A great day for civil rights

9/19/2011: Off topic, but too important to ignore. Gays and lesbians can now serve openly in the US military. Army letter here. Photos of service members openly enjoying their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, with a little of the 2nd amendment too, here. Meanwhile, the Marines have already secured a beachead: “At first it’s going to be kind of shock and awe.”

UO appoints Interim Director, Diversity Education and Support

9/15/2011 update:

I asked Mr. Martin for the AA documents on this hire. After a very little back and forth, I got them. They give convincing reasons for the interim appointment. This is a big improvement from the way UO used to handle these things. And I made a comment to Mr. Martin saying that.

9/6/2011: Notice of appointment here. I didn’t know we had such a position – which is apparently outside both OIED and OMAS but involves similar objectives. The old job description is here. The former Director, Jason Rodriquez, left UO for a similar job at Linfield in May.

I have no reason to doubt that the new person is anything but an excellent hire. But this is another UO diversity appointment done without a public posting of a job opening or an affirmative action compliant search – just as was done for Charles Martinez back in the bad old days. Bad precedent to follow.

Presumably the person making this appointment, Assistant Dean Chicora Martin, obtained a special exemption to the regular affirmative action rules from AAEO Director Penny Daugherty. Why? Rodriquez announced he was leaving back in May. This seems like plenty of time for following the objectives of affirmative action: make the job opening public, solicit applications broadly, consider all qualified candidates on their merits, and be able to defend the process in public.

Sustainability and Diversity

8/30/2011: Sustainability and Diversity are college administrators’s favorite buzzwords. Here’s UO doing something sensible on sustainability: spend $10 million on energy saving features for buildings that will save $500,000 a year in utility bills and reduce pollution. (But read the comments.)

So, what would a sensible approach to increasing diversity at UO look like? Stalin himself couldn’t make these 5-year plans work. Can Russ Tomlin do better by putting specially trained “faculty search advocates” on hiring committees?

UO’s new "Diversity and Inclusion" hire

Update: How public will this search really be? The ad ends with

All communications will be treated confidentially.  Nominations, inquiries, and applications (including a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and the names of five references) should be directed electronically in confidence to UOregon-VPEI@divsearch.com.  For further information, please contact: Kim M. Morrisson, Ph.D. Managing Director and Practice Leader …

I’ve got a request in to find out if a state agency can really keep this stuff confidential. From what I read in Attorney General Kroger’s handy online public records manual, I don’t think so. The contract with the firm “Diversified Search” is here. From what I can see from the job posting archives, the only UO searches promising confidentiality are the ones they have ran. And then there’s this, from the contract appendix:

“Transparent nature of our search process?” Umm, whatever you say.

8/30/2011: The job ad is up for a replacement for OIED head Charles Martinez, who will have double-dipped his last as a UO VP as of Sept. 15. Now Mike Bullis and the Ed School will have to deal with him – enjoy!

The administration originally said his last day would be tomorrow, but then they gave him another 2 weeks, ostensibly to give him time to train Robin Holmes as interim VP. I’m not bitching, after the millions that Martinez has blown doing nothing, another $10K or so for doing more nothing is not going to be noticed.

When we get a new hire it will be the first time in 5 years that UO’s diversity efforts will be run by someone hired through an open, public affirmative action compliant search. Martinez was appointed on the quick by Frohnmayer and Moseley, to help cover up the discrimination lawsuit Moseley lost. This time, we are paying a search firm $100,000 to not screw this up. It took a year and many public records requests to get UO to actually write a job description for Martinez. Then it took another public records request to get the search committee head, CAS Dean Scott Coltrane, to release the hilariously overblown top-secret draft of the new position description:

This report has been prepared exclusively for the University of Oregon and includes sensitive information. The use of this report should therefore be controlled and limited to those concerned directly with this assignment.

Nice try, but the whole thing is currently posted online here. The job ad is considerably more concise:

The VPEI leads efforts to identify gaps in equity across the University, promoting access and equal opportunity for students, faculty and staff and equity in the policies and procedures that support them.  In addition, the VPEI plays a key role in the achievement of progress on key priorities: faculty recruitment and hiring; student recruitment and retention; strengthening of recruitment pipelines; and reorganizing the Equity and Inclusion Office to support faculty, school, department and unit diversity efforts across campus. 

No crap about pointless “5 year diversity action plans” for once. My suggestion? Don’t hire anyone. Charles Martinez’s OIED spent $903,587 last year – that’s just counting salaries and administrative overhead for his office, not program costs. For comparison, in 2009-10 UO awarded $1,706,250 in need-based financial aid, and another $2,086,425 in need-based tuition waivers. So we could dump the OIED administration (while keeping OMAS, the Longhouse, etc) and have enough money to increase UO’s support for low income students by 25%. 

How to diversify UO

8/22/2011: I don’t like the apparent narrow focus on racial and ethnic diversity in this paper, in comparison to a more inclusive definition that includes first in family to go to college and SES. But I suspect the message extends. As reported by Insidehighered.com:

A paper presented here Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association found that black and Latino students with academic credentials equal to those of white students are slightly more likely than their white counterparts to apply to and enroll at selective colleges. 

The finding, the paper’s authors say, suggests that those who want more minority students at elite colleges need to focus not so much on colleges’ policies but on improving high schools (and the entire K-12 system) so that more black and Latino applicants have similar academic credentials to their white counterparts’.

… Many elite colleges face considerable pressure to expand their outreach efforts to attract more minority students, or to consider changes in admissions policies. But Goyette said that the data in the new study show that those efforts — while laudable — may not have a huge impact, given that the central issue appears to be the relatively small number of black and Latino applicants with academic backgrounds comparable to those of white students. “The most effective way” for top colleges to enroll more black and Latino students, she said, is to improve high schools that serve black and Latino students.

Obviously universities are not going to take over K-12. Teaching 9th graders is a long hard day and if it’s easy to do well I sure haven’t figured it out. But UO can increase support for programs like SAIL, which focus on helping low SES students of all races to do well in HS and prepare for college.

OSU, OUS will spare no buzzword:

8/10/2011:  OUS had a whole meeting devoted to
Equity and Diversity last month. I challenge you to read the docket and come away with
any sense for what they will actually do to address the real problems of college access for low SES Oregonians. OUS will do nothing, except for have more meetings, appoint a task force, blather on, and piss away student tuition money on themselves and some consultants.

Meanwhile, a friend from OSU passes along the announcement below. Not a word as to what will actually be done, but that’s not really the point with these sorts of administrative positions, is it? What counts is to use every buzzword. But he left out sustainability – he would never get an administrative job at UO.

Dear colleagues,

As outlined in a statement made by President Ray on May 31, 2011, I was asked to assume the role of Interim Executive Director of Equity and Inclusion with responsibility over the Offices of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Community and Diversity, and Women’s Advancement and Gender Equity effective July 1, 2011.  Part of this new role involves envisioning a more holistic and cohesive approach to the work of equity, inclusion, and diversity.  As efforts to design and implement an integrated agenda that encompasses what were three separate agendas continue, my intent, and the desire of staff members in these offices, is to be collaborative in shaping that agenda and to be transparent, keeping members of the university community well-informed.  To learn about details as they develop, please visit the Equity and Inclusion website: http://oregonstate.edu/oei


Angelo Gomez, Interim Executive Director
Office of Equity and Inclusion
526 Kerr Administration
Oregon State University
Phone: 541-737-3556 

Transparent? His office won’t even post OSU’s affirmative action plan.

draft VP for Diversity job description posted for comments

7/15/2011: Here. It’s a mix of the usual complete bullshit and some hopeful signs that we might actually hire someone who will make some progress on these important issues.

The best part is that when the administration decides we are still “under-administered” and need a VP for Sustainability, they can save a bunch of money by skipping the high priced consultants and doing a quick search and replace of sustainability for diversity on this thing.

A modest proposal

7/14/2011: Charles Martinez’s OIED spent $903,587 last year – that’s just counting salaries and administrative overhead for his office, not program costs. Add another $100,000 to cover the cost of hiring a search firm to find a competent and honest replacement for him.

For comparison, in 2009-10 UO awarded $1,706,250 in need-based financial aid, and another $2,086,425 in need-based tuition waivers.

So we could dump the OIED administration (while keeping OMAS, the Longhouse, etc) and have enough money to increase UO’s support for low income students by 25%.

UO pays $100,000 for Diversity VP search

7/13/2011: to the “Diversified Search Odgers Berndtson” firm. $75,000 so far, and we don’t have a job description yet. From their prospectus letter:

The draft I saw today – it will be posted here on Friday – was a hodgepodge of the usual platitudes – prepare a new “5 year Diversity Action Plan”! But first, pay us $75,000.

It seems like a pretty straightforward search contract though, download here. UO has plenty of diversity money for everyone to get their cut – let’s just make sure there’s nothing left over for low income student scholarships.

Affirmative Action Law

7/11/2011: Richard Kahlenberg has a good roundup of recent events, at the Chronicle, followed by this interpretation:

Historically, the “diversity rationale” for affirmative action was an important strategic advance for supporters of the policy. The original “remedial rationale”—that racial preferences were necessary to correct for a history of egregious discrimination—suffered from a built-in time bomb, becoming less persuasive as the history of slavery and segregation receded into the past. The diversity rationale, by contrast, suggested that the educational benefits of having a diverse class were compelling irrespective of the nation’s history of discrimination, thereby extending the life of affirmative-action policies.

But the diversity rationale now faces its own ticking time bomb: the idea of “critical mass.” In Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t say universities could employ racial and ethnic preferences to achieve proportional representation of groups, only that they could employ preferences to create a critical mass of students necessary to enhance discussion. In Grutter, critical mass was satisfied in a class that had a combined black and Hispanic representation of 14.5%.

In the UC system, however, Latinos alone now constitute 26% of the incoming freshmen class, without any use of racial or ethnic preference. To be sure, California’s general population is more diverse than most states, and the elite universities within the UC system are less diverse than the system as a whole. But the demographic change sweeping the country will, over time, reduce the need for affirmative-action policies to create a critical mass of minority students.

Proponents of affirmative action, perhaps sensing this reality, advanced a new argument in a recent challenge to affirmative action at the University of Texas: suggesting that the critical mass requirement applies not to a college as a whole but to every classroom. This notion, however, is unlikely to fly with the U.S. Supreme Court—just as the challenge to Michigan’s affirmative-action ban is unlikely to be sustained. For those of us who care about racial and economic justice in higher education, the nation’s dramatic demographic changes hasten the need to find viable alternatives.

The last link takes you to Kahlenberg’s book that advocates replacing race and ethnicity based programs with programs base on socio-economic status. This approach has been anathema at OIED under Charles Martinez. We’ll see what the new Diversity VP will be like. Given what I’ve heard at the “visioning sessions” run by Scott Coltrane and Robin Holmes I’m not optimistic. Holmes will soon be going from co-chairing the search committee to collecting a nice stipend as Interim Diversity VP, while Martinez is simultaneously double dipping at OSLC for a few more months. The current setup is a gravy train for too many administrators.

Meanwhile, check out the latest from Senior VP for Academic Affairs Russ Tomlin – “Faculty Search Advocates” trained to push a narrow racial/ethnic/gendered view of diversity, then put on faculty search committees. I’m guessing Russ has already blown the cash equivalent of 5-10 full ride scholarships for low SES kids on this bullshit – none of which is incorporated in UO’s AA Plan. Which the law requires.

Do the math Russ – the faculty is representative of the available pool of PhD’s and has been for years. It’s Johnson Hall that has a problem. Like when Joe Wade sued Moseley and made Frohnmayer create OIED. Or like when Lariviere appointed Jim Bean provost without bothering with an AA compliant search. Speaking of which, was there a search before Tomlin was appointed VP? I sure can’t find anything.

A flawed PR move

6/26/2011:  The Oregon Daily Emerald editors shred President Lariviere’s proposal to give Jefferson HS students free tuition:

Though we appreciate the effort and applaud the attempt to aid in Oregon’s ailing public education system, there are significant problems with the proposal and certain planks of it make for a sad public relations move. …

If the problem is with first-generation students succeeding, a scholarship could be offered to first-generation students. If it’s with engaging low-income areas, work could be done with the other universities in the state to promote similar programs in those areas.
But avoid blowing smoke around assisting students at one school as solving the first-generation student crisis in Oregon.

The PR problems associated with the football team have offered a valuable lesson: sometimes, it’s best to just tell the truth.

I’d given this proposal a quick look, but the ODE editors dissected it and rejected it. This is a serious editorial. What are the chances the questions it raises will get a serious response from outgoing Diversity VP Martinez, incoming one Robin Holmes, or President Lariviere?

On being an unwilling "poster boy" for "diversity" initiatives

6/23/2011: UO is in the process of hiring a new Diversity VP, though at this point Dean Coltrane’s search committee has not put out a position description and he will not respond to requests for a copy of the draft. President Lariviere has just sent out a letter explaining that current VP Charles Martinez will be allowed to collect an additional 2 weeks salary, while he gets Robin Holmes up to speed as interim VP. Presumably this is an overload job for Ms Holmes.

Rumor has it that all sorts of new deck chair arrangements for OIED, OMAS, etc. are receiving full administrative consideration. Meanwhile, Penny Daugherty, AAEO Director, will not say when her office is going to send UO’s new Affirmative Action Plan to Lariviere for his signature, which is due July 1st. As we have reported before, the current AA data shows UO’s faculty is generally representative of the pool of racial and ethnic minorities and in terms of gender. (While the UO higher administration is not.)

But for better or worse, the academic diversity business – and it is a lucrative business not just for Martinez but for search firms and consultants, details later – is as much about perceptions and anecdotes as data. On that note, Brian Leiter’s well known philosophy blog posts the perceptions of one frequent “diversity candidate”, Lionel McPherson from Tufts. Interesting reading about the personal effects of the efforts by top schools to diversify their faculty. One more reason why “fill the pipeline” is a better approach to getting a more diverse faculty, on whatever dimension of diversity you think is important.

UO offers free tuition to low SES Portland students –

6/18/2011: This is a great idea. From the Oregonian editorial board:

With college costs rising at alarming rates, this week’s offer from the University of Oregon to Jefferson High School graduates is a stunner: Free tuition. …

Last week, the University of Oregon announced a partnership with Portland Public Schools and Portland Community College. Jefferson students who earn a full year of college credit at PCC during high school or after graduation will be offered a three-year tuition scholarship to the University of Oregon. These students also must meet the UO’s admissions requirement of about a B average, and they must be eligible for federal Pell grants.

Generally speaking, students from families earning less than $50,000 are eligible for Pell grants. In a district with a 45 percent poverty rate, that covers a significant share of kids. 

UO’s racial, ethnic, and gender diversity hiring problem.

6/7/2011: I’m not a big fan of defining diversity on those narrow grounds. But it you are, the UO faculty are not the problem, the UO administration is.  

If you look at page 29 of UO’s Affirmative Action Report, you will find that UO’s tenure track faculty is representative of the national pool of qualified minority applicants (i.e. minorities with PhD’s) for every academic category except Music (2 short). For females, Business was 2 short, and Natural Sciences 12 short. Small numbers, given that we’ve got about 750 TT faculty.

The UO Administration, on the other hand, is 3 short on minority executives, and 2 short on women. This is out of maybe 20 execs total?

For senior administrators, UO is 9 short on females. There’s no big mystery for this: many of UO’s administrators are inside promotions, hired without competitive, open, affirmative action compliant searches. President Lariviere has changed this for new hires, but the old guard are still here, sucking on the state’s sugar tit, as Huey Long would have said. Faculty, on the other hand, are hired only after public notice of a job opening, and rigorous open searches.

Most people are surprised to learn that the UO faculty *are* representative racially. When you look around campus, it is surprising there are so few minority faculty at UO. How can we possibly be representative – it seems absurd. The answer is simply that there are so few minority PhD’s in the national hiring pool.

Given this, efforts by UO to recruit minority faculty are just moving scarce minority faculty from one university to another. And probably moving them away from schools where the opportunities to mentor minority students were larger. Our gain is their loss.

So efforts on faculty recruiting – which have been the primary focus of UO’s diversity expenditures for years – may make people at UO feel like they are doing something, but they are not addressing the fundamental issue, for UO and for our country at large: too few minority PhD’s.

This is why we need a “fill-the-pipeline” approach, and why it is important to start young: to put people in the pipeline who would not otherwise get there. Will our new VP for Diversity take this approach?

Diversity of thought at UO

6/5/2011: UO student Ben DeJarnette adds some diversity of thought to his education – with a joint class with Oregon State Penitentiary inmates. From his Op-Ed in the RG:

… As universities do somersaults to achieve diversity in their student bodies, the Inside-Out experience should force us to question what that diversity ought to look like.

The current model stresses diversity of race, gender, sexuality and nationality. Perhaps these are important. But more important is the very ingredient that seems forgotten in universities’ melting pot: diversity of thought.

At the Oregon State Penitentiary, ideological diversity helps drive the success of Inside-­Out. The operation is low-budget, but flashy computers do not ensure dialogue, and projector screens cannot replace fresh ideas. When it comes to classroom dynamics, the penitentiary and the Inside-Out program are doing education right.

I’d like to see the University of Oregon follow suit.

Ben DeJarnette of Mechanicsburg, Va., is a journalism student at the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College.

I met with the search firm looking for UO’s new VP for Diversity, and went to 2 of the 5 “visioning sessions“. At one session someone actually said she assumed the new hire would be African-American, since the current one was Hispanic. The chair of the search committee made a point of saying that he had hired a woman owned search firm. Window dressing tokenism. But I don’t remember diversity of thought being mentioned once. This is not a new problem. For a focus on the political angle, see Dan Lawson’s CS Monitor piece here. Some UO reactions here.