Emerald explains Chuck Triplett’s role in hiding academic freedom changes

Hannah Kanik has an excellent explanation of what happened here. Chuck Triplett has a long history of hiding things from the faculty at UO, and at his previous job at OUS, and it seems unlikely that he’ll face any disciplinary action for this latest.

NWCCU accreditors will keep academic freedom after AAUP-Oregon, IFS, UO Senate Pres, UO Provost, FIRE & others push back

Another 4/1/2019 update:

The influential Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also wrote to the NWCCU against their plan to remove academic freedom from their accreditation standards:

Full letter here.

4/1/2019 update:

Thanks to the AAUP-Oregon’s Michael Dreiling for alerting the UO Senate and Provost to the NWWCU’s proposed accreditation standards. His letter asking AAUP members to press the NWCCU on this is here:

We write to you with an urgent request to take action and protect academic freedom as a standard and criterion for accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the largest single accreditation body in the region. Inexplicably, the latest draft of accreditation standards from the NWCCU removes all references to academic freedom and to institutional bodies and practices of shared governance such as university senates, faculty vote and voice, and tenure (see the proposal and compare to current standards here). The strong emphasis on centralized authority and the implicit erasure of faculty participation in decision-taking is new and it is a threat to the integrity of higher education at hundreds of colleges and universities in the region. …

As you can see below, many issues with these proposed revisions remain unresolved, but NWCCU Pres Sonny Ramaswamy has promised to keep freedom, and give more time for input on other issues:

From: Sonny Ramaswamy <[email protected]>
Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2019 10:07 PM
Subject: Revision of NWCCU’s Standards


Over the last couple of weeks we have received emails regarding NWCCU’s draft, revised Standards from AAUP affiliates and faculty senate chairs, and provosts of a few institutions. (Those individuals are copied on this email.)

Additionally, we have received input during conversations with some individuals.

Based on the recent input received, we’ve made a decision to incorporate appropriate language in our draft Standards for Academic Freedom and Governance, along with revisions on other matters suggested by others.

We’ve extended the deadline for submission of additional comments for revisions through April 15, 2019.

The draft will be revised and sent out for further comments in May. The draft will be revised based on this round of comments.

After the Commission has provided additional comments on the near final draft, it’ll be revised as needed. Then it’ll be sent out for a vote by NWCCU’s family of institutions to approve the proposed Standards in late Summer 2019.

As I have noted previously, this is an iterative process and we appreciate the input, which continues strengthen the Standards.

Our hope is that, once approved, the new Standards will be deployed starting in January 2020.

If not already done, please connect with your relevant faculty organizations on your campuses, such as faculty senate chairs, and exhort them and other faculty to provide input regarding the draft Standards.

They may submit their comments on the current version of revised Standards available at (http://www.nwccu.org/accreditation/standards-review/) either via this link (https://www.tfaforms.com/4719938) or via email ([email protected]).

Thanks for your help.

Sonny Ramaswamy, President
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
8060 165th Avenue NE, Ste 100 | Redmond, WA 98052
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 425-558-4224
URL: http://www.nwccu.org
Twitter: @NWCCUSonny

The letter to the NWCCU from the UO Senate President (me) is here. The letter from UO Provost Jayanth Banavar is here. My response to the email above is:

Dear Pres Ramaswamy –

I’m glad to hear this. Thank you for responding to the concerns regarding academic freedom.

For those from other institutions considering commenting on the NWCCU’s proposed changes to our accreditation requirements, I’ve attached the letters to the NWCCU from the UO Senate and the UO Provost.

As you can see these address issues beyond academic freedom, and include such matters as shared governance, research, governing board evaluations, institutional control over transfer credits, student success metrics and their use.

I look forward to seeing how the next draft addresses these concerns.

For those interested, I’ll continue to update the posts at https://uomatters.com/tag/accreditation with new information.


Bill Harbaugh
University of Oregon
Senate Pres & Econ Prof

3/26/2019: UO’s accreditor considers weakening academic freedom and governance standards

Sorry, long post.

Continue reading

More misguided metrics – this time it’s “learning outcomes” assessment

UNC History Professor Molly Worthen in the NYT on learning outcomes assessment:

I teach at a big state university, and I often receive emails from software companies offering to help me do a basic part of my job: figuring out what my students have learned.

If you thought this task required only low-tech materials like a pile of final exams and a red pen, you’re stuck in the 20th century. In 2018, more and more university administrators want campuswide, quantifiable data that reveal what skills students are learning. Their desire has fed a bureaucratic behemoth known as learning outcomes assessment. This elaborate, expensive, supposedly data-driven analysis seeks to translate the subtleties of the classroom into PowerPoint slides packed with statistics — in the hope of deflecting the charge that students pay too much for degrees that mean too little.

It’s true that old-fashioned course grades, skewed by grade inflation and inconsistency among schools and disciplines, can’t tell us everything about what students have learned. But the ballooning assessment industry — including the tech companies and consulting firms that profit from assessment — is a symptom of higher education’s crisis, not a solution to it. …

No intellectual characteristic is too ineffable for assessment. Some schools use lengthy surveys like the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory, which claims to test for qualities like “truthseeking” and “analyticity.” The Global Perspective Inventory, administered and sold by Iowa State University, asks students to rate their agreement with statements like “I do not feel threatened emotionally when presented with multiple perspectives” and scores them on metrics like the “intrapersonal affect scale.” …

UO’s federal accreditor is the not very transparent Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Their website has a message from their interim president:

I am writing to thank you for your participation in and support of the activities we initiated last November to gather information from you about how NWCCU can better achieve its mission of assuring educational quality, enhancing institutional effectiveness, and fostering continuous improvement. Your response to the survey and participation in the Annual Meeting and Town Halls guided development of a report from the Task Force on Renewal of Recognition that was accepted by the Board of Commissioners at its January 2018 meeting.

One of the most consistent recommendations received was that we improve communication with the member institutions. This message is part of a larger communication strategy that we are implementing to move forward on the recommendations of the Task Force.

Speaking of communication, good luck trying to find the Task Force report on their website.

UO’s website at https://accreditation.uoregon.edu/ documents the years of work faculty and administrators have spent on this assessment crap on orders from the NWCCU. More is coming.

What UO tells its accreditors about faculty consultation on budgeting

11/26/2013 repost.

3/25/2013: UO’s academic accreditation comes through the NWCCU, which in turn is supervised by the US DOE. UO filed it’s latest report on 3/1/2013, compiled by Dave Hubin. Full of bold talk and more than a few half-truths. Read it all here. The cover page refers to our goal to be in the top half of the AAU:

Here are a few of the accreditation standards, with UO’s responses:

2.B.4 Consistent with its mission, core themes, programs, services, and characteristics, 
the institution employs appropriately qualified faculty sufficient in number to achieve its 
educational objectives, establish and oversee academic policies, and assure the integrity 
and continuity of its academic programs, wherever offered and however delivered. …

… The UO Academic Plan specifically addresses faculty size and quality in the context of the university’s mission, which seeks academic excellence on a human scale while adhering to rigorous standards that establish the university’s ongoing status as the only AAU institution in the state of Oregon.
The University Senate, comprised of elected faculty (both tenure-related and non-tenurerelated), plays a key role in policy review and development.

2.F.3 The institution clearly defines and follows its policies, guidelines, and processes 
for financial planning and budget development that include appropriate opportunities 
for participation by its constituencies.

The UO engages several cross-functional teams to assist with budget preparation and
operational assessment. These teams include:
• Budget Advisory Group – comprised of students, faculty and staff; advises on
general fund allocations
• Tuition and Fee Boards – comprised of students, faculty, and staff; advises on
tuition and fees, and evaluates performance and projections.
• Internal Bank Advisory Committee – comprised of faculty and staff; analyze and
advise on debt-funded projects.
• Senate Budget Committee – comprised of members of the elected University
Senate; review and make recommendations on budgetary policy and long-term
financial strategies.

I’d say the reality is a little different. The SBC website is here – not a lot of consultation going on, much less reporting. The academic plan was drafted by Bean in 2009 and then forgotten about  (the 2011 date is when they located a copy of it – not when it was revised.)

The only link I can find to the “Budget Advisory Group” on the UO pages is to the accreditation report itself. How’s that for “appropriate opportunities for participation”?

And as for input into budget development, UO VPFA Jamie Moffitt won’t even show the faculty UO’s budget projections:

Gottfredson’s secret performance review included secret 5-year budget forecasts

8/6/2013: It now takes months and hundreds of dollars to get public records from UO. OUS is quicker, but often no cheaper. Both adjust their pace to the politics. And apparently Gottfredson’s performance has now become a political issue for OUS.

I sent OUS a follow-up request for information about President Gottfredson’s performance review on Saturday. On Monday I got a call from their public records officer, Chuck Triplett, and he sent me this pdf showing the information they asked Gottfredson and the other OUS presidents to submit for their evaluations.

The meat – which Gottfredson and VPFA Jamie Moffitt have hidden from the faculty, while telling us and UO’s academic accreditors that they are being transparent about financial information, is in bold:

On February 15, 2013, the Governance and Policy Committee further clarified that OUS presidents should address the following topics in their annual Executive Session evaluation discussions with the Board:   

1. Progress toward meeting Board goals and 40-40-20
2. Connections with other universities, K-12, and community colleges
3. Progress toward meeting the president’s goals for the year
4. Big issues on campus in the past year
5. Major achievements and critical challenges in the past year
6. Opportunities for the future and clouds on the horizon
7. Hopes and goals for the upcoming year
8. 5-yr financial forecast for the education and general fund complete with projected enrollment, tuition, cost, and fund balance

I’m still trying to find out if Gottfredson made any effort to solicit feedback from the UO community regarding his performance. Triplett says OUS has no record of that.

8/3/2013: OK, they won’t show us the results of President Gottfredson’s evaluation, but at least the questions are public records. Right?

Dear Mr. Triplett: 

On July 30th I made a public records request to you, asking for UO President Gottfredson’s 2013 self-evaluation and for the Chancellor’s evaluation of his performance. Thank you for the prompt response saying that your office would not release these, on the grounds that they are confidential faculty records. This is a follow-up to that request.
I am asking for public records that show: 

a) Emails, letters, or other documents showing communications between your office and President Gottfredson or his staff, on whether or not OUS should release his self-evaluation or the Chancellor’s evaluation, in response to my 7/30 request. 

b) Documents showing what information OUS asked President Gottfredson to provide for his self-evaluation, and what questions or issues he was asked to address. 

c) Any emails, survey forms or other communications from OUS asking for input on President Gottfredson’s performance review.  

For b) and c) I am not asking for responses, just for documents showing how OUS conducted their evaluation of President Gottfredson, such as what questions were asked and who was invited to participate. 

I ask that these documents be redacted only to the minimal extent allowable by law. I request a fee waiver on the basis of public interest, in evidence of which I note that these sorts of documents are often made public by the President, e.g. the evaluation for the University of Kentucky President, at http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2012/julyspecial/Presidential_Eval_final.pdf. I also note that information on faculty performance, e.g. student teaching reviews, is often made public at no charge. 

8/1/2013: That was quick. Presumably this means they asked President Gottfredson if he wanted to make his evaluation public, and he said no. I’d email him myself, but he doesn’t answer emails. Maybe a reporter will ask next time he talks to the press. Oh, right, Gottfredson doesn’t talk to reporters either.

The Oregon University System, Office of the Chancellor is in receipt of your July 30, 2013 public records request for “…a copy of UO President’s Gottfredson’s 2013 self-evaluation and the OUS Chancellor’s written performance evaluation discussed in section 7 of his contract…”   The Oregon University System respectfully declines to provide any records pursuant to this request.  Evaluation materials, including self-evaluation
documents, are confidential faculty records under Oregon Administrative Rule Chapter 580, Division 22, section 60 through 125.  Faculty records as described under these administrative rules are not public records under law.  (See Oregon Revised Statute 351.065(12):  “Any category of personnel records specifically designated as confidential pursuant to valid rules or orders pursuant to this section is not a public record for the purposes of ORS 192.420.”)  The Chancellor’s Office treats the presidential personnel file, including evaluation documents, as confidential faculty records not subject to disclosure.


Charles L. Triplett III
Secretary of the Board
Oregon University System
P.O. Box 751
Portland, OR 97207-0751

7/30/2013: His self evaluation was due June 1, and interim Chancellor Rose’s report is presumably complete by now. From his contract with OUS:

At many universities these are public as a matter of course. The first year evaluation for President Eli Capilouto at the University of Kentucky is a good example. 44 page report here:

I’m on the UO Senate, I don’t remember hearing a word about an evaluation for President Gottfredson. So let’s see what’s out there, with a public records request to OUS:

Dear Mr. Triplett

This is a public records request for a copy of UO President’s Gottfredson’s 2013 self-evaluation and the OUS Chancellor’s written performance evaluation discussed in section 7 of his contract, available here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/971644/uomatters/Gottfredson/2012%20Gottfredson%20contract.pdf
I ask that these documents be redacted only to the minimal extent allowable by law. I request a fee waiver on the basis of public interest, in evidence of which I note that these sorts of documents are often made public by the President, e.g. the evaluation for the University of Kentucky President, at http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2012/julyspecial/Presidential_Eval_final.pdf

Dave Hubin: UO has a fully sufficient number of outstanding administrators

7/19/2013: UO is under-administrated? Our academic accreditors, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, require that

2.A.11 The institution employs a sufficient number of qualified administrators who provide effective leadership and management for the institution’s major support and operational functions and work collaboratively across institutional functions and units to foster fulfillment of the institution’s mission and accomplishment of its core theme objectives.

Hubin’s March 2013 accreditation report, submitted one week after Bean resigned and was replaced with Scott Coltrane, said:

The University of Oregon employs a fully sufficient number of outstanding administrators who provide effective leadership in accordance with this standard. 

Hmm. The accreditor’s response to UO’s 2007 self-study report had taken Johnson Hall to task for shared governance and administrative failings:

Commission criteria assume that there will be a commonly understood and uniformly employed set of institutional policies, rules, practices, and procedures that are employed at every level of administration. These policies should foster open communication and goal attainment. However, the Committee is concerned that the University of Oregon does not currently have these operational policies in place and that campus based decision-making procedures appear to be idiosyncratic and not uniformly applied. Therefore, the Committee recommends that the University of Oregon take steps to enhance internal communication and to review its operating policies in regard to Standard 6, Governance and Administration; Standard 4.A, Faculty Selection, Evaluation, Roles, Welfare andDevelopment and Standard 7.C, Financial Management.

That didn’t happen – in fact Tomlin even stopped publishing a faculty handbook. But the Senate did then implement the policy library and constitution, which Hubin points too as being responsive to these problems. And now we’ve got a faculty faculty union that is doing the rest of the grunt work, as volunteers serving under constant sniper fire from Rudnick and Geller, to make up for the failings of Johnson Hall’s outstanding administrators.