University Board sends helpful meeting announcement with detailed agenda info

That would be the Oregon State University Board, which has some significant business on their agenda, as usual:

Public Meetings Notice
January 9, 2017

The Oregon State University Board of Trustees will meet on Friday, January 20, to discuss Oregon State’s efforts to advance equity, inclusion, and social justice and to receive an update on efforts to prepare for the 2017 Oregon legislative session and to develop a vision statement for 2030.

Trustees will also consider the university’s 10-year business forecast, a framework to guide evaluation of investment policy change requests, amendments to the Public University Fund investment policy, an amendment to the OSU capital plan, and an adjustment in presidential compensation.

During the meeting, the Board will hold an executive session pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(e) and 192.660(2)(h) to conduct deliberations with persons designated by the governing body to negotiate real property transactions and to consult with legal counsel in regard to current litigation or litigation likely to be filed.

A public comment period is provided at each board meeting. Commenters must sign up prior to the public comment period of the meeting. Commenters may register by e-mail before the meeting by contacting Marcia Stuart at [email protected] or may register at the meeting itself. There is also a public comment opportunity before the Board votes on each action item listed on the board agenda.

The meeting will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Horizon Room of the Memorial Union, 2501 SW Jefferson Way on Oregon State’s Corvallis campus. The meeting open to the public.

On Wednesday, January 18, the Finance & Administration Committee of the Board will meet from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Willamette Room of the CH2M Hill Alumni Center located at 725 SW 26th Street, Corvallis. The committee will review fiscal year 2017-18 tuition and budget scenarios. There will be an opportunity for public during this agenda item. Commenters may register by e-mail before the meeting by contacting Marcia Stuart at [email protected] or may register at the meeting itself. In addition, the committee will also discuss the university’s fiscal year 2016 financial statement analysis and financial metrics and consider the annual internal bank report and an amendment to the university’s capital plan. The committee meeting is open to the public.

The following Board committees will meet on Thursday, January 19, in the Horizon Room of the Memorial Union. These meetings are also open to the public:
· The Executive & Audit Committee will meet from 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. to review the Office of Audit Services charter and final progress report and audit plan. The committee will also consider an adjustment in presidential compensation and will discuss the university’s statement of mission, principles and core values.

· The Executive & Audit and Finance & Administration committees will hold a joint meeting from 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to consider and approve the university’s fiscal year 2016 annual financial statements.

· The Finance & Administration and Academic Strategies committees will hold a joint meeting from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. The committees will consider the university’s 10-year business forecast.

· The Academic Strategies Committee will meet from 12:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. to hear reports on OSU’s research enterprise; initiatives regarding student behavior, student housing and Corvallis community livability; the OSU’s freedom of expression policies; and campus policies and practices regarding student protest. The committee will also consider a new academic program in geography and geospatial science and will hear a status report on new and existing academic program reviews and accreditations in progress.

· The Finance & Administration Committee will meet from 3:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to consider a framework to guide evaluation of investment policy change requests. The committee will also hear presentations on an intercollegiate athletics financial sustainability plan and on the 2017 Oregon legislative session.

The agendas and meeting materials will be posted as they are available at The public can listen to the meetings by calling the toll-free number listed on the agendas. If special accommodation is required, please contact Marcia Stuart at (541) 737-3449 or [email protected] at least 72 hours in advance.

Men get credit where women do not

A (sole-authored) paper presented at the American Economic Association annual meeting this weekend. Summary from InsideHigherEd:

To determine the impact of co-authorship, Sarsons tracked all of economics professors who came up for tenure between 1985 and 2014 at 30 top universities, all places that stress tenure candidates’ research credentials. She considered various factors to control for paper and journal quality through such measures as citation indexes.

Her findings:

  • Men and women who are solo authors of most of their papers have similar rates of tenure, when factoring in measures of paper quality.
  • When men co-author papers, each such paper is associated with an increase of 8 percent in the odds of the man earning tenure. But when women co-author papers, each such paper is associated only with a 2 percent increase in the odds of earning tenure.

Sarsons argues in her paper that there is additional evidence that women and men are judged differently when they co-author papers. When women co-author papers with women, the impact of co-authored papers is similar to that for male faculty members. But when papers are co-authored with men, there is more of an impact, suggesting that review committees assume that papers written by a man and a woman reflect the work of the man more than the woman.

UO Alert! Provost yields to incessant tweets and ice, cancels classes

Wow, and I thought this blog gets some pointed comments. I don’t see anything that would be illegal under the protection of the First Amendment, but knowing how our administration feels about free speech I’m just reposting a few of the more civil ones:

Perhaps Coltrane was so reluctant to cancel classes because he remembers what happened last time:

Of course the faculty and staff will make it:

January 8, 2017 – 2:15 pm

Members of the University Community,

We expect the University of Oregon to be open on Monday, Jan. 9, however, all classes are canceled, and the new term will officially start on Jan. 10.

While temperatures are expected to warm considerably in the Eugene area by tomorrow morning, the impact of snow, ice, and extreme cold stretching from Northern California to Portland and beyond has made it extremely challenging for many students to return to campus in time for classes tomorrow. There have been numerous flight delays and hazardous road conditions in many areas on the west coast. For this reason, we are canceling classes on Monday.

We encourage students, faculty, and staff to use caution and stay safe as you travel to and around campus, and we specifically ask that faculty continue to be flexible for students who cannot make it to campus in the next several days due to continued travel-related delays.

UO Campus Planning and Facilities Management crews have been working overtime to make safe designated walking paths around campus, but some areas may remain challenging early Monday. We encourage everyone to please use caution and plan for extra travel time.

Below you will find a list of resources. Visit for continuous updates as weather conditions continue to evolve.


Scott Coltrane

Provost and Senior Vice President

The College Sex Bureaucracy

A long analysis in the Chronicle of Higher Ed from Jacob Gersen and Jeannie Suk Gersen, professors at Harvard Law School. (May be gated if off campus):

Often with the best of intentions, the federal government in the past six years has presided over the creation of a sex bureaucracy that says its aim is to reduce sexual violence but that is actually enforcing a contested vision of sexual morality and disciplining those who deviate from it. It can be used to punish those who seek out escort Paris has on offer whilst away from campus in a perfectly consensual and agreed manner, for instance. There are growing concerns that some students have a distorted reality of how sexual encounters should play out. Naively, some have pointed the finger at the porn industry. This is not only a lazy assertion but it also results in the true cause of the problem not being addressed. Students should be taught to enjoy sex, whilst still having control over it. Whatever they like, even the most unusual things, should be accepted and encouraged. Thats what we should be teaching. Educating young students at an early age is imperative if we are going to reduce the number of sexual assaults on campuses nationwide. Visit Website here if you want to explore your sexual nature in a safe environment.

Many observers assume that today’s important campus sexual-assault debate is concerned with forcible or coerced sex, or with taking advantage of someone who is too drunk to be able to consent. But the definition of sexual assault has stretched enormously, in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Indeed, the concept of sexual misconduct has grown to include most voluntary and willing sexual conduct.

Behind this elastic idea of sexual misconduct is a web of well-meaning federal statutes, especially Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education, and the Violence Against Women Act, which, in its 2013 reauthorization, requires colleges to publicly disclose how they define, prevent, investigate, and discipline sexual misconduct. Under President Obama, the Department of Education’s interpretations of those laws have greatly expanded the control exercised by the federal government over sexual conduct.

In essence, the federal government has created a sex bureaucracy that has in turn conscripted officials at colleges as bureaucrats of desire, responsible for defining healthy, permissible sex and disciplining deviations from those supposed norms, as if there are norms to sexual activity (that has been completely consensual) in everyday life, just see TubeV Sex or other sites for evidence. The results are not only cringeworthy but also unfair, potentially racially discriminatory, and detrimental to the crucial fight against sexual violence. …

Despite UO efforts to provide designated safe spaces for students, “some areas remain challenging.”

Not sure how this will interact with the administration’s plan for free speech zones:

I’m hoping that last link takes our students to Yvon Chouinard’s classic work on how to reach new heights despite a hostile environment, but probably not.

Can the administration fire Shurtz? Will they?

Not without a formal judgement by her peers following established procedures. In fact the administration can’t even punish her without that. Academic freedom is still pretty strong at UO.

See the “final investigative report” from UO’s employment law specialists Edwin A. Harnden & Shayda Z. Le of Barran Liebman, LLP, and the letter from Provost Coltrane posted here. Page 5 of the Harnden-Ze Report cites UO’s Academic Freedom Policy – signed by former UO President Mike Gottfredson, after months of negotiations between him, the UO General Counsel’s Office, and the UO Senate:


These freedoms derive immediately from the university’s basic commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding. The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious abuses of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences. Any such determinations shall be made in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers.

Coltrane’s letter to the faculty does not even hint at the possibility that he followed any “formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers” before issuing his personal judgement that “… the violation and its resulting impact on students in the law school and university outweighed free speech protections provided under the Constitution and our school’s academic freedom policies”,  or that he plans to do so. Yet that same sentence makes clear that Coltrane’s decision that Shurtz had engaged in “Discriminatory Harassment” was made after consideration of her academic freedom, so the above policy clearly applies. Harnden & Ze even put it in their report. Very helpful.

Does the implicit bias test correlate with behavior?

UO is now requiring members of search committees to take “implicit bias training”. The administration has hired diversity consultants to train the deans and others on it. I took a version offered at a recent BOT meeting, complete with doing the Implicit Association Test, and thought it was pretty interesting. But the facilitator did not spend much time explaining the scientific controversies about the research. The Chronicle has a good analysis of the disputes over whether the IAT is reliably repeatable, whether it correlates with behavior, and whether changes in the IAT correlate with changes in behavior, all motivated by several recent meta-analyses. Read it all here:

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard, and the University of Virginia examined 499 studies over 20 years involving 80,859 participants that used the IAT and other, similar measures. They discovered two things: One is that the correlation between implicit bias and discriminatory behavior appears weaker than previously thought. They also conclude that there is very little evidence that changes in implicit bias have anything to do with changes in a person’s behavior. These findings, they write, “produce a challenge for this area of research.”

Another law school Dean castigates UO over First Amendment fail

In November Vikram Amar,  Dean of the University of Illinois law school reviewed the legal issues with UO law dean Michael Mofffitt’s decision to suspend Professor Shurtz from teaching on the well-read law blog Above the Law: “On Academic Freedom, Administrative Fairness, And Blackface“. On November 14th UO law professor Ofer Raban had an op-ed in the Oregonian, “A teachable moment on practicing what we preach”, here. On Dec 26th, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post: “At the University of Oregon, no more free speech for professors on subjects such as race, religion, sexual orientation“. On Jan 1st, Raban wrote a second Oregonian Op-Ed, “A sad day for freedom of speech and expression at the University of Oregon” explaining the legal issues with the investigation and interpretation of UO policy and free speech law conducted by UO’s hired employment law specialists, Edwin A. Harnden & Shayda Z. Le of Barran Liebman, LLP.  Their report and the letter from Provost Coltrane are here. (If anyone knows of any analyses by legal scholars – aside from Harnden & Ze – defending Coltrane’s statement that “… the violation and its resulting impact on students in the law school and university outweighed free speech protections provided under the Constitution and our school’s academic freedom policies” please post a link in the comments.)

Today there’s an opinion piece from Erwin Chemerinsky, UC-Irvine Law school Dean. He was the founding dean in 2007, and UC-I is now the 28th rated law school, according to US News. “The 2014 Most Influential Person in Legal Education” according to National Jurist. His UC-I webpage and google scholar citations.

The most recent example of this occurred when an investigative report for the University of Oregon concluded that a professor had created a “discriminatory learning environment” by wearing blackface at a Halloween party in her own home. Earlier the professor had been suspended for doing this. No doubt many were offended by her actions, but unquestionably she was engaged in speech protected by the First Amendment and any discipline is unconstitutional.

In October 2016, University of Oregon law professor Nancy Shurtz hosted a Halloween party for about 25 students, faculty members, alumni and family members. Her costume was wearing black makeup on her face and hands, an Afro wig, and a white doctor’s lab coat. She told her guests that she was inspired by the anti-racist message of Damon Tweedy’s memoir about a black man starting his medical career, “Black Man in a White Coat.” She also had recently attended her daughter’s white coat ceremony — a tradition that begins a medical student’s first year — and she noticed an almost complete absence of black men. She said that she meant to draw attention to the lack of diversity in higher education.

Word quickly spread of Professor Shurtz’s costume and by the next day, she was condemned by students, faculty and University of Oregon President Michael Schill in a message expressing outrage to the entire university community. Shurtz was suspended from teaching pending review. Within a few days of the party, 23 law school faculty members wrote a letter urging Professor Shurtz to resign. It concluded: “If you care about our students, you will resign. If you care about our ability to educate future lawyers, you will resign. If you care about our alumni, you will resign.”

University of Oregon commissioned an investigation which concluded: “We find that Nancy Shurtz’s costume, including what constitutes ‘blackface’ through use of black makeup, constitutes a violation of the University’s policies against discrimination. We further find that the actions constitute Discriminatory Harassment.”

The report found that her costume exacerbated racial tensions on campus in a way that had a disproportionate impact on students of color, because “minority students [felt] they have become burdened with educating other students about racial issues and racial sensitivity,” and because some students used “other offensive racially based terminology during class times in the context of discussing this event and broader racial issues.”

Professor Shurtz exercised poor judgment in choosing her costume and not realizing that some would be very offended by it. But poor judgment and offending people cannot be a basis for a university punishing speech. In countless cases, the courts have been adamant that speech cannot be punished because it is offensive. The Nazi party had the right to march in Skokie, Ill., despite the offense to its largely Jewish population and the many Holocaust survivors who lived there. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church have the right to go funerals of those who died in military service and express a vile, anti-gay and anti-lesbian message. The government would have almost limitless power to censor speech if offensiveness is a sufficient ground for punishing expression.

Likewise, it cannot be that a university can punish a professor’s expression on the grounds that it offends students and thereby will make their learning more difficult. That is the primary justification for punishing Professor Shurtz.

If that is enough to justify suspending or removing a professor, it would provide a basis for doing so any time a faculty member participates in activities that make a significant number of students uncomfortable.

Under this rationale, campuses in the 1950s would have been justified in firing professors who were perceived as having communist leanings or in the 1960s could have removed professors who participated in the civil rights movement on the ground that such speech made students uncomfortable and interfered with their learning.

I, of course, am not arguing that free speech on campus is absolute. Campuses can punish speech that is incitement to illegal activity or that threatens or directly harasses others. Campuses also can engage in more speech, which long has been recognized as the best response to the speech we don’t like. There can be efforts to educate the community about the history of blackface. There should be debates about whether it is ever appropriate to use blackface even when advocating against racism in higher education.

But what campuses never can or should do is punish speech because it is offensive.

I would have hoped a law school faculty and a university president who is a lawyer and law professor would have recognized this. Unfortunately, what happened at the University of Oregon is all too typical of what is happening on campuses across the country where the desire to create inclusive learning environments for all students has led to punishing speech protected by the First Amendment.

Erwin Chemerinsky is dean of the UC Irvine School of Law.