Half-priced Provost needs a tow.

I drove down to the Glenwood Transfer Station this afternoon to recycle some of my collection of UO Archives. Berdahl & Coltrane stuff – who cares about them now.

Couldn’t restart the Caballero. A helpful mechanic guy who was dropping off a large load of beer cans tried to help me get it going. Gas, compression, but no spark. So I called the tow truck.

A helpful recycling lady – with mask – brought me a cup of water while I waited. “It’s so hot out here, we wanted to make sure you’re OK.”

The guy from Eugene Towing told me he’d done this 5,000 times and not to worry, but this was the first Caballero. “You got that new?”

The rest is up to Joe’s Garage.

Provost Phillips to cut colleges, slash UO administrative costs by 1/2

That’s tonight’s rumor from the generally well-informed bartender down at the Faculty Club swimming pool.

It seems Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Scott Pratt is starting his well deserved sabbatical next week and there’s been no announcement for interim applicants. At least one AVP is on the job market. Concerns about the exorbitant cost of replacement hires have been given new weight by CAS Humanities Dean Karen Ford’s CAS task force report, which convincingly demonstrated the extra administrative costs of adding new colleges.

The logical next step is to reduce the administrative burden of running our existing colleges, and so Johnson Hall is considering a plan to consolidate UO’s existing schools and colleges by folding them into current CAS divisions – since CAS is widely viewed as the most functional and economically efficient of UO’s colleges.

While there is still some haggling over who will fit where, the current plan appears to be:

CAS Humanities: Schools of Music and Dance and Journalism and Communications

CAS Social Science: College of Business, College of Education, Honor’s College (?)

CAS Natural Science: College of Design, Knight Campus, Law School.

The deans of these colleges will be reassigned to teaching duties. No word on what will happen to the OtP. No faculty or students will be harmed.

Pres Schill closes closed search, appoints Patrick Phillips as provost

6/13/2019 letter to campus from Provost Phillips:

Dear Colleagues,

Although I don’t start in my role as provost until July, with the term winding down I wanted to connect now before many of you turn your attention away from campus for the summer.

First, let me tell you what an incredible honor it is to be asked to serve as provost. I thank everyone who contributed to the search process. While I am very excited to get started, I do so with a strong sense of humility born both by the scope of the task at hand and, more importantly, by a recognition of how much I have to learn about the entire breadth of the university from this point forward. The success of our university is not about any one position or person, but about the strength, knowledge, experiences, and ideas of the people who make such important contributions across all of our academic and administrative units.

I am eager to roll up my sleeves and will begin diving into key issues and initiatives immediately. Over the course of the summer and well into fall, I will host various orientation and onboarding sessions with a wide variety of campus stakeholders. Listening will be the first order of the day, and I know that each of the colleges and schools have existing plans and dreams that I am eager to hear about. One of my primary goals as provost is to make sure that we weave together previously unconnected strengths and ideas in a way that advances the institution as a whole.
The UO is a great university that can and must continue to get even better as we strive to become one the nation’s top public research institutions. It is my firm belief that our best path toward achieving this goal is to fully embrace our mission as a public university, one firmly grounded in the strengths, values, opportunities, and challenges of our very unique state.

You, the faculty and staff, are the bedrock of these aspirations, and my nearly 20 years at the UO have proven to me time and again just how dedicated everyone at the university is to the success of our research, educational, and service missions. It is only by working together, in the spirit of camaraderie and trust, that we can and will make great strides toward these goals. It is in this spirit that I will serve you and the entire academic community as the UO’s provost—always working to build trust and confidence, always seeking collaboration and innovation, while also being willing and prepared to make tough decisions.

I believe deeply in the UO’s foundation and mission as a liberal arts university and have experienced firsthand the profound benefits of the UO’s unique interdisciplinary faculty culture, and I have interacted broadly across many colleges and schools during my time here. My own educational history is grounded in the liberal arts in every dimension. Although my research has been centered in the natural sciences, I am committed to being a provost for the entire academic enterprise, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professional programs. The provost position is often described as chief academic officer, and it is the engagement of the academy as a whole that is one of the most exciting aspects of the position.

A top challenge for this—and every—university is the increasing cost of education and the rising question of whether what we do is worth it to the student. One of my top goals is to ensure that the provost’s office never loses sight of the UO’s broader mission and the fact that, in all that we do, we must serve students first through outstanding teaching, research, and service. And we do that by making sure that we are helping all students reach their full potential in terms of intellectual and professional growth. The changing landscape of higher education is an incredible challenge, but one that I think the University of Oregon is uniquely positioned to help determine.

You may have ideas, thoughts, or questions. I hope you will share them with me, and ask that you please do so via email to provosttransition@uoregon.edu.

Again, it is an honor to be UO’s next provost. I look forward to working with you, my colleagues, in this new capacity.

Patrick Phillips

6/12/2019 update: I’m sure the administration’s well paid flacks at Around the O will post the party line soon – meanwhile The Daily Emerald’s Zach Demars has a real news report, here:

After a closed-door internal search, Patrick Phillips, a professor of biology and former acting executive director of the Knight Campus, has been selected to replace Jayanth Banavar as University of Oregon provost and senior vice president. ….

“Although the UO clearly faces a number of challenges today, I believe that the only way to address these challenges in a sustainable way is to build a long-term vision of what University of Oregon can be–and should be–based on what and where we are,” Phillips wrote in his application for the position. “Specifically, we need to make sure that we capitalize on being a University in Oregon as much as we are the University of Oregon.” …

That last is a pretty good line. I wonder who wrote it.

6/12/2019: Former Interim Knight Campus Director and Biology Prof. Most of the faculty didn’t even know he was a candidate. Google scholar citations here, lab page here.

Dear University of Oregon colleagues and students,

The University of Oregon’s academic enterprise has grown and strengthened over the last few years as we have, together, worked to cement the institution’s position as Oregon’s top research university and make progress toward our aspirations to become one of the nation’s preeminent public universities. What we have achieved in this shared endeavor is quite remarkable, but our ambitions are even greater. To help realize those ambitions, the UO’s next provost needs a deep appreciation of our existing academic strengths, a clear vision for what we can become in the future, and the administrative acumen to get us there. The search for those unique-to-Oregon traits, combined with our need to act quickly and maintain momentum, were a driving force behind my decision to conduct an accelerated internal search for provost. I could not be happier with the results.

I am pleased to announce that Biology Professor Patrick Phillips will be the UO’s next provost and senior vice president. From a pool of tremendously strong internal candidates, Patrick emerged as the next provost due to his nearly two decades of distinguished service as one of the UO’s most respected faculty members, a track record of success as an administrative leader, and clear vision for what it will take for this institution to achieve new levels of academic excellence and distinction. Patrick will begin his term July 1.

Patrick, who joined the UO in 2000, is one of the UO’s most productive and prolific scientists—an expert in ecology and evolution, the biology of aging, molecular biology, and the genetics of complex traits. He has served as the director of the UO’s Institute for Ecology and Evolution, the head of the Department of Biology, and associate vice president for research. He also served as the acting executive director of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact from 2016-2018, successfully launching the most important research initiative in UO history. In that role, Patrick was responsible for leading the design and construction process for new facilities, establishing governance and educational policies, and initiating and supporting innovative graduate internship and entrepreneurship programs.

Prior to coming to the UO, Patrick was a professor of biology at the University of Texas at Arlington. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Reed College and his PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago.

Patrick has also demonstrated that he greatly values and appreciates the UO’s liberal arts foundation and long-standing history of interdisciplinary collaboration. While he is often associated with our efforts to enhance the UO’s basic and translational science capabilities, Patrick fiercely believes that achieving our academic ambitions and serving the next generation of students will require a holistic approach that requires world-class offerings from the arts, humanities, and professional programs. Patrick is committed to nourishing and fortifying the entire institution. He believes that the UO can be an unmatched catalyst for both economic development and societal good throughout our state, the nation, and the world. It is a compelling vision that I share.

The provost is the institution’s chief academic officer, charged with working with me, the deans, and the faculty to set the academic priorities for campus and for managing the human and capital resources to support those priorities. I look forward to helping Patrick hit the ground running. During the next year, we will welcome dozens of new faculty; oversee the launch of an innovative approach to student success at Tykeson Hall; open the Knight Campus; create new academic offerings in biomedical engineering and data science; plan an interdisciplinary research and teaching initiative in resilience and climate change bringing together the humanities, arts, social and natural sciences, and professional schools; and begin searches for new academic leaders in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Design, and UO Libraries. We do not have the luxury of slowing down, and I am confident that Patrick will smoothly step into the role of provost to advance those priorities and much more.

I want to thank Senate President and Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Skowron and Professor of Geography Alec Murphy, who both took time from their busy schedules to lead the search process. I also want to express my appreciation to the other members of the search committee, which was primarily comprised of members who hold a tenure-related or career-faculty appointment (TTF or NTTF) at the UO. This search was truly led by our faculty, and I believe that was a significant factor in the strength of the candidate pool and ultimately in my selection of Patrick for the role.

To help ensure a seamless and effective transition for Patrick, and allow him a brief window to wrap up and manage his current work, an e-mail account has been created for his transition. Please send any notes, questions, ideas, etc., to him at provosttransition@uoregon.edu.

Please join me in welcoming Patrick to this new role with the UO.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Pres Schill about to make “secret” decision about UO’s academic future

6/3/2019 update:

I think the most dysfunctional aspect of this secret search is that whoever gets the job of leader of UO’s academic side will not be able to make a plausible claim that they have a mandate from the faculty. The RG’s Jordyn Brown reports that UO will not even release the names of the candidates:

The UO holds that this process is “confidential,” said spokesperson Molly Blancett in a Monday email. The UO would not release the names of candidates, although they already are public employees of the university. Blancett cited Oregon’s public records exemption for personal privacy as the reason for the university withholding candidate names.

And the search committee has been told President Schill doesn’t even want to know how they rank the finalists. (Full disclosure: they did decide I was unacceptable, even at 1/2 the usual price, which shows some good judgement.)

At least 100 faculty, OA’s and staff now know the names and have read the statements from the finalists – but we are expected to keep up the charade of secrecy and not discuss them with our colleagues. This is silly.

5/16/2019: Rumor down at the Faculty Club is that the list includes:

 Patrick Phillips (Biology)

Scott Pratt (Philosophy)

Dennis Galvan (International Studies)

Marcilynn Burke (Law)

Bill Harbaugh (Economics) -as confirmed by Hannah Kanik in the Emerald.

If you have a better rumor, or actual information, please post a comment.

CONFIDENTIAL: search committee sideswipes 1/2 Price Provost run

Update: The Chronicle’s Zipporah Osei has an interview with me here (gated off campus).

Q. Do you think you would’ve been able to work with the administration, given the reputation you have with your blog?

A. Ironically, I have a very good working relationship with the university’s current president, Michael H. Schill. I think I’m actually one of his strongest faculty supporters. I’ve been serving as Senate president this year, and I was Senate president two years ago. I’ve been able to work with people in the administration to do some really good things for the University of Oregon. The most recent example would be the teaching-evaluations reform.

5/20/2019: I’m not really sure why this would be CONFIDENTIAL. I applied for the job of provost at a public university, and I didn’t get an interview. Surely that’s all public record – isn’t it?

From: University of Oregon Search <search@uoregon.edu>
Subject: CONFIDENTIAL – Thank you for your application
Date: May 20, 2019 at 11:18:48 AM PDT
To: William Harbaugh <harbaugh@uoregon.edu>

Dear Bill,

Thank you very much for your application for the position of Provost and Senior Vice President. The search committee gave very careful consideration to your application. We are sorry to inform you that you have not been selected for an interview.

We appreciate your interest in this important position and that you took the time to send us your application. Decisions of this sort are never easy, and we appreciate your desire to serve the University of Oregon.


[signed, search committee co-chairs]

I can only speculate as to why they refused to interview me. I did agree to a criminal background check, but my lawyer said that thing in Pocatello was expunged and not to worry.

Perhaps the committee has decided to take up Raghu’s 45% Provost offer?  Or maybe this student senator’s 25% offer – they clearly have a bright administrative career ahead of them:

“I will offer my bid to be “Quarter Priced Provost” and will do whatever President Schill tells me to do. I think I have a shot!”

In any case, I did get this great letter of recommendation from union president Chris Sinclair, which I’ll keep on file until the job opens up again:

Prof Harbaugh announces candidacy as “The Half-Price Provost”

5/14/2019 update:  I’ll be submitting my application tonight, and I’ll post it along with letters of recommendation. Thanks for your support.

 4/28/2019: Dear Colleagues –

I am writing to ask for your support for my candidacy as UO Provost. I’ll be submitting a full application per President Schill’s call, but my campaign platform is simple:

  1. I’m cheap. I’ll do the job for just $250,000 – half the going rate. And, since I drive a paid-off ’87 GMC Caballero, I’ll donate the $12,000 car stipend to SAIL for scholarships.
  2. I’ll keep Johnson Hall’s focus on core academic matters – not distractions like “research metrics”, faculty tracking software, Concur, and big-time sports.
  3. I think UO should tax Duck coaches salaries, not subsidize them. The tax revenue should go towards the university’s academic, cultural, and extension missions.
  4. I’m transparent. If I can’t make “Around the O” tell us what’s really happening at UO and show us where the money’s really going, I’ll keep blogging on UO Matters – but from the inside.

My only non-negotiable demand is two reserved parking spots, since my ride is a bit wider than the usual JH beemer or Prius.

Professor Parthasarathy posts Provost platform: 45% and he’ll bike in

From Raghu’s always informative Eighteenth Elephant blog. Read it all, this is just a snippet:

Our Provost at the University of Oregon has stepped down, and there’s a call for nominations for a new one. The search will be internal, i.e. the next provost will be a UO faculty member.

Bill Harbaugh — economics professor, president of the University Senate, and muckracking journalist — tossed his hat into the ring as “The Half-Price Provost,” noting among other things that he’ll do the job for just $250,000, about half the present provost’s salary, and that since he owns a “paid-off ’87 GMC Caballero” (a hideous car/truck chimera), he doesn’t need the $12,000/year car stipend that comes with the job. There are real points as well; Bill is serious about his candidacy. I think he’d be good for UO. His odds of success are pretty close to zero, though.

It occurred to me that I could be provost, and that my candidacy offers some advantages compared to Bill’s:

    • I can bid lower, offering to do the Provost’s job for 45% of the current salary. (More on this below, when the serious part starts.)
    • Though I can’t pose in front of the administration building with a pseudo- El Camino, I can similarly decline the absurd car stipend that we offer extremely well paid people. Moreover, my transportation is even more Oregonian:


Raghu’s attack on my vehicle of choice is a new low in political campaigns, although my wife agrees with him about the “hideous”, and our daughters are now calling it “Dad’s Chimera”. Apparently not everyone appreciates chromed fake wire-wheel hubcaps.

As for the salary, Raghu goes on to argue, with data, that the new provost should be paid about $370,000:

Here, I will make the serious argument that the next provost should have a salary of at most $370k.

The provost position presently pays about $489,000 per year. I was curious about the history of this gigantic salary, so I dug through reports [1] at the UO Institutional Research site. From 2008 to the present, the salary has increased enormously:


The rest of his argument is here. While I agree with it, I’m still willing to do the job for $250,000.