7/27/2009: The Portland planning commission and UO have agreed to continue negotiations on the $1 million dollar UO-Portland sign, putting off a decision on this bizarre episode until Sept 14. ODE article here.

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.

Washington’s good PR example

7/14/2009: Washington is way ahead of Oregon in terms of public records access. Their law is not that different, but their DOJ actually enforces it. As an example, a reader sends UW’s budget report. Getting this level of detail from Francis Dyke – if she could figure it out – would take forever and she would charge the person requesting it hundreds of dollars.

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

Made in Oregon

7/14/2009: WWeek reports Portland’s Landmarks Commission has rejected UO’s proposal to change the White Stag sign and put a giant O on the building’s water tower. While Provost Jim Bean claimed the changes wouldn’t cost anything he – as usual – refused to document that, and most people thought UO would spend about $1 million on this. We hope Pres Lariviere will drop this effort, which was one of Frohnmayer’s pet “hot brand” projects, and spend the money on something academic.

Brad Shelton to be new VP for Budget Planning

Brad Shelton will be the new VP for Budget Planning. This is an odd position – half time, no staff, dependent on VP for Finance Francis Dyke. Frances has already failed to put together a workable budget model, can’t be too excited about seeing the job taken away from her, and no one on the faculty believes she has a clue. We’ll see what Brad is able to make of it – can’t think of anyone who has a better shot at making it work.

Diversity of ideas?

Dan Lawton, a UO Journalism undergrad, has a piece in the Christian Science Monitor today, about the harsh reaction he got at UO when he asked questions about the lack of conservative professors:

Eugene, Ore. – When I began examining the political affiliation of faculty at the University of Oregon, the lone conservative professor I spoke with cautioned that I would “make a lot of people unhappy.”

The University of Oregon (UO), where I study journalism, invested millions annually in a diversity program that explicitly included “political affiliation” as a component. Yet, out of the 111 registered Oregon voters in the departments of journalism, law, political science, economics, and sociology, there were only two registered Republicans.

In my column, published in the campus newspaper The Oregon Daily Emerald June 1, I suggested that such a disparity hurt UO. I argued that the lifeblood of higher education was subjecting students to diverse viewpoints and the university needed to work on attracting more conservative professors.

A professor who confronted me declared that he was “personally offended” by my column. He railed that his political viewpoints never affected his teaching and suggested that if I wanted a faculty with Republicans I should have attended a university in the South. “If you like conservatism you can certainly attend the University of Texas and you can walk past the statue of Jefferson Davis everyday on your way to class,” he wrote in an e-mail.

I was shocked by such a comment, which seemed an attempt to link Republicans with racist orthodoxy.

see here for the rest. Actually, UO has a vibrant conservative intellectual community – complete with a journal, blog, t-shirts, and a political platform (OK, that’s mostly about lowering the drinking age) – but they are all students and alumni, not faculty.

Track Meet

Alex Tomchak Scott of the ODE has a clarifying article on Lariviere’s decision to reverse Frohnmayer’s decision to move finals to the week *after* graduation so that none of that unpleasant education stuff will interfere with the NCAA Track meet. Beans’s recent email to the faculty tried to attribute Lariviere’s decision to the argument that the NCAA was considering shortening the meet. I think he was thinking that admitting otherwise would mean acknowledging the original move was a mistake. Apparently UO administrators don’t make mistakes. But Nathan Tublitz is quoted as saying Lariviere decided to change it back to signal that academics comes first. So next spring when you students are spending those beautiful days in the library trying to grok the eigenvalues of the Dolbeault complex for Hermitian manifolds, remember it’s Lariviere’s fault. Back when Frohmayer was President, spring at UO was all about naked frisbee (mostly SFW).

A commentor writes:

It is highly likely that the NCAA will be moving
the date for the national championships back
to the previous week as a result of streamling
the regional quals. I don’t believe the decision
for the UO to reverse itself has anything to do
with athletics vs academics, but everything to
do with logistics.

Do you have any inside knowledge on this?


7/12/2009: A commenter points us to this very on target Letter to the Register Guard Editor from a student. It will be quite fun to see what sort of book report Frohnmayer hands in to Pernsteiner, in return for $28,000 (plus expenses, of course.)

Frohnmayer should think for free

I appreciate Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner and other authorities’ concern about the low percentage of Oregonians holding a post-secondary educational credential (Register-Guard, July 7 and 8); however, as an American, an Oregonian and a Ph.D. student with two children who has experienced constant cuts of welfare support in my struggles to finish my program and feed my kids with no job (I have looked for employment for one year), I think former University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer’s stipend for his brainstorm to fix Oregonians’ lack of post-secondary education is inappropriate in these times of economic downturn in which the state should evaluate carefully how it is using its scarce sources.

Frohnmayer already has a permanent office where he could write down his suggestions and then mail them to the authorities or publish a white paper opening an academic debate about this important educational problem, and the $28,000 for his six-week appointment might have been saved for scholarship programs that empower Oregonians who are at risk of withdrawing from post-secondary education due to economic hardship.

The state already paid Frohnmayer $245,700 in salary in his final year as the UO president plus a retirement payment in addition to supplements from the UO Foundation for a total of $650,000 plus a state-supplied home and a vehicle allowance.

This is enough, and authorities and Oregonians now should feel free to ask him his opinions in common matters with no charge.

Maria X

More seriously, this sort of cronyism is exactly what we’ve come to expect from OUS, and it’s at the root of the Higher Ed problems in Oregon. Another example – the $45,000 OUS paid Ray Cotton at ML Strategies for this 12 page report, cribbed from the Chronicle.com. But the student above said it best.

Why Martinez got promoted?

7/11/2009: We’ve heard from several people now that Larivierre “promoted” OIED VProvost Charles Martinez to Vice President so that he could keep a closer eye on him and figure out what, exactly, is it that Martinez does to deserve his fat UO salary (and the special exemption Provost Jim Bean has given him to collect $100,000 on the side from OSLC.) In a panic Martinez has been trying to get local community people and faculty to endorse him. There’s some crazy talk that he may even have opened up those Spanish DVD lessons OSLC bought for him. Whatever. There are plenty of people who could take a job like this and the several million a year UO spends on diversity and accomplish something important. Martinez is a stuffed shirt who’s just in it for the 250 large. Everyone knows it, it makes UO look really bad to have him as our minority spokesperson, and people resent being pressured into supporting him.

We hope this rumor is true. While there’s some stiff competition, Martinez would be an excellent choice for the first of Frohnmayer’s cronies to get the boot.

Transparency Day

7/9/2009: The Commentator and the Emerald are writing about Pres Lariviere’s blog (which is actually run by UO staffer Tim Beltran). It’s a little too slick for our taste Tim – but maybe we’re just jealous of that fine Borsalino. Still wouldn’t hurt to post some documents – feel free to borrow any of our pdf’s – here’s a good one. Before long people are going to want to see content – and we’re not talking video. Hey – we linked to you, netiquette now requires you to link back to UO Matters.

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger may – eventually – make good on his campaign promises to improve enforcement of public records law. UO has been notoriously bad at providing public access. One of the reasons we started this blog was to make the records Melinda Grier tried to hide public.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Attorney General John Kroger says he’ll review Oregon’s open government laws to see whether they’re being applied correctly and whether he should recommend changes to the Legislature. Kroger says Oregonians tell him they value transparency in government, but he hears from journalists that it’s gotten more difficult to get public records. Oregon open government laws date to 1973. Critics say they’ve been weakened by exceptions the Legislature has approved, narrow interpretations from state lawyers, agency foot-dragging, and high fees charged to prepare data for release. Kroger met Tuesday with journalists in Portland. He says the review will be lengthy and include a look at laws in other states.
Associated Press – July 7, 2009 4:15 PM ET

Also see this Editorial. Meanwhile, the UO Senate is ahead of the curve, having passed Nathan Tublitz’s transparency motion, calling on UO to start providing open access to accounting documents.

Frohnmayer’s golden parachute

7/8/2009: Frohnmayer’s Retirement Contract. He keeps his $245,000 base salary plus whatever the Foundation gives him to top it off, (unknown as of yet, but he know gets around $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 – and that with GTF support?

UO will never be able to do enough for this man – and you can count on him to make sure of that.