What does it take to get an A at UO?

2/16/2010: KVAL has been doing a lot of good reporting on UO lately. From Todd Milbourn:

A study conducted by the Undergraduate Council found the number of A’s given increased 10 percent over a 12-year period.  The school’s overall grade point average rose 5 percent. Meanwhile, the average SAT scores of the student body remained the same.
Members of the Undergraduate Council are now proposing that each field of study come up with its own grading standards, which are clearly conveyed to the faculty.

Obviously this problem is not specific to UO. I think the biggest problem is that standards are inconsistent across departments. So a freshman gets an A in some gut class and a C in Math (say) and thinks this means they have a comparative advantage (I think this is the phrase an economist would use) in the gut, so they major in it. They don’t realize an A in the gut major is as just as average as a C in Math is. I don’t know the details but it doesn’t sound like the Undergraduate Council proposal will address that.

A colleague writes about how discouraging the incessant whining and wheedling for grades is. I completely agree. We’ve set up a system where students have more reason to use our office hours to try to talk up their grade than to talk with us about the subject of the course. We should be able to do better at this, at least at Oregon!

More on discrimination case

 2/16/2010:  From today’s Karen McGowan story in the RG, follow up to yesterday:

A former professor who last week won a reverse race discrimination lawsuit against the University of Oregon said Monday that she feels vindicated by the federal jury’s verdict but is still paying a high price for the unfair treatment.

A U.S. District Court jury awarded Paula Rogers more than $164,000 after finding that she suffered adverse treatment and a hostile work environment in the UO’s East Asian Languages and Literatures department because she is only half Japanese. Jurors also found that Rogers suffered departmental retaliation for filing a grievance over the discrimination.
“This experience has been very traumatizing, and my life’s pursuit and career have been derailed,” Rogers said. “Although I appreciate the damages awarded, I would rather have my job back.”

Rogers was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and American father. She grew up there, first coming to the United States at 18 to attend college. She called her experience at the UO a “microcosm” of the inequality that mixed-race residents face in Japan.

According to the statement, the UO spent about $500,000 in attorney fees in the course of the nearly five-year legal battle.
UO general counsel Melinda Greer (Grier) was unavailable to respond Monday to Rogers’ and Dugan’s comments.

If I understand the process correctly, this means UO pays $500,000 in fees to the Oregon DOJ for the costs of the defense. The $164,000 damages, on the other hand, are paid by an insurance fund established by the state. You’re doing a heckuva job, Ms Grier. PS – here’s the link to the East Asian Languages and Literatures Diversity Plan. Writing those plans cost UO another $1 million or so. Very effective, Dr. Martinez.

Too much

Z4PRES –  President Emeritus ZGEN – Provost General 61 – Unclassified Salaries 10100 – Unclassified Salaries 245700
Z4PRES –  President Emeritus ZGEN – Provost General 66 – Grad Ast Resdnt Phys Dentist Cl Fel 10600 – Grad Asst/Res Phys/Dent/Clin Fellws 0
Z4PRES –  President Emeritus ZGEN – Provost General 69 – Other Payroll Expenses 10964 – OPE Uncl Health/Life 13500
Z4PRES –  President Emeritus ZGEN – Provost General 69 – Other Payroll Expenses 10967 – OPE Uncl Retirement 41450
Z4PRES –  President Emeritus ZGEN – Provost General 69 – Other Payroll Expenses 10968 – OPE Uncl Other 13750
Z4PRES –  President Emeritus ZGEN – Provost General 71 – Service & Supplies 20000 – Services & Supplies Expense 185600

Here’s the 2010 Budget for Frohnmayer’s “President Emeritus” office. He is paid $245,700 (notice he quit the voluntary furlough program) for co-teaching 2 small classes, gets a full time GTF and a secretary, and $185,600 for “Services and Supplies” – not bad compared to the $1000 ASA money real professors get.

This info is from the FY10 UO Operational Expenditure Budget by RU and Department files that the Budget and Resource Planning people have started posting. Very helpful stuff!

If you look at the Provost’s Office, spending has gone from
$1,436,434 in 2006 to
$4,890,764 in 2010.
I know Brady and Bean have been big spenders, but this almost seems implausible. Does anyone have an explanation? This makes Moseley look pretty good – or maybe he was just good at hiding things?

60’s reunion tour

2/15/2010: Rebecca Woolington of the RG has a really nice story about visits to UO and LCC this week by Jessie Jackson, Seymour Hersh, and Tom Hayden. Hersh of course is the guy who exposed My Lai and then Abhu Ghraib. Jackson has a much more mixed legacy, and Hayden – honestly, I have no idea what he has done lately. I’m no economist, but apparently Ms Woolington is enough of one to ask the central question: what’s the market value on these guys?

For Jackson’s visit, the UO’s Holden Leadership Center, along with five other groups and departments, will contribute about $25,000 …

Hersh’s appearance, which costs about $15,000, …

And bringing Hayden to LCC will cost about $1,000, …

I wonder what the Stones are going to get when they play Matt Court?

UO Loses Discrimination Case

2/14/2010: This is a strange discrimination case against UO, from Karen McGowan in the RG:

A federal court jury has awarded more than $164,000 in damages to a former University of Oregon assistant professor who filed a lawsuit in 2007 alleging disparate treatment based on race or national origin.

Paula Rogers, who is half Japanese, charged that she suffered job discrimination at the hands of former East Asian Languages and Literature department supervisors, including Noriko Fujii. Among other claims, Rogers alleged that a less-qualified “pure Japanese” colleague received a three-year contract extension when Rogers herself did not.
The jury found that Rogers failed to prove any of her claims against Epstein, Woollacott, Stone and former UO associate College of Arts and Science dean Wendy Larson.
The jury did award damages for retaliation for filing the grievance – but only $20,000. Not much compared to the $500,000 they paid out to PPPM Prof Jean Stockard three years ago, after UO administrators retaliated against her, for having the gall to report this:

The problems Stockard reported concerned the treatment of three South Korean visiting scholars who complained that they had been charged for services that should have been covered by their tuition and that they did not receive the training they paid for.

Stockard claims in the lawsuit that she brought the problems to the attention of UO officials, including President Dave Frohnmayer and then-Provost John Moseley, but that they failed to take action. She later reported the issue to the secretary of state’s fraud and abuse division.

9AM Thursday in the Athletes Only Parking Lot

70 spots, 2 cars. Note the special free Jaqua Center hang tags. The full lot in the back is for the (Knight) Law School professors.

OK Mr. Slusher, you’ve proved your point. We get it. You own us.

Let me be the first to say that Nike does not use sweatshops. Phil Knight has created more good jobs in developing countries than Muhammad Yunus and Jeff Sachs combined. (Actually I’m pretty sure that is true – not that I’m an economist.)

So can we please have our parking back? 30 slots and we’ll pass everyone with playing time. 40 for 4.0’s? Please? 

Sincerely, Your UO Faculty.


You can watch a clip of UO President Richard Lariviere talk about academics and athletics with reporter Todd Milbourn of KVAL, here. And you can ask Lariviere questions Friday at 5:30 at Cosmic Pizza. Be nice. Remember, Frohnmayer would run and hide, and if you caught him he’d lie. We don’t want to scare the new guy away.

The NYT has a story about the athletics scandal at SUNY Binghampton:

Nobody pushed the vision of athletic success more than Lois B. DeFleur, the university’s president since 1990, and Joel Thirer, the athletic director. They shepherded a move to Division I, college basketball’s highest level, over the concerns of many faculty members in 1991 and spearheaded the construction of a $33 million arena. They dismissed the team’s longtime coach, Al Walker, in 2007 in favor of Kevin Broadus, an assistant at Georgetown, who brought an aggressive edge to recruiting players. … Binghamton admitted one player with an arrest record and others from academically suspect high schools. … When objections were raised, Ms. DeFleur reasoned that Binghamton was undergoing an “experiment,” the report said, and she cast the lower admission standards as part of the university’s effort for more diversity. … The investigation cost $913,381 and was led by Judith S. Kaye, the former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals.

Only one player with an arrest record? No convictions? Only $33 million on the Arena? These guys are amateurs. The NYT also has an editorial on this today:

College presidents who dream of building powerhouse sports teams should read the new report on the basketball program at Binghamton University. Based on an investigation overseen by Judith Kaye, New York State’s former chief judge, it shows how a runaway sports program can poison campus life, make a mockery of academic values and leave the administration’s reputation in ruins. … Binghamton’s president announced her retirement last month, citing family reasons. College presidents clearly need to be held fully accountable for their sports programs. …

Obviously none of this resembles what is happening at Oregon in anyway.

Brad Shelton’s new budget model

2/11/2010: Brad Shelton, UO’s new VP for Budgeting, has been working on a new budget model for UO. This model will specify how UO’s money is allocated to the schools and the administration. I think this budget model will do three important things.

First, it will provide some basic transparency about where our money comes from and where it goes. Many of the newly available public resources on UO expenditures derive from Shelton’s need for the information to complete this process. Until he got involved, this information was deliberately hidden away from the faculty and even the colleges, and there was no prospect for open debate on UO spending priorities.

Second, the model will, for the first time, impose a hard budget constraint on the administration. In the past, when Frances Dyke and Linda Brady wanted to spend a few million remodeling Johnson Hall, or Frohnmayer wanted to give Moseley a fat retirement deal, or Moseley needed to spend a million on a new Diversity office quick to cover up a lawsuit, or Jim Bean wanted to give his friends a raise on the sly, they simply did it. Then they figured out later who to take the money from. Under the new model, the administration will get a cut of the gross, and they will have to live within it. How radical – education comes before administration.

Third, the model will make clear the extent to which student tuition money from CAS, Business and Journalism goes to support the other colleges and the such administrative adventures as Bend, Portland, Sustainability, OIED, and Bean’s “big ideas”. No comment on whether or not these are good ideas, but if they are good, why hide the numbers?

The basic plan is simple: Colleges will keep the tuition they collect, but pay a 28% tax to the administration for central services. The administration will also get the state allocations. (This seems odd – it would be more politic to allocate them to instruction.)  The details are already getting ugly however. The biggest issue – after the tax rate – is what gets grandfathered in. The administration has been on a splurge for the past 5 years – does this go into their base? Similarly, some colleges are subsidized by others. In particular, CAS and to a lesser extent Business subsidize Law, Music, Bend and now Portland. According to some calculations CAS gives up $23 million to the other schools, Business give up $9 million, and Journalism also is in a hole. Are these arrangements going to continue, or will more money go to CAS? From what I hear the new model will lock in the current subsidies. But since new tuition money will be allocated to where the students are, over 5 or 10 years the percent going to administrative bloat, and the extent of the cross-subsidies, will gradually decrease.

Importantly, this model will be applied at the college level – not at the department level. But obviously it will make it easier to think about allocation issues between departments as well, and it’s hard to imagine that won’t have some impact before long

One critical part of this plan is improved financial transparency. As I said, developing this plan has required the preparation of much more information than has previously been available about UO expenditures, and Shelton has been great about making it public, along with Kelly Wolf, and Laura Hubbard. But once the system is in place, the games will begin. Administrators will try to put their pet projects onto the instructional side. So it will be important for the ongoing expenditures to be transparent too.

As it happens, because of a motion Nathan Tublitz got through the Senate last year, the UO Senate Financial Transparency Working Group is developing a solution to this now, in collaboration with UO Controller Kelly Wolf. Soon any UO employee will be able to access transaction level details from UO’s accounting system, via a link on your duckweb page. So next time the administration decides to give one (or three) of their own $750,000 golden parachute buyouts, everyone will be able to see that the money comes from a fund that was established for retiring tenured teaching faculty. We still might not be able to do anything about it, but at least it will be common knowledge.

Bottom line, the administrators will keep their current loot. Music, Law and AAA will still be subsidized by CAS. But the sort of thing that Moseley is (still) doing with Bend will not happen again. And if UO continues to grow, over time more of the new tuition money will go to CAS for instructional purposes than has been true in the past.

sustainable graduation

Elissa Harrington from KVAL reports that Amber Garrison, UO Director of Commencement, has decided students will wear green colored biodegradable gowns at graduation this year.

Rumor has it that they are made from hemp, the miracle fiber byproduct of Oregon’s second largest industry. To honor the baby boomer parents who are paying our salaries, diplomas will be printed on EZ Widers paper. I am not making all of this story up.

Union info Town Hall

2/8/2010: I thought the Town Hall was pretty informative. Thanks to Tublitz for arranging it and also to the speakers. The audience asked some good questions.

One commentator notes – I think correctly – that it was unbalanced, in that there was no anti-union speaker from the faculty. I don’t think this was intentional. As the survey showed, many faculty are strongly opposed to unionization. I’ve heard a little talk about faculty organizing to coordinate on this, but there is not going to be any passion behind it until Lariviere shows he is going to clear out the administrative deadwood. You’ve been on campus since May – so, any time soon would be good Richard, OK?

My favorite moment was probably when Assistant GC Doug Park ($105,000), speaking for the administration, tried to unearth Jimmy Hoffa by telling us that Union Presidents are paid “many hundreds of thousands of dollars” from union dues. Trust me Doug, you don’t want to go there. UO President Richard Lariviere’s contract pays him $540,000 plus house (and extensive remodeling to suit), car, retirement, paid sabbatical, expense account, etc. And he negotiated the creation of a new $135,300 job for his wife – no search. We’re up to about $750,000. Provost Jim Bean – also hired without a search – gets $320,000 or so.  Meanwhile we’re still paying Frohnmayer $245,700, plus secretary, co-teacher, GTF, expenses. Let’s call it $350,000. (Hilariously, Frohnmayer has now quit the voluntary furlough program that he and Bean started and tried to sucker the faculty into.) None of these people have the moral fiber to stop paying former Provost John Moseley $124,000, plus expenses, to do nothing in Bend. Even after the OUS auditor gave them perfect cover. All those fat paychecks come out of money that should be spent on academics. So clean up your own house first. Oh yeah – for the record, the highest paid AAUP employee got $132,793 last year.

Another highlight was when former Senate President Gordon Sayre called Melinda Grier ($184,710) a liar, over her bizarre claim that faculty aren’t required to do research. OK, I am paraphrasing here a bit, but not much. The fact that Lariviere repeatedly lets Grier get away with this behavior is pretty telling about his respect for the faculty – if you go by what he does, not what he says. Actually, she will probably take this to him and get another performance raise.

Another bit of revealing info came when someone asked what the administration was doing to address the concerns that have driven the faculty to consider unionization. (I think they were refering to the UO Matters survey.) Long awkward silence, ending with something about Russ Tomlin planning to do something soon. I am not pro union, but at this rate “our colleagues in the administration” are going to drive me to it quick.
We also learned there are about 1000 nonsupervisory OA’s, 800 tenure track faculty, 300 adjuncts and instructors with >= 0.5 FTE, and 300 Officers of Research. Actually, AVP for Human Resources Linda King ($146,815) didn’t know these numbers. Sort of reminded me of the Furlough town hall, where VP for Finance Francis Dyke didn’t know how much the UO payroll was. What do these people know?

If the union gets 30% to sign petition cards supporting the union, then the ERB calls a vote-by-mail election. The union needs 50% + 1 of those who vote in that election to be recognized as the sole bargaining authority for those in the unit. The ERB certification for WOU was decided after an election, see here. But if the Union gets 50% of the cards – as they did for Klamath CC, the ERB could certify the union immediately, see here.

Given these numbers, and given that the OA’s seem solidly behind this, I really don’t see how the union organizers can fail. So the administration will then go to the ERB and try to carve the faculty off from the OA’s. That seems difficult given the state ERB rules and precedents but not impossible, if the faculty remain opposed. Provost Bean has said he will resign if the faculty go union. It’s a really tempting offer! But my guess is that we’ll be sinking a lot of time into these politics, for a long time to come.

Supposing we do get a union what will it mean? Probably a lot more to the OA’s and the adjuncts/instructors than to the faculty. The story I hear from UF and SUNY is that faculty can still bargain for retention and merit raises with their Dean. Clearly there is money set aside for that in those university’s current contracts.

The union people have recently updated their website with info on likely dues and links to other research universities with unions. The UO Admin’s website is here.

Town Hall on Unionization, Friday 3-5 PM, 180 PLC

2/4/2010: We asked the Town Hall speakers for a summary of their planned remarks. We got some thoughtful comments from Gordon Sayre.

Remarks: Gordon Sayre, English (and former Senate Pres):

Summarizing, Sayre says that he believes the strongest argument for unionization is salaries, and he cites the 10-year-old Senate white paper on this as evidence. Frohnmayer claimed he supported the White Paper, repeatedly said it was his highest priority for UO, (Ed: and then ignored it for 10 years while tripling his own pay.) Without a union the faculty had no recourse. Sayre also argues that faculty and OA’s have common cause over benefits, and says unionization will not end merit increases. Finally, he makes a strong case for the importance of unionization in faculty governance, citing recent attacks on the role and rights of the faculty, particularly by UO General Counsel Melinda Grier.

Remarks: UO Administration:


The UO Matters faculty survey results are here.

The current SUNY contract (Stony Brook and Buffalo?) is available here. It provides minimum salaries by rank and grade, requires the administration to set aside certain additional percentages of the total salary expenditure each year for additional raises, and specifically states “§20.12 Nothing contained herein shall prevent the University, in its discretion, from granting further upward salary adjustments of individual employees.” I don’t know how this works in practice, but I’ve heard from one person that there is no problem making merit and retention raises. Here’s a flyer on the University of Florida contract.

While the UO administration page on Union info seems intentionally written to lead you to think dues would likely be on the order of 2.1% of salary, the SUNY faculty union dues are 1% of salary. University of Florida dues? Also 1%. When will the UO administrators learn that trying to fool the faculty is a dumb idea – particularly when they are so bad at it? Their history of this – which Lariviere is apparently unwilling to address – is one of the strongest arguments for a union. It sure ain’t  the free turkey.

People have been asking me if this post means I’m pro union. I’m not, but I’m am pro information, and at the moment the union people seem considerably more transparent and honest than the UO administration.

Town Hall meeting on unionization, 3-5 Friday, 180 PLC

2/3/2010: UO Matters has asked the speakers for a brief description of remarks, we will post what we receive Thursday. We’ve heard from many people who are planning on attending this meeting.

Dear Colleagues:

This is a gentle reminder that there will be a University Senate-organized town hall meeting on unionization this Friday (Feb 5th) in PLC 180 from 3-5pm. The meeting will begin with short presentations by 4 panelists (Doug Park, University Counsel’s Office; Linda King, Associate VP for Human Resources; Mike Tedesco, local labor attorney and adjunct law professor; and Gordon Sayre, Professor of English and United Academics representative). The panel presentations will be followed by an audience question and answer period.

Unionization is one of the most important issues to come before the University in many years. The purpose of the town hall is to provide non-partisan information on this subject. All University community members are warmly welcomed to attend and participate.

Nathan Tublitz
Professor of Biology
University Senate President


2/3/2010: Adam Kissell of The Foundation for Individual Rights has a good piece on Pacifica and free speech at UO:

The “safety” rationale fails in the absence of truly proscribed speech, such as true threats (and even then, it would be unclear whether an individual threat would be enough to discipline the entire group). …  In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, the Supreme Court determined that, even in high schools, “undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.” (Emphasis added.) Tinker is binding on public colleges like University of Oregon as a minimum requirement—colleges must tolerate much more freedom of speech than must high schools.

Thanks to Dane at the Commentator for the link – they have a lot of sensible posts on this, like this, by Evan Patrick Thomas. Nice work Mr. Thomas, whoever you are.