Can UO stay in the AAU? Should we?

8/3/2010:  The 19 AAU schools with the lowest federal research funding, out of the 63 members:

And we already know full prof salaries are 84% of our peers. So where does UO excel?

In the percentage of our budget that goes to Central Administration. They cost us 96% of the average public research university, on a per student basis. Our research expenditures are 63%.

Still no word on faculty raises.  Still no slowdown in hiring of more administrators. Sun still continues to set in the west.

GTF contract update

8/2/2010: Update from Emily Gillespie in the RG:

One of the most contentious issues is health care coverage.
In previous contracts, the University has covered 100 percent of teaching fellows’ health insurance. This time, the university is asking fellows to pay 10 percent of those costs, citing the rising costs of health care in a poor economy.
“The university is trying to reach an agreement with the GTFF that acknowledges the financial realities that the university faces,” said Linda King, chief spokeswoman for the university at the bargaining table. “The economy has hurt Oregon very badly.”
The cost of health insurance to the university is about $5 million per year, which is three times more expensive than 10 years ago, according to the university’s most recent contract proposal. The teaching fellows have not contributed to premium increases for many years, and “were asked for only a modest additional contribution,” according to the proposal.

UO’s got plenty of money to write rich golden parachute contracts for top administrators. And if we can cut the compensation of our GTFs, we can even pay to redecorate new Frohnmayer’s offices and pay for his secretary.

From Ryan Buckley in the ODE, an update on GTF negotiations with UO, apparently there has been no contract for a year.

… Currently, GTFs are hired on a quarter-to-quarter basis with the fate of their employment resting solely in the hands of departmental advisors who assess their academic progress.
Yet, without any official criteria for evaluating individual instructors, personnel evaluation relies on a heavily subjective system — one that many GTFs resent.

“We want to push that we are teachers too, not just students, and we need to be judged accordingly,” Bernofsky said. “Many times re-hiring is not handled by the terms of the contract, and while there are departments that do it responsibly, it is just not consistent, which is what we are looking for.”

Interesting – I would have thought pay would have been the main issue. Many departments report that their current GTF / GRA salaries are 60% of what comparators pay, and that this is a serious problem recruiting top students. Of course the union represents the interests of those who choose to come here, not those who went somewhere else.

More on OUS restructuring

8/2/2010: The details of the OUS system’s proposed restructuring plan are becoming clearer. From their Governance and Policy Planning Committee website. They are not proposing to give up much control to UO!:

3.    Board will seek new legal status with state that differs from that of a state agency.

9.    Tuition will be retained by the campus on which it is earned and remissions will be
granted by the campus in which the student enrolls.
10.    Board will enter into a performance agreement with the state that focuses on outcomes
a.    Enrollment of Oregonians;
b.    Degrees awarded;
c.    Employment of graduates;
d.    Externally funded research;
e.    Workforce enhancement;
f.    Affordability for Oregon students;
g.   State investment per degree and enrollment level related to level needed to achieve state goals;

11. Board will enter into performance agreements with and allocate state funding to
universities based on their individual missions, programs, and other factors with the aim to use the entirety of the System’s universities and programs to fulfill the performance required by the state. The performance measures for each campus are likely to be different from one another.

12.    Board will develop and maintain performance criteria and measurements and will monitor its own and the universities’ performance in achieving Board goals and the requirements of the agreement between the Board and the state.

13. OUS and its universities are public, will fulfill public purposes, and will have public responsibilities to serve and assist all qualified Oregonians. Every university will be responsible for contributing to the achievement of Board and state goals and expectations.

14. Board will approve all academic programs and will ensure that there are sufficient programs of high quality and necessary scope in the state to meet the needs of Oregon and Oregonians generally and in areas of specific program or geographic need.

15.    Board will seek funding from the state for both operating costs and capital improvements in order to provide the resources needed to fulfill its public purpose.

16.    Board will seek authority to be able to expand both public and private resources to meet its goals and will provide such authority to universities, as appropriate.

UO still needs a General Counsel

8/1/2010: The job ad says apply by 7/8 for full consideration, but there’s still no sign that UO has managed to find a taker for the General Counsel position. It’s now more than three months since Melinda Grier was fired. Meanwhile Doug Park is getting a $1400 stipend tacked onto his $10,000 monthly salary, for doing her job.

Grier is still on the payroll at $15,392 a month, with no responsibilities other than prepare for her fall class on Employment Discrimination. Of course, now her salary is being charged to the academic side, rather than Central Administration. (Actually, not. Central is still paying it.) So far, 3 students:

I assume she’ll start with the Joe Wade / John Moseley case that led to the creation of the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity – but who knows, maybe that’s still a sore subject for her? Maybe she’ll have a section on AA law, and explain the potential consequences of UO’s Affirmative Action plan being, once again, out of date?

bloat balloons

7/30/2010: More from “The Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability” and their online database of the federally required reports to IPEDS.  Looking at UO’s spending per student FTE compared to Carnegie Public Research university averages, for 2008. We spend:

  • $2,347 on Central administration. 96% of the average
  • $8,850 on Instruction. 91% of the average
  • $1,937 on Academic support: 70% of the average
  • $3,521 on Research. 63% of the average

So UO spends about $70 million on research. (The measure excludes research funded by departments – e.g. when faculty spend time on research on regular pay.) The internal “big ideas” initiative that Provost Bean announced last year was an internal competition for a total of $250,000:

The 2009 Academic Plan created the Phased Focus process implemented by a series of Big Ideas to power the University to the next level.  In Spring, 2009, a 15 person faculty committee chose the first set of Big Ideas from 28 submissions.  These five interdisciplinary teams were each funded with $50,000 from carryover in the Provost’s Office budget from FY09, and launched in July, 2009. …

This moves us from 63% to 63.25% of what the average public research university spends per student. Well, it would if it were recurring, actually it’s one-shot. In comparison, here’s what has happened to administrative spending in just one administrative office, Institutional Equity and Diversity:

2006   $429,000
2008   $596,000
2010   $743,000

The $314,000 increase that went to OIED (and this is before their recent hiring increase) is more than the $250,000 for research “big ideas”. And this is just one administrative office. And this happened when the administration was already receiving proportionally far more money than research.

The UO administration talks about wanting to be a top tier, flagship institution and wanting to stay in the AAU. But that is not where they are spending our money.

Northside parking lot

7/29/2010: Stefan Verbano has a piece in the ODE on the new 153 slot parking lot UO will build to replace the space athletics took for the Jock Box. The city has decided to extend the public comment period another week:

The Campus Planning and Real Estate website lists the Urban Farm as a beneficiary to the construction on its website, saying that the construction will allow the farm to add native edible landscape and save apple and other orchard trees. But some of the farm’s volunteers wonder if the benefits will outweigh long-term ecological costs.

Katrina Simonsen, an environmental science major and one of the farm’s volunteers, said the opportunity to plant a native landscape along the lot’s western boundary does not justify the almost two acres of asphalt set to be poured close to where food is grown.  

“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Simonsen said. “I’ve read foraging books that say you shouldn’t pick food grown next to roads and cars.”

That was true back in the day. I think I read it in Stalking the Wild Asparagus. But it’s not a problem now that we’ve got lead-free gas – another of President Nixon’s great accomplishments. So forage away.

You can’t make this stuff up

7/29/2010: UO’s research expenditures are 63% of the nat’l public research U average. And our true spending priorities are revealed once more:

We’ve written once or twice before about how Charles Martinez can’t find time to do his job as UO’s Diversity Vice President. Because he’s got another job on the side, off campus at the Oregon Social Learning Center. So last month UO hired Martinez a “Strategic Communications Specialist” to help him out.

But he’s still not getting anything done. And now he’s got to manage this strategery person too. Solution? UO puts out an ad out for an OIED Executive Assistant with a simple job description: do Charles’s job for him:

Title: Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Department: Office of the Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Reports to: Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity

… manages the daily operations of OIED, and assists in implementing the management and operational directives of the Vice President. The position regularly requires the ability to exercise independent judgment and a comprehensive knowledge of OIED, its programs and personnel, and the complex issues that accompany advancing diversity in a higher education environment. …


* Tact, discretion, sensitivity, flexibility, patience, courtesy and the ability to maintain a calm demeanor when under pressure are required.
* Experience with the Microsoft Office Suite.

… The University of Oregon is an equal-opportunity, affirmative-action institution committed to cultural diversity and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

 I like that affirmative-action institution bit. Charles has been Diversity head for 5 years now. UO has never had an open, public, Affirmative Action compliant search for this job. He gets reappointed on the sly every time. To top it off, last year they gave Charles tenure as a professor: no job announcement, no open search. 

But, you want to be his Executive Assistant and spend your day doing his job for him, for a third of his pay? For you, the University of Oregon will follow all the hiring laws.

Tact, discretion …

OUS takes up athletic reform, restructuring

7/28/2010: The OUS Governance and policy committee takes up several issues at its meeting tomorrow, including more discussion on competing restructuring proposals (they call theirs “the compact”), and also “IMD Changes Stemming from Athletics Issues”.

The link includes minutes from last month, with a long discussion on the proposals, quite interesting. Regarding the Lariviere/Redding bond idea:

In respect to the UO’s bonding proposal, Chair Kelly recommended the Committee not address this issue or adopt a recommendation as it is not a proposal submitted by the Board. Provost Bean agreed and advised that the University continues to receive analysis from independent sources on the proposal, adding that this may not be the best solution at this time. Pernsteiner cautioned that the Board should address the issue in the future (possibly at the October Board meeting).

ODE on Bend and Moseley

7/28/2010: Ryan Buckley had a story on the end of Bend a few days back, that I missed. He managed to get both current Provost Jim Bean and former Provost John Moseley to speak on the record:

“The statements that some faculty have made that the program was ‘costing UO $1 million a year’ are nonsense,” Moseley said, “The total cost of UO’s program has been approximately $1 million a year for the past few years (and was even less in previous years), with these costs covered by revenue from the program.”

In the summer of 2009, Moseley’s contract with the University was the subject of a review by the state’s Internal Audit Division (IAD) following a complaint to the Oregon University System’s hotline.

According to a June 31, 2009, memorandum sent to University President Richard Lariviere from IAD Executive Director Patricia Snopkowski, the investigation concluded Bean had failed to update the responsibilities outlined in Moseley’s original contract to reflect a reduction in workload enacted in July 2008. Moseley’s original post-retirement contract from June 2006 had included work with the Oregon Bach Festival and the University’s Portland campus.

However, at the time of the audit, the agreement continued to state Moseley was being paid for these duties he had been relieved of almost a year earlier, and the IAD instructed the University to amend the contract to more accurately reflect Moseley’s performance.

I haven’t seen any documents supporting Moseley’s claim that Bend broke even. Provost Bean will only release them in exchange for a cash payment, and I haven’t sold enough mugs yet. The people I know who have seen them say they do not include all the relevant costs – most hilariously, Moseley’s own salary, OPE, and travel expenses, or about $200,000 per year.

Regardless, this story is finally over – except for 2 more years of payments to Moseley, and a bit more erosion in what little trust there is between the administration and the faculty. Here’s a simple proposal that might help us move forward with the trust issues: If a UO administrator publicly asserts that something is true, they should be willing to provide the public records that address their claim.

And they shouldn’t charge the faculty to see those documents!

NY Times Op-Ed on NY version of Lariviere plan

7/27/2010: From former SUNY Provost Peter Salins:

… This bill would allow the state’s two public university systems, the City University of New York and the State University of New York, to set their own tuition rates and give them the freedom to raise additional revenue to compensate for the $840 million in budget cuts the state has imposed on them over the last three years. Such a move is long overdue, especially considering that most of the money for SUNY and CUNY no longer comes from state taxpayers.

…the SUNY board has repeatedly pleaded for a “rational tuition policy” that would end the tendency of the Legislature to keep tuition frozen during economic good times when parents might be able to afford increases, only to impose substantial increases during recessions, as happened this year.

Given this history, it is surprising and heartening that the public higher education act has even gotten this far. But there could be no better time: Beyond the immediate benefits for CUNY’s and SUNY’s students and managers, this legislation could help resuscitate the state’s moribund economy. After all, the education of more than 700,000 degree-earning students on 87 campuses contributes tens of billions of dollars a year to the state economy. What’s more, research at the state universities has long played a vital role in New York’s high technology industries.

More bloat

7/27/2010: With some help we are now digging into “The Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs” data mentioned earlier. The comparisons between UO and other schools are pretty shocking. This is not just a case of too little money – it’s what we spend the money on. Hint: it’s not teaching and research. UO badly needs a thorough reappraisal of its spending priorities – but from what we can see, Frances Dyke is still in charge. $2.4 million on Johnson Hall remodeling and a bunch of new Assistant VP’s of this and that is not going to help UO stay in the AAU.

Administrative Bloat, Academic Diet

7/26/2010: A commenter points us to “The Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability” and their online database of the federally required reports to IPEDS. Here’s one quick cut:

UO’s spending per student FTE compared to Carnegie Public Research university averages, for 2008. (See below for category definitions from IPEDS.):

  • $2,347 on Institutional support, aka Central administration. General administrative services, executive management, legal and fiscal operations, public relations and central operations for physical operation. 96% of the average
  • $8,850 on Instruction. Faculty salaries, academic departments: 91% of the average
  • $1,937 on Academic support. Libraries, academic computing, Dean’s Ofc: 70% of the average
  • $3,521 on Research. External grants and internal research support: 63% of the average

This is 2008 – before all of the increases in central administration that Linda Brady and Frances Dyke made kicked in. Yet some UO administrators still stick to the claim that UO’s administrative expenses are 38% of our peers? I would like to hope that is just for public consumption, not what is actually guiding their decision-making.

But looking at the new round of administrative hiring they are implementing, I am afraid they actually believe it. The President’s office budget has grown by $1.2 million since 2008. Frances Dyke’s has gone from $3.0 million to $5.2 million. (From the Financial Transparency Reports on Duckweb. Those reports are hard to decipher, I would not assume these numbers are completely accurate, but the trend certainly is.)

Definitions of standard expense categories:

  • Instruction: Activities directly related to instruction, including faculty salaries and benefits, office supplies, administration of academic departments, and the proportion of faculty salaries going to departmental research and public service.
  • Research: Sponsored or organized research, including research centers and project research. These costs are typically budgeted separately from other institutional spending, through special revenues restricted to these purposes.
  • Public service: Activities established to provide noninstructional services to external groups. These costs are also budgeted separately and include conferences, reference bureaus, cooperative extension services and public broadcasting.
  • Student services: Noninstructional, student-related activities such as admissions, registrar services, career counseling, financial aid administration, student organi- zations and intramural athletics. Costs of recruitment, for instance, are typically embedded within student services.
  • Academic support: Activities that support instruction, research and public service, including libraries, academic computing, museums, central academic administration (dean’s offices), and central personnel for curriculum and course development.
  • Institutional support: General administrative services, executive management, legal and fiscal operations, public relations and central operations for physical operation.
  • Scholarships and fellowships net of allowances: Institutional spending on scholarships and fellowships net of allowances does not include federal aid, tuition waivers or tuition discounts (which since 1998 have been reported as waivers); it is a residual that captures any remaining aid after it is applied to tuition and auxiliaries.
  • Plant operation and maintenance: Service and maintenance of the physical plant, grounds and buildings maintenance, utilities, property insurance and similar items. For private institutions only, capital depreciation costs were excluded prior to 1998, so recent trend data are not strictly comparable with data from that period.
  • Auxiliary enterprises and hospitals and clinics: User-fee activities that do not receive general support. Auxiliary enterprises include dormitories, bookstores and meal services.

And keep in mind there is a whole layer of OUS administration on top of this. Very roughly, the Chancellor’s office added another $236 or 10% per FTE in administrative expenses to the UO total. (Dividing their $17 million in 2008 expenditures by 72,000 FTE’s for the whole system.) I don’t know what comparable calculations would add to the Carnegie average – most states have some sort of Chancellor set up, I don’t know how their costs compare. For that matter I don’t really know if OUS spent $17 million, their report is hard to follow, and I’m no accountant.

    Cornell to end Nike deal

    7/26/2010: Sure enough, Nike folds and pays the back wages themselves, according to Steven Greenhouse in the NY Times. Though they can’t quite bring themselves to admit that:

    A Nike spokeswoman, Kate Meyers, said Monday that the $1.5 million was for “a worker relief fund” and was not for severance.

    Speaking of things that people don’t seem to be able to admit, at this rate maybe Howard Slusher will stop trying to get UO students and employees to pay for the Matt Court Arena parking?

    7/5/2010: From Jack Stripling of

    Absent “significant progress” toward the resolution of an ongoing labor dispute in Honduras, Cornell University will follow the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s lead and end its licensing agreement with Nike. The decision, issued by President David Skorton in an internal letter Monday, is being heralded by anti-sweatshop activists as a significant victory in a battle over Nike’s refusal to pay severance to displaced workers in its supply chain. …

    While Nike has offered training and vocational programs, the company insists the payments are the responsibility of the subcontractors. That position, however, runs afoul of many university codes of conduct – including Cornell’s, which holds licensees responsible for the actions of subcontractors, the university’s oversight committee maintains.

    I am guessing Nike will fold on this and pay the back wages themselves.