Diversity of ideas?

Dan Lawton, a UO Journalism undergrad, has a piece in the Christian Science Monitor today, about the harsh reaction he got at UO when he asked questions about the lack of conservative professors:

Eugene, Ore. – When I began examining the political affiliation of faculty at the University of Oregon, the lone conservative professor I spoke with cautioned that I would “make a lot of people unhappy.”

The University of Oregon (UO), where I study journalism, invested millions annually in a diversity program that explicitly included “political affiliation” as a component. Yet, out of the 111 registered Oregon voters in the departments of journalism, law, political science, economics, and sociology, there were only two registered Republicans.

In my column, published in the campus newspaper The Oregon Daily Emerald June 1, I suggested that such a disparity hurt UO. I argued that the lifeblood of higher education was subjecting students to diverse viewpoints and the university needed to work on attracting more conservative professors.

A professor who confronted me declared that he was “personally offended” by my column. He railed that his political viewpoints never affected his teaching and suggested that if I wanted a faculty with Republicans I should have attended a university in the South. “If you like conservatism you can certainly attend the University of Texas and you can walk past the statue of Jefferson Davis everyday on your way to class,” he wrote in an e-mail.

I was shocked by such a comment, which seemed an attempt to link Republicans with racist orthodoxy.

see here for the rest. Actually, UO has a vibrant conservative intellectual community – complete with a journal, blog, t-shirts, and a political platform (OK, that’s mostly about lowering the drinking age) – but they are all students and alumni, not faculty.

Track Meet

Alex Tomchak Scott of the ODE has a clarifying article on Lariviere’s decision to reverse Frohnmayer’s decision to move finals to the week *after* graduation so that none of that unpleasant education stuff will interfere with the NCAA Track meet. Beans’s recent email to the faculty tried to attribute Lariviere’s decision to the argument that the NCAA was considering shortening the meet. I think he was thinking that admitting otherwise would mean acknowledging the original move was a mistake. Apparently UO administrators don’t make mistakes. But Nathan Tublitz is quoted as saying Lariviere decided to change it back to signal that academics comes first. So next spring when you students are spending those beautiful days in the library trying to grok the eigenvalues of the Dolbeault complex for Hermitian manifolds, remember it’s Lariviere’s fault. Back when Frohmayer was President, spring at UO was all about naked frisbee (mostly SFW).

A commentor writes:

It is highly likely that the NCAA will be moving
the date for the national championships back
to the previous week as a result of streamling
the regional quals. I don’t believe the decision
for the UO to reverse itself has anything to do
with athletics vs academics, but everything to
do with logistics.

Do you have any inside knowledge on this?


7/12/2009: A commenter points us to this very on target Letter to the Register Guard Editor from a student. It will be quite fun to see what sort of book report Frohnmayer hands in to Pernsteiner, in return for $28,000 (plus expenses, of course.)

Frohnmayer should think for free

I appreciate Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner and other authorities’ concern about the low percentage of Oregonians holding a post-secondary educational credential (Register-Guard, July 7 and 8); however, as an American, an Oregonian and a Ph.D. student with two children who has experienced constant cuts of welfare support in my struggles to finish my program and feed my kids with no job (I have looked for employment for one year), I think former University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer’s stipend for his brainstorm to fix Oregonians’ lack of post-secondary education is inappropriate in these times of economic downturn in which the state should evaluate carefully how it is using its scarce sources.

Frohnmayer already has a permanent office where he could write down his suggestions and then mail them to the authorities or publish a white paper opening an academic debate about this important educational problem, and the $28,000 for his six-week appointment might have been saved for scholarship programs that empower Oregonians who are at risk of withdrawing from post-secondary education due to economic hardship.

The state already paid Frohnmayer $245,700 in salary in his final year as the UO president plus a retirement payment in addition to supplements from the UO Foundation for a total of $650,000 plus a state-supplied home and a vehicle allowance.

This is enough, and authorities and Oregonians now should feel free to ask him his opinions in common matters with no charge.

Maria X

More seriously, this sort of cronyism is exactly what we’ve come to expect from OUS, and it’s at the root of the Higher Ed problems in Oregon. Another example – the $45,000 OUS paid Ray Cotton at ML Strategies for this 12 page report, cribbed from the Chronicle.com. But the student above said it best.

Why Martinez got promoted?

7/11/2009: We’ve heard from several people now that Larivierre “promoted” OIED VProvost Charles Martinez to Vice President so that he could keep a closer eye on him and figure out what, exactly, is it that Martinez does to deserve his fat UO salary (and the special exemption Provost Jim Bean has given him to collect $100,000 on the side from OSLC.) In a panic Martinez has been trying to get local community people and faculty to endorse him. There’s some crazy talk that he may even have opened up those Spanish DVD lessons OSLC bought for him. Whatever. There are plenty of people who could take a job like this and the several million a year UO spends on diversity and accomplish something important. Martinez is a stuffed shirt who’s just in it for the 250 large. Everyone knows it, it makes UO look really bad to have him as our minority spokesperson, and people resent being pressured into supporting him.

We hope this rumor is true. While there’s some stiff competition, Martinez would be an excellent choice for the first of Frohnmayer’s cronies to get the boot.

Transparency Day

7/9/2009: The Commentator and the Emerald are writing about Pres Lariviere’s blog (which is actually run by UO staffer Tim Beltran). It’s a little too slick for our taste Tim – but maybe we’re just jealous of that fine Borsalino. Still wouldn’t hurt to post some documents – feel free to borrow any of our pdf’s – here’s a good one. Before long people are going to want to see content – and we’re not talking video. Hey – we linked to you, netiquette now requires you to link back to UO Matters.

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger may – eventually – make good on his campaign promises to improve enforcement of public records law. UO has been notoriously bad at providing public access. One of the reasons we started this blog was to make the records Melinda Grier tried to hide public.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Attorney General John Kroger says he’ll review Oregon’s open government laws to see whether they’re being applied correctly and whether he should recommend changes to the Legislature. Kroger says Oregonians tell him they value transparency in government, but he hears from journalists that it’s gotten more difficult to get public records. Oregon open government laws date to 1973. Critics say they’ve been weakened by exceptions the Legislature has approved, narrow interpretations from state lawyers, agency foot-dragging, and high fees charged to prepare data for release. Kroger met Tuesday with journalists in Portland. He says the review will be lengthy and include a look at laws in other states.
Associated Press – July 7, 2009 4:15 PM ET

Also see this Editorial. Meanwhile, the UO Senate is ahead of the curve, having passed Nathan Tublitz’s transparency motion, calling on UO to start providing open access to accounting documents.

Frohnmayer’s golden parachute

7/8/2009: Frohnmayer’s Retirement Contract. He keeps his $245,000 base salary plus whatever the Foundation gives him to top it off, (unknown as of yet, but he know gets around $50K as Knight chair) plus a secretary and a GTF, plus a full salary 1/2 year sabbatical, plus a 90% salary 2 month “study leave”, plus offices in the HC and the law school, plus expenses including travel.

In return he agrees to teach one 20 person class per year – and that with GTF support?

UO will never be able to do enough for this man – and you can count on him to make sure of that.

A Modest Proposal

7/7/2009: From this Greg Bolt story in the RG today – apparently Frohnmayer is still being paid as if he were President, with the assignment of “brainstorming about how to increase the numbers of Oregonians who get college degrees.”

Frohnmayer will be paid a pro-rated portion of the state share of his salary as university president, or about $28,000 for the six-week appointment. The state paid Frohnmayer $245,700 in salary in his final year plus a retirement payment in addition to supplements from the UO Foundation that boosted his total pay to about $650,000, not including the value of a state-supplied home and a vehicle allowance.

How about giving the money back Dave – that’s enough to pay in state tuition for one student, for 4 years! Or at least you could agree to take one of those voluntary furloughs you’ve been pushing faculty to sign up for.

Bend Profits?

7/6/2009: Provost Bean keeps changing his story on whether or not UO is losing money on Bend – most people say about $1million a year, he claims it’s in the black – so one of the UO Matters team filed a public records request for the data he used as background for his various statements. UO’s PR guy Doug Park has now replied, offering to sell the documents to us for $45.63. Should we pay, or petition the Attorney General for a fee-waiver on the grounds that it’s illegal to make false statements when asking for charitable donations – as was done during the furlough meeting? Suggestions welcome!

RG editorial interview with Lariviere

7/5/2009: The RG has an editorial about Lariviere here. (With the apparently obligatory sloppy kiss to Frohnmayer.) There’s some vague talk about faculty salaries – but nothing specific on how he plans to deal with it, beyond some statements about how the sciences and professional schools have done better than the humanities in terms of funding – I assume he doesn’t mean better in terms of salaries. There are no specifics about what he is willing to sacrifice to get the money to increase salaries – not that this would be expected in a piece like this. We hope he begins with a serious re-examination of Bend, Portland, OIED, and the 5 new Sustainability big ideas. Interestingly the last UO President who tried to deal seriously with the salary problem at UO was Paul Olum, president from 1980 – 1989. The OUS Board fired him. The RG editorial on that is here – it’s interesting reading. The board has known about the salary problem for a long time – and they’ve spent UO’s money on many, many other things instead. Even if Lariviere himself is serious, he may have a tough time convincing the board this should be their #1 priority!

Troubling news

6/26/2009: Incoming President Lariviere’s has announced a “reorganization” of the President’s office. It’s his office, and we have been trying to avoid second guessing, but what the hell:

Lariviere is promoting VProvost Charles Martinez to VPresident – despite Martinez’s long and flagrant history of violating UO’s rules about conflict of commitment. Equally troubling, this will mark Martinez’s 3rd administrative appointment for UO’s top Diversity job, and not once have we had an open, competitive, affirmative action compliant search. It’s one thing when we hire some good old boy as coach or AD without following the Affirmative Action rules – but our VP for Diversity? This doesn’t raise any red flags with Richard Lariviere? Wow.

There’s more about this reorganization here. The deadline for comments is Monday:

Current UO employees who wish to share any thoughts or comments regarding the reorganization within the Office of the President are invited to submit comments to [Incoming] President Lariviere. Comments should be directed to Barbara West at [email protected] and must be received by 5:00 p.m. on June 30, 2009.



I haven’t had time to digest these issues, but the AAU / AFT union people have been raising questions about the switch to a self-insurance health plan. Details here. The Gist:

Starting in January 2010 PEBB will “self insure” our health insurance with Providence as the plan administrator. Providence is a regional company headquartered in Washington state and owned by the Sisters of Providence, a Catholic order. Providence sets up provider network and handles all claims. PEBB designs the plan, pays the claims and assumes all the risks that Blue Cross assumed in the past. PEBB says there will no change in our insurance but there are many indications that this will not be the case.

This is likely to be a huge change in total compensation for UO faculty. When you think of how seriously people take changes in pay of a few %, it’s amazing – or perhaps entirely unsurprising – there hasn’t been more open discussion of this and more info coming from Provost Bean.

Pay us $111.46 to find out how we spend your money

6/20/2009: Last week we asked UO Counsel Doug Park for documentation on how many millions UO administrators had spend remodeling their offices in Johnson Hall, and if it was true that Frances Dyke had diverted some of the money from a fund Linda Brady had set up for faculty offices.

A week later (and before the AG cracked down Melinda Grier would draw this step out for 3 months, minimum) we got the reply below. Information on this sort of thing is a matter of public interest and we shouldn’t have to pay $111.46 (strange – Doug usually picks a prime number) to see it – and when Tublitz’s transparency website is active, we won’t have to. Meanwhile, maybe we’ll petition this to the AG’s office.

Dear Professor X:

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for a copy of documents or accounting reports related to remodeling and renovating Johnson Hall for the last two years or what is budgeted through June 2010. You also request documents providing information about funds budgeted for faculty office remodeling – we assume for the same time period (the last two years). The University is now providing an estimate.

The University estimates the actual cost of providing the documents responsive to your request to be $111.46. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon in the amount of $111.46, the University will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of the General Counsel’s office at 1226 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1226. Your request for a fee waiver is respectfully denied.

Please note that if the cost of preparing the documents for you is less than the estimate, we will refund the difference. If the cost of preparing the report for you exceeds the estimate, however, you may be charged for the difference. Following is an outline of how costs are determined.

…boilerplate …

Thank you for contacting the University with your request.


The University of Oregon
Office of the General Counsel