Another carefully scripted town hall to promote illusion of shared governance

From Around the 0, of course:

University of Oregon students, faculty members and staff are invited to attend a virtual town hall meeting at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, May 7, to discuss planning for in-person, on campus instruction for fall term.

President Michael H. Schill announced the intent for fall term, including the engagement of the UO’s Incident Management Team to plan for and facilitate the steps needed to open campus.

As planning gets underway, members of the campus community have questions about what an on-campus fall term will look like. In a message to faculty and staff members, Patrick Phillips, provost and senior vice president, highlighted concerns and potential solutions, as well as the UO’s participation in a consortium of West Coast campuses “working together to understand how to employ best practices from a public health perspective to provide a safe environment for our faculty, staff, and students.”

The virtual town hall will include Schill; André Le Duc, associate vice president and chief resilience officer; and other UO administrators. The event is available via livestream. Campus community members are encouraged to submit questions in advance through an anonymous web form. Email questions in advance or during the live event to townhall@uoregon.edu.

Pres Schill offers faculty union a pay cut proposal and a threat: take it or suffer the consequences

The short version, from the union:

Executive Summary
The administration wants faculty to agree to a wage cut plan in the event of revenue loss. United Academics leadership has concerns about the proposal and would like to bargain the plan. If UA does not agree to the wage cut plan, the administration intends to either non-renew all 211 Career faculty who are up for renewal this spring or offer them only 0.1 FTE contracts. In order for a wage cut plan for faculty to go into effect, the membership of United Academics would have to vote in favor of the plan.

In a nutshell this plan would put the full cost of any tuition losses or state funding cuts on the faculty and OAs. There is no discussion of an offset for increases in federal funding, such as the $16m UO is getting from the CARES act. There is no discussion of cuts for Johnson Hall’s pet projects.

There is no accountability for the administration’s past decisions to spend down UO’s reserves on an Athlete’s Village for the 2021 Track & Field championships, on utility connections for Hayward field, on the Law School, on continued hidden athletic subsidies, etc, which led to the decrease in reserves and the increase in bond debt.

There is no provision for shared governance oversight of future spending.

The scheme is barely progressive – the cuts start at a very low $40K, and the top rate peaks at $200K, meaning those making say $400K pay the same percentage as those making $200K.

Amusingly, or perhaps I should say incompetently, whoever cooked this scheme up does not understand the difference between average and marginal – so after these cuts, an AVP now making say $199,999 would end up with a higher salary than one making $200,001. Under the middle scenario, the new salaries would be $178,819 and $176,000, or a $2,820 bigger cut for the poor soul who started out $2 ahead. This does not inspire confidence in our VPFA and VPBP’s ability to run our university’s finance and budgeting without supervision.

Here’s the schedule, with 5 scenarios and corresponding cuts, as calculated by the Administration:

The Administration’s full draft proposal is here. The Faculty Union’s full response is below.

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UO lays off 282 classified & OA’s, income doubles under UI for lowest paid

(Note: updated with info from an always well informed commenter, who also points out that this blog and its commenters sometimes come across as uncaring about the staff and OA’s who keep the university running. She is right, and for my part I resolve to try and do better on that.)

They will still get health benefits – thanks to work by HR. Assuming an average salary of $30,000, this will save UO about $2.2M a quarter, or 1/6 of a Jumbotron. It will be a windfall for the employees (except perhaps the most recent hires and the highest paid). For full-time workers at $15 an hour, instead of $500 or so a week take home, they will get ~$400 in regular unemployment benefits, plus the $600 per week CARES act add-on. Part time workers will do even better in percentage terms.

Of course first Oregon’s Employment Division needs to figure out how to get the checks out. Their COBOL system crashed again this weekend. For context, back on March 6th 1933, the day after his inauguration, FDR closed the entire U.S. banking system in response to bank runs. That week he had the Federal Reserve fly bags of freshly printed currency to banks across the country, and almost all banks were reopened and cashing paychecks by March 15.

President Schill’s message below the break:

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Oregonian reports on Pres Schill and AD Mullens’s sacrifices

Reporter James Crepea here, with a simple recitation of the facts and numbers:

EUGENE — Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens and UO president Michael Schill are among a group of the university’s top administrators taking voluntary pay cuts for at least the next six months — and possibly through the 2020-21 school year — and the school has instituted a hiring freeze due to the coronavirus.

Schill announced the measures, including a 12 percent reduction in his pay and 10 percent reduction for Mullens and 10 UO vice presidents, during a virtual town hall meeting for faculty members, staff and graduate employees on Thursday.

“Simply put, we are all going to have to make sacrifices,” Schill said.

… Mullens, who in under contract through June 2025, earns $717,500 salary plus deferred compensation, performance and retention bonuses. He is due a $200,000 retention bonus at the end of June.

Schill, who received a $100,000 bonus in December, is earning $720,000 in salary in the second of a five-year contract through June 2023 and is due $738,000 next year. He can earn annual bonuses up to $200,000 and also receives a $50,000 annual retirement contribution, vehicle stipend and is due a $200,000 retention bonus if he remains president until Sept. 30, 2021.

You can support the Oregonian’s reporting with a $10 a month digital subscription, here.

Or you can read the free Around the O’s version of events, by a former journalist now held in captivity by VP Kyle Henley in the bowels of Johnson Hall, here. A cry for help from Virtual Town – our common future:

As it turns out Mullens’s salary was actually $780K last year, plus a $100K retention bonus, plus some other bonuses and perks like a car and country club dues:

Here’s his 2015 contract, for some reason his new one is not posted at https://publicrecords.uoregon.edu/documents

Mullens 2015

Pres Schill, Prov Phillips, VPFA Moffitt to speak to fac & staff Th 4PM

I wonder how much Johnson Hall paid the consultant who told them it would be a good idea to have a $150K PR flack moderate this. It seems Moffitt refused to participate, or was disinvited. Her substitutes were not up to the job. The Emerald has some damning quotes here. No word yet on which sports Schill will cut.

Click to watch on youtube –  and yes, of course they disabled comments:

 

4/2/2010: I notice they are not bringing out the people who actually make the decisions: BoT Secretary Angela Wilhelms and VPBRP Brad Shelton. Yesterday’s version for the parents and students was heavily scripted and managed by PR flack Jennifer Williams, who ignored some students pointed online questions about tuition refunds. I’m hoping this session will be a little less DPRK.

Dear colleagues,

As spring term gets underway, we want you to know how much we appreciate everything you are doing to support our students and the campus community during this unprecedented time of disruption. We have heard so many positive and inspiring stories about the important work you are doing as we continue to deliver on our teaching and research mission. We are proud, heartened, and deeply grateful.

Modifying University of Oregon operations in response to COVID-19 is not without challenges, but we are confident that, together, our resiliency and fortitude will see us through. Many of you may have questions about the university’s response and the move to remote education and operations for the spring term. The rapid and dramatic changes may create uncertainty and stress for some. We want to make a concerted effort to be responsive to faculty and staff as key contributors to the university’s success. Given the pace of change, we don’t have all the answers, but we want to take your questions and share as much as we can.

On Thursday, April 2, at 4:00 p.m., the university will hold a virtual town hall for all faculty and staff. You can watch the livestream on this webpage. Submit questions ahead of time using this web form or ask questions during the town hall by emailing townhall@uoregon.edu. It will be recorded and posted on the town hall website for those who cannot join the live event.

The town hall panel will include university leaders who will address key components of our operational response, such as employee relations and benefits, academic support services, and technology and information services, to name a few.

As always, you can find the latest information about the UO’s response to COVID-19 at uoregon.edu/coronavirus and on the FAQ page. Information for faculty on remote teaching is available on the provost’s website and human resources information for faculty and staff is available on the HR website.

Take care of yourselves, be healthy, and we hope you can join us Thursday.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill, President and Professor of Law
Patrick Phillips, Provost and Senior Vice President Professor of Biology,
Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer

Union asks President Schill and Provost Phillips for job security for the 211 Career instructors up for renewal in June

The cost of a year of contract extension for these faculty would be roughly $16M, or to put it in terms our Board of Trustees can understand, 1.3 Jumbotrons:

Proposal for Career Faculty Job Security

Dear Colleague,

Earlier this morning, the leadership of United Academics sent the letter below to President Schill and Provost Philips. This letter was drafted after many meetings and hours of conversation between officers, stewards, and representatives in response to many statements of concern from Career faculty who are up for renewal this year. We have had a very good working relationship with the administration during the COVID crisis, and we are positive that relationship will continue as we discuss how to provide Career instructional faculty with the security they need to focus on their important work.


Dear President Schill and Provost Philips,

Over the past two weeks, more than 1000 faculty members have dedicated countless hours, while many were also juggling home-bound families and everyone was giving up a week’s vacation, to enable the university community to shift to remote teaching while maintaining the standards of a world-class university.

Along with our graduate employee colleagues, these phenomenal faculty will keep the university up and running; their work will ensure our students have a positive experience, learn the material they need to know, and can complete the classes they need to graduate on time.

Over their careers and the last two weeks, the University of Oregon faculty have made an extraordinary commitment to our students and to the university community.

Unfortunately, 211 Career faculty members have contracts that expire at the end of the term. All Career faculty who have expiring contracts face the permanent loss of their employment at the university. The administration has not made any commitment to these faculty.

United Academics calls on the administration to extend the employment for all Career faculty who have expiring contracts for the period of one year at their current FTE, save for those who can be non-renewed for documented performance reasons.

We understand that the university may be in a difficult financial situation should there be a large decrease in enrollment next year, and we appreciate the work the administration is doing to deal with this unprecedented crisis. We are more than willing to work with the administration to find solutions to these temporary challenges, without sacrificing our instructional faculty. We know we can do it if we work together.

Workers file complaints about Phildo construction during coronavirus

While UO faculty and staff need a hall pass from the dean to visit their office for 30 minutes, egofice construction continues. Nigel Jaquiss in WWeek, here:

Oregon’s Construction Industry Is Chugging Along Like It’s Still 2019. Some Workers Say That’s Dangerous.

Gov. Kate Brown’s March 23 order did not restrict construction sites. An avalanche of workplace complaints ensued.

… On big jobs like the Intel and University of Oregon projects (which include both the Hayward Field renovation and construction of the new Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact), there are also steelworkers, carpenters, pipefitters, electricians and concrete workers laboring at the same time on the same site.

“We call it ‘trade stacking,’ where one trade is getting on top of another,” says a veteran worker on the Hayward Field project, who requested anonymity because he’s not authorized to speak to the press. “And you’ve got guys who chew tobacco and spit everywhere or blow their noses with their thumbs because they are outside.”

The Hayward Field worker says the project’s general contractor, Portland-based Hoffman Construction, has issued strict instructions on social distancing—rules that, in practice, are not obeyed. …

Pres Schill to deliver remote State of UO & coronavirus town hall

Today at 2:30: https://president.uoregon.edu/virtual-town-hall:

Submit your questions for UO leadership now using an anonymous webform or emailing townhall@uoregon.edu. You can also submit questions during the live event by emailing townhall@uoregon.edu.

Expectations are high:

Meanwhile in bathrooms across Eugene, faculty begin their remote lectures with the tools they have on hand:

OA Council message on coronavirus efforts and planning

An announcement from the OA Council. In case you’re new, the OAs are the people who keep the University from collapsing into chaos:

From: oanews-bounces@lists.uoregon.edu [mailto:oanews-bounces@lists.uoregon.edu] On Behalf Of oa@uoregon.edu
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2020 4:27 PM
To: oanews@lists.uoregon.edu
Subject: oanews: OA Council COVID-19 updates & outreach

Good afternoon,

The members of the Officer of Administration Council are reaching out to share resources with you during this unprecedented disruption to University of Oregon operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, we truly are all in this together—whether you are essential staff still at work on an eerily quiet campus, working from home while juggling child care and other family obligations, or simply struggling with the ways our work lives have shifted so dramatically, the OA Council is here to listen to your concerns and share them with leadership. If you have questions or thoughts that you want to share with us, please reach out to us at oa@uoregon.edu.

OA Council leadership met last Friday with President Schill, Provost Phillips, VPFA Jamie Moffitt, CHRO Mark Schmelz, and Senior Director of ELR Missy Matella. We asked them how the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial impact to the university will affect OAs, shared with them concerns about supervision of remote workers, and asked how the OA Council can help with response and recovery efforts.

Because of the fast-moving changes to operations as we define and adjust to a new normal, some of our questions did not yet have answers; since the university does not yet know what relief will be coming from the federal or state governments, they do not know whether or how OAs will be affected. But one message was clear: all efforts, including the hiring freeze enacted Thursday March 19, have been and will be aimed at keeping current University of Oregon workers employed.

We have to be realistic about the financial and operational picture:
This will be difficult. This pandemic is changing not only how our university operates now, but how all universities will fare in the future. Changes will be felt not just in higher education, but in all sectors—technology, healthcare, K-12 education, food and beverage, transportation, and on and on. We say this not to be pessimistic, but to encourage OAs to do what we’re best at—thinking creatively in response to challenges, keeping the UO running in the face of uncertainty, and being in community when the chips are down.

To that end, we are planning a virtual OA Council Open Session in spring term. The topic is TBD depending on how things evolve, and we’ll announce the date once we’ve decided which virtual platform can host a gathering of our size.

Additionally, we have compiled some OA-specific resources to help you through these unusual circumstances below.

Supervisor resources from UO Human Resources:
Supervisor FAQ:
https://hr.uoregon.edu/programs-services/covid-19-resources/covid-19-frequently-asked-questions#supervisor

Flexible Work Guidance:
https://hr.uoregon.edu/employee-labor-relations/policies-guidance-reporting/flexible-arrangements-work-life-guidance
Flexible Work Procedure:
https://hr.uoregon.edu/employee-labor-relations/employment-policies/flexible-work-policy/flexible-work-procedure.pdf
Flexible Work Agreement Forms:
https://hr.uoregon.edu/employee-labor-relations/policies-guidance-reporting/flexible-arrangements-work-life-guidance-0
Employee Leave Options (scroll down to see links for each employee
group):
https://hr.uoregon.edu/programs-services/covid-19-resources/covid-19-employee-leave-options

Leave options:
Officers of Administration Leave Options:
https://hr.uoregon.edu/programs-services/covid-19-resources/employee-leave-options/covid-19-officers-administration-leave

https://hr.uoregon.edu/benefits/employee-leaves/temporary-fmlaofla-expansion-due-school-closure

Professional development resources:
MyTrack Learning Module Resources:
https://hr.uoregon.edu/learning-development/mytrack-learning-module
Learning and Development Online Resources:
https://hr.uoregon.edu/learning-development/learning-development-online-opportunities

Students can choose optional post-hoc pass-fail grading

Dear University of Oregon faculty,

I wanted to update you with the very latest information about some changes to the grading options for undergraduate courses for spring term 2020, given that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted our university to a system of remote learning.
These are unprecedented times for our faculty, given the myriad issues caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus). As many of you know, our students are experiencing a level of social and economic instability because the university has shifted to remote learning. This modality is also new for many faculty members.

Based on the principle that the change in course modality due to exogenous challenges should not harm students’ progress toward an undergraduate degree, the Academic Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to make the following modifications to grading options for undergraduate courses for spring 2020:

The deadline to change grade-optional courses from graded to P/NP (pass/no pass) will be extended 30 days after the date that spring 2020 final grades are posted. That means all students will have until July 16, 2020, to decide whether to change to P/NP once they see their final grades. (REMINDER FOR WINTER TERM 2020 GRADES: We are extending the deadline to change courses from graded to P/NP until April 24, 2020.)

The option to change from graded to P/NP will also be available for all courses that are currently designated as graded only.

Courses that are designated as P/NP only will remain as they are. There will be no additional options for these courses.

Any spring 2020 course grade of P will be counted as a P* grade for the purposes of the policy that states: “Students must earn 168 transfer or University of Oregon credits with grades of A, B, C, D, or P*.” This means that spring 2020 classes taken as P/NP can count toward graduation requirements. Credits earned in courses offered only as P/NP will use the P* designation.

Instructors of record shall maintain letter grades throughout the term and record final course grades for students in all spring 2020 courses (and only assign P/NP grades for courses that are designated as P/NP only).

If a student chooses P/NP by the new deadline of July 16, 2020, a P grade will be recorded for a C- or above, and an NP grade will be recorded for a D+ or below.

Departments are asked to waive any requirements that (a) limit how P/NP courses count toward the major; that (b) require specific grades for courses that count toward the major; or that (c) serve as prerequisites for other courses. This is especially important for cases where the lack of such a waiver will require students to enroll in an additional term or delay graduation for students.

This is a difficult time for all of us, but our students’ continued education remains an extremely high priority for the University of Oregon community. I appreciate all the work faculty members are doing to help us move forward as the spring term starts next week. Please don’t hesitate to send me an email at execviceprovost@uoregon.edu if you have any questions or concerns about the grading policy change.

Take care.
Sincerely,

Janet Woodruff-Borden
Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Provost responds to union, will grant 1-year tenure clock extensions

3/25/2020 update:

Dear Colleagues,

In recognition of the extraordinary disruption in both professional and personal lives caused by COVID-19, all currently untenured faculty may request a one-year extension by simply communicating their preference to add an additional year to their tenure clocks. All requests will be honored.

Faculty should forward requests to their dean’s office so that the new date will be recorded in Banner. Faculty scheduled for tenure reviews in 2020-21 must do so by May 1, 2020. All others must do so by January 1, 2021. These extensions will be documented by Human Resources. Faculty who elect to keep their existing tenure decision date may also do so.

We hope that the ability to request an extension alleviates some of the stress associated with remote instruction for our tenure-track faculty this term and recognize United Academics partnership in these efforts. If you have any concerns, please send me an email at provost@uoregon.edu.

Best wishes,
Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

3/21/2020: Faculty Union calls for 1-year tenure clock extension

At https://mailchi.mp/uauoregon/tenure-clock-extension?e=b103ce406c Harvard and many other universities have already done this.

Tenure Clock Extension

On at least four occasions last week, President Sinclair and Executive Director Cecil encouraged the Provost’s Office to allow non-tenured faculty in the tenure-track to extend their tenure clock for one year at their discretion. These requests were the result of several emails and conversations from faculty requesting this extension. On each occasion, the Provost’s Office responded positively to this request and indicated that the opportunity for extension would be given soon. Unfortunately, the week ended with no such extension granted.

We are seeing that clock extensions are widespread in the academy as a response to the uncertainties all faculty face regarding their research projects right now. With travel suspended and libraries closed, conducting research is impossible for many. Of course, we’re all rising to the challenge of retooling our classes to remotely provide the quality instruction our students deserve. And many of our faculty are dealing with the sudden challenge of caring for and educating their children at home for an indefinite period.

The leadership of United Academics will continue to call for the opportunity to extend the tenure clock every chance we get until the request is granted.

Career Faculty Face Layoff or Non-Renewal

It’s early days, and some may see this report from the faculty union as alarmist.

On the other hand it’s important faculty understand what the administration is thinking, and you can’t count on VP for Strategic Communications Kyle Henley to communicate the administration’s strategic thinking on Around the O.

Full post below or see the union website at https://mailchi.mp/uauoregon/career-faculty-face-layoff-or-non-renewal?e=b103ce406c

Executive Summary: Officers of United Academics met with senior administrators to discuss current and future efforts to respond to COVID-19. We pushed admin to make a commitment to the Career faculty who could lose their jobs in the near future. The administration did not make any commitments.

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UO Foundation CEO Paul Weinhold pledges full faith & credit of $1B endowment to maintaining UO’s academic mission:

Just kidding, I haven’t heard a peep from Weinhold lately, he’s busy running a bank on the side. In any case he already promised the endowment to the IAAF to get the Track & Field Championships. The academic side can sink or swim.

Here’s Weinhold telling IAAF President Lamine Diack that if they give Lananna’s Track Town group the championships, the UO Foundation will make good any losses:

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