2/28/2014 update: The word down at the faculty club breakfast buffet is increasing dismay over President Gottfredson’s dismissive response to the Blonigen report, particularly that word “endorsing”.
2/21/2014 update: President Gottfredson and Provost Coltrane have now posted their response to the Blonigen report, here. While they now acknowledge the need to address UO’s dysfunctional research policies and practices, they give only the slightest nod to the serious problems regarding VP Espy’s leadership that are raised in the report. They’ll acknowledge “areas of discontent”, but they will not acknowledge that failures of leadership created the discontent. Gottfredson thinks the faculty will believe him when he says “the report endorses the overall approach and efforts of Vice President for Research”? This is not the message of the Blonigen report, and this is not the “truth and reconciliation” we need from Gottfredson and Coltrane in order to move forward:
… We appreciate that the report endorses the overall approach and efforts of Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Kimberly Espy and the RIGE staff. When Dr. Espy arrived on campus in 2011, she faced an array of challenges affecting research office operations and our research mission. The report and the appendices cite the notable accomplishments of the office since 2011, and endorse RIGE’s current direction. The report also identifies areas of discontent and opportunities for improvement in research oversight. We recognize the value in highlighting these concerns and we are committed to addressing them to strengthen research at the UO. In this regard, the report provides us with a valuable framework to consider as we move forward. …
Michael Gottfredson, President
Scott Coltrane, Provost
2/19/2014: This originally came up in the Senate last year as a motion for a vote of no confidence in VP for Research Kimberly Espy. The Senate decided we needed more information and proposed a review of Espy. Under pressure from the administration this morphed into a less pointed review of Research, Innovation and Graduate Education in general. I explicitly asked if the review committee could return with a recommendation that UO needed a new VP for Research, and was told yes, that would be a potential outcome. Senate minutes here. President Gottfredson’s charge to interim Dean for Social Science Bruce Blonigen was more general, calling for a review of UO Research and RIGE. The committee had some trouble getting started, and ended up noticeably light on science PIs.
The report is now out, here, supplemental material here (page to bottom for Espy’s powerpoints), the motion is here, and for history Geri Richmond’s 2013 “Research Advisory Report” is here, and a link to the 2011 Huron report is here. I don’t have time to dig through this just now, informed comments from those who do would be very welcome.
5PM today is the deadline to file a motion for a vote of no confidence at the 3/12 Senate meeting (but they typically give a day or two grace period, and of course the Senate Exec can add a motion up to a week before the meeting.)
Update: From the report (emphasis added). While the report apparently hasn’t yet been posted on the RIGE or President’s website, or made it to “Around the O”, Senate President Margie Paris sent it to senators this morning. My view is that this is a balanced report that explains the tough situation Espy inherited, but then pulls only a few punches when explaining point by point how she has failed to deal with UO’s existing research problems, while adding many new problems of her own creation. There is more than enough here for people to make an informed vote on a motion of no confidence in VP Espy:
RECOMMENDATION 4: The communication and collaboration issues between RIGE and a number of important research communities at the UO need immediate attention. As discussed in the report, there is a wide spectrum of communication and collaboration experiences between RIGE and various groups on campus. This ranges from good working relationships to some that are clearly broken. There were enough concerns and issues that our committee recommends they be addressed in ways that go well beyond simply a call for renewed efforts for improved communication and collaboration; indeed, these issues appear to be the main impetus for this report. This is an urgent matter and will need direct attention and substantial leadership from the Provost and President in determining the best course of action.
RECOMMENDATION 6: Inform UO community of responses to this report. Many of the major themes in this report can be found in the prior reports by the Huron Consulting Group in 2011 and the Research Advisory Panel, a special committee that was organized by and reported to Provost Jim Bean, in 2013. Although there are indications that the administration has taken some actions to respond to the findings and recommendations of these reports, they have not been publicly communicated. In order to avoid another review by a special committee in the future, we strongly advise a plan to publicly communicate responses to this report.
… The repeated statements of consternation and confusion among almost all groups we interviewed about the internal policies, procedures, and practices of RIGE show an ongoing problem with transparency, which has generated a widespread lack of trust in RIGE’s dealings with the campus community. RIGE has made a number of substantial decisions regarding research activity in the research areas of the RIGE leaders, particularly the formation of the Prevention Sciences Institute, without any formal processes for oversight, except for ultimate oversight by the Provost. In order to reestablish confidence, there should be systematic and regular reviews of RIGE at the administrative level, both for the VP of RIGE and for the members of the RIGE leadership team. There should also be clear and explicit processes for oversight, particularly for issues where there may be conflicts of interest.
This is a kick-ass report. The simplest interpretation of “In order to reestablish confidence …” is that there currently is none. This will make for an easy Senate vote, and the rest of the report is full of sensible and constructive proposals for moving forward.
2/22/2014 update: According to the comments, VP Espy put her $1.25M house on the market yesterday, 2 days after the Senate report went public.