Provost Banavar appoints Laura Vandenburgh as interim Dean of College of Design

A generally well-informed CoD professor notes that she was not the preferred choice of Dean Lindner, and provides this anonymous endorsement:

She is calm, capable, wise, fair-minded and well respected by her peers, across departments.  People trust her, and trust is an important issue after three years under a dean who was not universally trusted.  Her style of low key but effective leadership is perfect for the task.

Provost Banavar’s letter:

April 2, 2019

Dear College of Design Faculty and Staff,

I am pleased to announce that Laura Vandenburgh has agreed to serve as interim dean of the University of Oregon College of Design. She will succeed Dean Christoph Lindner, who will be stepping down at the end of the academic year.

Laura is an associate professor in the Department of Art and has a long history at UO, having served as the head of the college’s School of Art + Design since 2017. She joined the UO in 1998 and is highly regarded for her passion for excellence and creativity. Her artwork has been shown from New York City, Canada, and Germany to Portland and Seattle in the Northwest.

Laura served as head of the art department from 2008-14. She has a wealth of experience in administration, and has served on the university’s Undergraduate Council, Academic Residential Communities Council, and University Senate. Externally, Laura has represented UO with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the organization that establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees in art, design, and related disciplines.

In 2014, she received the Fund for Faculty Excellence, an honor bestowed on UO faculty members to recognize, reward, and retain those with a distinct record of excellence in research, scholarship, creative accomplishment, and teaching.

Laura is excited about working closely with Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Liska Chan and the rest of the college’s leadership team to continue the great work being done to help our students be successful. I have every confidence that, with Laura in the interim dean position, the College of Design will continue advancing the vision and direction that Christoph started when he arrived at UO three years ago.

Laura will start in her new role on July 1, and she will work closely with Christoph in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition before he departs campus in August. This includes identifying an acting head for the School of Art + Design, along with assisting the College of Design’s efforts around addressing budget reductions. A search for a permanent dean will be launched in the fall.

Please join me in congratulating Laura on her new assignment.


Jayanth Banavar
Provost and Senior Vice President

CoD’s Christoph Lindner out, Banavar wants input on interim

It’s going to be a happy crowd down at the faculty club tonight. One faculty member noted “He made no visible relationships with anyone while he was here. It was obvious from the start he would not be here long.”

Whoever wrote the provost’s letter got unnecessarily gushy considering the damage Lindner managed to do, but it’s very encouraging to hear that Provost Banavar is reaching out to the college before making an interim appointment. Let the healing begin. Provost Banavar’s letter:

Dear Colleagues,

As you may have heard this morning, Christoph Lindner, dean of the College of Design, has accepted a position as dean of the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at University College London. He will remain at the University of Oregon through August.

[UOM: at his $265K Dean’s salary, or his $162K faculty pay with a few classes to teach?]

While I am disappointed that the UO will lose Christoph’s leadership, vision, and passion, I hope you will join me in wishing him and his family all of the best with this next chapter. It is an extraordinary opportunity. University College London’s gain is certainly our loss.

I am grateful for all Christoph has done during his time as dean of the College of Design, including his leadership in transforming the School of Architecture and Allied Arts into the College of Design, which comprises the School of Architecture & Environment, the School of Art + Design, and the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management.

Christoph’s vision has helped enhance the prominence of all disciplines within the college. He has been a strong advocate for the enhancement of diversity in design, including the new Design for Spatial Justice initiative in the School of Architecture & Environment and the new Access and Equity research group in the School of Planning, Public Policy and Management.

I applaud the work that he and others have done to elevate the College of Design’s portfolio, creating new synergies among UO departments, working with partner institutions, and looking to 21st century opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students—all while maintaining a focus on the College of Design’s core and historical strengths.

I am grateful that Christoph will remain at the UO through August, which leaves ample time to prepare for a transition. An important next step for me as provost is to name an interim dean, and I intend to do so by the end of next week. First, though, I want to take the next several days to consult with department heads, school heads, and others in the college. If you have recommendations for the interim role, please email me at [email protected]. I will take all of the feedback and information I receive into account, but I must receive it by no later than noon Monday, March 18.

There will no doubt be questions about the process for filling the permanent dean position. My office will coordinate this effort and I will provide more information soon. Please rest assured knowing that the search will follow standard practices, including a review of the position profile, putting together a diverse hiring committee, and hosting public presentations and interview opportunities for finalists.

For the next several weeks, our focus will be on the institutional efforts to balance our budget and identify expenditure reductions. While Christoph’s departure leaves a hole to fill, we will not have any announcements on the search in the next few weeks.

Again, let me reiterate my best wishes to Christoph, his wife, Rebecca, who is associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Clark Honors College, and their two children. It has been a pleasure having them as part of the UO community and I am grateful for all they have both done.


Jayanth Banavar, Provost and Senior Vice President

Lindner’s email:

Dear College of Design Faculty and Staff:

I am writing to share with you that I have accepted the position of Dean of The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at University College London beginning Fall 2019.

It has been an honor to serve as Dean of the College of Design for the past three years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your work in making the college what it is today. I am especially grateful to our talented faculty and staff, who are a vital source of the college’s success. My thanks as well to our school heads, department heads, and associate deans for their dedication in leading the College of Design, as well as our Dean’s Advancement Council for their ever-present advocacy, advice, and enthusiasm.

I look forward to finishing the academic year with you, and continuing to work with everyone to advance our academic priorities. During the coming months, I will also be working closely with the Office of the Provost to ensure that the many important programmatic and hiring initiatives in the School of Architecture & Environment, School of Art + Design, School of Planning, Public Policy and Management, and the Department of the History of Art and Architecture continue to move forward smoothly during the leadership transition. The provost will be sharing more about that transition plan shortly.


Christoph Lindner
Dean and Professor

Architecture profs sue Dean Christoph Linder for age discrimination

Daily Emerald reporters Michael Tobin and Zach Price have the scoop here, read it all. Some snippets:

Three University of Oregon professors associated with the university’s Portland architecture program are suing UO and College of Design Dean Christoph Lindner for just under $4.3 million, alleging that Lindner and the university engaged in age discrimination and retaliation as well as breach of contract, according to court documents.

Professors Warren Gerald GastHans Joachim Neis and Donald Genasci, born in 1944, 1947 and 1938, respectively, all worked as architecture professors at the UO architecture program in Portland. According to the individual complaints filed by the professors, they “were the oldest three faculty members in the Portland Architecture program in 2017 and 2018.” [UOM: Click names for pdfs of the complaints, which are worth reading.]

The complaints say that the three professors received notices in May 2017 from Lindner notifying them that they would be relocated from Portland to the UO’s Eugene campus. The two other Portland architecture faculty members, who were under 60-years-old, were not asked to leave, according to the complaints.

… The complaints say that Lindner wanted the reassignment because the Portland program “needed ‘new energy’” and was “stale.” According to the complaints, Lindner “was motivated by his desire for ‘new blood’” and that the “‘reassignment’ had ‘nothing to do with budget.’”

The university disagrees with the claims made in the lawsuits, according to an email statement from UO spokeswoman Molly Blancett.

“As noted in their complaints, they filed similar claims with the Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI), and those claims were dismissed,” Blancett wrote on Friday. “In light of the pending litigation, we are unable to provide additional information at this time but will address the allegations in the court proceedings.” …

“Unable to provide additional information”? Come on. The university administration has regularly provided additional information about litigation, when they think it will help them.

CoD Dean Lindner apologizes, admits the union protects faculty right to meet and talk without fear

4/7/2018 update: 

Actually, as much as the administration wants to ignore it, the Senate’s hardfought Policy on Academic Freedom does too:

c. POLICY AND SHARED GOVERNANCE. Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance. …


These freedoms derive immediately from the university’s basic commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding. The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. Only serious abuses of this policy – ones that rise to the level of professional misbehavior or professional incompetence – should lead to adverse consequences.  Any such determinations shall be made in accordance with established, formal procedures involving judgment by relevant peers.

Apparently UAUO had to work pretty hard to extract this apology. No word on what happened to the photos:

Dear Colleagues:

There has been some discussion recently in our College regarding shared governance and the faculty’s right to gather and discuss difficult and often controversial subjects with respect to the direction of a particular department or program. Given those discussions, I want to take this opportunity to reiterate my strong commitment to shared governance principles, including the right of faculty to gather and discuss affairs without repercussion, retaliation, or interference by the administration.

In our unionized environment, those principles often overlap with the legal right of the union and its members to discuss union issues in a similar environment. I know my commitment to these principles has been questioned recently due to a member of staff inadvertently attending a closed faculty meeting and taking a picture. While I can assure you that those actions were not taken at my direction and were based on a misunderstanding that the meeting was an open town hall, I understand that this person’s actions may have been intimidating and caused some faculty to feel uncomfortable discussing important issues freely. For that, I apologize.

Since that incident, I have met with my staff and reiterated that attending union meetings, or taking actions that may interfere with a faculty member’s ability to participate in protected union or shared governance activities, is not permitted.

As we continue to build our new College of Design, I look forward to working together to create a positive and healthy work environment.


Christoph Lindner, Dean and Professor

2/22/2018 update: CoD fundraiser drops in on CoD Town Hall, photographs attendees

The event was pretty well attended, with about 30 CoD faculty and 5 or so union reps. There was a full and frank discussion that went on til 5:30, and continued in small groups afterwards.

I helped bring in extra chairs, one of which was then taken by a gentleman who unobtrusively started taking cell phone pictures. A union rep saw this and asked him to leave, which he did. He came back a few minutes later, and since I was lounging by the door he asked me why he’d been asked to leave and what the rules were for union meetings.

Full disclosure: I have no idea. So I told him that people wanted to have an open discussion and he was making them nervous since they didn’t know who he was. I asked him who he was. He said he was the director of development for design. I asked him why he was there. He said because he was worried about what they were talking about and wanted to know what was going on. I asked him why he was taking pictures. He said because he didn’t know many faculty by name and wanted to know who was there.

It seems a bit sad that the director of development would need to photograph a faculty/union meeting to figure out who the faculty are, but maybe he’s new. In any case turnabout is fair play, and so here’s his photo:

2/22/2018: College of Design faculty to hold Town Hall:

This Thursday at 4PM in Lawrence 230. Issues include:

The fate of AAD and the process used to terminate that program
The cutting of the summer Architecture program for high school students
The Portland Faculty Assignment Criteria & Process
The lack of Post-Tenure Review criteria
The management of the Ross Fund
De-emphasis on professional work and emphasis on peer-reviewed publications in reviews
The restructuring causing administrative bloat

Architecture faculty raise new questions about competence of leadership, reject Provost & Head’s accusations of bullying, argue decision to reject new hire is retaliation

Sorry for the long post. Those who know the history should cut to the bottom for the new letter from the faculty.

The UO administration has a long history of making vague charges of bullying, harassment, and “incivility” against faculty who complain about administrative misfeasance and malfeasance, or otherwise question their leaders. They are trying it again on the Department of Architecture faculty. Those faculty are fighting back.

On Feb 15th the faculty held a department-wide meeting and voted by secret ballot, 20 to 9, to protest a series of decisions by their new dean Christof Linder. Full minutes here. The gist:


In response to input from a substantial group of self-organized Department of Architecture faculty, the Department of Architecture Ad Hoc Committee, whose members were elected by a vote of the Architecture faculty, advanced the following motion (made by Tice):

As one of the best known programs of architecture in the United States with a distinguished legacy of faculty, students and alumni going back over a century and to best serve our current and future students, the University of Oregon, the State of Oregon, and the profession of architecture:

–  the faculty of the Department of Architecture believe it is imperative to expeditiously create a School of Architecture at the University of Oregon that is autonomous and independent of the College of Design, and

–  the School of Architecture should oversee, direct, and manage all academic and budget matters within its purview on the Eugene and Portland campuses, and

–  initially this School of Architecture should include three departments: Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Historic Preservation.

The need for an independent School of Architecture is driven by the necessity to address at least 10 issues with the current structure of the College of Design:


  1. Fiscal autonomy (example: lack of budget control – it is now primarily at the SAE and CoD level)
  2. Program autonomy (example: closure of summer academy)
  3. Assignment autonomy (example: Portland criteria)
  4. Communication autonomy (example: lack of input on website – may seem minor but may have significant recruiting impacts)
  5. Hiring autonomy (example: inability to forward needed positions outside of the CoD)
  6. Administrative autonomy (example: SAE office staffing shuffles may have driven retirements and limited retention)
  7. Endowment autonomy (examples: Ross and Baker endowment fund allocations)
  8. Outreach autonomy (example: Dean’s Advancement Council rather than a true advisory council we can outreach to for advice)
  9. Access autonomy (example: Architecture is not even represented at the Dean’s level and accessing the Dean through additional layers is time-consuming and inefficient)
  10. Strategic autonomy (example: the CoD Strategic Plan (draft) has been developed with little to no input from architecture faculty and says nothing directly relevant to a professional program)


One marvels at the level of incompetence it must take for a dean to let things deteriorate to the point where the faculty would find it necessary to organize such a meeting and then vote 2 to 1 against his leadership.

Three weeks later, on March 8th, Head of School Liska Chan held a meeting of the School of Architecture and Environment and doubled down. The notes from her speech, which do not address the substantive issues raised by the faculty, but which instead focus on accusations against them regarding their “tone” and “bullying”, are here. An excerpt:


Intentionally or not, this movement threatens our school, and impacts every one of us in it. To summarize my assessment of it I will say this: It is harming our reputation within the University. It is stalling some of, and impacts all of, the progress we are making. It is taking emotional energy away from building this place and putting energy into tearing it down. Moreover, some individuals in the department of Architecture (this includes some NTTF, some TTF, junior faculty, and leaders) have been excluded from these discussions—discussions that aspire to abolish the very School in which these individuals work!

I further object to the tone of this movement. I honestly do not see how any concerns are going to be resolved with the independence movement or under the divisive tone it sets. The brinksmanship it creates, whether intentional or not, creates a climate of fear. I have heard accounts of, and seen first-hand, that faculty members in architecture feel intimidated and silenced either through exclusion and/or hostility. I am talking about eye-rolling and other gestures of dismissal in faculty meetings, communications that imply that someone who isn’t with the movement “lacks courage”…snide comments behind people’s back –I’ve seen colleagues attempt to undermine other faculty members who stick their necks out and ask for clarity, explanation, and a voice for the less dominant voices in the room. I’ve seen gender discrimination. Let me be clear: the hostile work environment in Architecture is totally unacceptable.

This kind of behavior has NO PLACE HERE.

In my role as a faculty member in the department of landscape architecture for the past 17 years, I have been consistently treated with respect, trust, kindness and compassion. This is true even when I make mistakes, go against the grain, or disagree with my colleagues. Yet in my short time in this role I have seen some faculty members gas-lighting other faculty, some faculty members using abusive language, yelling profanities and making snide comments in faculty meetings. I have seen attempts to undermine others in the form of rumors, half-truths, and baseless claims. Again, this kind of behavior has NO PLACE in the School of Architecture and Environment. Regardless of what the argument is, what the conversation is, this behavior – this bullying – has NO PLACE in a professional environment. Period.


This speech was delivered to the architecture faculty – or those who stayed to hear it all – with Dean Linder watching from the back.

The next day, Provost Banavar sent a letter to the faculty, previously posted here. This letter repeated the themes in Chan’s speech and was presumably drafted by her. One snippet:

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not express my disappointment in the tenor of this conversation and the actions of some that have led multiple faculty members to express fears of retaliation and describe a hostile environment and bullying by their faculty colleagues. Such behavior – intended or unintended – is not welcome at the University of Oregon. It too must end.


Shortly thereafter Provost Banavar told the Department of Interior Architecture that he refused to approve the hiring of their top choice for a previously approved search.

Today faculty from architecture sent two letters to the Head, the Dean and the UO Senate and the faculty union eviscerating Chan’s speech and Provost Banavar’s letter, and making it pretty clear who has been bullying and retaliating against whom:

The second, longer letter is under revision as signatures are collected. It will be posted when available.

Faculty Club to host President Schill, tonight at 5PM

Dear Colleagues,

The Faculty Club will be meeting this week, during the usual hours (Wednesdays and Thursdays 5:00-8:00 pm).  We’ll close during Exam Week and Spring Break, and then open again in Week One of the Spring Term.

The Senate-sponsored “Talk to Your Dean Night” series continues this week with a double-header and a presidential appearance.  Yes, that’s right.  Wednesday we’ll have Dean Juan-Carlos Molleda of the School of Journalism as well as Dean Christoph Lindner from the College of Design.  Both deans will be available to chat informally about whatever’s on your mind.  Rumors that the two will settle, in an arm-wrestling match, the age-old question of which school is more “awesome,” are likely false.   Lindner will, however, be offering the Six-o-Clock Toast.

Thursday Michael Schill will be on hand, taking the “Talk to Your Dean Night” series to a presidential level.  With his decidedly non-Caesarian tendencies, our president has little reason to “beware the Ides of March.”  We will, however, be marking the anniversary of Caesar’s death with a Six-o-Clock Toast from Mary Jaeger, Professor of Classics and avowed partisan of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

Hope to see you either night, or both nights.

Yours, James Harper
Chair of the Faculty Club Board

Union responds to Provost’s letter to Architecture faculty

I don’t know who wrote the Provost’s letter below, but it doesn’t strike me as Banavar’s style. In any case the faculty union has now sent the architecture faculty a thoughtful response:

Dear Department of Architecture and Interior Architecture Faculty,

On Friday, Provost Banavar sent the faculty of the Department of Architecture a letter concerning the recent unrest in the unit. In that letter he emphasizes that the University is a workplace that does not permit bullying or retaliation. We agree with that position. The Provost’s letter, however, goes well beyond reminding faculty of their duties not to intimidate or bully and cites the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as the basis for his reasoning. Consequently, we felt compelled to respond to the letter and clarify the meaning of the CBA.

First, we share the Provost’s concern that faculty in the Department of Architecture fear retaliation and work in a hostile atmosphere where they experience bullying. Our CBA contains strong language protecting faculty from working in an environment that is hostile, abusive, or intimidating. Heather Quarles, the chair of our Grievance Committee, has worked with many faculty across the university to address hostile workplaces. Any faculty member who would like to discuss a hostile workplace should feel free to reach out to Heather at [email protected].

If department or committee meetings are taking place in the Department of Architecture that exclude faculty members for discriminatory reasons, this must be addressed immediately. It is never acceptable to exclude faculty from departmental activities on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status, domestic partnership status, familial status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or membership or non-membership in or activity on behalf of or in opposition to the union. Discriminatory actions are forbidden in state law, university policy, and the CBA.

Unfortunately, the Provost goes well beyond discussing discriminatory practices in his letter, telling faculty that “conversations” about the future of the department that do not include all faculty must end. The CBA, despite the Provost’s citations, does not prevent faculty from meeting to discuss the future of the department – whether or not all faculty are invited to participate in those discussions. 

Under the CBA and state law, faculty have the right to organize to discuss their wages and working conditions, including departmental and college governance, free of interference from the employer. The Provost has no right, under either the CBA or state law, to forbid faculty to have conversations about the future of the department. In fact, it is a fundamental right of the faculty to gather together with their like-minded colleagues to discuss how they might resist, protest, undo, and improve the actions of the administration.

Additionally, the Provost has no right, through the CBA or otherwise, to forbid faculty to meet with external advisory groups. As he said, such arrangements may in some cases be counterproductive and harmful, but there can be no blanket prohibition on the right of faculty to work with external advisory groups. The American Associate of University Professors (AAUP) has worked with many faculty at many colleges and universities to organize protests against violations of academic freedom rights. In many of these cases, the administration believed the actions of their faculty in working with the AAUP might be detrimental to the institution, but they had no right to end these conversations or force the faculty to include college administrators in those discussions.

Finally, we are saddened that the Provost did not use the occasion of writing to the Architecture faculty to acknowledge that there are many difficult issues that the department is trying to grapple with. Many faculty clearly feel that the shared governance principles and practices in the department and college do not work. If the frustrations of these faculty have created an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation, this must be rectified, but they cannot be resolved through vague and potentially intimidating demands from the Provost. We believe the solutions to these problems must include more conversations, not fewer.

Any faculty member who wants to discuss the rights of faculty under the CBA, the future of the Department of Architecture, and/or a hostile workplace is free to contact the leaders or staff of United Academics. You can reach us by responding to this email, calling the union office, or contacting any of the officers of the union. 541-636-4714 or


The Executive Council of United Academics of the University of Oregon

3/12/2018: Provost: Architecture faculty cannot secede from College of Design

Some CoD faculty not happy with new Dean, reorganization

Michael Tobin has the report in the Emerald here:

Six months after the launch of the College of Design, some faculty members are complaining about a new level of bureaucracy and the fate of some of the old programs.

Also, some faculty members are unhappy over a controversial court decision that allows dean Christoph Lindner to control extra funds from a donor’s will that were intended only for books and photographs for the art history department.

Lindner, who became the dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts in 2016, proposed that the school undergo a massive restructure and become what is now known as the College of Design.

Established in fall 2017, the college is home to these schools: Architecture and Environment; Art and Design and Planning, Public Policy, and Management, as well as one department: the History of Art and Architecture.

The rest of the story goes into the details, including a faculty / union meeting.