President Lariviere, tear down this building?

9/24/2010: The RG reports that the Villard Street Pub will be torn down and replaced by private student housing. Meanwhile, the UO owned Romania car showroom on Franklin has been recommended for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Not kidding. Actually, the website eugenemodern.org has some gorgeous photos and a persuasive argument. It was the Jock Box of its day, but with tail fins. And it didn’t cost taxpayers $20 million in deductions.

Dream Act

9/23/2010: The “Dream Act” would have given people who were brought into the country illegally as minors by their parents a road to citizenship. Anne Saker of the Oregonian gives one example:

Lopez was 6 weeks old in 1990 when his parents came into the country illegally and settled in Milwaukie. Siovhan Sheridan-Ayala, his Seattle lawyer, said that when Lopez was 9, his parents paid someone to file immigration papers. They never knew that the person never did the work or that a judge later issued a deportation order.

Lopez did well in school and became senior class president at Rex Putnam High School. He got a Social Security number and an Oregon driver’s license. He coached Little League and did hundreds of hours of community service. He aimed to enroll at Portland State to study marketing.

But on Aug. 23, federal authorities picked up Lopez and his father on the 11-year-old deportation order. On Sept. 1, they were shipped to Mexico — where Lopez said Tuesday he doesn’t speak or write the language and cannot find a job.

Lopez’s defenders called a news conference Tuesday at Portland State to urge passage of the bill in Congress, the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors or DREAM Act.

“The country is better for us being here,” said Portland State President Wim Wiewel, who emigrated to the United States as a young man. “We are fools if we do not change the current system.”

And today the Washington post reports:

Republican lawmakers on Tuesday stalled a Senate measure to allow children of undocumented immigrants to get on a path to citizenship, and accused the Obama administration of seeking amnesty for illegal immigrants through administrative changes within the Department of Homeland Security. 

Congrats to President Wiewel for speaking out on this, but fools is way too kind.

Bread to Circuses

9/22/2010: John Hunt has an Oregonian story on the latest in Ducks basketball troubles. They are expected to fall below NCAA academic standards in Spring, and then have their allowable practice time and scholarship support cut – unless the NCAA gives the new coach a break. A commenter points out that Coach Altman still hasn’t signed his contract with UO. He didn’t know what he was getting into, and now that he does he is holding out for a better deal. Kilkenny, you rascal. Meanwhile we hear rumors that the athletic department will be renting out Matt Court for a series of big time wrestling events. That lot has gone from a bakery to cage matches in just 4 years. Gibbon would have loved it.

Furlough Days

9/21/2010: The new website for the proposed faculty union is a bit sleepy, but has a few new posts. Meanwhile, the SEIU staff union is fighting OUS over the furlough situation:

The Oregon University System is refusing to eliminate furloughs for classified workers.

OUS Labor Relations Director Rick Hampton and Vice-Chancellor Jay
Kenton met with Rich Peppers, our Chief Spokesperson, and Marc
Nisenfeld, Bargaining Team Chair, in response to our  request to reopen
the contract to eliminate furloughs for classified workers. They denied
our request in spite of discussion about the impact the lack of shared
sacrifice has on our morale, the level of hardship furloughs create for
our members, and the university’s relatively strong financial position.

The reasons they cited were numerous, but mostly centered on the current
economic condition of the state budget and the  uncertainty of funding
from the State General Fund. Since this is significantly different from
the budget message that we have received on the campuses, we
requested and they agreed to provide additional information to
support their position.

We can’t force them to reopen the contract, but we can be ready to
address the lack of fairness and equity in our contract campaign
starting in February  2011. Clearly, OUS is staking out their position
for bargaining and we must do the same. We can’t do that without you. Our bargaining strategy is determined by your ideas and priorities.

In Unity,

Your OUS Bargaining Team

Patriotism

8/25/2010: UO Professor Matt Dennis has a good RG Op-Ed about the “mosque” at ground-zero. Putting his name to a piece like this takes a little more courage than talking to the usual campus crowd. It’s also the most important part of the job of being a history professor:

Most importantly, the false patriotism of Park51 opponents violates the U.S. Constitution and Americans’ indispensable right to religious freedom. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religious practice and protects our particular religious observances from interference and repression. Such toleration and freedom was championed not merely for its own sake but because our framers recognized the diversity of believers in the United States. In our pluralistic country, no faith is safe if any faith is oppressed on the one hand, or officially institutionalized on the other. Fear does not change this formula for freedom, and Americans should display enough courage and confidence to uphold their laws and their principles against fear-mongering demagogues.

Professor Dennis is certainly doing his job.

Messenger bag dude v. UC President

8/21/2010: Sorry, this, from Steve Fainaru in the NY Times, on Mark Yudof, President of UC, has nothing to do with UO matters, but is just hilarious throughout:

After the Yudofs vacated the property at the end of June, Brennan Mulligan, the landlord, informed university officials that he intended to keep the U.C.’s $32,100 security deposit. Mr. Mulligan requested an additional $45,000 to cover the repairs for hundreds of holes left from hanging art, a scratched marble bathtub, a broken $2,000 Sivoia window shade and other claims.

“At some point, I got a call from the general counsel, and I’m like, ‘Why am I talking to the general counsel?’ ” said Mr. Mulligan, 40, a boyish Hong Kong-based business consultant and a U.C. Berkeley graduate who bought the Oakland house in 2003 after selling his bike-messenger bag company, Timbuk2.

“To me it’s like, ‘Is this how they spend their time?’ ” Mr. Mulligan said.

When a story like this is just part of the constant parade of taxpayer subsidized absurdities, public higher education is seriously out of touch with reality, and we are all going to be in deep shit soon.

One interesting aspect of this story is that it originates from an independent, non-profit organization that co-operates with the Times on researching and writing news stories. This is more and more common with investigative reporting.

Every now and then

8/11/2010: there is a sign that UO is moving towards being a normal public institution acting more or less for the public good, with decisions made in the open, on the basis of rules and some sense of shared purpose and central direction. But then I’m always an optimist.

unusual bias case

8/5/2010: From InsideHighered.com

With backing from the New York State Human Rights Division, Csaba Marosan is suing Trocaire College, saying that the Roman Catholic institution discriminated against him because of his accent (he’s from Hungary) and because he is straight, ABC News reported. The state agency investigated his complaint and found grounds to sue. Marosan claims in the suit that he was ostracized by a clique of gay men at the college who are known as the “Merry Men” and who are backed by administrators who may be gay or bisexual. The college is denying his charges that he was denied promotions or fired for speaking out, and says that he did not suffer any discrimination.

tree care

7/21/2010: Anyone got a good tree care company to recommend – or an unwanted child and a chainsaw? email uomatters@gmail.com or post a comment.

Update: Remarkable consensus among faculty and administrators. Sperry is very good and very expensive. A strong vote for James Cummings tree service, very good, not so expensive. Also mentioned, Doug Hornaday. (Thanks to parents – but given all the offers, I’m not buying the gas.)

Budget cuts put Oregon in jeopardy of losing half-billion dollars

6/28/2010: From Bill Graves in the Oregonian, last week:

Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s order for state budget cuts this week puts Oregon in jeopardy of losing a half billion dollars in federal stimulus money for education.

State leaders say they will make sure that doesn’t happen. But that means they either must get a waiver from federal rules or raise at least $14 million for the state’s community colleges and universities and about $3 million for public school special education.

To keep that money, the state must maintain its financial support for public schools and higher education at or above 2006 levels – what government calls a sufficient “maintenance of effort.”

 The governor on Tuesday ordered 9 percent across-the-board budget cuts to adjust to a $577 million hole in the budget resulting from the recession and declining state revenue. His order shaves state support for higher education in next year’s budget below 2006 levels by about $32 million.

State higher education funding this year topped the 2006 federal minimum by about $18 million so the state may be able to shift that much money into next year’s allocation for colleges and universities. That would leave the state $14 million shy of what it needs to meet federal requirements for higher education.

Teaching Evaluations

6/22/2010: In the NYTimes, Stanley Fish is outraged over what’s happening in Texas:

Now an entire state is on the brink of implementing just that bite-sized style of teaching under the rubric of “customer satisfaction.” …  the plan calls for college and university teachers to contract with their customers — that is, students — and to be rewarded by as much as $10,000 depending on whether they meet the contract’s terms. The idea is to hold “tenured professors more accountable” (“A&M regents push reforms,” The Eagle, June 13, 2010), and what they will be accountable to are not professional standards but the preferences of their students, who, in advance of being instructed, are presumed to be authorities on how best they should be taught.

I’m outraged that Fish – a former Dean – has so little respect for professors like me that he thinks I’d sell out for $10,000. Wait, is that $10,000 per year?

Meanwhile, a couple of economists have actually done some substantive research on this question, and have some interesting results – which support Fish’s argument. From the Journal of Political Economy at the University of Chicago:

Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors

Scott E. Carrell, University of California, Davis and National Bureau of Economic Research and James E. West, U.S. Air Force Academy

In primary and secondary education, measures of teacher quality are often based on contemporaneous student performance on standardized achievement tests. In the postsecondary environment, scores on student evaluations of professors are typically used to measure teaching quality. We possess unique data that allow us to measure relative student performance in mandatory follow‐on classes. We compare metrics that capture these three different notions of instructional quality and present evidence that professors who excel at promoting contemporaneous student achievement teach in ways that improve their student evaluations but harm the follow‐on achievement of their students in more advanced classes.