Pres Schill’s Track & Field Championship construction boom adds $15M a year to UO costs, UO credit rating goes negative

In June 2015 UO projected that debt expense payments for 2021 would be about $43M a year:

Now in June 2020 they are projecting debt expense payments for 2021 will be about $58M a year – a $15M increase:

Why the increase? Mostly for 30 year bonds sold to build new dorms, part of the “Athlete’s Village” that Phil Knight needed for the IAAF Track and Field Championships bids. We’ll be paying them off for a long time.

For perspective, the average student brings in about $20K a year in tuition, so it would take about 750 new students to cover this $15M in new debt.

Enrollment increases are unlikely, so the current plan from President Schill and Provost Phillips is to cut wages for faculty and staff to cover this debt expense increase and any revenue declines from cuts in state contributions and enrollment.

In any case the party is over. In March – before the impact of the coronavirus – Moody’s had already revised UO’s credit outlook to negative, citing the increased debt, spending, resistance to tuition increases, low reserves, etc. (Thanks to a helpful reader for sharing this public record, which took Kevin Reed’s office 3 weeks to provide. Full report here. So far as I can tell Angela Wilhelms and Chuck Lillis never showed it to the Trustees, nor was if discussed in their public meetings. Not exactly due diligence.)

The tables are from the back pages of the Trustees agenda materials. June 2015 here, 2020 here. It seems unlikely that the Trustees will do their due diligence on this at their June 4th meeting, given that they are the people who approved all the decisions that got us here.

Board of Trustees to consider unwinding Law school

5/28/2020: Actually the agenda for their June 4th meeting isn’t posted yet,  so it’s unclear if this will be among the cost-savings measures to be considered. Maybe they’ll cut baseball instead.

5/15/2020: UO Law School needs $250M to avoid financial exigency

It now costs UO’s law school about $170K to produce a law school graduate who can pass the bar exam. Over their three years they pay only about $60K in tuition – 50% off the list price. 75% of their students are from out of state.

The Law School started 2015 with a $3.3M positive carry-forward. As of March 2020 they were $5.7M in the red, on a heavily subsidized budget of $16M a year – they bring in only about $8M in tuition.

Our E&G bucket is on the hook for the $9M debt and pays for the continuing $8M deficit – including $390K for new Dean Marcilynn Burke and $290K for former Dean Michael Moffitt, who apparently knows something about contracts.

Closure can’t be far off without significant donor support. Back of the envelope it would take a $250M endowment gift, which would yield $9.5M a year after Paul Weinhold’s UO Foundation takes their cut.

Here are the numbers, from painfully drilling down into the docs on UO’s new transparency website, here.

President Michael Schill has been very, very good to his upper admins. Faculty & staff, not so much.

Relative to other “Very High Research” public universities. I think this is what is commonly called “administrative bloat” – though these are salaries, not numbers. 2018 means the 2018-19 FY.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, here. (You may need to create a free login with your UO id). The data comes from federally required IPEDS data submissions. UO is in orange, the 4-year VHR public university average in teal:

Admin: Upper management salaries:

Admin: Comm/Legal/Media salaries:

Faculty: (Full profs.)

Faculty: (Asst Profs):

Librarians:

Regular OA’s:

Pres Schill: Looking ahead to fall term on campus

Some extracts from President Schill’s plans to address the financial fallout from the coronavirus. Everything in ” ” is a direct quote from his email to the university today. The translations are from google translate’s new “no bullshit” mode:

Pres Schill: “For a variety of reasons (low state support, high-cost mandatory benefits programs, and a recent drop in international enrollment) our reserves are lower than other peer institutions across the country.”

Translation: Our reserves are low because of other people’s decisions, not because I spent $2.15M wiring up The Phildo or $?M building our new Athletic Village.

Pres Schill: “We also do not think we can look to tuition increases to address major shortfalls the way we did following the last recession. Our nonresident students already pay market tuition, and the incomes of Oregon residents make paying more in tuition very difficult, particularly in a period of mass unemployment.”

Translation: We can’t increase tuition because we just started a very poorly timed tuition guarantee program which means 9% increases for freshmen and locks in low increases for current continuing students. We were told we’d need a substantial reserve to implement this, but we went ahead anyway.

Pres Schill: “A third revenue source would be our endowment, but those accounts are almost all restricted and their value has fallen as a result of the stock market decline.”

Translation: We can’t use our endowment because those are restricted funds, and we only break gift agreements when the money comes from a professor giving it to the academic bucket. Athletic donations are sacred, particularly the $12M Jumbotron.

Pres Schill:  “A fourth option would be to cut personnel costs, since almost 80 percent of our Education and General (E&G) budget is composed of salaries and benefits. This would be quite difficult since we operate at staffing ratios that are much lower than our peer schools and most salaries are set by collective bargaining agreements. … Last week Provost Phillips and Vice President Jamie Moffitt circulated a proposal for a progressive pay reduction (PPR) program that I realize may have surprised some of you.”

Translation: I threw Provost Banavar under the bus for last year’s budget crisis cuts. This time it’s worse, so I’m going to throw a Provost *and* a VP.

Pres Schill: “The reality is that we will need to do something to adjust expenses if enrollment declines significantly and/or we receive state budget cuts. Again, we are open to suggestions and collaborative approaches designed to solve the problem.”

Translation: Your opinions are not worth a damn thing, and whatever we do it will come from the secret meetings I’m now having with my Financial Continuity Team, just as the pay cut plan did.

Full letter below:

Dear University of Oregon community,

The COVID-19 crisis strikes at the heart of the University of Oregon’s mission. As a great residential university, we are grounded in the foundational notion that, by bringing people together in this amazing and special campus setting, we provide a world-class, transformative educational experience. That education takes place in our classrooms, labs, libraries, and studios. But it also takes place in serendipitous encounters in dining facilities, on our beautiful lawns, in our residence halls, and at our sporting events. In these various, unique settings our students learn what it means to be human in a society full of diverse people and perspectives. As we turn our attention to the fall and our long-term future we must always keep this mission in mind.

Continue reading

How many faculty jobs will UO’s Hearts & Minds consultants cost?

4/24/2020 update:

The median UO faculty makes about $70K a year. How many of them will have to lose their jobs to pay for these consultants? I don’t know, let’s find out:

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Subject: PR request for “Public Opinion Research”
Date: April 24, 2020 at 5:14:03 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
Cc: Kyle Henley <khenley@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for a copy of the contract awarded under

RFP for Public Opinion Research RFP Number: PCS# 500100-00251-RFP, and for a copy of the contract for the successful bidder.

The PCS website says that this RFP was closed on Jan 22, and lists it under awarded contracts.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest. I’m ccing VP for Strategic Communications Kyle Henley, as he should have this document readily available and be able to provide it without your office’s usual fees and delays.

Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh
wtharbaugh@gmail.com

Johnson Hall & Trustees to rerun LBJ’s Hearts and Minds campaign 2/18/2020: Some well-paid UO administrators, presumably with the support of our puzzled Board of Trustees, want to hire a consultant to help them win “the battle”, even if it requires a “multi-year integrated public education and advertising initiative that uses emotional appeals, personal stories … to improve perception, mobilize support and a feeling of pride for the university amongst Oregonians …”

They need to pay a consultant ~$200K to tell them why the good citizens of Oregon don’t want to pay for Phil Knight’s football factory? Yes, apparently they do:

What are we paying the people involved in this?

AVP Ellen Herman has no records on status of Faculty Track Software

4/23/2020: 

Another year, another budget crisis, more questions about where UO’s money is going. I emailed VP Herman, who is charge of this project, on March 25th:

Hi Ellen,

I’m heard a rumor that the administration has abandoned or perhaps just delayed this effort. I’m hoping that you can provide some details on where this proposal currently stands. Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh

She didn’t answer, so on April 1st I filed a public record request. Yesterday I got this response:

Dear Mr. Harbaugh,

The University has searched for, but was unable to locate, records responsive to your request for “…a public record showing the current status of the Faculty tracking / Insights project”, made 4/1/2020.

It is the office’s understanding that this project has been placed on hold, however there are no records documenting this decision.

The office considers this to be fully responsive to your request, and will now close your matter. Thank you for contacting the office with your request.

Sincerely, Office of Public Records

5/8/2019 update: 

With the budget crisis, you’d think this proposal would be in the trash can. Apparently not.

3/18/2019 Faculty tracking software vendor explains time-suck & “thought leadership programming” junket

So why isn’t the provost’s office being clear about what this will cost?

Continue reading

$272K VP for Equity emails faculty about Love, Authenticity, Courage and Empathy

Sent out today. Full email here. More on the VP for EI’s excess cash problem here. The average faculty salary at UO is about $70K.

Dear Colleagues:

As a tenured faculty colleague who is currently teaching a course in our School of Law, I’ve experienced firsthand the panic of suddenly transitioning to the remote-teaching environment in mid-semester. I want to echo the messages of gratitude from President Schill and Provost Phillips, and offer my appreciation for all of the sacrifices that you are already making to ensure that all of our students continue to receive a high-quality education at the UO.

As you are aware, many of our students are in precarious situations, and as a result, the way that we show up in our classrooms will have a very real impact on their academic success and overall wellbeing. We therefore need to be exceptionally caring and present in interacting with our students, especially remotely. As a parent and a faculty colleague, I’m writing to raise awareness about some of the invisible challenges around equity and inclusion that many of our graduate and undergraduate students are facing, and to ask for your support in addressing them.

COVID-19 is axiomatically shining a “bright light” on what Gloria Ladson-Billings and other researchers refer to as the “education debt”; the idea that our students come to the university against the backdrop of historical, economic, socio-political, moral decisions and policies that characterize our unequal society. Consider the following situations that all too many of our UO graduate and undergraduate students continue to face:

    • Many of our students live in households as well as rural and tribal communities, where these services are either unavailable or not affordable.
    • Domestic violence has increased during the COVID-19 crisis and some of our students are now living in environments where verbal, physical and/or psychological abuse is a  daily reality.
    • According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 3.4 million American children live with parents between the ages of 18 and 24. Some of those parents are our students, and they are frequently parenting without a partner while studying, teaching and sharing technology with their own children.
    • For our African American and Native students in particular, as well as  other students of color as well, whose community members are reportedly dying disproportionately from COVID-19, many are currently studying under the cloud of both grief and uncertainty.
    • We have students with cognitive and physical disabilities whose overall successes depend on specific accommodations that are strained in the remote learning environment.
    • Asian American students and their families are experiencing blame and scapegoating for a virus for which they are not responsible, while harassment and discrimination against Jewish,  Muslim and other students of color is on the rise.
    • Our international students are contending with different time zones and varying levels of English proficiency.
    • Unemployment can add an additional layer of stress for first generation students students of color, and immigrant and DACA students whose employment is crucial for survival.

Despite these impediments, our students are doing their best to thrive. Following are five ways that we can actively support our students’ academic careers during this precarious time:

    1. Find additional ways and means of showing kindness, listen closely when students are asking for help, and respond to their needs with patience and resourcefulness. Assume good intent. Just as our Provost has offered faculty the opportunity to stop their tenure/promotion clocks, and suspended all non-critical service obligations, in turn let’s find creative ways to enhance learning and care for our students.
    2. If you are struggling to adapt your teaching to the remote environment, avail yourself of the resources of the Teaching and Engagement Program (TEP). Find ways to adjust workload expectations in ways that are reasonable for you and your students. TEP is committed to your success as a teacher, and hosts a wealth of resources and tools, timely news and workshops, personal consultations, and a blog where you can connect and share advice with your colleagues.
    3. Remember that students with technology and other access issues are bona fide students with legitimate needs that we must be willing to address. We should never ask them to drop our classes because of access issues.  Be proactive with communicating to your students, listen to understand their issues and adapt course materials so that they can be accessed via phone and other devices. Ensure that your assignments, assessments and workloads, under current circumstances, are reasonable.
    4. Attendance is not to be graded this term.  Our students are accessing our classrooms from time zones all over the world, and with differing levels of internet access. Some may be caregivers for sick relatives or children, or have unpredictable schedules, or be in a home with under-resourced or competing tech needs. Please make sure there are asychronous ways for students to engage with you as an instructor and access course content such as recorded class session/lectures, and office hours – both scheduled and by appointment.”
    5. Consider adopting relevant parts of the L.A.C.E. – Love, Authenticity, Courage and Empathy framework. L.A.C.E. is an aspect of my own research, and is not an official UO policy or framework. However, the concepts, when used in ways that are consistent with UO policies and practices, are helpful in facilitating engagement, active learning strategies and to diffusing “hot moments” in the classroom. You can learn more about L.A.C.E. here. Know that our Division of Equity and Inclusion team and I are available to talk through any equity-related concerns that you are dealing with in your classes. For prompt assistance or appointments, please reach out to us at vpinclusion@uoregon.edu.

Lastly, I want to stress that the UO’s anti-discrimination policies and our commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity are as important as ever in the online environment. These protections are for the protection of students and faculty alike.  Staff from DEI and our Center for Diversity and Community, as well as TEP, are available to discuss issues of equity and inclusion issues in the classroom. If you have questions about reporting instances of harassment or discrimination, please contact the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance. If you, as a faculty member, are experiencing harassment or forms of discrimination from students, please contact the Office of Conduct and Community Standards for support in addressing and resolving these issues. Self-care and self-empathy are important during these challenging times.

Every one of us has had to face enormous personal challenges in this uncertain environment, and we appreciate all that you have done to adapt in such a short period of time. As compassionate members of our faculty, we are best positioned to help our students to weather this storm and, in the process, ensure they continue to receive the very best education the UO has to offer. Let’s do our part in helping them to succeed.

Take good care,
Yvette

Beaver coaches 7% pay cut is weaker than a decent Oregon IPA

The Duck’s Dana Altman now makes more than 3x as much as OSU’s basketball coach. John Canzano has the news on the 7% cut here. Details on Altman’s most recent raise, which Pres Schill and our Trustees gave him during the 2019 budget crisis, is here.

A snippet. This is contract year 4:

Thanks to a generally reliable source for the link.

Pres Schill promised AD Rob Mullens $2.5M in retention pay

From what I can tell,  Mullens is the only AD employee (except of course Lorraine Davis and the other Jock Box staff) paid out of UO’s E&G (or Education and General) budget bucket. Which means the academic side is on the hook for the $2.5M in retention bonuses Pres Schill promised Mullens last June:

Full contract amendment here: But wait, there’s more on the pork and perverse incentives in Mullens’s contract here.

Will he give up 10% of this June’s $200K retention and other bonuses? I don’t know, let’s ask him:

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: University of Oregon Office of Public Records 2020-PRR-350
Date: April 13, 2020 at 5:03:34 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
Cc: Rob Mullens <mullens@uoregon.edu>

Thanks Ms Thornton, will he also take a 10% cut on his June 30 2020 $200,000 retention and other bonuses?

I’m ccing Mr. Mullens as he presumably can give a quick answer with making me use the public records process.

Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh

 

On Apr 13, 2020, at 2:37 PM, pubrec@uoregon.edu wrote:

04/13/2020


Dear Mr. Harbaugh,

Attached are records responsive to your 4/6/2020 request.

Please note that all senior leadership—vice presidents, school and college deans, and the athletic director—have taken a minimum six-month 10 percent pay reduction.

The office considers these documents to be fully responsive to your request and will now close this matter. Thank you for contacting the office with your request.

UO paid $2,476,131 in severance to football coaches last year

Lots of interesting budget bucket tidbits in the Federally required EADA report on Duck athletic finances. This was one of their smaller expenditures:

I assume that mostly went to Mark Helfrich, who was fired in Fall 2016 after getting a fat contract from Chuck Lillis and our Board of Trustees the previous year, on the enthusiastic endorsement of AD Rob Mullens and Scott Coltrane, and without any signs of due diligence from our Board of Trustees or their Chair Chuck Lillis. I forget next coach’s name, but he didn’t last long either. The new coach (Cristobal?) has even bigger severance guarantees. President Schill’s new contract also includes some pretty expensive ones.

From a previous post:

In February [2015] the UO Board of Trustees gave big raises to Duck AD Rob Mullens and football coach Mark Helfrich, after a second place finish in last year’s championship. Board Secretary Angela Wilhelms kept the purpose of the meeting secret until the last minute, and even left the contracts off the docket of meeting materials. The board approved them with no discussion, after then Interim President Scott Coltrane enthusiastically endorsed the raises:

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 1.42.05 PM

His full porkalicious contract is below the break.

Continue reading

What sorts of MOUs and dollars have our Deans extracted from the budget?

No one takes the job of Dean without getting some promises from the Provost about money and hiring, in writing. What sort of deals? Let’s find out:

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Subject: Public records request, MOU’s with Deans
Date: April 1, 2020 at 12:43:49 AM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
Cc: Provost Patrick Phillips <provost@uoregon.edu>, Patrick Phillips <pphil@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for copies of any MOU’s or similar agreements currently in effect between UO Deans and Colleges (and the Knight Campus) and UO’s central administration, regarding the distribution of University funds, the forgiving of past internal debts, or the allocation of faculty or OA positions.

As an example of the sort of document I am requesting, I attach this 2014 agreement between former Provost Coltrane and former Law Dean Michale Moffitt.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest in the expenditure of public funds.

I am ccing Provost Phillips, as his office should have these agreements at hand, and should be able to provide them without your office’s usual fees and delays.

Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh
wtharbaugh@gmail.com

CAS AAA Law off budget transfers