New Law School Dean

6/22/2010: UO has posted a job ad for Dean of the Law School. I hadn’t heard anything about Margie Paris leaving. She was appointed as interim Dean after a 2006 search gone bad, but I thought it became a permanent position for her in 2008. Does anyone know what’s up?

Update: A UO Law student has a post in the comments. Apparently this is her decision to step down and go back to teaching, and she wrote a very nice and informative email to the school about her decision back in Feb. We are simply out of the loop.

Teaching Evaluations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is cheerleading a sport?

6/21/2010: Ever since Kilkenny dropped wrestling for cheerleading, it’s been obvious that the courts would have to decide this issue someday. links to this story, arguments begin today in US District Court in CT:

A federal judge is being asked to decide whether cheerleading can be counted as a sport by schools looking for ways to meet gender-equity requirements. The issue is part of a lawsuit filed by five members of the volleyball team at Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University and coach Robin Sparks last year after the school decided in a budgetary move to eliminate women’s volleyball in favor of a competitive cheer squad.

The Log Cabin Democrat

6/21/2010: This has nothing to do with UO, but how often do you get to hyperlink to a newspaper called The Log Cabin Democrat?

University of Central Arkansas faculty and non-classified employees will not see the pay increase of 2.2 percent originally pledged to them at a May meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Richard Weiss, director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration announced Thursday that merit raises to be suspended would include non-classified employees and faculty. Also suspended were annual career service recognition payments. The suspension applies to the fiscal year 2010-2011, beginning July 1.

(From the Chronicle.)


6/20/2010: The PAC-n expansion is way outside my area of expertise. You’d need a PhD in economics to understand if there’s even a pure-strategy Bayesian Nash equilibrium to this game. Rob Moseley has a good piece in today’s RG. Maybe it’s sour grapes, but the quotes from former UO AD Mike Bellotti on adding Utah and Colorado are pretty negative. They will get a slightly larger TV share, but split it more ways, and there are scheduling pluses and minuses. It looks like Larry Scott rolled the dice on a PAC-16 and lost, at least for now. So it’s still not clear how athletics is going to make the vig for the UO Arena bonds. To say nothing of the nut. One odd bit of fallout: Pat Kilkenny lent Scott his jet for the negotiations, then realized the press was tracking it, so he had it removed from the FAA’s public database.

UO needs a lawyer

6/19/2010: UO has now posted a job announcement for the General Counsel job:

… at least fifteen years of law practice experience ….  To ensure full consideration, please submit a cover letter, resume, and the names of three professional references by July 8, 2010. … The committee will strongly prefer candidates who have substantial experience handling the legal work of a large organization, especially of a research-oriented university. The committee also will prefer candidates who are familiar with public law.

5/16/2010: The April 21 Jeff Manning story on the Melinda Grier firing said

Lariviere initially hoped to name Grier’s successor Friday. But it appears that won’t happen. … Kent Robinson, long-time federal prosecutor in Portland, has emerged as one candidate to replace Grier.

Nearly a month has passed, and there is still no post on the UO or the DOJ job websites for the UO General Counsel / Special Assistant AG position. Meanwhile Doug Park appears to be running things. This is not good, UO needs an outsider with a new perspective on the situation, and we need one quickly.

Rewarding Strivers

6/18/2010: From the blurb from the new Century Foundation book on access to higher education, Rewarding Strivers:

Obstacles are more closely associated with class than race, suggesting affirmative action should be primarily about socioeconomic status.

Racial discrimination continues to play a role in education, but its influence is dwarfed by the role of socioeconomic status. Of the 784-point SAT gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, Carnevale and Strohl found that just 56 points are solely attributable to race per se (being black as opposed to white). (See Figure 2.) By contrast, 399 points of the gap are from factors that are socioeconomic in nature—such has having a father who is a laborer as opposed to a physician (48 points), attending a school where 90 percent of classmates are low-income compared to one where no peers receive subsidized lunch (38 points), and having a parent who is a high school dropout as opposed to highly educated (43 points). Another 228 points are associated with factors that are sometimes matters of choice but are constrained by socioeconomic status—items such as working at a job during high school (13 points) and not taking any AP courses (81 points), which some low-income schools fail to make available.

The book seems mostly about access to highly selective universities. The review by Doug Lederman at is more nuanced on the race/income issue. Support for a shift away from affirmative action based on race and towards SES is clearly becoming mainstream. President Obama has argued in favor of it, and the recent AAU/AAAS book on what universities can legally do to increase diversity repeatedly makes the point that, particularly since the Grutter decision, affirmative action that emphasizes SES is much more legally defensible than approaches that are based strictly on race.

Diversity and the Law

6/15/2010: The AAAS and the AAU and the Sloan Foundation recently hired a team of lawyers to write a thoughtful and carefully argued 200 page book, elaborating on what is “legally sustainable” in university diversity programs and what is not. Press release and link here. Very interesting reading.

Frohnmayer blames Lariviere and Grier, Grier blames Frohnmayer, …

6/14/2010: Eric Kelderman of the Chronicle of Higher Education (or here) has an interesting, long, and thorough article on the recent unpleasantness, and more generally on UO and the tough job Lariviere has in front of him:

… what is clear is that Mr. Bellotti’s hiring was highly unusual and involved a number of questionable decisions by Mr. Lariviere’s predecessor, David B. Frohnmayer, and Mr. Kilkenny, who negotiated the salary for his successor but failed to produce anything in writing from that process. Mr. Kilkenny could not be reached for comment.

“I just cannot imagine a series of negotiations involving the athletic director and there not being something in writing somewhere,” said Raymond D. Cotton, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who specializes in hiring and compensation in higher education.

Ironically, in 2007 Ray Cotton charged OUS $45,572 for a 10 page consulting report on presidents’ salaries, which Frohnmayer’s friends on the state OUS board then used to justify a series of large pay increases for him – mostly paid out UO Foundation funds. Which athletic boosters gave Frohnmayer this money? Oregon Attorney General John Kroger has recently ruled that the Foundation can keep that a secret – but presumably Kilkenny was one of them. He gave $240,000 to Frohnmayer’s Fanconi foundation, the year before Frohnmayer gave him the AD job – the very job from which Kilkenny then negotiated that verbal contract with Mike Bellotti.

Anyway, Frohnmayer then goes on to blame Grier and, get this – incoming President Richard Lariviere – for the Bellotti payoff:

Mr. Frohnmayer said that he had no communication with Mr. Bellotti or Mr. Kilkenny about the nature of the negotiations. But he also said he did not intend for the new athletic director to have a contract that would saddle the incoming president with a long-term financial obligation. “Both the incoming and outgoing president assumed that the contract would be completed by the incoming president,” he said.

Mr. Frohnmayer also said Ms. Grier was responsible for all of the athletics contracts. But Ms. Grier said she was not even told of Mr. Kilkenny’s role until after the negotiations were supposedly complete. Mr. Frohnmayer, a former Orgeon attorney general, personally handled all of the contracts of people who reported to him, Ms. Grier said, and she would be involved only if the president asked her. He never asked her to assist with Mr. Bellotti’s contract, she said.

That last part sure rings true. For example, here’s the golden parachute contract Frohnmayer wrote for former Provost John Moseley – still getting $120K a year. He wrote a similar one for Lorraine Davis – now UO’s interim AD, at $30,000 per month. Frohnmayer loved writing contracts giving away public money to his cronies.

The article includes some blunt talk about how bad things are at UO:

Although the amount of money received by faculty members here from federal research grants has grown significantly in recent years, from more than $36-million in 2003 to $55-million in 2008, the institution still ranks near the bottom compared with other members of the prestigious Association of American Universities, a select group of 63 research institutions. The university brings in less than half the $114-million brought in by Oregon State University, which is not a member of the AAU.

… A full professor at Oregon earned, on average, $103,000 this academic year, about 79 percent of the average annual salary for full professors at eight peer institutions, including the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, according to the Oregon chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

 And then a bit of optimism:

The university plans to spend $15-million over the next three to five years to raise salaries with dollars from tuition increases, administrative cuts, and delaying some maintenance on campus buildings

My take is that the faculty is much more positive about Lariviere than Kelderman’s article suggests. A solid B+, according to our tracking poll. High expectations …

Faculty raises announced …

6/14/2010: … at the University of Florida. From Paul Fain in the Chronicle:

Despite struggles with years of budget cuts, the University of Florida announced on Friday a broad package of pay raises for faculty members. The 4-percent merit raises buck a national trend of wage freezes at public universities and are possible, university officials said, because Florida tapped federal stimulus money to cut costs through buyouts and retirement payments.

For 2009-10, average pay for a full professor at UO was about 12% below Florida. (And no, Provost Bean, we’re not counting UF’s Med School.) Eugene’s housing prices are about 10% above Gainesville’s.

Administrator evaluations

6/13/2010: Just about finished up with grading here – another 120 pages to go. My students have already done their evaluations of me. Getting feedback isn’t always pleasant, but that’s sort of the point. UO requires student evaluations for every course I teach, and these evaluations are part of what determines my salary. Administrators are also supposed to be evaluated. The UO Faculty Handbook says:

C. Evaluating Administrators
Officers of administration, like their teaching colleagues, are entitled to an annual evaluation by the head of the department, dean, or director of the faculty member’s administrative unit. University policy requires that an in-depth evaluation be conducted every three years.

And this HR webpage has this:

Performance appraisals are one of the most effective supervisory tools to communicate expectations, provide feedback, plan work, acknowledge contributions, and help employees gain the skills to be successful. They are especially important for Officers of Administration who often provide leadership to students, staff and colleagues in meeting the university’s mission and goals.

Annual appraisals for OAs are required by the university president and vice presidents. This is especially important in the first few years in a new position to ensure clarity on expectations and performance.

I believe there are also OAR’s and/or OUS rules to the same effect. Does anyone know whether these “in-depth” evaluations are actually done for UO’s senior OA’s? I’ve heard that they were done for Myles Brand, John Moseley, once, a long time ago! Thanks to Anon for the pointer on this.

Have a public search for the Diversity VP job – a nutty idea?

6/3/2010: Martinez makes a lot of his Hispanic background. But he doesn’t speak Spanish.
5/31/2010: See update below on OIED hiring issues, details on this later.
5/25/2010: See update below on NIH grants. Almost unbelievable, but all from
5/23/2010: See update below on Associate Professor / tenure. 
5/20/2010: Here are a few of the problems with current Vice President for Diversity Charles Martinez:

  • No Affirmative Action search for his diversity job: He was appointed as an interim inside hire, and after 5 years UO still has not had an open, public search that followed the standard affirmative action rules. This is an obvious violation of UO’s AA hiring rules. Given that his job is VP for Diversity, it’s also hilarious.
  • No Affirmative Action for his 2009 Associate Professor in the College of Education position either. From what we can tell Provost Bean and Russ Tomlin simply created a new tenured associate professor position out of nothing, just for Martinez. If there was any advertisement, search or any other attempt to follow UO’s AA hiring rules, it’s well hidden.
  • Overcommitment with UO and NIH: He has a 0.75 time appointment at UO. He’s got another 0.65 time job off campus at OSLC. This violates UO’s conflict of commitment rules, common sense, and the law of addition. While supposedly working 0.75 time as UO’s VP for diversity he been the Principal Investigator on $5.3 million in NIH grants, run through OSLC. This means UO does not get the ICC money for these grants, and Martinez can double dip on his salary. During this time Martinez has apparently secured $0 in federal grants for OIED. This is why it’s called a “conflict of commitment.” Provost Bean gives him a special exemption from the rules. Then UO claims the documentation of this exemption is exempt from public disclosure. Right.
  • Tenure: Martinez has worked since 2005 as a non-tenure-track administrator. Last year UO put him up for tenure and made him an associate professor in the Education school, in violation of the UO tenure policies. Provost Bean then refused to show the Faculty Personnel Committee his letter, or even tell them that he had given Martinez tenure – out of embarrassment?
  • No written job description: Last week, 2 years after we asked the UO administration, Martinez did finally come up with a job description, and he even posted it on his web page. Thanks Dr. Martinez, this is step one in an open AA compliant search for your replacement.
  • Performance: Even given the hours he does spend at UO, Martinez has been remarkably ineffective at getting external funding or developing new programs to increase diversity. He’s had this job 5 years, and his contribution has been a series of “Diversity Action Plans” which have cost millions, sucked up huge amounts of faculty, staff, and OA time, and accomplished almost nothing.
  • Hiring problems at OIED: OIED is currently involved in three open searches. (Not for Martinez of course – at UO, open AA compliant searches are just for the little people.) We’ve heard about complaints and AA issues with the procedures for two of these searches.

Now that his longtime ally Melinda Grier bas been summarily fired, Martinez is suddenly,  understandably, and visibly nervous about keeping his $220,000 sweetheart deal. He should be. So he is trying to convince the local diversity groups that he is their only friend at UO, that UO is blocking his diversity efforts, and that his enemies are trying to fire him because they are racist nuts.

Very constructive strategy, Dr. Martinez. Actually, we’re trying to get you fired because we care about diversity, and you have wasted 5 years and millions of dollars while lining your own pockets. Let’s have a public job announcement and an affirmative action compliant open search, and see if you really are the best person to hold this important job. Does that idea scare you?


6/12/2010: There is an article on the latest shifts in athletic conferences in USA Today here, and another on the PAC-16 specifically here. My takeaway is that college football is getting even more profitable, and that players and academics will continue to get nothing from it – so, uh, who will get the money, coach?

You’d probably have to be an economist or something to understand what’s going on here. And they do quote one attempt to provide a game-theoretic model using an information revelation mechanism with binding incentive compatibility and participation constraints as in Holmstrom (1977) and Myerson (1979):

“Of course they’re going to say that,” Smith College economics professor Andrew Zimbalist said of the Big Ten’s repeated emphasis on academics. “What are they going to say? ‘We’re going to prostitute ourselves?’ “

Actually, it’s only prostitution if you get paid. So as a UO professor I am only 82% ashamed. Thanks to Margaret Soltan for the link.