When and where will President Schill give his State of the University address?

Traditionally this has been in the fall in front of the UO Senate, followed by some gentle Q&A. I’m assuming that this year’s speech – which I’ll guess will mention “student success” and “innovation” at least 20 times, and include no more than 5 of the devalued “excellence” buzz-word, has been delayed until the GTFF bargaining is settled. Post a comment if you know more.

In 2017, Pres Schill tried to deliver this speech to a crowd of UO boosters at the EMU. That did not go well, though he did get an NYT op-ed out of it – after their assistant editor pushed him to revise and resubmit with more fascism stuff. In 2018 he took it off campus, paying the Eugene City Club $5K for a safe space (and delaying it until Jan 2019).


Pres Schill: Success is the new Excellence

Starting year 5, it’s time for Pres Schill to get ready for the job market by changing buzzwords. Five successes to one excellence, a new high in administrative communications:

Dear campus community members,

I am delighted to welcome all of you—students, faculty, and staff—to fall term at the University of Oregon. The start of an academic year always holds the promise of renewal and a fresh start, of making discoveries and insights, creating and re-establishing meaningful connections and friendships, and charting a new course for excellence and success.

One of the new things I am most excited about this year is the leap forward we are making in our efforts to promote student success. This is rooted in the opening of Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, a beautiful new building that sits in the heart of campus. Here first-year students can explore the UO’s 200+ majors within six different educational flight paths, helping them chart their course toward graduation, fulfilling careers, and a successful future. Nearly two dozen newly-hired academic and career advisors are located in Tykeson Hall, and they join scores of other dedicated professionals across campus to help students on their educational journey.

Success can be defined in many ways—at the UO our goal is to ensure every student graduates having had a positive experience that leaves them well educated, socially responsible, and career ready. You can learn more about Tykeson Hall and student success from a story that was recently published on Around the O.

Tykeson Hall is already busy serving our largest incoming class in history—more than 4,500 students from across Oregon, the US, and the world. This class is the most academically prepared (average high school GPA of 3.65, average SAT of 1200) and one of the most diverse (34 percent domestic minority) in UO history. As I heard time and time again during move-in day and convocation, these students have big dreams and aspirations. I am invigorated by their passion!

Speaking of new beginnings and big aspirations, this summer Patrick Phillips, professor of biology, took the reins as our new provost—the chief academic officer of the university. While he is new to this position, he is a veteran of the university, entering his 20th year at the UO. Provost Phillips has unbridled enthusiasm and focused vision for elevating our academic strengths and creating new opportunities for collaboration around the environment, entrepreneurship, and humanistic study, among other areas.

There is a lot to look forward to at the UO this year. Next summer we will open the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, a campus that has already hired faculty, created programming, and has students working as interns in scientific fields. New academic research and degree programs will be proposed shortly. The opening of the new Black Cultural Center, along with the renovations of Justice Bean Hall and the UO Health Center, will improve the living environment, experience, and services enjoyed by our students. In addition, this coming spring Hayward Field will open and immediately become one of the finest track-and-field facilities in the world.

In short, there is so much to be excited about this year. The thing I am most enthusiastic about is the people—you—our students, faculty, and staff who make the University of Oregon such a special place to learn, live, teach, and research.

I am so glad you are all here and I wish you a fantastic year. Go Ducks!

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

June 7-8 Board of Trustees meetings reveal decline in excellence metrics

As with most BOT meetings, this one is scheduled to coincide with an athletic event. In this case it’s the NCAA T&F championships. The next meeting is Sept 6-7, followed by a Duck football body-bag game against PSU.

You can go to the BOT website here and click and page through pdfs trying to find out when the BOT committees and Board are meeting this Th and Fr and what’s on their agendas. Or just use my much more convenient format:

The gist:

Thursday there will be committee meetings from 8:30 to about 2:30, with a lunch break. Friday the Board will meet starting at 8:30AM.

All meetings will be in the Ford Alumni Center Giustina Ballroom. Videos will be livecast at https://media.uoregon.edu/channel/livestream

Nothing new of substance will be disclosed, discussed, or decided in the BOT’s public meetings, unless the students force it.

So just how excellent will these meetings be? Let’s check the Board’s metrics. A quick search of the meeting materials for “excellence” gives 5 + 3 + 0 + 15 = 23, a statistically significant decline from past meetings.

The details:

Thursday Committee meetings:

Board of Trustees | Academic and Student Affairs Committee | June 7, 2018, 8:30 a.m.

Meeting materials here. Agenda:

Provost’s Quarterly Report

1. Student Conduct Code – Proposed Revisions (Action): Kris Winter, Dean of Students; Jill Creighton, Assistant Dean of Students for Conduct and Operations; Keegan Williams-Thomas, Undergraduate Student and Member of the Community Standards/Student Conduct Committee

2. Institutional Hiring Plan – Strategic Priorities and Direction: Jayanth Banavar, Provost and Senior Vice President

3. Annual Report: Student Success Initiative: Doneka Scott, Associate Vice Provost for Student Success

Board of Trustees | Executive and Audit Committee | June 7, 2018, 10:30 a.m.

Meeting materials here. Agenda:

1. Quarterly Audit Report and Consideration of FY19 Audit Plan (Action): Trisha Burnett, Chief

2. Enterprise Risk Management: Andre Le Duc, Associate Vice President and Chief Resiliency Office, Leo Howell, Chief Information Security Officer

3. Transform IT – Implementation update: Jessie Minton, Vice Provost and Chief Information Officer

Board of Trustees | Finance and Facilities Committee June 7, 2018, 1:30 p.m.

Meeting materials here. Agenda:

1. Quarterly Financial Reports: Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO

2. FY19 Budget and Expenditure Authorization (Action): Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO

3. University Housing Capital Plan: Roger Thompson, Vice President for Student Services and
Enrollment Management; Michael Griffel, Director, University Housing

4. Academic Allocation Model Implementation: Jayanth Banavar, Provost and Senior Vice President

5. Retirement Plan Management Annual Update and Policy Modifications (No Impact to
Benefits/Plans) (Action): Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO; Craig Ashford, Assistant General Counsel; Gay Lynn Bath, Retirement Plans Management Director

Board of Trustees FRIDAY, June 8 – 9:00 a.m.: 

Meeting materials here. Agenda:

– Public comment

1. ASUO and University Senate Reports
-ASUO Outgoing President Amy Schenk and Incoming President Maria Gallegos
-University Senate Incoming President Bill Harbaugh

2. President’s Report

3. Resolutions from Committee
-FY19 Budget and Expenditure Authorization (pending June 7 action by FFC)
-Amendments to Retirement Plan Management Policies (pending June 7 action by FFC)
-Amendments to the Student Conduct Code (pending June 7 action by ASAC)

4. Academic Area in Focus – Volcanology, Volcanic Hazards, and Geothermal Energy: Paul Wallace, Department Head and Professor, Earth Science; Joe Dufek, Lillis Professor of Volcanology, Earth Sciences

5. Presidential Initiative in Data Science: Bill Cresko, Professor of Biology and Initiative Director

6. IDEAL Framework Implementation: Yvette Alex-Assensoh, Vice President for Equity and
Inclusion; Victoria DeRose, Professor, Associate Vice President and CODAC Director; Lesley-Anne Pittard, Assistant Vice President and CMAE Director of Programs

7. Conferral of Honorary Degrees (Action): President Michael Schill

Mr. Lorry I. Lokey and Ms. Carrie Mae Weems.

Provost to answer questions about whatever, at 11AM Tuesday town hall

Strategic Communication’s infrequently visited Around the O website has the announcement here:

Provost Jayanth Banavar will host a spring term town hall from 11 a.m. to noon in Gerlinger Lounge on May 22.

The event is the latest in a new series of such events, designed to create dialogue around specific issues or broader topics the campus community wishes to discuss with the provost or other academic leaders.

“A quality back-and-forth between leadership and our students, faculty and staff is essential to our pursuit of excellence across all we do,” Banavar said. “There is a lot happening at the UO and it is important to both receive and share information on a regular basis.”

There is no specific topic for the May 22 event; the provost will be available to answer questions about the Institutional Hiring Plan, online education and other topics.

“I view these town halls as a place where campus community members can share what’s on their minds and begin the kinds of conversations that will foster greater understanding and partnership,” Banavar said.

UO’s 100 most excellent faculty, from Google Scholar

https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=view_org&hl=en&org=822421448073898796 ¹, ², ³


1: Some of these faculty are no longer at UO and many UO faculty have not yet claimed their pubs on Google (which is very easy to do).

2: This is a ridiculous way to measure “Research Excellence”, whatever that is. Of course if we added h-indexes, impact-factors, and grants llike Academic Analytics does, then these metrics would appear to be more credible – but would they be any more useful for deciding which department should get more faculty lines?

Rank of Excellence Name Citations Title/Afilliation
#1 David M Strom 150,153 Prof of Physics, UO
#2 Paul Slovic 147,893 Decision Research and UO
#3 Eric Torrence 136,713 UO
#4 Michael I. Posner 124,364 Prof Emeritus of psychology UO
#5 Mark Johnson 93,148 Philip H. Knight Prof of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UO
#6 Raymond Frey 82,964 Department of Physics, UO
#7 William H Starbuck 44,971 UO
#8 David A. McCormick 38,787 Prof, UO; Prof Emeritus, Yale University
#9 John Postlethwait 28,135 Prof of Biology, UO
#10 Alan D. Meyer 22,406 Prof of Management, UO
#11 Patrick J. Bartlein 21,006 Prof of Geography, UO
#12 Helen Neville 19,618 Prof, Psychology and Neuroscience, UO
#13 cq doe 18,471 Univ Oregon
#14 Dipongkar Talukder 17,694 Postdoctoral Research Scholar, UO
#15 Russell J. Donnelly 17,344 UO
#16 Linda Price 17,303 Prof of Marketing, UO
#17 Joan Acker 17,134 Sociology, UO
#18 John Bellamy Foster 16,757 Prof of Sociology, UO
#19 Jon Erlandson 15,562 Prof of Anthropology, Executive Director of the Museum of Natural & Cultural Historty …
#20 Lynn Kahle 15,535 Prof of Marketing, UO
#21 Gregory John Retallack 15,531 UO
#22 Judith H. Hibbard 14,650 Prof Emerita at the UO
#23 Sanjay Srivastava 14,642 Associate Prof of Psychology, UO
#24 Nicholas Allen 14,469 UO
#25 Brendan Bohannan 13,609 Prof of Environmental Studies and Biology, UO
#26 Greg Bothun 13,244 UO
#27 David O. Conover 12,695 UO
#28 Kraimer, Maria 12,670 UO
#29 Shannon Boettcher 12,148 Assoc. Prof. Chemistry, UO
#30 Scott Seibert 11,663 UO
#31 Jennifer Freyd 11,493 UO
#32 Michael G. Raymer 11,428 Prof of Physics, Department of Physics and Oregon Center for Optics, University of …
#33 James E. Hutchison 10,988 Lokey-Harrington Chair in Chemistry, UO
#34 Albert O. Edwards, MD, PhD 10,621 Oregon Retina, Oregon Health Sciences University, UO, Mayo Clinic …
#35 Bruce Bowerman 10,586 Institute of Molecular Biology, UO
#36 Douglas Hintzman 10,316 Emeritus Prof of Psychology, UO
#37 ulrich mayr 10,219 UO
#38 William Cresko 9,899 UO
#39 Bruce Blonigen 9,526 UO
#40 Jessica L. Green 9,371 UO
#41 Phil Fisher 9,308 UO
#42 Michael M. Haley 9,283 Richard M. & Patricia H. Noyes Prof of Chemistry, UO
#43 Christopher Minson 9,064 Prof of Human Physiology, UO
#44 T. Bettina Cornwell 9,032 Prof of Marketing, UO
#45 George W Evans 8,848 UO
#46 Gerard Saucier 8,390 Prof of Psychology, UO
#47 Louis Moses 8,232 Department of Psychology, UO
#48 Craig M. Young 8,143 Prof of Biology, UO
#49 Alice Barkan 8,123 UO
#50 Reza Rejaie 8,026 Prof of Computer and Information Science, UO
#51 Andrew Karduna 7,985 UO
#52 alan l shanks 7,793 UO
#53 Patrick C. Phillips 7,616 Prof of Biology, Institute for Ecology and Evolution, UO
#54 David C. Johnson 7,526 Prof of Chemistry, UO
#55 John R Halliwill, PhD 7,426 Department of Human Physiology, UO
#56 John Conery 7,380 Prof of Biology, UO
#57 Richard York 7,344 Prof of Sociology and Environmental Studies, UO
#58 Scott Bridgham 7,341 Prof of Biology and Environmental Studies, UO
#59 Nash Unsworth 7,336 UO
#60 Michael V. Russo 7,278 Lundquist Prof of Sustainable Management, UO
#61 Stephen Fickas 7,171 Prof of Computer and Information Science UO
#62 Trudy Ann Cameron 7,020 RF Mikesell Prof of Environmental and Resource Economics, UO
#63 Paul J. Wallace 6,853 UO
#64 Robert M. O’Brien 6,685 Prof of Sociology, UO
#65 Allen D. Malony 6,588 UO
#66 Eric A. Johnson 6,567 Associate Prof, Inst. of Molecular Biology, UO. Founder, SNPsaurus
#67 Jean Stockard 6,539 UO
#68 Ronald B. Mitchell 6,444 Prof of Political Science, UO
#69 Gordon C. Nagayama Hall 6,314 UO
#70 Leslie Leve 6,137 UO
#71 Marjorie Taylor 5,860 UO
#72 Hailin Wang 5,729 Prof, Department of Physics, UO, Eugene, Oregon, USA
#73 David Krinsley 5,614 Courtesy Prof of Earth Sciences, UO
#74 Ilya Bindeman 5,543 Prof of Geology, U of Oregon
#75 William T Harbaugh 5,457 Prof of Economics, UO
#76 Jennifer H. Pfeifer 5,456 Associate Prof, UO
#77 Yuan Xu 5,446 Prof of Mathematics, UO
#78 SJ van Enk 5,405 UO
#79 Karen Guillemin 5,343 Prof of Biology, UO
#80 Li-Shan Chou 5,294 UO
#81 Kim Sheehan 5,294 UO
#82 Ray Weldon 5,154 Prof of Geology, UO
#83 CJ Pascoe 5,082 Associate Prof of Sociology, UO
#84 Dietrich Belitz 4,982 UO
#85 Josh Roering 4,860 Prof, Department of Earth Sciences, UO
#86 Scott DeLancey 4,849 UO
#87 Sara D. Hodges 4,683 UO
#88 George von Dassow 4,658 UO
#89 Holly Arrow 4,554 Prof of Psychology, UO
#90 Douglas R. Toomey 4,448 UO
#91 Joe Stone 4,377 Prof of economics UO
#92 Daniel G. Gavin 4,328 Associate Prof, Department of Geography, UO
#93 Ken Prehoda 4,322 Prof of Chemistry, UO
#94 Jeremy Piger 4,184 Prof of Economics, UO
#95 Michael Pluth 4,126 Associate Prof, UO
#96 Victoria DeRose 4,038 Prof of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UO
#97 Elizabeth Stormshak 4,005 Prof, Counseling Psychology, UO
#98 Lynn Stephen 3,990 UO
#99 Sameer Shende 3,943 Director, Performance Research Laboratory, UO and President, ParaTools …
#100 Kryn Stankunas 3,898
Associate Prof of Biology, Institute of Molecular Biology, UO

3: Duck basketball coach Dana Altman’s RPI rank has now dropped to #89, after UO gave him a contract amendment in June that raised his buyout cost to $14M.

Faculty has wasted $600K on unused metrics data that purport to measure and incentivise excellence in Johnson Hall administrators

Or do I have this backwards? Come to the March 16 Town-Hall meeting to find out:

Dear Colleagues,

I have now been here for several months and I’ve seen some tremendous activity and enthusiasm among members of the faculty. I am continually impressed with the terrific work underway from a variety of disciplines.

The University of Oregon has an institutional mission of excellence—in teaching, in research and scholarship, and in service. Our university is able to celebrate its strengths in a large variety of academic disciplines including the liberal and fine arts, the physical and social sciences, and the professional programs because of the outstanding contributions from members of our tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty. To aid in our mission, we are creating new systems and tools, such as a new resource allocation system and the Institutional Hiring Plan for the recruitment of tenure-track faculty members. But how should we measure excellence? How should we decide which areas to target for faculty recruitment? How should we know whether we are continuously improving?

At the UO, we are in the process of developing several types of metrics to help address these questions.

I know that there are a lot of questions about what this means, and I have heard concerns that the metrics will be used inappropriately for things such as “ranking” faculty members or departments. I have also heard rumors that we will be using metrics to establish some sort of threshold at which faculty members could be “cut” if they do not meet that threshold. I want to help allay some concerns and answer some questions. As a former dean and faculty member myself, I understand how questions and even some anxiety can arise when metrics are introduced into a conversation.

Before my arrival, the UO had established a work group of faculty and staff members to make recommendations on metrics. The members committed a great deal of time and insight into this process, and I’m grateful for their work.

It is also important that we learn lessons from other institutions which have employed—or tried to employ—metrics. Without going into a lot of detail, please be aware that I am committed to studying what has worked and what hasn’t worked at other universities. This not only makes sense but is the responsible thing to do.

It is now important to move forward in our discussion. I am sure not all of your questions will be answered below, but I hope it provides some important context. If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to reach out to my office at [email protected]

We have organized our thinking around metrics in two overarching areas—operational and mission. Operational metrics objectively measure student demand and the capacity to accommodate this demand with existing instructors. This will provide initial information on capacity and need. Mission metrics help us understand how well we are collectively contributing to the university’s mission. Are we serving our students? Are we contributing to our professional fields? Are we expanding knowledge? They represent ways to understand our impact, hold ourselves accountable, and assist with allocating resources.

Mission metrics can be disaggregated into three components: undergraduate education, graduate education, and research. Some of these will look at activity and performance specific to the UO (e.g., time to degree, general participation in first-year programs) and others will look at discipline-specific information as articulated by schools and colleges (e.g., citations, publications, awards).

The process of defining local-level mission metrics must start with local units, where the disciplinary experts reside. The provost’s office will be coordinating this process with assistance from the deans of the schools and colleges. I appreciate the work being done within individual departments, schools, and colleges to develop these latter metrics. You, not I, know how best to assess quality in your area: how the College of Design assesses performance will vary from the natural sciences or law, and so forth.

We have the operational metrics in place and are currently in the process of defining the local mission metrics with input from the units. When developed, the metrics will help promote and measure excellence. A thoughtful, data-driven approach to managing investments is critical, especially in a time of constrained resources. There are terrific programs here at the UO, but there are also—as in any massive organization—pockets that may not be of the highest quality. Being able to identify both is critical for strong and effective management. It is imperative that we use not just good data but the right data to inform these decisions.

However, we of course must exercise caution in focusing singularly on certain indicators (and the movement thereof) without keeping in mind the larger reasons for which they were created. Typically, a unit that performs well across a range of metrics is likely to be excellent. But I recognize and appreciate there are a number of factors that go into that assessment, and thus I do not intend to have a prescribed set of “if-then” outcomes simply based on information gathered from metrics. While the conversation about metrics continues to unfold, I can emphatically state that these metrics cannot be used for individual personnel decisions unless they are added to the unit-level promotion and tenure and merit raise policies through the shared governance process established by the United Academics collective bargaining agreement.

As we continue our work on the development of these metrics, we welcome your advice and input. The goal is to have a mechanism for the transparent allocation of resources to maximally enhance the excellence of our university.

This is a new approach, and one that is likely to raise questions. I encourage you to share your thoughts, ideas, or questions with my office. You are also invited to an open town hall–style meeting on Friday, March 16, from 11:00 a.m. to noon in 156 Straub Hall. This town hall will be a two-way discussion on the purpose, value, and use of metrics as well as other topics, including the new academic allocation system, the Institutional Hiring Plan, and whatever else is on your mind.

Please, feel free to contact my office with any questions you may have. I look forward to seeing you at the forum.

Best Regards,

Jayanth Banavar

Provost and Senior Vice President

Admin declares student protester guilty, then starts conduct code investigation

10/17/2017 update:

I’m no law professor, but I think this is the reverse of the preferred sequencing.

Page down for the video of UO spokesperson Tobin Klinger last Friday, declaring that “the demonstration actually violated university policy”.  Today the “UO Student Collective” facebook page posts this message from Sandy Weintraub, Director of Student Conduct, calling one of the students into his office to begin the process of an investigation under the student conduct code:

On Oct 15, Senate President Sinclair wrote UO President Schill the following:

Dear President Schill:

I’ve had a number of conversations around campus with both students and faculty regarding the student protest of the State of the University address.

Here are some reflections:

The statement from Tobin Klinger to the Oregonian  that the protest was in violation of the student conduct code is unhelpful and has irritated many faculty. Faculty see Klinger as an un-academic public relations spokesperson who has little credibility with the students or the faculty. However, he is an official spokesperson, and so we assume he was speaking for the administration. As such his statement could be taken as an abrogation of due process. This removes the veil of faculty oversight of student discipline, and there is simmering resentment that this power was taken from faculty by the Board of Trustees. Any unilateral administrative establishment of discipline on an issue that revolves around speech is a hornets nest that is best left un-kicked. We do understand that it may sometimes be necessary to “read the riot act” to students to notify them (or others) that continued assembly will be dealt with under the student conduct code.

My recommendation would be to have Tobin clarify his remarks and to state publicly that the university has no plans to charge any of the students in the protest with any conduct violation. Were actual conduct charges to be brought, I do not think you would have the support of the majority of the faculty nor students, and I think the Senate would react in a manner which you would find unproductive. A couple senators have already threatened a resolution to be introduced next Wednesday; we have a busy agenda that day and I would prefer to stay on task.

As you know, I have invited [the UO student collective] to come to the Senate for a brief 5-minute presentation followed by a 5-minute question and answer period. [The UO student collective] has not responded yet. In conversation with faculty, more individuals agree that this is the correct course of action for the Senate than agree with you that this is rewarding bad behavior. I will not argue that we are not rewarding bad behavior, because I see your point, but I think more people are moved by the argument that these students have fewer avenues to air their grievances than you or I, and that this was a legitimate protest.

I have been reflecting on my formal invitation of this student group to the next Senate meeting. Had I a do-over, I would take the advice of Frances White and merely indicate to this group that the Senate is a public forum on campus and that any group of students should be able to get on the agenda (with instructions on how to do so). This would allow the students an avenue for a public conversation without officially sanctioning it. I am unwilling to rescind my invitation to the student group, but I will hold onto this lesson for future use.

Thanks for considering my recommendations and for helping find a productive way out of this tricky situation,

Chris Sinclair, Assoc. Prof. Math, Senate President University of Oregon

Meanwhile, on the same day as the protest, the administration updated its website on Time, Place and Manner restrictions on free speech. They are calling these guidelines and procedures, not policies, because they agreed last year not to implement them as a policy, after the Senate raised numerous objections.

Until 2014, the UO Faculty had responsibility for the Student Conduct code. The Board of Trustees took that away from us as part of their Delegation of Authority, helped out by the faculty board member Susan Gary (Law) who failed to notify the faculty about the power-grab.

The new student conduct code even allows the administration to modify the  procedures retroactively, and apply them to existing student discipline cases:

All revisions to Student Conduct Code procedures, including but not limited to jurisdictional revisions, shall apply retroactively to pending Student Conduct complaints, filed on or after September 11, 2014

10/12/2017 update: Student Conduct Judge Tobin Klinger finds protest violated conduct code

Just kidding. Tobin Klinger is UO’s chief PR flack, not a Student Conduct Judge. He is not responsible for enforcing the student conduct code, nor has anyone at UO conducted any sort of investigation as to whether or not the student conduct code was violated, or whether any such violation was significant enough to supersede the UO policies on freedom of speech and academic freedom.

So what in the world was Klinger doing, in his official capacity as UO spokesperson, telling an Oregonian reporter 5 minutes after the administration suspended President Schill’s speech, that

“.. the demonstration actually violated university policy…”

Speaking in my private capacity as a blogger, I think the administration can make a plausible case that it did violate the code (and the Freedom of Inquiry and Speech policy). If that case succeeds they can then discipline the students accordingly.

But that case is going to be harder to make given this official statement from Klinger, which the students can argue is prejudicial.

10/9/2017 update: Small, ineffective, and reflects poorly on the student body

The Oregon Daily Emerald editorial board rarely posts editorials. They have written a good one on Friday’s protest:

Continue reading

Senate Pres Chris Sinclair (Math) to wield ceremonial UO Mace at convocation

For some reason Around the O hasn’t announced this latest sign of the UO administration’s trust in shared governance, but the basics are at convocation.uoregon.edu:

Matthew Knight Arena | Sunday, September 24, 2017 | 3:30 P.M.

You’re invited to Convocation, an annual ceremony where all Ducks flock to welcome new students and faculty to the UO! Convocation calls together the whole campus community [except those who object to trying to build a campus community around concussions and Duck athletic crap] to celebrate the engaging, innovative, and intellectually curious environment in which our students, faculty, and staff thrive. It is one of the UO’s proudest traditions [along with the ritualistic ceremony for the firing and payoff of administrators] and the culminating event of Week of Welcome. …

We hope you will join us in this campus-wide celebration of academic excellence!

Or you will face its wrath:

UO communications issues RFP for excellent “Brand Awareness Study”

At first I read that as “Brain Awareness Study”, but no such luck. VP of Communication Kyle Henley is going  to commission a phone survey of 1900 random people and ask them if they think UO is excellent:

Full RFP/RFQ on the PCS website here. Apparently this is follow-up on a previous study which presumably was collected as part of the 160over90 branding fiasco which Mr. Henley and Diane Dietz killed, back in their younger days. I’d make a public records request for that, but what possible benefit would come to anyone from reading it?

“Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence

I thought readers might be interested in this cutting edge example of the sort of out of the box thinking that should define best practices for UO faculty:


“Excellence R Us”: university research and the fetishisation of excellence

Published online


The rhetoric of “excellence” is pervasive across the academy. It is used to refer to research outputs as well as researchers, theory and education, individuals and organizations, from art history to zoology. But does “excellence” actually mean anything? Does this pervasive narrative of “excellence” do any good? Drawing on a range of sources we interrogate “excellence” as a concept and find that it has no intrinsic meaning in academia. Rather it functions as a linguistic interchange mechanism. To investigate whether this linguistic function is useful we examine how the rhetoric of excellence combines with narratives of scarcity and competition to show that the hyper-competition that arises from the performance of “excellence” is completely at odds with the qualities of good research. We trace the roots of issues in reproducibility, fraud, and homophily to this rhetoric. But we also show that this rhetoric is an internal, and not primarily an external, imposition. We conclude by proposing an alternative rhetoric based on soundness and capacity-building. In the final analysis, it turns out that that “excellence” is not excellent. Used in its current unqualified form it is a pernicious and dangerous rhetoric that undermines the very foundations of good research and scholarship. This article is published as part of a collection on the future of research assessment.

President Schill on UO, excellence

From his “Open Mike” emails:

Dear Colleagues,

As I look at my calendar, I am excited about the start of the new academic year and eager to welcome our students back to campus. While every fall brings a fresh opportunity for us to build upon our high aspirations for the university, this year is especially thrilling. We have a year of strong momentum at our backs—fueled by the arrival of new academic leadership and brisk faculty hiring; the launch of the Oregon Commitment for student success and on-time graduation; strong research collaborations reported almost daily in Around the O; the creation of new diversity and inclusion initiatives; the opening of the renovated EMU; the achievements of our athletes on campus and in Rio; and our passage of the halfway mark in our $2 billion campaign. The enthusiasm on campus is palpable.

In my “sophomore year” as president, I will not slow the pace of progress. In fact, we must accelerate our work to ensure that the new initiatives we have begun are successful and fully realized. As many of you may remember, in my investiture speech last June I talked about how important it was for our university to constantly strive for excellence in everything we do—particularly in our work to create new knowledge and to pass this knowledge on to our students.

But what do I mean by excellence? Some members of our community hear the word “excellence” and yawn—treating the word as a noun with no content. However, I strongly believe that while it may be difficult to define in a few sentences, excellence does indeed mean something and must guide us as we move our university forward. I was once told by a very wise mentor to be careful of people who believe that there is only one type of excellence and that they know what that is. Excellence in an educational institution can take many forms and be found in virtually all of our disciplines.

Indeed, at the UO I see excellence around me every day. With respect to research, I see faculty members in the humanities and social sciences filling my bookshelves with extraordinary books that examine the history of religion and gender, the determinants of social movements and language, or the economics of trade and the politics in the United States. From our professional schools, I read books that probe environmental legal issues, analyze global markets, illuminate media trends, display wonderful art and design, and I listen to CDs of beautiful music—all created by members of the UO faculty. I read (or try to read) articles authored by our faculty on genetics and molecular biology, green chemistry and high energy physics, algebraic geometry, and exercise physiology. I host dinners with faculty members who have earned early career research grants, been inducted into the national academies, and earned recognition and honors for their books and publications. Their accomplishments take my breath away.

I also get to celebrate excellence in teaching. I sometimes have the opportunity to sit in on a lecture where I can hear firsthand a faculty member’s mastery of a subject. I have also had the privilege of surprising faculty members in their classrooms with distinguished teaching awards to the applause of students. And perhaps most significantly, I have talked one-on-one with so many students about faculty members who have changed their lives by opening them up to new worlds and insights.

Does the fact that there are different types of excellence mean that all scholarship is equally important or that excellence can only be found in the eye of the beholder? Of course not. Our profession guards excellence with peer review. While we at the University of Oregon certainly get to weigh in on what is excellent, we also look externally to our disciplines and our peers to ensure that we have sufficiently high aspirations that are undistorted by personalities, politics, or self-interest. The surest way to mediocrity is to tell ourselves that the metrics widely adopted in peer review don’t apply to us. While objective indicators such as those provided by the AAU, Academic Analytics, or the National Research Council may not always put us in a flattering light, the appropriate response isn’t to ignore or disparage them. Instead, where the indicators are appropriate we should redouble our efforts to get better. And where the indicators are inapt, we should strive to understand where they fall short and supplement them with other indicia.

As for me, as many of you have come to understand, I hold traditional academic values. Academic excellence is built on research faculty members who are ambitious and productive scholars like so many I have met over the past year. Excellence is reflected by peers who read what we write and find it valuable. Excellence is reflected in productivity, in the striving to create knowledge, and in the desire to transmit knowledge to the next generation. Excellence is reflected by success in getting peer-awarded research grants, recognition, exhibits, and lectures. As we build our faculty, it is this excellence that I will seek to encourage and promote.

One way that we will build academic excellence is to retain our outstanding scholars and recruit more extraordinary professors, researchers, and graduate students to the university. In the sciences we need to provide the facilities that will make possible discovery and invention. In the nonscientific fields, we need to find ways to expand seed support for research, summer support, and, where possible, teaching relief. We need to make sure that merit-based compensation truly rewards merit. And we must break down any barriers that exist to doing what we have always done best—interdisciplinary research.

In short, we need to incentivize excellence throughout our university. Last year we made a number of decisions that reflect this commitment. The Graduate School allocated new graduate fellowships to departments that had strong records in on-time degrees, placement, and student satisfaction. New faculty hiring was focused in departments with high productivity and clusters with strong academic leadership. In the coming year, the new financial model will reward departments that both attract students and reflect excellence in research productivity.

Our state deserves a world-class flagship university devoted to the principles of academic excellence. I will do everything in my power to make that happen. I invite all of you to join me in that endeavor. If you have further ideas about what we can do to support this mission, please send an e-mail to [email protected] I look forward to the coming academic year and wish you a wonderful start to the fall term.