole in your pocket? Do you feel those nine months went by so quickly that you haven’t adequately thanked Mike Bellotti for his work as athletic director?

Well, for $75 a plate, you can attend a Mike Bellotti tribute dinner.

There will even be a silent auction to raise more money. For what, you ask?

The funds will “be dedicated to covering the costs of the Tribute to Mike Bellotti event,” according to mikebellotti.com. Any overages, it said, will be deposited in the “Athletic Director’s Discretionary Fund.”

Fighting the college athlete hiring cartel

4/5/2010: College athletics produces millions in revenue, and all the profits go to the coaches and athletic directors. This happens because the NCAA acts as a hiring cartel, preventing the athletes from negotiating a better deal – even on such basics as living and medical expenses. The National College Player’s Association is attempting to fight this by organizing the players. That’s going to be a tough fight!

OSAC scholarship overcommitment fallout

4/4/2010: From Bill Graves in the Oregonian:

SALEM – Higher education officials today reviewed options for dealing with a shortage of money for need-based state college scholarships next year, the results of miscalculations that led to too many grants this year. …

The commission expects to have about $32 million to $37 million for the grants next year, about half what it is awarding this year.

Comments

4/4/2010: Lots of hits and lots of comments on the payoff stories, some from people who sound like they know something. Lariviere will have a news conference Tuesday, and maybe he will tell the truth about what happened.

George Schroeder of the RG has a column calling for more transparency and criticizing UO treatment of public records issues.

“More important, though, I hope we’re going to hear that the new president is going to change the way the school conducts the public’s business.” 
UO’s Assistant Counsel Doug Park (dougpark@uoregon.edu, (541) 346-3082) is nominally tasked with filibustering public records requests, but he gets his orders from General Counsel Melinda Grier. Larivierehas done his best to stay out of it. As it happens – and in reaction to the faculty’s own problems getting records from Melinda Grier, in May the UO Senate will be debating a resolution putting in place procedures to improve public records access. Grier’s pissy response is here.

James Day in the SG has a column on academic performance by PAC-10 players. I was surprised Ernie Kent’s players didn’t do better:

To be eligible for the all-academic teams a player must have at least a 3.0 grade-point average and be a starter or significant contributor (freshmen are not eligible because a full year is required to establish an academic record).The Pac-10 found just 11 men’s players who met this standard….

Why can’t men’s basketball players (or football players for that matter) do this? Because they are commodities. Their job is to fill seats, give students something to do on Saturdays, make boosters happy, win games, reel in shoe money for the program and the school and, above all, stay eligible.

So that coaches can eventually get $2.3 million golden parachutes.

Legal issues

4/3/2010: A reader points us to this devastating analysis of the Bellotti payoff, by Ted Sickinger of the Oregonian. I think it’s unfair to blame this on Lariviere, it’s got Frohnmayer’s fingerprints all over it.

The University of Oregon’s $2.3 million golden handshake for resigning athletic director and former football coach Mike Bellotti appears to be outside standard practice for public and private sector organizations, and raises serious questions about UO’s leadership and governance, according to legal and executive compensation experts….

“It’s easy to vilify Mike Bellotti,” he said, “but where we should be holding someone accountable is university president Richard Lariviere and the board of directors.”

Lariviere, who started as UO president on the same day Bellotti became athletic director — July 1, 2009 — inherited the contract issues from his predecessor (Ed: that would be he who cannot be named), though the negotiation of the controversial severance agreement was his responsibility.

UO leaders released an explanation of the payout Wednesday night, but have been silent since. Lariviere is in China, and did (not) respond to requests for comment. In his absence, not a single other university executive was available to answer questions on the subject, according to Phil Weiler, a university spokesman.

“These are questions for the president,” he said.  …

This is hardly the only questionable employment contract at the UO. Frohnmayer hired OIED VP Charles Martinez without an affirmative action search and Provost Bean let him break the usual conflict of commitment rules and collect two salaries. Frohnmayer set up the UO-Bend program so that former Provost John Moseley could have a nice retirement gig – at the cost of millions to UO. UO General Counsel Melinda Grier knows all about these scams. She helped set them up.  Lariviere has done his best to ignore both. The question is whether he can contain this particular scandal.

Given that UO General Counsel Melinda Grier is also an Assistant Oregon Attorney General, and that AG John Kroger appointed her husband Jerry Lidz as his Solicitor General last year, I’m thinking blaming these lapses on her is not necessarily the best strategy – for Lariviere.

A jelly donut. Because I was hungry, sir.

4/3/2010: Apparently Larviere gets back from his trip on Tuesday. People are expecting some fireworks.  Meanwhile, Frohnmayer’s proposed new funding model for UO is a likely casualty of the Bellotti misadventure. UO needs more adult supervision, not less. I’m not saying that the OUS Board is qualified to do this, or has a successful history of it. Just that Lariviere is going to have to fire a few people before he can credibly argue that it is over-regulation that is preventing UO from making good decisions that benefit the public interest. 

Athletics brings glory, honor and purpose to UO

4/2/2010: It’s hard to keep up with the plethora of stories on the Bellotti payoff. In the RG David Steves and Christian Wihtol have a long detailed story that concludes with a partial list of the contradictions in Melinda Grier’s everchanging stories.

Whitol has another story looking at contracts for other UO Coaches. These all only promise buyouts if the coach is fired, leading to the conclusion that Lariviere fired Bellotti. Bellotti then came after UO for a similar payoff, and Lariviere gave it to him.

The RG has another editorial that raises a few questions, as does the Oregonian. State Legislators are writing Lariviere with some very direct questions. There will be more.

In the Oregonian, Canzano has a riff, saying:

Bellotti remains unavailable to comment. University President Richard Lariviere is out of the country, unavailable. Former athletic director Pat Kilkenny won’t talk. And UO general counsel Melinda Grier, who issued a letter of explanation for the windfall late Wednesday, sent out the letter and a timeline, and then hid out behind a mock trial she’s apparently judging. What we have here is mock transparency.

Mike Tohito of the Oregonian has some good quotes:

Paul Kelly, the president of the higher education board, said its inquiry will be conducted with several expectations:

  • To find out if any laws, rules or board policies were violated.
  • To ensure that the agreement does not harm Oregon’s public mission.
  • To help form recommendations by the board on any actions or changes it should take.

“Many faculty members have called me in the last 10 days to raise the question of skewed priorities,” said Nathan Tublitz,  a biology professor and president of the University Senate. “I think the consensus is that the university has to bring our focus back to our core mission, which is education and research. That is what I’m hearing from my colleagues.”

Professor Gordon Sayre, former University Senate president, wrote in an e-mail to The Oregonian, “I’m concerned because donations (by Nike’s Phil Knight) to the Athletics Legacy Fund, which are scheduled to come in in $20 million increments over the next few years, may be spent before they have a chance to actually turn into a Legacy Fund.” 

Professors Tublitz and Sayre are too polite: most of the faculty is saying “President Lariviere, who the fuck is running this place? Please do something to show us that it is not still Melinda Grier, Frances Dyke, Dave Frohnmayer, and Pat Kilkenny.”

A few are saying “OK, firing Bellotti and then not appointing Kilkenny, Baumgartner or Bartko was a good first step to cleaning up the trainwreck and getting control. But now the heat’s on. The truth is we can’t make the bond payments if we piss off Phil Knight. You got the OK from Uncle Phil first, right?”

My take? Last year the state of Oregon paid UO President Frohnmayer a salary of $245,700. Anonymous boosters, laundering their contributions through the UO Foundation – which by law does not have to report the names of donors – topped this off with $199,000 in cash and $150,000 in deferred compensation. Pat Kilkenny has given another $350,000 to Frohnmayer’s Fanconi Foundation. No wonder Frohnmayer sold the school out to the boosters – he got a good price. Firing Bellotti is Larviere’s first effort to get UO back from them. At this point it looks like he botched it though.

Where’s Frohnmayer?

4/1/2010: So far no reporter has been able to get Dave Frohnmayer to comment on the Bellotti payoff. Weird, because Dave obviously had a central role in the “verbal agreement,” and loves talking to reporters. But maybe he’s realized that since he’s still on the books as UO “President Emeritus” for $245,700 per year and has two other paying jobs on the side, he’s not the best person to talk about ethical employment practices at UO? Just in case, here’s his new contact info.