Duck Soup’s spot on comment:

6/5/2010: I have no idea who Duck Soup is, but I agree with him/her:

… Briefly, UO is a very low-budget place, an overachiever, but starved too long to have avoided academic decay.

However, UO could have reached its supposed faculty salary goals of a decade ago if it had really wanted to. Dave F, Moseley, Bean didn’t. I don’t know if this was due to intent or simply a lack of focus.

UO spends a lot of money on things that I don’t care to have in the pot. Some of these things would be missed by others.

Overall, there has been a growth of administration at the expense of more directly academic expenditures. Been going on for years, maybe decades. All of this is easily seen from publicly available figures. Why this is not an issue — in the state board, the UO senate, the completely feckless FAC and budget committee — is beyond me. Maybe too many would-be administrators in the latter three groups, a lot of surreptitious butt-kissing.

Finally, I don’t see how tuition can keep rising faster than disposable income of middle class families. UO (and most other universities without huge endowments) need to figure this out before the public rebels. Part of it can be solved by ending above-mentioned administrative growth/bloat.

But, another piece of the puzzle, I think, is a reorientation of private giving. UO brings in something like $100 million/yr, very roughly, in private giving. But very little of this, proportionately, goes to tuition relief — I mean holding down posted tution rates in addition to augmenting financial aid.

Where does all the booty go? Look around! Especially near the corner of 13th and Agate and surroundings. Some of it is worthwhile, but different goals are needed for the future.

Have I left anything out?

Tuition, more jock stuff, faculty raises.

6/5/2010: The OUS press report on increased tuition and approval of the latest sports project from Phil Knight here. Bill Graves on the tuition increases is here. The Oregonian story by Rachel Bachman on the sports construction is here:

As the clock ticked on Friday’s meeting of the State Board of Higher Education, University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere warned of a chill on donations if the board did not approve a plan by Phil Knight to privately construct an 80,000-square-foot operations center for the Ducks football team on campus. “If we don’t accept this gift, what will be the negative consequences for the university’s education and research mission?” Lariviere said. “Probably not much — immediately, in the short-term. “But they could be really, really profound over the longer term. Really profound. This is an important gift for our future.”

When Lariviere finished his remarks, which came at the end of a nearly one-hour discussion of the project, the board hushed. Then the 12-member body swiftly and approved the project with the minimum six “yes” votes, plus four abstentions and two absentees.

Lariviere’s comments were some of the starkest ever used by a public official in an open forum to illustrate the stakes of the relationship between Knight, the Nike co-founder and former Ducks runner, and his alma mater. …

This latest request came with urgency: The board had to vote on granting a license for the project despite discussing it for the first time on Friday.

“If it’s not approved today, that’s the end of the deal,” Lariviere told the board.

It was the second time a large project backed by Knight came with a quick deadline for public approval. His $100 million pledge to support debt payments for the construction of Matthew Knight Arena was contingent on the Legislature approving $200 million in state bonds for the project by June 1, 2008. That fact came to light on Feb. 9, 2008 — 20 days before the end of the only legislative session that year. 

I hope I’m wrong, but the prospects for faculty pay raises this year seem pretty dim. UO has the money, and Lariviere keeps arguing publicly that we can’t continue to pay 82% of our peers. I am sure this is his “top priority.” But you can only go to the Board so many times and tell them things like “If it’s not approved today, that’s the end of the deal.”

He has been spending his political capital on the $1 billion bond proposal, and now this new athletic construction. Our chance probably passed back in April, when he was busy dealing with Bellotti and Grier. I’m not blaming this on Lariviere – he seems to be doing what he can do. But why does Knight put him on the spot like this? Do this right now, or else! And you will pay for a football museum curator too! It’s just weird.

Athletic Director, VP for Diversity, and General Counsel searches:

6/4/2010: Margie Paris hasn’t posted an ad for the General Counsel job yet – 6 weeks after Melinda was fired. And Lariviere is still thinking about who should be on the search committee for the Martinez replacement. But Robin Holmes is making progress on the AD hire:

Campus Colleagues:

What’s important to you in the next University of Oregon Director of Intercollegiate Athletics? On behalf of the search committee, you are invited to come share your thoughts at an open forum, Wednesday, June 9, from 2-3:30 pm, in the Harrington Room of the Jaqua Center. Members of the search committee will be in attendance to gather your input.

For more information on the position, please view the posting on the UO jobs page: http://hr.uoregon.edu/jobs/unclassified.php?id=3017

Sincerely,

Robin H. Holmes, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Search Chair

Bring it on Mr. Slusher, you aren’t even close yet.

6/4/2010: Bill Graves of the Oregonian has a new story on the latest sports facility craziness here. This seems to be another “gift that keeps on taking,” like the Jock Box:

But Phit’s gift does not come without costs. The license agreement requires the university to employ a facilities manager, museum curator, museum receptionist, food service administrator and a senior administrative assistant for football operations — all full time for at least six years. The university also would maintain the facilities, which could become costly.

Phil Knight and Howard Slusher are rolling on the floor over the dumb shit they can get UO to agree to for some vague promise of $1 billion, someday. We pay for a football Museum Curator? That is a pretty good one, though I still think taking away the law school profs parking lot tops it. But bring it on Mr. Slusher, you aren’t even close yet.

4/14/2010: Ron Bellamy of the RG reports that Phil Knight is planning on a new building for football team, to be constructed by the legendary Howard Slusher, under the same contracting scheme used for the Jock Box.

“I’ve been told repeatedly since I’ve come here that there are coaches in what used to be closets and that sort of thing,” Lariviere said. “It does look to be pretty jammed up. I’m not sure that this would be absolutely the top priority for the university if we were having to pay for the building, but that’s another matter.”

So far as I can tell, Knight has not given a dime to UO’s academic causes since former President Dave Frohnmayer signed UO up for the the anti-Nike “Worker’s Rights Consortium”. My recollection was that Dave was persuaded by the argument of the students camping outside his office, who told him that the way to improve the lives of the poor is to get everyone to all join together and agree to stop buying what they know how to make. Some sort of complicated economic thing they learned from their sociology professor. I’m sure it made sense after the first few bong hits. But a recent commenter provides an alternative explanation for why Knight is not so happy with the faculty either:

As I remember it, the WRC was a national movement backed by students at the UO, who took the issue to the Senate, which advised Frohnmayer to join the WRC (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen990/US9900-10.html). He did so. This was an example of faculty actually being listened to on a matter of school policy.

Here’s hoping Lariviere can convince Knight we’re not such a bad lot. He’s already talking tougher to Slusher than Frohnmayer ever did:

“Parking is obviously part of the requirements for this building,” Lariviere said. “The initial conversations I’ve had with Howard Slusher made it clear that we would have to have at least full replacement, if not more parking spaces, as a result of this.”

Back when Frohnmayer and Melinda Grier “negotiated” with Slusher for parking for the Jock Box, we lost something like 120 parking spots. We just gave them to the athletic side gratis, and paid for new ones by increasing general parking fees. Of course, Frohnmayer did get a $150,000 bonus that year from some anonymous donor.

Here’s the former law school lot. 70 spots, 2 cars with jock hang tags. 2 cars and a motorcycle is the most I’ve seen there all quarter.

OUS Board meetings

6/3/2010: The OUS Board typically has one faculty member. The new appointment is Lynda Ciuffetti, Botany and Plant Pathology at OSU. Her research “…is in the area of host-pathogen interactions, specifically, interactions involving fungal pathogens.”  That should give her a lot of extra insight into the OUS Chancellor and Board’s role in Oregon higher education. Interestingly, the current Lariviere restructuring proposal would not put a faculty member on the UO Board.

The OUS Board meets in executive session today, to discuss presidential evaluations. (Wow, UO should try evaluating its administrators someday.) There are plenty of possibilities that could justify a 6 hour board session. I hope one of them is what to do about letting boosters supplement presidential salaries and give them side gifts. Tomorrow they take up two topics of interest:

c.    OUS, 2010-11 Proposed Tuition and Fee Rate and Policy Changes.
Staff is requesting Board approval of proposed OUS tuition and fee rates as well as related policies for the 2010-11 Academic Year.  The RG has a story about these increases here:

… push the annual base cost of an education to $8,190 for resident undergraduates, up from the current $7,428. The difference between those two figures is more than 10 percent. But the actual increase in out-of-pocket costs is close to 6 percent because the UO is taking some fees that are now charged separately and rolling them into tuition.

d.    UO, Approval of License Agreement for (Gift of) an Addition to the Len Casanova Athletic Center and of a Soccer and Lacrosse Complex. The University of Oregon (UO) seeks Board approval to enter into a License Agreement (Agreement) with Phit, LLC (Phit), permitting the construction of improvements to real property with a value in excess of $5 million.

This is another Phil Knight gift to the athletic department. Donations to athletics are still tax-deductible, so this will cost taxpayers ~2.5 million. Some universities would impose their own tax on these sorts of donations, with the proceeds going to academics. Not UO. At least Lariviere is insisting that this time athletics pays for the parking – a small improvement over Frohnmayer’s “Negotiating for Dummies” approach.

Why did Lidz resign?

6/2/2010: Greg Bolt of the RG has a story on the Jerry Lidz resignation, here, suggesting Frohnmayer deserved more of the blame for the Bellotti payoff than he got. Which was none. Meanwhile the lawyers are in an uproar over Lidz – this is the third of AG Kroger’s top appointments to leave. Here are some of the questions:

  • Is Melinda Grier going to sue UO and/or the DOJ? By concluding she provided “deficient legal representation” the DOJ report makes her essentially unemployable. And DOJ spokesperson Tony Green will not release the details of the investigation, “Because there remains a risk of litigation around the underlying issues, …” Bellotti got $2.3 million from UO – and surely signed an agreement not to sue. So maybe Melinda is looking for hers?
  • In his resignation letter below, Lidz says “I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I disagreed strongly with the process and outcome of the “”Bellotti Investigation.”” Did Lidz obey the DOJ conflict of interest rules preventing his involvement in an investigation that included his wife?
  • What sort of outcome did Lidz expect? Former UO President Dave Frohnmayer, who is also a former Oregon Attorney General, obviously had a large role in the scandal. But he gets barely a mention in Kroger’s report. Frohnmayer is a quasi-religious figure among the old guard at the DOJ, and many state politicians still think very highly of him – or are in his debt. Did Lidz really expect that Kroger would give Frohnmayer some of the blame, rather than putting it all on Grier?
  • The investigation took 321.8 hours and cost the DOJ $44,086.60, not counting the time for David Leith and Keith Dubanevich, the DOJ attorneys in charge. The final summary report Kroger released was only 5 pages long. (For comparison, the DOJ spends about $60,000 preparing the ~400 page Public Records Manual every two years.) So what is in the rest of the material that was collected during this investigation?

    Melinda Grier’s husband Jerry Lidz quits as Oregon Solicitor General

    6/1/2010: This is stunning news from Nigel Jaquiss at Willamette Week. (Les Zaitz of the Oregonian has more here.) Oregon Solicitor General General Jerry Lidz has given AG John Kroger two weeks notice. This is fallout from Lariviere’s firing of Melinda Grier: Lidz is her husband.

    After the Bellotti verbal contract incident, UO President Lariviere insisted the AG’s office do an investigation and make the results public. Attorney General Kroger won’t release the details of his findings, but he did provide a summary which concluded UO’s General Counsel Melinda Grier had provided “deficient legal representation”. This is a possible violation of the Oregon Bar’s ethics rules and could conceivably lead to her disbarment. No wonder her husband is angry. President Lariviere has some serious political mojo to get this through the DOJ. Last year, when Frohnmayer was still President, Associate AG David Leith quashed an unrelated ethics investigation of Grier.

    Where was Jerome Lidz working when AG Kroger hired him as Solicitor General? Harrang, Long etc., the same law firm Dave Frohnmayer is now double-dipping at. I wonder if Lidz will go back there – he can’t be too happy with Dave, after he shoved Melinda under the bus on the Bellotti contract.

    Oregon Solicitor General Jerry Lidz, who was Attorney General John Kroger’s top appellate lawyer, resigned last week. Lidz’s resignation comes on the heels of departures by two other top Kroger lieutenants, environmental lawyer Brent Foster and elections law specialist Margaret Olney.

    Lidz, whose job is the state equivalent of what Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan does at the federal level, is collateral damage in fall-out from former University of Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti’s contract.

    As The Oregonian reported, Bellotti never had a written contract with the university, an oversight that led to a multi-million settlement for Bellotti when Bellotti left for ESPN. More importantly to Lidz, that sequence led to the demotion of Lidz’s wife, former U of O general counsel Melinda Grier. In April, U of O president Richard Lariviere decided not to renew Grier’s contract and exiled her to the U of O law school.

    I like the “maybe you express your dissent” line in Lidz’s email. Because I’m guessing that getting involved in a DOJ decision about your wife would be a violation of some serious rules with some serious potential consequences for a lawyer. Stepping down was probably a smart move. No word yet on the rumors the UO law school will give Lidz an adjunct position co-teaching legal ethics with Grier and Frohnmayer.

    Lariviere strips Doug Park of his powers

    5/30/2010: over public records. UO has a press release here:

    A new Office of Public Records will be established at the University of Oregon June 1, in a key step toward fulfilling President Richard Lariviere’s pledge to make the university as responsive, open and transparent as possible.

    Brian Smith, the UO assistant vice president for administration, will manage the new office as part of his existing responsibilities until a permanent public records officer is hired. He will begin constructing a framework for the new public records office.

    “The University of Oregon has always recognized the importance of public access to its operations,” Smith said. “Creation of the Office of Public Records emphasizes an institutional commitment to openness.”

    Bullshit. Under Dave Frohnmayer and Melinda Grier, UO had a well earned reputation for secrecy and contempt for Oregon’s public records law. Sorry for being a grouch, but there’s a reason that truth comes before reconciliation.

    But Lariviere is changing things. The full story on why he fired General Counsel Melinda Grier is still not known and may never be known. Attorney General Kroger refuses to release his records on the investigation, other than a summary report that raises more questions than it answers. But obviously public records played a big part in the firing. RG reporter Ron Bellamy had repeatedly asked Ms Grier and Assistant GC Doug Park, who was also UO’s Public Records Officer, for copies of the Bellotti contract. While state law requires a prompt response, both Ms Grier and Mr. Park ignored the requests and – apparently – never bothered to tell Pres Lariviere anything was amiss. Lariviere responded first by firing Ms Grier, and now by taking authority for public records requests away from Doug Park. Doug does still have oversight, but presumably UO’s new General Counsel – if they ever find anyone interested in the job – will have the right to hire their own assistant GC’s.

    The UO Senate has also responded to the transparency situation. Last year Nathan Tublitz’s motion for increased financial transparency passed overwhelmingly, in the wake of the furlough Town Hall fiasco and Provost Bean’s refusal to share financial information – while asking faculty to take a pay cut. Last month the Senate established a “University Senate Transparency Committee” to review the UO administration’s procedures for providing public records and financial information to the UO community.

    Meanwhile New VP Brad Shelton has been working to establish a system whereby faculty and staff can access detailed expenditure data via Duckweb.  According to Tublitz’s Senate motion that effort was supposed to be complete by September 2009, and it is way behind schedule. Initially this was because of foot-dragging by Grier. Now it because some real confidentiality issues have become apparent. I think they are being worked out. Additionally, the IR and BRP offices have posted large amounts of data and analysis on their websites. And Shelton’s new budget model itself is a big improvement from the way Frances Dyke did things. All this is a huge change from a year back.

    In short, UO is now completely open and transparent, those responsible for the past errors have all been fired, our new central administration will never hide any embarrassing decisions or errors from the faculty, and this is the last post UO Matters will ever need to make.

    NCAA scholarships

    5/30/2010: Alan Scher Zagier of the AP writes on what happens to NCAA division I scholarship players if the coach decides he/she wants them off the team. They lose all their funding, and if they want to finish their degree and are out of state, they pay out of state tuition. Compare this to how we treated Bellotti, and the 7 year contract we gave what’s his name. What prevents a college from offering a better deal – say a 4 year guarantee? NCAA rules. Why is it legal for the NCAA to have rules restricting what can be offered in contracts between the schools and the players? They have a special anti-trust exemption from congress. Why do they have his exemption? Because the coaches lobbied for it, so they would get the profits instead of the players, as happens in the pros. From the National College Players Association website.

    Gubernatorial candidates on higher ed:

    5/30/2010: from David Sarahsohn of the Oregonian

    … An ad for Democratic front-runner John Kitzhaber promises “two years of college for all Oregon students who have earned it,” even if the film shows adorable pre-schoolers. A spot for Republican Chris Dudley talks about “transforming universities for innovation and job creation” and even shows a picture of one. …  According to Dudley’s website, “As Governor, Chris Dudley will unshackle Oregon’s colleges and universities from outdated regulations that cost too much money and limit innovation and accountability of individual institutions; will reverse the decades-long retreat from higher education investment.” Those last words could sound almost musical to Oregon universities. …

    On the theme of giving universities more autonomy, something stressed by every university president in the state, Dudley points out, “We’re supplying 8 percent of the budget, and they’ve got 6300 line-items,” specific instructions from the Legislature to the campuses….

    “It’s good to see it,” says Oregon State President Ed Ray, citing comments by Kitzhaber and Dudley. “There’s a lot of white papers floating out there, and maybe that’s drawn some attention.”… University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere says he thinks the campaign mention is encouraging, and he hasn’t even been here long enough to know how unusual it is.

    regarding Rich Linton:

    update from Anonymous:

    It is a sad day at the University of Oregon when an administrator with the integrity and character of Rich Linton decides it’s time to leave.   As Roast Duck says, he is a classy guy.  

    While significantly elevating the profile of research, Rich always worked toward the best interests of the entire institution.  His collaborative and thoughtful style of leadership and advocacy are going to be missed and another institution likely will become the richer for our loss.  Rich deserves our appreciation and thanks for an often thankless job, and I believe we all wish him the very best in whatever path he follows.

    5/28/2010: posted by “Roast Duck” in the comments, regarding Rich Linton:

    I don’t know if Linton was forced out or just wants to move on after many years here. I had heard rumors several years ago that he was about to leave.

    He has been a classy guy, and has done a lot of good things e.g. to move faculty hiring along in the sciences by coming up with research startup packages from a tight budget.

    On the other hand, he came from a background in the applied end of science, where UO has been known, to the extent it is known, in more basic areas of science. He has followed the path, it must be said in response to initiatives from certain quarters among the faculty, of pursuing “earmarks” from the federal and state government for supposedly futuristic research in over-hyped areas like nanotechnology, interdisciplinary brain science, and the like. Look at the new “integrative science” building and its planned follow-up. Look at where the Lokey money has gone.

    Meanwhile, as others have noted, the graduate enrollments have lagged, rankings of UO research/Ph.D. programs have dropped. It certainly isn’t primarily Rich Linton’s fault, he probably isn’t rsponsible much at all, but he hasn’t been able to stop it and he has not resisted the tide of over-hyped dubious research initiatives.

    Lariviere, unlike a certain previous administrator, is aware enough to know what’s been going on, especially with the rankings of the UO programs. So, it’s entirely possible that he decided it was time for a change.

    It’s also possible, as I say, that Rich Linton simply decided it was time to move on.

    So, Rich, I hope you find something better, you probably deserve it, you did about as well as anyone probably could have under the circumstances at UO the past decade or so. All the best to you!

    VP for Research Rich Linton gets a terminal contract:

    Update: Linton’s own public statement is here:

    It is satisfying for me to leave knowing that the UO has seen increasing research accomplishments by its faculty, including sustained growth in sponsored research funding, interdisciplinary research initiatives and innovations supporting technology transfer and development. I am deeply grateful for our faculty, staff, students and my administrative colleagues who are directly responsible for these advances. 

    Other than the ICC issue – which was the result of decisions made by Frances Dyke, Linda Brady, and Dave Frohnmayer, not Rich Linton – we don’t know the real story on this. So Linton gets the last word, and it’s classy.

    5/26/2010: I don’t know the back story on this “confidential” decision to replace VP for Research Rich Linton. Without dissing Rich, I have to say I find it remarkable how Provost Bean can say “UO’s growth rate in research expenditures per faculty member over the last five years was 50% … ” instead of “The growth in the research awards earned per UO faculty member ….”. I do like that new paneling in Johnson Hall though, nice to see that Frances Dyke pissed away our ICC research money on first class work.

    From: owner-deans-dirs@lists.uoregon.edu [mailto:owner-deans-dirs@lists.uoregon.edu] On Behalf Of Susan Peter
    Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 3:13 PM
    To: deans-dirs@lists.uoregon.edu
    Subject: deans-dirs: Rich Linton Announcement
    Sensitivity: Confidential

    The following message is sent on behalf of Senior Vice President and Provost Jim Bean –

    Colleagues –

    Rich Linton, Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, has announced plans to step down from his position no later than June 30, 2011.  Rich has had a dramatic impact on the UO’s research enterprise and interdisciplinary initiatives during the past decade. For example, UO’s growth rate in research expenditures per faculty member over the last five years was 50%, ranking third best within the AAU (FY03-08, NSF’s latest available data). Rich has been instrumental in providing critical support of faculty recruitment and retention, graduate education, interdisciplinary centers and initiatives, research infrastructure, multi-institutional partnerships, and technology transfer.   Rich has served the institution with great skill, energy, good will and dedication.

    A national search will begin presently and a search firm will be hired in the near future.  Rich and I will especially appreciate your support and assistance in this time of transition.  I wish Rich all the best as he looks toward new leadership opportunities and challenges.

    Regards, Jim

    Those damn economists:

    5/25/2010: Across the board cuts. From Harry Esteve in the Oregonian:

    The sheer size of the drop stunned lawmakers, who listened in stony silence as state economist Tom Potiowsky and senior economist Josh Harwood went through the numbers. .. House Minority Leader Bruce Hanna, R-Roseburg, said the shortfall “is a product of the Democrats’ massive overspending and the $1.8 billion in new taxes and fees they’ve passed since 2009.” Hunt responded by noting that nearly every budget passed in 2009 did so with large bipartisan majorities. 

    David Steves in the RG:

    SALEM — Gov. Ted Kulongoski today said he would deal with a projected half-billion-dollar budget shortfall by ordering 10 percent cuts to all programs — education, human services and public safety — starting in July. The governor’s edict came just minutes after state economists reported that income-tax revenues were not coming in at expected levels…. The governor said he is extending a pay freeze for managers and other non-unionized state employees. … Kulongoski said he hoped the university system could absorb its share of the cutback by tapping reserves it has built up in recent years.

    So, they are going to punish UO for planning ahead. In case you were on the fence regarding the need for Lariviere’s UO restructuring plan.

    Bellotti asked UO for as much as $7 million.

    5/24/2010: From Rachel Bachman in the Oregonian:

    Lariviere recounted when Bellotti told him — amid his first year as athletic director after stepping down as football coach — that ESPN was seeking to hire him.

    “That’s when he told me that we owed him a great deal of money as a result of his employment relationship,” Lariviere testified. “A very great deal of money. A surprising amount of money.

    “I, of course, immediately asked the general counsel what his contract called for. That’s when I discovered there was no contract.”

    Things will get more interesting when the people donating the money to pay Bellotti the $3 million he did get from UO realize their donations are not tax deductible, because they are for the benefit of a specific individual.

    Meanwhile, because the athletic department has raised the minimum required donations for tickets in order to pay for the Arena and various other extravagances, regular UO donors are cutting back on gifts to pay for the new Alumni Center. So UO is asking people who typically give to academic causes to give to the Alumni Center instead. And they are. But, of course, all this is hidden in the black hole of the UO Foundation – which is not subject to Oregon’s public records law.

    To put Bellotti’s $7 million request in perspective, the first year of Lariviere’s effort to move UO faculty salaries towards comparator levels will cost $9.6 million.