OUS resignation letter

08/30/2009: Suzanne Pardington has an interesting article in the Oregonian today, about Kulongoski’s stalled efforts to reform Oregon’s higher ed system. Pardington writes:

Five years ago, Gov. Ted Kulongoski recruited a new slate of business leaders to serve on the State Board of Higher Education and charged them with saving the state’s university system. This summer, the last of those appointees stepped down, feeling disappointed and frustrated over the structural and political roadblocks to making the big changes needed for dramatic improvements. John von Schlegell, who resigned from the board recently, sent Kulongoski a letter this week calling for an overhaul of the way the state manages and funds its seven universities. “If people just wait around for more money and don’t change the system with pretty radical changes, we’re just dying a slow death,” von Schlegell, managing director of a Portland-based private equity firm, told The Oregonian.

von Schlegell’s letter is here. His frustration with politics and academic bureaucracy is obvious. He argues for a more independent OUS system, including an end to political appointments to the board. Meanwhile, Oregonian reporter Harry Esteve writes a scathing story about the appointment of a State Rep to a job as “academic planner” for the OUS board:

State Rep. Larry Galizio got help from Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s office to secure a job with the Oregon University System, a spokeswoman for the governor confirmed Thursday. The appointment, announced Wednesday, raised some eyebrows among Salem insiders because Galizio made a dramatic about-face and provided the crucial vote to bar a resort from being developed near the Metolius River — an outcome Kulongoski desired.

In an interview with The Oregonian, Galizio said he made no deal with Kulongoski to exchange his vote for a job. “That’s laughable,” said the Tigard Democrat. Galizio also said he never talked to the governor about working for the higher education system. What he didn’t mention, however, is that he met at least twice with Kulongoski’s chief of staff, Chip Terhune, to discuss his future job prospects.

Taylor said the phone call from the governor came before the first vote, when Galizio voted no, and had nothing to do with his getting a job. “There was no quid pro quo,” she said.

Odd, but OUS spokesperson’s Di Saunders’ PR blurb on this hiring – apparently done without any sort of search or effort to follow affirmative action principles – doesn’t get into the sordid politics. If, as Esteve says, Kulongoski is using University jobs as political payoffs, a move towards more independence would seem like a really good idea, and a really unlikely outcome.

Teach Naked

The Teach Naked movement is about not using powerpoint for lecturing – or at least not relying on it as a crutch. The Chronicle has an article on it here. Last year I started posting powerpoint slides online, but lecturing just using the blackboard. Way more fun and interactive. The students seem happy knowing that there are slides they can look at later – though I’m not sure they ever do. Margaret Soltan quotes one comment to a BBC story on this:

The worst Powerpoint presentation I ever sat through was in my second year at University. It was about the theory of Fascism and lasted two hours without a break. Plus, it had over 70 slides. Each slide was packed with information and it was impossible to keep up. I have never been so bored or learnt less.

You kids. I remember sitting through the same lecture way before powerpoint – trust me, it wasn’t any better. Plus we didn’t have any way to text friends or play video games. Now that was fascism!

Bloated administration

8/18/2009: The North Carolina News and Observer has a story about administrative bloat in the NC college system.

This decade has been good for associate vice chancellors at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their numbers have nearly doubled, from 10 to 19, and the money paid to them has more than tripled, to a total of nearly $4 million a year.

The university now admits that some of these people were in jobs that were not vital. They represent the rapid management growth in the 16-campus UNC system that has added tens of millions of dollars to annual payrolls.

Now, with a tough economy and sinking tax revenues, UNC officials and state lawmakers say these jobs need cutting first.

Oregon needs similar reporting on OUS – as it is, our Provost is still claiming UO’s administrative expenses are 38% of our peers – something he knows is completely false.

How rare is Frohnmayer’s sweet retirement deal?

8/14/2009: We’ve reported before on Frohnmayer’s amazing retirement contract. The OUS board created a new position for him, called “President Emeritus”. He keeps his $245,000 base salary plus whatever the Foundation gives him to top it off, (currently $50K as Knight chair) plus a secretary and a GTF, plus a full salary 1/2 year sabbatical, plus a 90% salary 2 month “study leave”, plus offices in the HC and the law school, plus expenses including travel. In return he agrees to teach one 20 person class per year. Furthermore, when he decides to really retire, UO still won’t be done shelling out the bucks – he will be eligible for the same golden parachute contract that he gave to his former Provost, John Moseley.

Frohnmayer’s retirement package is unusually generous even in the sycophantic world of university boards and administrators. For example, Insidehighered.com has a story on a renegotiation of the retirement contract for retired NC State Chancellor (President) James Oblinger. He was originally allowed to keep his Chancellor’s salary for 6 months, before going back to a regular faculty member’s pay (and duties!). If we read Dave’s contract correctly, his deal is good for as long as he wants it. I’m guessing that will be a really, really long time. Page one says “Further, at all times, Frohnmayer shall enjoy the privileges associated with serving as a tenured professor at the University of Oregon School of Law.” But the contract says absolutely nothing about any of the responsibilities. He can teach a class in the law school someday – if he chooses to do so.

Board Cuts Pay of Ex-Chancellor of N.C. State:

The board of the University of North Carolina System voted on Friday to immediately cut the pay of James Oblinger, the former chancellor of North Carolina State University, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. Oblinger resigned in June under an agreement in which he was promised to be paid his chancellor’s salary ($420,000) for six months, before returning to the faculty, where he would be paid as a professor. The board, amid some disagreement but facing statewide criticism over the exit packages given to administrators, voted to cut Oblinger immediately to $173,000, which is what he will earn as a professor of food science. Oblinger quit amid an escalating public debate over his university hiring the wife of the then-governor. As he quit, Oblinger stated that he did not believe he had done anything improper, but wanted the university to focus on other issues.

Oh yeah – who was NC State’s Dean when they hired the then-governor’s wife for $170,000? Linda Brady, who then left to become UO Provost.

Moseley gets audited

8/14/2009: The Oregonian has a story today about former Provost Moseley’s expense account abuse. The OUS audit report mentioned in the story is available here. In that audit report UO President Lariviere agrees to stop allowing Moseley to claim any more expenses – between Eugene and his vacation home in Bend or apparently anywhere at all – and to update Moseley’s original employment contract to reflect the fact that Moseley is now only fulfilling 1 of his 4 job responsibilities. The contract will be revised by Monday. Still unclear as to whether or not Moseley will be allowed to keep all of $124,000 0.5 FTE, and if so why in the hell he should. Either way, it looks likely that he will have to repay $9,000 or so in expenses to UO for last year, and given that there are 2 more years left on his contract, this should save UO about $27,000 total.

Our favorite part of the story:

Jim Bean, UO’s senior vice president and provost, said the audit identified a minor (sic) financial issue caused by a recent change in Moseley’s duties, which moved his main work location to Bend. “I’m glad someone pointed it out, and I’m glad we got it fixed,” Bean said.

No problem Jim, we at UO Matters are happy to help. Does this mean you are going to finally share the budget info for UO-Bend with your faculty?

The Oregonian has another, very pointed story about the OUS appointing State Rep. Larry Galizio as “Director of Strategery and Planning”. The story suggests this is a payoff for his vote in support of a pet Kulongoski bill.

Access to Education

8/10/2009: InsideHigherEd.com has several interesting articles today, including this on perceptions about access to financial aid for college, by Deborah M. Warnock at UW. From their summary of her paper:

  • Hispanic and Asian parents of eighth graders are less likely than white parents to think about how to finance a higher education, and black parents are more likely than white parents to think about paying for college.
  • Parents with low incomes and less education are less likely than others to have thought about how to pay for college.
  • While a majority of parents of all demographic groups who are below poverty level report that they believe they have “no way” of getting funds for college for their children, white parents in poverty are more likely to have this feeling than are minority parents.
  • Among middle and upper income families, across the board, only a minority feel there is “no way” to pay for colleges. In this economic group, whites are less likely than minority parents to feel that way.

The findings about low-income parents believing that they can’t imagine finding funds for college anywhere are “especially troubling,” Warnock writes, because “all of these families would likely be eligible for Pell Grants,” which could cover considerable shares of expenses at many institutions. So these families do in fact have resources, but don’t realize it. While studies in the 1990s found that many high schoolers and their parents were unaware of the availability of aid, the Warnock paper suggests that public information campaigns that have taken place since haven’t changed the situation and may be needed earlier.

Gov vetos cuts

8/6/2009: From the Oregonian. Combined with the tuition increases and with likely enrollment increases, UO is apparently in very, very good financial shape. It will be interesting to see how Lariviere spends the money.

Governor Ted Kulongoski today followed through on his plans to veto a last-minute budget cut to the state’s public universities.

The restoration of $13.4 million in general funds that Legislators cut in the final hours of this year’s session helped most universities keep tuition hikes to under 10 percent.

Tuition hikes for full-time undergraduates from Oregon will range from 3.5 percent at Eastern Oregon University to 15.4 percent at the University of Oregon, this fall over last fall. UO’s annual tuition and fees will be $7,428, the highest in the system.

Bill O’Reilly does UO

8/4/2009: Fox news has a segment on the lack of political diversity among the faculty at UO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L8TEiQQ1dY It’s apparently based on journalism student Dan Lawton‘s piece in the Christian Science Monitor. Dan reports that only a handful of UO faculty are registered Republicans, and argues the University should work to hire professors with more diverse political views. Be sure and check out Provost Bean’s spirited defense of UO’s intellectual diversity, 30 seconds in.

As always, Bill O’Reilly’s reporting is based on a careful analysis of the empirical data coupled with a thoughtful discussion of the larger issues and their implications for the survival of western civilization. Except the part where he describes being a professor at UO as a “plush job”. Actually, UO faculty salaries are the lowest in the AAU. It’s the UO administrators that drive the beemers. Thanks to a reader for the link.

$1 million "Embarassment"

7/30/2009: The RG has an editorial about the Portland sign, mentioning the cost (over $1 million for the sign itself) and arguing that UO administrators should have better things to do with their time.

“The sign project is an eyebrow-raising expenditure in light of the state’s budget woes, which will mean significant tuition increases for universities across the state. And it does little to dispel criticism that the UO spends irresponsible sums on marketing and branding.”

It seems like it would be easy enough to pull the plug on this – why hasn’t President Larviviere spoken out on it?

Higher Education Productivity

Here‘s a new paper on higher education productivity. I’m no economist, but it seems to have a wealth of interesting data, broken out by state. Oregon’s cost per degree is the 3rd lowest in the country. Oregon is 9th in terms of net in-migration of people with 4 year degrees (relative to the base of people with 4 year degrees.) This would suggest that if Oregon increases college enrollment graduates will not need to leave the state.

In Oregon a student with a two year STEM degree (Science, Technology, Medicine) earns $50,784, versus $38,596 for a 4 year non-STEM degree. So when we talk about the economic benefits of higher ed we need to be explicit about what sorts of degrees we mean!

We’re enabling comments for this post, as an experiment.


7/17/2009: The Union site has a good article on the budget situation, here. The bottom line seems to be that UO will lose about $7 million in state funding and gain about $22 million in tuition. After we give 30% of the tuition back in discounts, we will still be $9 million ahead. Cut UO-Bend, cut the UMRP, abandon the UO-Portland sign, and Lariviere has more than the $10 million needed to make a big hit on the faculty salary problem, no?


7/17/2009: Our remote sensing stations continue to pick up chatter about Charles Martinez’s promotion to Vice President. Apparently Lariviere did this without much discussion with the traditional OIED constituencies or with faculty and administrators who have been skeptical about his commitment to the job and his priorities. The latest rumor is that the OIED staff is “in revolt” and that there will be some sort of mediation. You’re doing a heckuva job, Charles.

7/14/2009: I’m no economist, but it’s hard to read the email below without thinking Lariviere has just pulled off a real hat trick with the OUS Board. Even after discounts recent tuition increases have got to bring in about $20 million a year. The cut in state funding seems like it will be no more than $9 million. So is UO in fat city now? Can anyone explain if there’s something wrong with my math?

The following message is forwarded on behalf of Senior Vice President and Provost Jim Bean:

Last Thursday and Friday the State Board of Higher Education met in Portland. As a result, we can share two important new pieces of information. Tuition increases were approved. For UO undergraduates they are 7.5% for resident students and 12% for out of state (see http://www.ous.edu/news_and_information/news/071009.php for full detail), increases vary by credit hours registered). Given the current economic conditions in Oregon, we are concerned about the impact of these tuition increases on our students and their families. For that reason, we are holding back 30% of all increased funds over inflation for financial aid. This will require sacrifice since the pool of funds from increased tuition will be smaller than the funding lost from decreased state appropriation, even net federal stimulus. This aid will be distributed based on student financial need through the PathwayOregon Program and normal FAFSA processes.

We also learned of the overall state reduction to Higher Education. It is limited to about 11% due to the planned gubernatorial veto of additional legislated cuts to the Higher Ed budget. However, we will not know how that is distributed to individual universities until October.

This leads to the second important point of the email. We feel that waiting until October to process contracts is unfair to the great staff and faculty at this institution. Therefore, we will process all expected contracts beginning today and hope to have them done by the end of August. We feel that we have enough information to do so prudently. The decision to issue contracts is guided by the principles established earlier – that we will do everything possible to protect faculty and staff salaries and increase financial aid for students during these difficult economic times.

President Lariviere, as well as the other OUS presidents, has agreed to a 4.6% FTE reduction for the current fiscal year. The savings from President Lariviere’s salary achieved through the FTE reduction will be directed to support student scholarships.

Thank you again for helping us get through this difficult year. We have a couple more ahead of us, but we are well positioned to come through this stronger relative to our peers.

Regards, Jim