add the lottery money, the arena garage, the $1 jock box land giveaway, …

10/8/2010: UO athletics brings in about $70 million. They pay about $14 million to the coaches and the AD. This is not enough for them, so they want the regular students and the taxpayers to write a blank check for the jock box operations – about $2 million this year. To top it off, they want to claim they are self-supporting, so that people don’t ask tough questions.

With her latest reporting, Rachel Bachman of the Oregonian is not making it easy for them. There are now over 100 comments. It’s surprising and disappointing to see Provost Jim Bean quoted as favoring this subsidy. He should be fighting for the academic side. Someone in our administration needs to:

For the better part of a decade, University of Oregon officials have touted the athletic department’s economic self-sufficiency, a rarity in the world of big-time college sports. But for at least nine years, athletics has used hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from the university’s general fund to cover the cost of academic support for athletes, according to files obtained by The Oregonian.

The general fund has paid nearly $8.5 million over the past nine years for academic support for athletes, which includes exclusive tutoring and counseling, increasing sixfold from less than $300,000 in 2002-03 to a budgeted $1.8 million this academic year. …

Jim Bean, Oregon’s senior vice president and provost, who also oversees academic support for athletes, said it is appropriate for the university to pay for academic support for athletes, and honest for the school to maintain that athletics is self-sufficient despite that support. 

“I actually insist that that be funded from the academic side to make sure that we have the right academic control,” said Bean, who oversees academic support for athletes.

Bean said that because a large majority of Oregon athletes come from out of state, the athletic department pays more tuition for them on average than the average non-athlete student pays, effectively offsetting the cost of athletes’ academic support.

But that is not how two other prominent athletic departments who claim self-sufficiency operate. The University of Michigan and the University of Kentucky pay out-of-state tuition for out-of-state athletes, spokesmen said. This year they will use athletic funds to pay $1.5 million and $1.8 million, respectively, for academic support for athletes, with heads of those support programs reporting jointly to an academic leader and to the school’s athletic director. …

At the recent faculty leadership meeting I asked Rob Mullens if he had any plans to start using athletic department revenues to fund need-based student scholarships, as he had done at Kentucky. He just stared at me. Whoops, I thought, my bad, I get it. You only did that at Kentucky because the president there told you you had to. So President Lariviere must have told you …

new Office of Security

10/9/2010: Update, the DPS budget for 2006-2011 is here. Up a bit more than 100% *before* the costs of converting to a sworn force.. The whole of the College of Arts and Sciences, for comparison, is up a bit less than 50%.

Apparently DPS is having a hard time spending all the money Frances Dyke has been giving them, even after buying those bitchin 130 MPH Police Interceptors and SUVs. So now Director  Doug Tripp is creating an “Office of Security”. The Director of Security job announcement is here, complete w/ phrases like “university security council” and “identify issues impacting internal security functions”. With staff, this new office should be able to burn an easy $500K per year. Why does this make me feel less secure about UO’s future?

WTF? Randy Geller as General Counsel? Unbelievable.

10/7/2010: The campus erupted in celebration back in April when Pres Lariviere fired General Counsel Melinda Grier and announced:

“This institution did not follow acceptable business practices in the past,” Lariviere said. “That will not be repeated under my administration.” 

Jeff Manning and Ken Goe of the Oregonian wrote:

Grier, who did not return a message seeking comment, has come to personify the culture of secrecy that has developed at the university, particularly with regard to its athletic department.

Margie Paris, outgoing Law School Dean, was appointed to chair the hiring committee for a replacement. She’s very respected, good call. The job ad emphasized all the right things. Everyone assumed Lariviere would hire a respected outsider who would clean house. Manning and Goe wrote:

Kent Robinson, long-time federal prosecutor in Portland, has emerged as one candidate to replace Grier. Robinson is a respected veteran prosecutor who for years has worked in a senior role at the U.S. attorney’s office.

Yesterday we learned that President Lariviere had not just given the job to an insider, but to Melinda Grier’s longtime deputy, Loren “Randy” Geller.

WTF? Why not just reappoint Ms Grier? Put John Moseley in charge of Finance and Budgeting again? Hell, we need a new law Dean, I hear Frohnmayer is available. Unbelievable!

Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that Randy Geller will become our new general counsel effective October 15.  Randy was selected from a national pool of outstanding candidates.

Randy has served the University of Oregon since 2003 and was appointed deputy general counsel in 2006.  He has been a lawyer for almost 18 years, 15 of those at two public research universities.  He has proven experience in all aspects of higher education law, and a deep appreciation for the University of Oregon.

The general counsel is the chief legal officer for the university and oversees the Office of the General Counsel.  The office provides legal advice to the university pursuant to authorization from and subject to general supervision by the Oregon Attorney General.

Randy has been managing the university’s legal affairs since April of this year.  In the short time he has served in this role, he has demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of higher education law and current legal issues in Oregon and the nation.  Randy has a J.D. from the University of Washington and received his B.A. in political science and political economy from Evergreen State College.  His work experience before coming to the UO includes serving as staff assistant for U.S. Senator Brock Adams of Washington state, serving as assistant attorney general in Washington state, and serving in the Office of University Counsel at the University of Idaho.

In addition to congratulating Randy, I want to thank the search committee (listed below) for their exhaustive work.

All the best,

Richard

——-

SEARCH COMMITTEE

Margie Paris, chair, dean of the school of law
Thomas Herrmann, UO law ’88, partner at Gleaves Swearingen Potter & Scott LLP
David Leith, associate attorney general, Oregon Department of Justice
Jamie Moffitt, executive senior associate athletic director for finance and administration
Michael Redding, vice president for university relations
Paul Shang, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students
Catherine Susman, director of purchasing and contract services

 Update – see here for a little history regarding Randy Geller’s experience withholding public records.

$90 thousand for research, $1.5 million for DPS

10/6/2010: From the announcement of UO’s summer research awards program, below:

“It is anticipated that up to twenty awards in the amount of $4,500 each will be granted.”

That’s as much as $90,000! This could increase UO’s research expenditures from 63.25% of average to 63.33%! Meanwhile, in the past 3 years the budget for the Department of Public Safety has increased from $2 million to $3.5 million.

Update: Sorry, we’re still at 63.25%. The SRA program last year was for the same $90K.

Who determines UO’s spending priorities? Frances Dyke? Jim Bean? Richard Lariviere?

DATE: 10/5/2010

TO: UO Tenured, Tenure Track Faculty and Non-Tenure Track Faculty
FROM: Moira Kiltie, Assistant Vice President for Research
RE: 2011 Summer Research Awards

This memo announces the 2011 Summer Research Awards (SRA) competition for faculty supported by the Office of Research and Faculty Development. The deadline for receipt of 2011 proposals is 5:00 pm, November 30, 2010.  Applications are available online at http://rfd.uoregon.edu/content/summer-research-awards-2011.
Due to the number of applications that have not conformed to the guidelines in the last few years, we are making a change to the submission process and to the guidelines. Proposals will be reviewed by staff for conformity with stated guidelines. If submitted proposals conform, notice will be given of their acceptance.  If they do not conform they will be returned to the applicant no later the afternoon of December 3, 2010.  Applicants will have 72 hours to resubmit in conformity with guidelines.  Applications that do not conform to the guidelines by 5pm December 6th will be returned without review.  If you have questions about the process, please call Mary Fechner at 6-3196 or Robert Long at 6-2293.

The purpose of the SRA program is to stimulate research by providing faculty with sustained time for scholarly and academic endeavor. Proposals may be submitted by faculty who meet the eligibility criteria (see below). It is anticipated that up to twenty awards in the amount of $4,500 each will be granted.

The Summer Research Awards Committee, composed of faculty designated by the University Senate, evaluate SRA proposals. Proposals will be judged on the basis of their scholarly or artistic merit and the extent to which they advance knowledge in a particular field. What usually differentiates proposals that receive funding from those that do not is that funded proposals are written in jargon-free language and provide a coherent and succinct statement of the project that can be understood by a committee composed of researchers from a variety of disciplines. Award recipients will be notified on or about February 15, 2010.

Please see the Proposal Guidelines, for all eligibility, proposal preparation notes and award conditions for the program. Proposal development assistance is available from RFD staff (see below).

If you have questions about the program or if you would like help with you r submission, please contact Mary Fechner (mfechner@uoregon.edu; 6-3196) or Robert Long (rohilong@uoregon.edu; 6-2293). If you have accounting and award distribution questions please contact Naomi Crow (ncrow@uoregon.edu; 6-2873).

University of Oregon
RFD Homepage
Moira Kiltie

UO moves graduation to Mondays

10/6/2010: This is a bad change for any students who have parents or relatives with a job. VP for Student Affairs Robin Holmes justifies it as follows:

With 30,000 visitors and 29 events, it takes an army of university staff and faculty to coordinate the important events of commencement day.  Scheduling events on a traditional work day enables the university to efficiently orchestrate this incredible feat and provide the celebratory atmosphere graduates deserve after completing their time with us.

Mondays are not traditionally a day for instilling a “celebratory atmosphere”. We’ve done graduation successfully on weekends for years. Why stop now? 

Commentator rips into ASUO Pres Amelie Rousseau …

10/4/2010: … over her convocation statements complaining about the EPD “tear gas attack”, vehemently opposing President Lariviere’s restructuring plan, and calling on students to register to vote and then to oppose it. By Commentator Editor Lyzi Diamond. Personally, I think Ms Rousseau is wrong on Pres Lariviere’s restructuring plan, but was right to bring it up at convocation. This place needs a few more troublemakers. Well worth reading Ms Diamond’s comments and watching the video of Ms Rousseau.

Murk

10/4/2010: I’ve talked to way too many reporters over the years. They would spit in the phone everytime UO’s public records boss Melinda Grier’s name was mentioned. Steve Duin of the Oregonian compared her operation to the KGB. It took a rebellion of sportswriters over the Bellotti payoff to get UO to fire her. George Schroeder of the RG wrote one of the more temperate bits:

I’m sure a lawyer could explain why the paperwork is almost never available in a timely fashion. But if Lariviere wants to make a mark, he could instruct school officials to comply with the spirit of the law. He could declare his administration’s commitment to transparency.

 Ken Goe of the Oregonian wrote:

It was reassuring when University of Oregon president Richard Lariviere said Tuesday that his athletic department would begin following acceptable business practices, begin following Oregon open records law, and begin being open and transparent.

Of course, the proof isn’t in what he says. It’s in what the UO does.

So what is the UO doing? Over the weekend Greg Bolt of the RG wrote two stories about the decaying financial condition of the athletic department. He wrote a third about how difficult it was for him to get public records from the athletic department. The headline says it all:

Money trail an uphill climb | Outside sources provide more detailed information about the athletic department budget than the university itself

The rest of the story is here. Obviously AD Rob Mullens and his assistant Jamie Moffitt have the numbers. Obviously they do not want the public to see them. UO is a public institution, and under Oregon’s public records law, that is not supposed to be their choice. The Bellotti disaster should have made it clear that it is also not in UO’s interest.

Bolt on Bloat

10/3/2010: Greg Bolt has a few articles today on the athletic department budget (Mullens’s report is here), including one on how little data Jamie Moffitt and Rob Mullens are willing to provide the press.

Here are some additional spreadsheets, that include somewhat more detailed breakdowns of revenue and expenses than that in the article:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/ad%20sports%2011%2010%2009.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/ad%20sports%2010%2005%2001.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/ad%20operations%2010%2005%2001.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/ad%20operation%2011%2010%209.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/jock%20box%2011%2010%2009.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/jock%20box%2010%2005%2001.xls

Much more detail – down to the individual transaction – should be available when the Senate’s Financial Transparency reporting tool is available. When will that be? After Nathan Tublitz’s UO Senate motion passed in May 2009, Frances Dyke sent out this memo:

 
This project is now more than a year late. A crippleware version is available through duckweb – that’s where the spreadsheets above come from. There has been a long list of excuses for the failure to remove the restrictions on what the duckweb tool provides. 
Now the people in charge of it just shrug. Personally I don’t think what Frances Dyke agreed to will ever see the light of day, regardless of President Lariviere’s calls for transparency. The athletic department simply has too much to hide.

Perverse incentives for Mullens

10/2/2010: Ron Bellamy of the RG and Rachel Bachman of the Oregonian write on Mullens’s contract. Full version here. There’s an extra $50K in deferred compensation and a list of perks not included in the original stories, based on the term sheet. Whatever. There are also incentives for bowl games, the Directors cup, and graduation rates.

The key is that there are *no* incentives for fixing the financial problems UO athletics has, short term or long term. And as Bachman notes:

If Mullens is terminated without cause (the most common form of firing), he will receive one-half his base salary for the remainder of the contract. But if Mullens is fired without cause and Lariviere is no longer president, the university must pay Mullens his guaranteed salary for the entire contract. If Mullens terminates the contract prematurely, he has to pay the university the balance of his base salary. But if Lariviere is no longer president, then Mullens owes nothing.

“Termination with cause” never happens. Bellotti got his $3.1 million payoff because Lariviere refused to say he’d been fired for cause, even after his mismanagement put the department in the hole. Even Melinda Grier, nailed in a Oregon Department of Justice review as having “provided deficient legal representation” to UO, was fired “without cause”. So all the action in a contract like this is on the incentives.

We now have an AD with plenty of incentives to keep expensive sports, spend more money on football, and increase the current subsidy from regular students to the jock box. He has no explicit incentives to do what he was ostensibly hired for: fix the serious financial problems his department faces. And boy there will be a lot of pressure from the boosters to ignore these issues.

What leverage will Lariviere have when pushing for an end to the subsidies, or maybe even a little money for the academic side, as happened at Kentucky? Not much – if Mullens doesn’t deliver, he’s locked in anyway, no worries. I wonder who wrote this deal?

Bad incentives in Rob Mullens contract

9/30/2010: I’ve posted a copy of the freshly signed contract for UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens here. I asked for it because I was curious about the talk I’d been hearing about the “Director’s Cup”. This is an NCAA competition between athletic directors for the most successful overall athletic program.

I can see why Mr. Mullens would care about this – great for his career – but it’s irrelevant to UO and to most of the boosters, who care about football, basketball and of course track. What UO wants – or should want – is an athletic program that does not require annual $1.1 million state lottery fund subsidies, $1.8 million UO general fund subsidies for athletic tutoring and the jock box, and $600K subsidies from UO staff, faculty, and students for the $40,000 per slot arena parking garage.

So, does Mullens’s contract give him incentives for reducing these subsidies? No. Instead it rewards him for the very thing that he already cares about, and that we don’t:

Last year UO was 14th in this competition. So UO can drop from 14th to 19th place, and Mullens will still get $20,000 “in consideration of the extraordinary work he will have performed”. Talk about softball.

Even worse, because performance in this Director’s Cup depends in part on the number of NCAA teams UO has, this clause gives Mullens a perverse incentive *not* to take the tough steps that will be needed to simultaneously keep Chip Kelly happy and wean the athletic department from the subsidies they are now receiving – drop a few money losing sports. UC-Berkeley just did this and saved $5 million for the academic side. Their AD went berserk. Tough shit.

But wait, that’s not all. At Kentucky, the athletic department’s annual report notes this:

As part of its ongoing commitment to help support the University’s goal of becoming a top-20 research institution, UK Athletics will donate $1.7 million in 2010-11 toward the university’s general fund and in support of UK’s Singletary Scholars program. During the past eight years, the department has given more than $13 million in over- all scholarship support of the University’s academic mission.

Maybe Kentucky fudges the numbers too, but at first glance, at Mullens’s last job the athletic department actually helped the academic side. At UO they just take. And UO’s contract with Mullens does nothing to address that problem.

There goes the reserve

9/29/2010: Utterly unsurprising news in the RG today. The arena is not going to bring in the revenue Frohnmayer promised when he was selling the bonds to the legislature. And Chip Kelly needs another big raise to keep him on board. So the ticket money will go to Kelly, and the reserve fund – the principle, not just the income – will be used to make the bond payments. They are looting the reserve to pay their salaries, and when that money runs out they will run too. You can bank on it.

Now Lariviere has to go back to the legislators to sell his restructuring plan, to try and save UO’s academic and research missions:

“Well, Richard, the last time a UO President came to talk about bonds – I think his name was Dave – he played me for a fool. The state took on $200 million in debt, lost $10 million in revenue, and drove up borrowing costs for other agencies. And the money ended up in the pockets of your coaches. Hell, even the Register Guard figured it out. Now the Treasurer tells us the state is above our debt limit. So why should I listen to your new scheme?”

NRC Graduate Rankings

9/28/2010: The NRC graduate rankings are out, Chronicle.com has a spiffy interactive tool, probably only accessible from campus. Many UO programs do very well – even without adjusting for shitty faculty pay and the fact that UO research support is 63% of average.

The new quantitative methodology adopted by NRC emphasizes productivity per faculty. The fact UO does so well on this dimension should be a big shot in the arm for Lariviere’s restructuring plan, which will presumably promise specific productivity targets. We have nothing to fear from this. Well, most of us don’t.

As a random example consider UO’s economics department, in comparison to, say, UT-Austin. Taking the midpoint of the range estimate Oregon is #51, Texas is #67, out of 118 ranked programs. UO full professor pay is 30% below that at Texas.

In these rankings, we lose the most points because we have so few new students with full support. Where did that money go, coach?

President, Governor on student spas and administrative bloat

9/28/2010: President Obama that is:

In a conference call with student journalists on Monday, President Obama renewed his calls for reining in college costs, saying that every institution should provide a chart showing how each tuition dollar is spent. He also questioned the need for expensive amenities. “You’re not going to a university to join a spa,” he told the students. The president said improving the economy—to help shore up state budgets—is crucial to improving affordability, but he argued that colleges need to be mindful of teaching loads as well. Colleges should “give professors the opportunity to engage in work outside the classroom that advances knowledge,” he said, “but at the same time reminding faculties that their primary job is to teach.” (From Chronicle.com)

Does this mean he supports Grassley’s plan to eliminate the tax subsidies for giving to athletic programs? Meanwhile the Governor of Indiana comments on administrative bloat, in the Indy-Star:

Gov. Mitch Daniels told a large group of college trustees Monday that the days of top-heavy campuses — where administrators get the biggest slice of the budget pie — must come to an end. … Citing studies that show spending on administrator salaries, office space and nonteaching supplies outpaced spending for instructional costs, Daniels said “that is a lopsided way to deliver resources.” …  Daniels cited a national study released a few weeks ago by the Goldwater Institute in Arizona. It found the number of full-time administrators for every 100 students at 189 top U.S. universities had increased by 39 percent from 1993 to 2007.

UO’s administrative spending was 96% of the average in 2008 – before all the recent hires. Our research spending was 63%.

No guns yet

9/28/2010: In several recent posts I’ve said or implied that the Dyke-Tripp proposal is to create an armed UO police force. This is wrong, and an informed reader clarifies:

 … the proposal on the table is to have the DPS officers elevated to the status of police officers WITHOUT arming them with deadly force. In other words, the proposal for create a police force on campus is separate from the idea of arming them with guns and/or tasers.  If the current proposal to create a campus police force is approved, arming of the police force will occur only if a separate proposal is approved by the OUS Board (or a UO Board if the New Partnership Proposal is adopted). Either way, there are no  current plans to arm DPS officers with deadly force even if the Police Officer upgrade is granted by the state legislature.

Thanks. I assume this means they would get Tazers to go along with their 130MPH Police Interceptors. We still haven’t seen an explanation for the recent 110% increase in the DPS budget, or an estimate of the cost of the police force proposal, or an explanation for why it has risen to the top of UO’s legislative agenda, just behind the UO restructuring plan. This is not the place to be spending money or political capital.