9th Circuit to hear oral arguments in Freyd case May 12, on Zoom

May 12, 2020 update:

UO’s payments to Barran-Liebman (not just this for this case) are running about $280K a year:


12/21/15 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               690
2/9/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            1,230
2/9/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            1,230
2/15/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            4,272
2/15/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            4,272
2/29/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            2,070
2/29/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            2,070
6/1/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               240
6/2/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          13,890
6/13/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               570
6/15/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          43,932
6/20/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          29,423
6/30/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               510
6/30/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $        109,382
10/10/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               175
10/10/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               175
10/12/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               650
10/12/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               700
10/12/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               700
10/12/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               650
12/22/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            7,808
12/22/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          11,035
12/22/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            7,808
12/22/16 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          11,035
2/10/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          19,000
2/13/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          19,000
3/31/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               390
3/31/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               390
4/13/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          14,592
4/13/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            1,910
4/13/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          14,592
4/13/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            1,910
6/29/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            6,641
6/29/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            6,379
6/29/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               930
7/11/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          11,011
7/14/17 Barran 1/5/17 – Claim 1704-02  $            5,000
7/14/17 Barran 1/5/17 – Claim 1704-02  $          14,000
11/20/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          49,517
12/4/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               250
12/4/17 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          64,724
2/13/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          44,431
2/19/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          23,393
4/11/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          52,962
4/11/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          44,077
4/11/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               120
4/11/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            2,550
4/11/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            1,650
5/23/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            2,610
6/20/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $        117,413
7/10/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $        133,860
7/11/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            6,216
7/12/18 Barran Clm 1706-06  $          24,075
7/12/18 Barran Clm 1706-06  $        (24,075)
11/12/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          10,658
11/26/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            1,770
12/10/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            1,680
12/31/18 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            1,580
1/22/19 Barran Invoices July – Oct 2018  $            3,060
2/4/19 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $               490
2/19/19 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            8,950
3/22/19 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $          15,949
4/15/19 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            4,330
4/29/19 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            2,910
5/29/19 Barran Liebman Attorneys  $            2,114
Total  $        967,522

May 10, 2020 update:

(Note: All my posts on this case are here, including the most recent take down threat from UO’s Lawyer Paula Barran, here. Haven’t heard a peep from her since.)

The link is at https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/live_oral_arguments.php and I assume on Tuesday they’ll have a link to live-streaming at the Pioneer Courthouse (Portland). Court opens at 9AM and this is the third case, so it will probably start sometime after 9:40, although for the circuit court arguments Judge McShane inexplicably kept a full courtroom waiting for 20 minutes, so who knows.)

Cases are heard by a randomly drawn subset of three appeals court judges, and this panel includes recent Trump appointee Lawrence VanDyke. Wikipedia reports on his nomination process:

The nomination was to the seat being vacated by Judge Jay Bybee, who previously announced his intention to take senior status on December 31, 2019.[13] Six retired justices of the Montana Supreme Court publicly opposed VanDyke’s nomination.[14]

VanDyke received a “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association. ABA evaluators conducted 60 anonymous interviews with lawyers, judges, and others who had worked with VanDyke. The ABA published a scathing critique of VanDyke in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee; that letter asserted that interviewees described VanDyke as “‘arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice'” of law.[15] The ABA added that “‘There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful'”.[16]

The Senate confirmed him 51-44.

The second member is Kathleen Cardone, a G.W. Bush appointee whose most cited opinion regards labor law and progressive discipline. She found for the employer.

The third member of the panel is the Honorable Jay Bybee, of whom wikipedia notes:

While serving in the Bush administration as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal CounselUnited States Department of Justice, he signed the controversial “Torture Memos” in August 2002. These authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were used in the systematic torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention camp beginning in 2002 and at the Abu Ghraib facility following the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He was confirmed by the Senate before his role in the torture memos was revealed.

Dec 3, 2019: Updates on Prof Jennifer Freyd’s pay discrimination lawsuit

1: The UO administration could have followed the Psychology department head’s advice and given her a $15K raise 4 years ago. But instead the lawyers that run UO wanted a lawsuit. Her department colleagues are now circulating a letter of support, here:

2: A month later, and UO’s lawyer Paula Barran still hasn’t followed through on her threat to send my ISP a DMCA take-down notice over my posting a clip of her bio sketch:

The Article includes a screenshot of Ms. Barran’s profile on the Barran Liebman LLP website. Barran Liebman LLP has copyrighted the material on its site and does not grant UO Matters the right to use its copyrighted material. If Barran Liebman LLP’s copyrighted material has not been removed from the UO Matters site within five (5) days, my clients will file a DMCA Takedown Notice.

Presumably her lawyer explained to his “Top Point Getter” client that the fair-use copyright exemption includes parody:

3: Speaking of parody, Barran, Zaerpoor Le, and Bonner have finally filed UO’s response to Freyd’s appeal in the Ninth Circuit, here. Barran has, sensibly, dropped her Kubrickesque rants about “bodily fluids”. Now they are “biological samples”:

4: Meanwhile, Barran convinced the Honorable Judge McShane to make Prof Freyd pay President Schill $3,537.15 in court costs, and the University of Oregon and Hal Sadofsky $7,145.12. Ruling here. Last time GC Kevin Reed did this, in the Bowl of Dick’s case, he paid HLGR’s Bill Gary about $50K to get UO’s costs reduced by about $12K. I’m not sure how many billable hours Barran collected from UO for this, but these things aren’t about the money, they’re about using institutional power to intimidate potential plaintiffs from filing discrimination lawsuits.

5: Barran also seems to have dropped her claim that one of the comparator faculty Freyd identified was better than Freyd because “he just secured – while this case was pending – a $3 million grant from the Gates Foundation for his work.”

That wasn’t true. The Gates Foundation is admirably transparent:

The truth, corroborated by an email from Prof. Allen, is this:

He was a co-investigator on a grant from the Gates Foundation, but the grant was obtained by colleagues at Berkeley. He had a small subcontract. He also noted that the grant had very little to do with the digital sensing work.

I’m sure I’m going to get a grateful letter from Barran, or her attorneys, thanking me for pointing out these problems with her prior arguments.

6: The real problem with Barran’s brief is that it reiterates the UO administration and President Schill’s argument, which McShane’s opinion accepted whole-hog, that professors’ jobs are not just different from each other, but so impossible to compare that no female professor will ever be able to identify comparator male professors, and therefore will never be able to win a gender discrimination lawsuit. I’m guessing this is not what the Congress had in mind when they wrote the law against gender discrimination.

Faculty union members vote 633 to 14 to ratify wage freeze / contract extension

(Now updated with a long response from the administration, below)

Thus ends a busy three weeks that began with President Schill’s Weakly Progressive Pay Reduction ultimatum on April 16, and finished with an overwhelming demonstration of faculty trust in union President Chris Sinclair and Exec Director Dave Cecil, and the union’s low-budget / high-information outreach efforts. Message here:

Dear Colleague,

We are pleased to inform you that the membership has ratified the agreement to end bargaining by a vote of 633 to 14. The leadership of UA appreciates how active and engaged you all have been the last few weeks.

We are also very aware that important work remains to be done, first and foremost pushing the administration to renew the 12-month career faculty at their current FTE or restoring their FTE as soon as possible. Our 12-month colleagues have contracts that renew on July 1 and there is no way the university can function without their full labor.

We will keep you informed of our next steps to prepare for negotiations over a fair wage cut package for campus. We anticipate having a town hall to share and solicit thoughts later this month.

Again, thank you for your participation and activism. We will need to continue to stand and work together in the coming months.

With that over, expect some updates to our popular “budget buckets” posts on wasteful administration spending and bloat soon.

5/8/2020 update from the Administration:

Dear Faculty,

We are pleased to announce that the University of Oregon and United Academics have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides for a one-year extension of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and a one-year extension of the career faculty contracts that are up for renewal this May. We thank our faculty and the union for voting to support this agreement and for their partnership throughout this process.

Before talking about the details of the parties’ agreement, I want to acknowledge that the uncertainty created by the impacts of COVID-19 and the parties’ negotiations has likely caused you anxiety and stress during a time when you are facing new challenges in the classroom and may be wearing multiple hats at home – employee, partner, parent, and possibly teacher to your own children or dependents. I am sorry that the uncertainties and difficult conversations caused by COVID-19 may have further impacted you at a time when you are juggling so much. I also want to make it very clear that we value and appreciate the work that you are doing and your dedication to our students. The University of Oregon, like all institutions across the nation, faces unprecedented financial issues and enrollment uncertainties that will continue to present tough decisions.  While I cannot promise that all of the difficult decisions are behind us, I can tell you that we are committed to being transparent and collaborative as we continue to work through these issues in the future.   

Memorandum of Understanding:

Like many of the university’s functions, bargaining between the university and UA has been impacted by COVID-19 and the related stay-at-home-orders. Not only did COVID-19 impact our bargaining process, it impacted the university’s ability to predict and understand its state appropriations and enrollment position next year. State appropriations and tuition are the university’s two biggest sources of revenue. Decreases to those two sources significantly impact the university’s financial position.

Given those uncertainties, the parties have been working over the last month on possible solutions, including discussions regarding a progressive pay reduction plan and an extension of the collective bargaining agreement. Those negotiations have resulted in an MOU to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by one year to June 30, 2021 and a one-year extension of career contracts up for renewal this month. The parties will meet over the summer to discuss additional MOUs – including a possible pay reduction plan, changes to the Tenure Reduction Program, expectation of continued employment plan, and the process for increasing career faculty FTE. The parties will restart the formal bargaining process for a new collective bargaining agreement over winter term AY 20-21.

Due to the financial and enrollment uncertainties we are facing, the university is initially offering conservative FTE on career contracts up for renewal this month. Available career faculty FTE will be provided over the summer as we better understand our fall term enrollment and the university’s state appropriations. The university will provide faculty with their final fall term FTE at least two weeks before the start of fall term. Available FTE will be provided to career faculty based on pedagogical and curricular need and performance criteria as evidenced by rank and other objective measures. It is important to note that this MOU does not apply to or impact FTE for funding-contingent faculty.

Information and resources for career faculty regarding contracts are available on the HR website. The resources include a copy of the agreement, answers to frequently asked questions, and other helpful links.

Details of the agreement:

An overview of the MOU is provided below with complete terms available on the HR website:

    • Salary – Salary minimums and increases in the current CBA will remain in force. This means promotion and post tenure increases, for example, will proceed in accordance with the terms of the current CBA. There will be no annual increases for represented faculty in academic year 20-21.
    • Negotiations on additional MOUs – No later than July 15, 2020, the university and the union will begin discussions on other common interests including expectation of continued employment for career faculty, tenure reduction program, and a progressive pay reduction plan.
    • Career Faculty Contracts – The university is providing a one-year contract extension for non-funding contingent career nine-month and twelve-month faculty with contracts that require notice of renewal or non-renewal by May 8, 2020 and who would have otherwise been renewed prior to the public health crisis caused by COVID-19.
      • All career faculty contracts extended under this section will have appointments ending on June 15, 2021.
      • The 0.55 and 0.11 FTE in renewal offers are initially provided based on actual annualized AY 19-20 FTE.
      • Within 45 days of the signed MOU and in consultation with the union, the university will establish and notify career faculty of additional criteria it will use to determine available FTE increases.
      • No later than two weeks before the start of fall term of AY 20-21, the university will assign any increased fall term FTE to career faculty with extended contracts.
      • This MOU does not apply to or impact FTE for funding-contingent faculty.

Again, thank you for your service to this institution. We truly appreciate your work during this difficult time.

Please visit the HR website for more information about the MOU and negotiations with United Academics. Questions can be directed to Employee and Labor Relations by emailing uoelr@uoregon.edu.

Best regards,

Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University Human Resources

Daily Emerald reports on fall enrollment

Reporter Hans Boyle, here. A snippet:

Fall Enrollment

In a statement to the Emerald, Jim Rawlins — director of the Office of Admissions — said the UO was currently tracking on pace with last year’s recruiting class, but acknowledged uncertainty regarding the number of incoming freshmen for fall term.

“We won’t know for certain where we stand on student enrollment until the fall,” Rawlins said.

According to data from the UO office of institutional research, over 5,000 freshmen enrolled in fall term last year.

Why former CAS Dean Andrew Marcus has joined the faculty union

Marcus resigned from the UO Administration as CAS Dean, effective Jan 2019, after disagreements with President Schill on matters of principle. Now he’s joined the Faculty Union:

Dear […]

I want to let you know that I have just joined the ranks of United Academics as a dues paying member. My decision to join the union is driven by the even deeper plunge of UO’s central administration into centralized decision making, all at the expense of rational consultation and input from thoughtful contributors ranging from deans to staff to faculty. It was the dramatic centralization and loss of input from deans and faculty that ultimately led to my resignation as dean. It is dismaying that this trend has proceeded even further without regard for the individuals whose lives are most affected by the decisions. For example, I believe there are many alternative ways to address budget deficits that do not require across the board salary reductions for those who actually do the work of the university. But these alternative approaches would harm our President’s vision for the university, and that is apparently the only vision that counts, no matter whose backs it is built on.

Unfortunately, my membership will be short-lived as I will become department head as of June 16. But I want to provide a tangible, if short–lived, gesture of my support for United Academics in this challenging moment for our university and our faculty.

Feel free to share this note with others.

With respect,

W. Andrew Marcus
Professor of Geography
University of Oregon

You too can join, at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeWlPkhxAzbHOsrAssgK_gAhr5clorn9r5R7_xR1PcVtcc9vg/viewform

Contest for best “why I would like to work remotely during a pandemic” request

5/6/2020 update:

The latest email from HR is here. It gives the faculty a 6 day extension on the demand for requests for remote teaching. I clicked on the Remote Work Request Form link in the email. I was surprised to learn that there’s a university policy requiring all employees to demonstrate honesty in communication & conduct. I guess there’s an exemption for JH administrators.

In any case I’ve got a fifth of Laphroaig for whoever submits the best reason in the comments for wanting to work remotely. In keeping with UO policy, all entries must start with “Honestly, ”

5/5/2020: HR gives faculty til Friday to get BMI up to 40 & request opt-out from in-person teaching

Continue reading

Faculty Union voting opens on contract ext / wage freeze

5/6/2020 update: 

If you’re a card-carrying member you should have received an email from UAUO with a link to an electronic ballot at 1:30 today.

Imagine that – the members of an organized faculty labor cartel voting on the terms of their contract with Johnson Hall’s hiring cartel. It must make our Board of Trustees’ already cold blood run even colder. I voted Yes, and yes of course I tried but you can only vote once. Voting closes Friday at 4. at 5PM. (extended by an hour because it started a little late.)

If you’re in the bargaining unit but not a member you can join here, although I imagine it’s too late to have a vote this time. If you’re not sure if you’re in the bargaining unit email info@uauoregon.org.

5/5/2020 update: Faculty Union to send wage freeze agreement to members for vote this Wed

Continue reading

UO Fall Term Planning–Concerns about the Safety of In-Person and On-Campus Instruction

A letter to campus from one of our our Italian correspondents. Page down for her op-ed in today’s Oregonian:

From: Melissa Graboyes <graboyes@uoregon.edu>
Subject: UO Fall Term Planning–Concerns about the Safety of In-Person and On-Campus Instruction
Date: May 6, 2020 at 6:54:09 AM PDT
To: Andre Le Duc <leduc@uoregon.edu>
Cc: Bruce Blonigen <bruceb@uoregon.edu>, Karen Ford <fordk@uoregon.edu>, “Carol Stabile” <cstabile@uoregon.edu>, Philip Scher <pscher@uoregon.edu>, “President Michael Schill” <pres@uoregon.edu>, Provost <provost@uoregon.edu>, “Gabe Paquette” <paquette@uoregon.edu>, Dennis Galvan <dgalvan@uoregon.edu>, “H Leslie Steeves” <lsteeves@uoregon.edu>, Juan-Carlos Molleda <jmolleda@uoregon.edu>, Laura Vandenburgh <lkvanden@uoregon.edu>, “VP for Equity and Inclusion” <vpinclusion@uoregon.edu>, Sabrina Madison-Cannon <smadison@uoregon.edu>, Hal Sadofsky <sadofsky@uoregon.edu>, Sarah Nutter <snutter@uoregon.edu>, Lee Rumbarger <leona@uoregon.edu>, Sierra Dawson <sdawson@uoregon.edu>, Ron Bramhall <rcb@uoregon.edu>, Randy Kamphaus <randyk@uoregon.edu>, Kate Mondloch <mondloch@uoregon.edu>, Marcilynn Burke <maburke@uoregon.edu>

Dear Mr. Le Duc and UO Leadership,

I am writing to share my deep concerns about the current plans for the UO to open for in-person and on-campus instruction during fall term. I write as someone with professional training and expertise in the area of public health, as someone who is witnessing the Italian government’s response to the outbreak in the north, and as a committed faculty member. There are many reasons I am worried about fall plans, and believe that many of my concerns are shared by others in the UO community. I recognize that many talented people are working very hard on this issue, and I appreciate those efforts. However, I still believe that this decision about fall term is the wrong one, and that there are significant problems with the process being used to make decisions about the university’s Covid-19 response.

To that end, I respectfully request:
1. Greater transparency about current plans for fall term, including the specifics of how testing, tracking, and isolation systems would be built and function. The UO also ought to share information about who is part of the Incident Management Team (IMT) that is making such important decisions for our campus and for our wider community. There needs to be more communication about what this group is doing and how decisions are being made.

2. Greater faculty involvement in determining what is safe and acceptable risk for fall term and in gathering ideas and input from across the university community. Feedback from across campus should be gathered, compiled, and shared publicly so the community knows the range of concerns and opinions. This could be done through a university wiki or qualtrics survey with public results. Having people send individual emails or phone calls is not enough, and does not allow faculty, staff, or students to know whether their concerns are shared by a few other people, dozens of others, or hundreds across campus. Part of an effective public health response is about maintaining trust. This is a critical moment when trust can be quickly lost, or, ideally, sowed through open sharing of information and vigorous public discussion about what is best for our whole community.

3. Greater faculty involvement through the creation of an Expert Advisory Committee made up of roughly a dozen faculty to advise the Incident Management Team on the changing science, international public health best practices, and to allow the UO to make decisions that are not only based on finances and campus logistics. This group would leverage the UO’s knowledge bank of talented scientists and public health experts and allow for our campus to make more nuanced decisions and more realistic plans. In the past three months, there have been multiple times when agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have been slow to respond to changing scientific data, or have chosen not to fully embrace methods that have been shown to be effective in other parts of the world. Two examples of this are around the dangers of asymptomatic transmission and the benefits of masking in reducing transmission. In both of these areas, all three of the agencies the UO turns to as official sources of information were weeks behind the scientific consensus, and still remain behind the curve in mandating masking in public. This Advisory Committee should also be public in that it’s members are known, and meetings and discussions should be as public as possible.

4. Greater sharing from the UO to the wider community about how effective measures could be taken on campus to keep the wider Eugene and Lane County community safe

I have shared these concerns in an open letter to colleagues (pasted below) and in an article running in today’s Oregonian: https://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/2020/05/opinion-to-stay-safe-university-of-oregon-must-stay-the-course-on-remote-learning.html

Thank you for your attention,


Melissa Graboyes, Ph.D., MPH
Associate Professor, Medical History & African History
Clark Honors College
University of Oregon


To stay safe, University of Oregon must stay the course on remote-learning

Melissa Graboyes

Graboyes is an associate professor of medical history and African history at the University of Oregon. She is currently living in northern Italy with her family while on research leave and writes about the Covid-19 outbreak at www.coronaviruschronicles.com

University of Oregon President Michael Schill recently sent a note outlining his commitment to an in-person and on-campus fall term. But considering how much of his note focused on the university’s financial picture, it’s worth questioning whether that or sound public health policy is driving that decision. As a UO faculty member, a trained public health professional, and someone who has directly experienced the COVID-19 outbreak in northern Italy, I feel strongly that the university’s current plan to open in the fall for in-person, on-campus teaching is unsafe. Reconvening tens of thousands of students from across the globe to live in close quarters with each other could jumpstart COVID-19 transmission on campus and spread into the wider community. For the safety of everyone, the UO ought to continue remote-learning for fall term.

In theory, I’m not opposed to the idea of the UO fully opening in fall, but it would require a heroic public health effort. Experts agree that safely having together thousands of people in contact—as would happen in dormitories, dining facilities, libraries, classrooms and labs—would require a robust plan for regular testing on campus, quickly tracking contacts of positive cases, and having facilities to isolate those who test positive. To effectively test, track, and isolate would require the UO to build a complex public health infrastructure that has eluded US states and rich European countries alike. When I see the wealthiest area in Italy still unable to roll out sufficient testing, when I see the EU unable to figure out a viable digital contact tracking strategy, and most countries unable to humanely isolate those who are positive, forgive me for saying I don’t think the UO can develop these systems independently in four months.

President Schill hasn’t provided any convincing information that suggests testing, tracking, or isolating protocols could be ready by September. In his note, there is a single sentence describing how the university’s Incident Management Team will “explore a variety of methods to safeguard our community” that include reducing density in offices, residence halls, and dining facilities; intensive cleaning of all facilities; and testing and contact tracing for students and employees. But how will that testing possibly be done at adequate levels, especially knowing that as many as 60% of positive cases are asymptomatic? The U.S., Oregon, and Lane County have all been unable to scale up testing to anywhere near reasonable levels. Veneto Province in northern Italy, where I am located, has spent millions of euros on tests and has the highest testing per capita in Italy; but it still remains below what experts say is necessary to catch and prevent a second wave of infection.

The news is not much better for building out contact tracing and isolation systems. Not a single U.S. state has put in place a convincing contact tracing program, though Massachusetts has a promising effort. Italy is trying to scale up tracing via apps and human workers but has run into legal challenges around privacy and resistance to using the apps. Finally, stopping an outbreak on campus would require places where people who test positive can recover without infecting others. Neither the United States nor Europe has set up effective out-of-home isolation facilities such as those used in China and South Korea. So, please forgive me (again) if I remain deeply skeptical that the university could complete all of these steps and have them ready in four months. The UO is a special place filled with talented and hardworking people whom I am lucky to call my colleagues and friends—but these are unreasonable expectations.

We can’t lose sight of the fact that the decision about fall term isn’t just about the university’s fiscal health—it’s about people’s actual health and actual lives. Oregon has been lightly hit so far, but we are not done with COVID-19. Witnessing the COVID-19 outbreak and response in Italy, I’ve seen what happens when an area gets the full brunt of a coronavirus outbreak and when health systems are overwhelmed. One of the ways our community can minimize risk is by acknowledging it is unrealistic and unsafe to have tens of thousands of students back on campus. To protect our community’s health, the UO needs to remain remote in fall.

New UO fundraiser to focus on scholarships, student services

Just kidding, apparently Uncle Phil’s not going to come through with the second $500M for the Knight Campus, so they’re going to hire a specialist to hit up our other donors – to report to Knight Director Rob Guldberg and not UO Development, so there won’t be any leakage. And they’ve hired an external search firm, Isaacson Miller, to keep the details out of the public record.

Trigger warning: They’ve pulled out every buzzword in the lexicon for this one:


Le Duc’s N-95 mask decontamination at Romania costing $110 a mask

6/1/2020: From the Wall Sreet Journal, not the fake news people at Around the O:

I wonder what other boondoggles UO is supporting.

5/4/2020: UO rents out unreinforced masonry building to FEMA for mask decontamination

Within 1/2 mile of most of UO’s student housing. Doesn’t really sound like the most resilient location. But who am I to question the decision-making of Andre Le Duc,  FEMA, and President Trump?

Around the O’s Strategic Communicators are a bit confused about the difference between an N-95 mask and a respirator, but other than that I’m sure their report is complete and factual:

A machine being installed at the University of Oregon will decontaminate N95 respirators, allowing the critical personal protective equipment to be used up to 20 times by frontline health care workers.

The decontamination unit is coming to Oregon courtesy of the U.S. government and to the Eugene campus through an agreement with the state and the university, which will house the unit.

N95 respirators have been in short supply during the coronavirus pandemic and are typically used just once and then thrown away.

Loading decontamination unit

Outreach to faculty and staff on possible scenarios

Outreach to faculty and staff as we plan for on-campus activities

Dear Colleagues,

Last week, President Schill and Provost Phillips announced that discussions are underway to proactively develop plans for a number of possible scenarios that would allow the university to be open for in-person, on-campus instruction this fall. The Incident Management Team has been tasked with developing resumption guidelines and plans in close coordination with those in the State of Oregon’s Re-Opening framework. The State’s framework calls for phased resumption of activities, which is dependent on certain factors such as decreased cases, increased hospital capacity, and increased testing capacity. The UO’s resumption plan goal is to begin resuming on-campus administrative and research functions over the summer as state public health guidelines allow. Key to the planning process is outreach to faculty and staff to learn more about your availability to work on campus in the coming months, as well as fall term, to the extent our campuses are open. As shared in the announcements, the health and safety of our campus community is our top priority.

The resumption plan will include guidance to departments to develop plans for which services and functions can resume in-person first. This will be a multi-phase process that includes an Office of Human Resources information gathering initiative guided by UO planning efforts, CDC risk criteria, the needs of our employees and the university, and the use and availability of other workplace safety and mitigation accommodations. Over the next several weeks, we will be reaching out to our employee groups—faculty, officers of administration, classified employees, and graduate employees—to understand needs, ability, and desire to work remotely. Submissions received and managed by Human Resources will be treated privately, maintained securely, and only accessible to those with a need to know to perform their work. Human Resources will review employee requests to continue working remotely, and the university may ask some campus community members to work remotely based on the needs of the institution, safety and mitigation accommodation needs, and state and federal re-opening guidance.

Since we are now planning for on-campus research functions this summer and fall courses, HR will focus on research and instruction first. All faculty will receive an email with information about remote work through the fall term and have an opportunity to submit their request. In the upcoming weeks, we will extend our outreach efforts to other employee groups as part of our ongoing efforts to plan and prepare for opening the campus to in-person activities.
This effort is part of a larger evolving process. Your continued patience and understanding as we work through the planning process is greatly appreciated. Should you have questions, please reach out to Human Resources at hrinfo@uoregon.edu.

Mark Schmelz
Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice President

A cry for help from Brian McWhorter:

Introducing our new “Cry for Help” series. If you know of a good campus related event, post it in the comments and each Friday we’ll highlight one and put it at the top of the blog.

5/1/2020: A cry for help from Brian McWhorter:

Today at 4p! Watch Eugene Ballet and Orchestra Next perform Stravinsky’s The Firebird (complete). This is the first time the Ballet has released a prior performance for free online.

Bonus: as you listen to it, you’ll be able to hear SEVERAL music faculty who are among the 211 NTTFs who don’t know if they’ll have a job in the Fall.


4/22/2020: A cry for help from your UOM editor:

It’s 3PM. I’ve spent 4 hours on zoom today. Another hour to go, starting at 4. Can anyone provide a link to a musical antidote to fill these little gaps?

Senate’s Academic Council updates rules for teaching w/ closed campus


The Academic Council met 4-22-20 to discuss academic continuity planning for the duration of the COVID-19 disruption. The Academic Continuity Plan approved by the Academic Council on March 4, 2020 (https://senate.uoregon.edu/2020/03/05/academic-continuity-plan-for-the-coronavirus-health-emergency/) remains in effect until the academic disruption is declared over by the Academic Council except as modified below. The modifications and new expectations below are in effect beginning Summer 2020 and until the Academic Council declares the end of the Academic Disruption or approves new modifications.

(Note: “Instructor” is used in this document to indicate “Instructor of Record”, which may be instructors or GEs.)

Assumptions Guiding These Changes

  • Changes made to Winter and Spring had to consider the fact that we had less time to plan, and were changing expectations for students and instructors that they had not accounted for
  • We know how summer term will operate and have time to plan for that
  • We will know more about how fall term will operate and will have time to plan for that
  • We have policies governing student engagement and contact hours and should follow those as closely as possible
  • Students will be able to make choices about summer and fall courses that account for their specific situation, so we need fewer accommodations and we will insist on our high expectations for courses
  • Some students will still be in less than ideal situations for summer and beyond, and Instructors should try to accommodate them  where reasonable
  • In a non-pandemic scenario, instructors of courses would have been expected to deliver content and engage with students during scheduled class times
  • In a scenario where all or some courses are remote, some instructors will be in less than ideal situations in terms of workspaces, teaching materials, and technology.

Modifications to Current Expectations

The following expectation from the March 4th Academic Continuity Plan is modified by the Academic Council as indicated below:

  • March 4, 2020 language: Requires instructors with attendance or participation polices to modify those such that attendance is not counted in grades and participation points could be made up or waived.
  • April 29, 2020 update: Instructors may count attendance and participation as part of the grade provided they have reasonable ways for students to complete make-up assignments for missed class sessions or participation points without loss of credit. Instructors must communicate these policies in their syllabi. Instructors who are unsure whether they are making reasonable accommodations should confer with their unit heads for guidance.

Continuation of Grading Policy Adjustments

The following grading policy adjustments approved by the Academic Council on March 25, 2020 for Spring term are continued by the Academic Council until modified or disruption is declared over. These adjustments are in effect for undergraduate and graduate courses except for graduate courses offered in the JD and LLM programs in the Law School, which are under a different policy passed by the Law School.

  • The deadline to change grade-optional courses from graded to P/N (pass/no pass) will be extended 30 days after the date that final grades are posted for that term.
  • The option to change from graded to P/N will be available for all courses that are designated as graded only and for grade optional courses.
  • Courses that are designated as P/N only will remain as they are. There will be no additional options for these courses.
  • Any course grade of P will be counted as a P* grade for the purposes of the policies below. This means that courses taken as P/N can count toward graduation requirements. Credits earned in courses offered only as P/N will use the P* designation.
    • Undergraduate: “Students must earn 168 transfer or University of Oregon credits with grades of A, B, C, D, or P*.”
    • Graduate Master’s degrees: “A minimum of 24 credits must be University of Oregon graded (not pass/no pass) credits.”
  • Instructors of record shall maintain letter grades throughout the term and record final course grades for students in all courses).
  • If a student chooses P/N by the deadline, grades will be recorded as follows:
    • Undergraduate: a P grade for a C- or above, and an N grade for a D+ or below.
    • Graduate: a P grade for a B- or above, and an N grade for a C+ or below.
    • Law: a P grade for a D- or above, and an N grade for an F.
  • Departments are asked to waive any requirements that (a) limit how P/N courses count toward the major; that (b) require specific grades for courses that count toward the major; or that (c) serve as prerequisites for other courses. This is especially important for cases where the lack of such a waiver will require students to enroll in an additional term or delay graduation for students. Departments are to report how they want P/N grades from any term during the disruption to count toward requirements to the Registrar’s Office by May 6, 2020. The Registrar’s Office will send a link to a webform for reporting this information. The Registrar’s Office will reach out to departments directly regarding prerequisites.

New Expectations

The following new expectations are approved by the Academic Council as of April 29, 2020 and effective beginning Summer 2020. These expectations follow two principles: first, that we have policies on student engagement and contact hours that instructors should follow, and, second, that we have time for students and instructors to plan for new expectations that will improve remote education in Summer 2020 and beyond.

  • Courses that were originally scheduled for online and coded with “V” (for virtual) shall be taught as planned.
  • It is expected that non-WEB courses shall provide live engagement during the scheduled meeting times as defined by the Student Engagement Inventory for the course. Instructors may make the following adjustments for courses that have to be offered remotely or partially remotely (some face-to-face and some remote):
    • Live engagement can take many different forms. For example, it might include a mix of content delivery, facilitated discussions on Zoom, facilitated discussion board discussions, breakout sessions for students on Zoom, group project time with the instructor available for guidance. The following are not suitable replacements for contact under current policy:
      • Posting of supplemental content materials
      • Announcements
      • Assignments
      • Office hours, online or otherwise
    • Whatever the mix, at least 50% of the live engagement should include planned and structured content delivery or discussion.
    • Where appropriate and possible, instructors should create opportunities for student-student interaction.
    • Whatever the mix, instructors should be available to students during each scheduled class period. If instructors are not going to be available during a scheduled class period, they should treat that as a “cancelled” class meeting and handle that as they would during a regular, non-remote term with appropriate notifications to students and anyone else as required by the department, and appropriate replacement of that instructional time.
  • Instructors should schedule and be available to meet during office hours outside the scheduled class time in accordance with department and/or school/college policies on office hours.

Technology Tools and Software
It is required that Canvas be used for all courses during the academic disruption. Instructors shall publish their Canvas sites and use them to post materials, collect assignments, provide alternatives to lectures/discussions for students who are absent from class, and post grades. Students and Instructors are required by university policy to use their Uoregon accounts for university business including instruction, and must not share their credentials with anyone.

Instructors may use other FERPA-compliant software to supplement Canvas use. These include the UO licensed versions of Office 365, which includes One Drive and Teams, Zoom and Dropbox. You can find out more about acceptable technology tools and software here: https://is.uoregon.edu/remote.

Another carefully scripted town hall to promote illusion of shared governance

From Around the 0, of course:

University of Oregon students, faculty members and staff are invited to attend a virtual town hall meeting at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, May 7, to discuss planning for in-person, on campus instruction for fall term.

President Michael H. Schill announced the intent for fall term, including the engagement of the UO’s Incident Management Team to plan for and facilitate the steps needed to open campus.

As planning gets underway, members of the campus community have questions about what an on-campus fall term will look like. In a message to faculty and staff members, Patrick Phillips, provost and senior vice president, highlighted concerns and potential solutions, as well as the UO’s participation in a consortium of West Coast campuses “working together to understand how to employ best practices from a public health perspective to provide a safe environment for our faculty, staff, and students.”

The virtual town hall will include Schill; André Le Duc, associate vice president and chief resilience officer; and other UO administrators. The event is available via livestream. Campus community members are encouraged to submit questions in advance through an anonymous web form. Email questions in advance or during the live event to townhall@uoregon.edu.