StratComm VP Kyle Henley leaving UO for USC

From Pres Schill’s letter:

“He brought our branding and marketing efforts back in house.”

That he did. As for

During his tenure, communications helped to increase transparency and understanding of the university’s priorities and efforts through the creation of the platforms focused on tuition setting, student success, Title IX, budget and finance, equity and inclusion, economic impact, faculty hiring, workplace communications, and more. He leveraged our reputation as an athletic powerhouse and host of global competitions to highlight our strengths in academics, research, student experience, and our bucolic location. In short, Kyle and his team have been instrumental in helping us articulate and highlight our impact and success as an outstanding modern public research university.

I’m looking forward to similar letters from our President lauding the minority faculty who have left over the past year, or are leaving this year.

How many faculty jobs will UO’s Hearts & Minds consultants cost?

4/24/2020 update:

The median UO faculty makes about $70K a year. How many of them will have to lose their jobs to pay for these consultants? I don’t know, let’s find out:

From: Bill Harbaugh <[email protected]>
Subject: PR request for “Public Opinion Research”
Date: April 24, 2020 at 5:14:03 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <[email protected]>
Cc: Kyle Henley <[email protected]>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for a copy of the contract awarded under

RFP for Public Opinion Research RFP Number: PCS# 500100-00251-RFP, and for a copy of the contract for the successful bidder.

The PCS website says that this RFP was closed on Jan 22, and lists it under awarded contracts.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest. I’m ccing VP for Strategic Communications Kyle Henley, as he should have this document readily available and be able to provide it without your office’s usual fees and delays.


Bill Harbaugh
[email protected]

Johnson Hall & Trustees to rerun LBJ’s Hearts and Minds campaign 2/18/2020: Some well-paid UO administrators, presumably with the support of our puzzled Board of Trustees, want to hire a consultant to help them win “the battle”, even if it requires a “multi-year integrated public education and advertising initiative that uses emotional appeals, personal stories … to improve perception, mobilize support and a feeling of pride for the university amongst Oregonians …”

They need to pay a consultant ~$200K to tell them why the good citizens of Oregon don’t want to pay for Phil Knight’s football factory? Yes, apparently they do:

What are we paying the people involved in this?

“O” brand indoctrination starts for new students as $256,138 VP Kyle Henley’s metrics fall

Despite all this “O” crap, internet interest in UO has fallen to the point were it’s now barely distinguishable from Oregon’s sister flagships:

But hey – the brand is great for athletics and Nike. Here’s our $256,138 VP for Communications with some anecdotes about the O brand, on the Duck Athletic department’s GoDucks.Com website:

KYLE HENLEY, UO vice president for university communications: As the O began to take root, it became something more than a symbol for athletics. It’s a perfect symbol, because it can represent athletics but also an O can encompass lifelong learning. It can instill a sense of community, which is something that we hear from people – that they can find their place here. There’s so many elements of what our brand is and what we stand for that the O encompasses.

This is one of the most powerful brands within higher education, and we’re incredibly fortunate that we have this symbol that really does represent one thing in the athletics realm, but which has come to represent our excellence and everything the institution stands for academically and from a research perspective. You walk around other countries and see people with an O on their hat, and immediately have this connection, a shared experience and a shared identity, and a shared appreciation for the institution.

We’re in an incredibly enviable position.

Sure. If by “we” you mean VPs hoping a little brown-nosing will get them a job at Nike.

Pres Schill denies VP Henley’s gag orders violate Academic Freedom Policy:

Reporting a potential violation of UO’s Academic Freedom Policy:

Pres Schill’s response to an inquiry from the Senate President and Past President:

From: Mike Schill <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Reporting a potential violation of UO’s Academic Freedom Policy
Date: May 29, 2019 at 9:35:40 AM PDT
To: Senate President <[email protected]>, Jayanth Banavar <[email protected]>, Kevin Reed <[email protected]>

Dear Bill,

I do not believe that there is sufficient evidence here to warrant an investigation of Kyle Henley. I have asked Kyle what he meant when he asked Dave to request that all media inquiries go to Molly Blancett. His response was that he wanted there to be a consistent response about what the provost was proposing so that rumors filled with inaccuracies didn’t spread. While the cuts we have been required to make are expressed in dollars, they will, by necessity, be felt by human beings. It is very important that accurate information be given to the media and thereby transmitted to potentially affected individuals.

I believe Kyle when he states that he never meant for this request to silence dissent on campus with respect to the wisdom or necessity of the cuts. Indeed, we have encouraged folks to give us their views even when those views have been inaccurate, insulting and/or entirely infeasible. Kyle joins me in his belief in the value of free speech and respectful, robust debate on campus, even when that speech is critical of Johnson Hall.

Kyle’s explanation rings true with me so I am rejecting your request for an investigation.

I appreciate your commitment to free speech.



Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law
University of Oregon

My request:

From: Senate President <[email protected]>
Subject: Reporting a potential violation of UO’s Academic Freedom Policy
Date: May 28, 2019 at 8:16:26 PM PDT
To: Mike Schill <[email protected]>, Jayanth Banavar <[email protected]>, Kevin Reed <[email protected]

Dear President Schill, Provost Banavar, and General Counsel Reed:

We are writing as UO Senate President and Immediate Past President, to report a potential violation of UO’s Academic Freedom Policy by VP for University Communications Kyle Henley.

UO’s Academic Freedom Policy was adopted by the UO Senate on 4/9/2014 and signed by then UO President Michael Gottfredson on 5/28/2014. The full policy is appended below.

This policy states:

“… The University of Oregon encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to the university community. The University of Oregon protects free speech through Policy No. 01.00.16. This policy on Academic Freedom builds on these existing commitments by recognizing the special contexts of scholarship, teaching, governance, and public service. …

c. POLICY AND SHARED GOVERNANCE. Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance.”

The email below, sent on 4/11/2019 by the Provost’s Office Communications Director David Austin at VP for Communication Kyle Henley’s request, to Angela Wilhems, Provost Banavar, and Exec Provost Scott Pratt, directs them to email the directors of the Labor Education and Research Center, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, states

“Kyle [Henley] wants to make sure that people from these areas don’t “freelance” and talk to the media about their frustrations.”

The email goes on to tell these Directors to run media inquiries through Central Communications – meaning Mr. Henley’s office. This sort of warning to administrators not to speak freely to the press is exactly the sort restriction on academic freedom that UO’s Academic Freedom Policy is meant to prohibit. The policy says

“Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance.” (Emphasis added.)

Restrictions such as that imposed by this email prevent the university community and the public from obtaining accurate information about the governance of the university, and they reduce trust in the university administration. As President Schill in his 5/17/2019 “Open Mike” email put it,

“Transparency is the best policy. Whenever possible administrators should be as forthcoming as possible, subject to the privacy rights of members of our community.”

I ask you to investigate this potential violation of the Academic Freedom Policy, determine if there have been other similar violations by Central Communications, and take appropriate disciplinary actions to discourage further such violations.Bill Harbaugh
UO Econ Prof & Senate Pres

Chris Sinclair
UO Math Assoc Prof & Immediate Past President of the Senate

Austin email:

VP for Communication Kyle Henley limits communication and trust

The email sent on his behalf below would seem to go against the advice in President Schill’s Open Mike from last week, which said:

  • Transparency is the best policy. Whenever possible administrators should be as forthcoming as possible, subject to the privacy rights of members of our community.

as well as UO’s Academic Freedom Policy, which states:

The University of Oregon encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues as they present themselves to the university community. The University of Oregon protects free speech through Policy No. 01.00.16. This policy on Academic Freedom builds on these existing commitments by recognizing the special contexts of scholarship, teaching, governance, and public service.  …

c. POLICY AND SHARED GOVERNANCE. Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for the email:

VP for Communication Kyle Henley still uncommunicative on “brand awareness” contract


From: [email protected]
Subject: Public Records Request 2018-PRR-370
Date: May 8, 2018 at 4:25:54 PM PDT
To: [email protected]


Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

Records responsive to your request, made 5/2/2018, for “copies of any proposals submitted to RFQ for Brand Awareness Study…” are exempt under 192.355(9), as an award has not yet been made. As such, the University does not possess any records responsive to your request for “…any ensuing contract”.

You may seek review of the public body’s determination pursuant to ORS 192.411, 192.415, 192.418, 192.422, 192.427 and 192.431.

The office considers this to be fully responsive to your request, and will now close your matter. Thank you for contacting the office with your request.


Office of Public Records
6207 University of Oregon | Eugene, OR 97403-6207
(541) 346-6823 | [email protected]

5/3/2018 update: More than a month now. Maybe another public records request will shake something loose from Henley:

Begin forwarded message:
From: Bill Harbaugh <[email protected]>
Subject: PR request attempt #2 for Brand Awareness Study proposals and contract
Date: May 2, 2018 at 8:26:07 AM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <[email protected]>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for copies of any proposals submitted in response to
RFQ for Brand Awareness Study
University Communications, University Communications > Digital Communications, and Purchasing & Contracting Services
PCS# 520200-00134-RFQ
Which closed on Dec 22 2017.
And any ensuing contract.
I will post these on the internet at a site frequently visited by journalists and others interested in UO matters, and I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.
I’m ccing VP for Comm Kyle Henley, as he should have these documents readily at hand and is well compensated for helping UO communicate with the public.

Bill Harbaugh

4/24/2018 update:

Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

The University has searched for, but was unable to locate, records responsive to your request. The office has been informed that this RFP is in progress but has not yet been awarded.

The office considers this to be fully responsive to your request, and will now close your matter. Thank you for contacting the office with your request.


Office of Public Records

Huh? “unable to locate” proposals?

20 21 22 23 24 25 days and counting for a response from Mr. Henley to this public records request:

Requester: Harbaugh, Bill
Organization:  Private
Initial Request Date: 03/30/2018
Status:  Requesting/Reviewing Records

This is a public records request for copies of any proposals submitted in response to RFQ for Brand Awareness Study – University Communications, University Communications > Digital Communications, Purchasing & Contracting Services PCS #520200-00134-RFQ which closed on Dec 22 2017.

I will post these on the internet at a site frequently visited by journalists and others interested in UO matters, and I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest. I’m ccing VP for Comm Kyle Henley, as he should have these documents readily at hand, and is well compensated for helping UO communicate with the public.

Request ID: 2018-PRR-344

What’s this about? Henley needs to show the Board and President Schill that all the money he has spent on branding and communications – money which could have been spent on teaching, research, and scholarships for our students – has increased “brand awareness”:

Given UO’s falling enrollment numbers and the unremarkable google trends data for UO’s brand under Henley’s watch, this will be a difficult task. Presumably the winning brand consultants will be well paid for some creative spin that makes this look good:




Ojai Music Festival calls on Eugene Mayor to help OBF secede from UO

9/22/2017: Bob Keefer has the latest in the EW here:

Thomas W. Morris, artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival in California, has urged Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis to help the beleaguered Oregon Bach Festival secede from the University of Oregon and become an independent non-profit organization.

In a letter emailed today (Sept. 22), Morris wrote that the sudden and unexplained firing of OBF artistic director Matthew Halls on Aug. 24 harms not only the Oregon Bach Festival but hurts the image of Eugene itself. …

Uh, thanks for trying to help Mr. Morris, but the City of Eugene couldn’t even manage to keep the Jacobs Art Gallery open, or run the Mayor’s Art Show.

Also see this RG letter from longtime UO supporter Tom Bowerman:

I agree with the bulk of written commentary about the University of Oregon’s dismal explanation of Matthew Halls’ dismissal. My position began to solidify on reading UO’s written explanation, which seemingly explained nothing.

There is a pattern here and it has consequences, especially regarding some of the fiscal and reputational costs to the university. My thought in reading the UO’s explanation was: How much does the public relations team get paid for type of work? And the settlement costs?

Couldn’t these costs, across the broader pattern, in the millions, be better spent on education quality? …

And the UO PRO has now updated the PR log with some recent requests from journalists for more Bach docs.

9/18/2017: Did OBF’s Janelle McCoy run a harassment investigation on Matthew Halls?

If so it would probably be a violation of UO policy (see below), which requires that those receiving “credible information” of racial harassment report it to AAEO, which then decides on the investigation, etc. And yet the most likely interpretation of this new NYT report regarding the grits joke and the implications for the Bach Festival of the subsequent firing of Halls is that Ms McCoy decided to investigate Mr. Halls herself:

Mr. Mobley said he had thought no more of it until several days later, when he got an email from Ms. McCoy asking about the conversation, which had apparently been overheard and reported. “These insensitivities should not be tolerated,” she wrote in the email, which was obtained by The New York Times.

Mr. Mobley replied to her that while the broad outlines of the story were true — Mr. Halls had indeed spoken in a drawl — it was “not quite put together correctly.” He noted that he and Mr. Halls often teased one another.

“Trust me,” he added, “it’s been a couple patrons and audience members who’ve unknowingly said pretty insensitive things. Not Matt.”

The story was picked up by British media outlets. But Tobin Klinger, a spokesman for the university, said that the conversation with Mr. Mobley had not been a factor in Mr. Halls’s firing. And a lawyer for Mr. Halls, Charese Rohny, said that Mr. Halls “was never presented with anything that required a response” regarding any inquiry before he was fired.

Given Klinger’s truthiness record, his statements get a weight of 0.00, and reporters are making public records requests to try and find out what really happened. UO has not been listing these requests on the official log – a new low in official UO transparency, and one which perpetuates the selective leaks, official innuendo, and unofficial rumors which have characterized this mess.

The last OBF request was Bob Keefer’s, for the Halls contract and termination letter:

The relevant policy is here. Some excerpts (emphasis added):

III. Responsible Employees Reporting Obligations

Except as provided for in the Student Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Complaint Response (Student Complaint Response Policy), Responsible Employees who receive Credible Evidence of Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment or Sexual Harassment involving an Employee, Student or Campus Community Member are required to promptly report that information as follows:

1. If the Credible Evidence relates to Sex Discrimination of a Student, Responsible Employees should report any information received to the Title IX Coordinator or to the Office of Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services. (Note: The Student Complaint Response Policy applies to information disclosed by a student reporting sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual violence. That policy may provide for different reporting obligations depending on the status of the employee receiving the report. Employees who receive reports of sex discrimination (including sexual harassment and sexual violence) against a student should reference the Student Complaint and Response Policy in order to determine their reporting obligations.)

2. In all other instances, Responsible Employees should report any information received to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO).

Employees should be aware that AAEO is tasked with ensuring compliance with this policy and state and federal law.  Therefore, while AAEO will work with employees, students and campus community members to ensure that they understand their complaint options, are protected from retaliation and are provided with interim measures as appropriate, AAEO employees are not advocates for individuals participating in the process.

The relevant definitions in the policy are:

A. Prohibited Discrimination is defined as any act that either in form or operation, and whether intended or unintended, unreasonably discriminates among individuals on the basis of age, race, color, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, religion, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or the use of leave protected by state or federal law. “Unintentional discrimination” is a concept applicable only to situations where a policy, requirement, or regularized practice, although neutral on its face, can be shown to have disparately impacted members of a protected class. The concept is inapplicable to sexual or other forms of harassment which, by definition, result from volitional actions.

B. Discriminatory Harassment is defined as any conduct that either in form or operation unreasonably discriminates among individuals on the basis of age, race, color, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, religion, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or the use of leave protected by state or federal law and that is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it interferes with work or participation in any university program or activity, including academic activities because it creates an intimidating, hostile, or degrading working or university environment for the individual who is the subject of such conduct, and where the conduct would have such an effect on a reasonable person who is similarly situated.

H. Credible Evidence: Credible Evidence is evidence of the kind that prudent people would rely on in making personal or business decisions, which is not obtained: (1) during public awareness events (For example, “Take Back the Night,” and “survivor speak outs”);  (2) as part of an Institutional Review Board-approved human subjects research protocol focused on Prohibited Discrimination; or (3) in the context of a required classroom assignment. (Note: If a faculty member believes that a classroom assignment may illicit a disclosure that would trigger obligations under this policy, the faculty member should make clear to students that an account provided in response to a classroom assignment, without more information, will not result in the university taking any action in response to the disclosure. This means that the university will not investigate the incident, offer interim measures or otherwise take step to remediate the behavior.)

K. Campus Community Member: Campus Community Member means a person participating in a university-sponsored program or activity, attending or wanting to attend an event on university owned or leased property, an independent contractor or vendor, a volunteer, a person applying for admissions, a person applying for employment, or a campus visitor or a person living on university-owned property. The term Campus Community Member excludes Employees and Students.

9/15/2017: RG calls for UO Trustee Ann Curry to investigate Matthew Halls firing

“Bach Debacle”, here:

…  UO President Michael Schill could appease both groups of stakeholders by appointing a handful of university regents — perhaps headed by television journalist Ann Curry — to investigate. That, after all, is their job — to “supervise, coordinate, manage and regulate the UO,” a public university that, at least in this matter, is operating in a very private mode.

If, as the UO asserts, Halls’ firing had nothing to with the remark that he made to Mobley, the investigation can confirm as much. That would go a long way in restoring people’s lost faith in the UO.

Conversely, if it turns out Halls was fired because of the remark, the investigation would give the university the opportunity to come clean, hold accountable those who spun a different story and take the appropriate action to start anew with OBF.

Finally, if Halls — a private contractor, not a UO employee — was fired for crossing some ethical line, the investigation would bring that to light, too. …

And if the latter should be true, they could explain why whatever it is that Halls did was so bad he had to be fired immediately, but not so bad that UO could agree to keep it secret from his other current and potential employers.

9/13/2017: UO to pay Matthew Halls $90K for non-disparagement & gag-rule

The agreement is here. The RG’s Saul Hubbard has much more on this deal here.

It includes a promise by UO to give Halls 24 hours notice of public records requests. I’ve heard rumors of a request to UO for emails etc that might shed light on why whatever it was that Halls did was so bad he had to be fired immediately, but not so bad that UO had an obligation to warn his other employers and potential employers.

But so far there’s nothing in the Public Records Office log except the RG’s request for the contract and termination letter, which Hubbard posted earlier. So until new light has been shed on this, we’re stuck with the hypothesis that he was fired for disparaging comments about southern cuisine.

9/13/2017: UO to pay Matthew Halls $90K for non-disparagement agreement and 24-hour gag rule:

That’s from tweets from NY Times classical music and dance reporter Michael Cooper:

9/12/2017: Bach Festival’s fate passes from Blandy and the PR flacks to the lawyers

Continue reading

UO Business School seeks buzzword-free diversity advisor to help students

Unfortunately our VP for Student Affairs has a bigger budget, and will pay an $8K premium for someone who’s willing to talk the talk, rather than walk the walk.

Which job do you think will do more for UO’s students?

Job A: 8/30/2016: LCB seeks Academic Adviser and Diversity Initiatives Specialist

Lundquist College of Business, Undergraduate Programs

Salary range at 1.0 FTE is $45,000-$52,000 plus the Standard University of Oregon benefit package.

About the Position

The Academic Adviser’s primary responsibility will be to provide academic advising services to a racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse population of undergraduate students pursuing business degree programs. This will include providing small group and individual advising, meeting with prospective students and their families, and utilizing technology to communicate with College of Business students.

Additionally, this position will work in conjunction with the LCB Program Director for Equity and Inclusion on the Building Business Leaders (BBL) Program. BBL is a cohort-style program designed to attract and retain more minority students within the Lundquist College.  Students participate in a two-term seminar as a freshman and then graduate to the CEO program in their later years. The purpose of the cohort is to support underrepresented minority students through the completion of the pre-business curriculum by building a small, supportive learning community that fosters collaboration, leadership, teamwork, and academic excellence. The program is going into its seventh year and has become one of the most widely-recognized organizations of diverse, exceptional leaders on the UO campus. For more information about this program, check out

This position will coordinate with the LCB Program Director for Equity and Inclusion Services to represent students and the needs of the Undergraduate Advising Office on College and University-wide committees.

The successful candidate will be experienced in advising, preferably at the college or university level; have excellent presentation skills; demonstrate a history of providing services to diverse constituencies; and demonstrated experience in creatively using technology to convey information.

Job B: 7/28/2016: VP for Student Life seeks Assistant Strategic Communicator for Buzzwords

Requirement #1 is a working knowledge of every imaginable administrative double-talk buzzword, with the notable exception of academic excellence. Reports to the VPSL’s Director of Strategic Communications. Job ad here:

Anticipated Starting Salary:   $50,000-$60,000 commensurate with experience

Excellent Benefits:  Health and dental, employer-paid retirement, tuition benefits for employee or an eligible dependent, and sick and vacation leave.

Who we are:

The Division of Student Life provides and promotes exceptional and transformative experiences that prepare students to be healthy, successful, inspired global citizens.  Within collaborative and inclusive communities that embody the values of diversity, innovation, and social justice, we actively facilitate experiential learning and engage students in meaningful and deliberate activities, programs, and services. …

Our values and goals:

The Division of Student Life values and is committed to integrity, multicultural competence, care and compassion, sustainability, innovation and adaptability, accessibility, personal development and responsible stewardship. We have three key strategic goals: create an exceptional experience for every student, serve as a model of equity, inclusion, and collaboration and work to maximize effectiveness and efficiencies, prioritizing decisions using evidence-based analysis.

VP Holmes not only didn’t write her July 2014 letter to the RG denying UO’s basketball rape allegations coverup – that was the job of PR flacks Jennifer Winters and Rita Radostitz and team leader Roger Thompson – it’s not even clear if she read it:

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.28.06 PM

New VP Kyle Henley takes branding bull back from 160over90

Some good news. Just seven months ago, as part of a series on UO’s “What the F” branding campaign, the RG’s Diane Dietz got this quote from Chuck Lillis, the Chair of UO’s Board of Trustees:

Lillis, the inaugural chairman of the UO board — and $14 million donor to the UO business college — is squarely behind the 160over90 campaign. “We can’t spend $3 million more intelligently than this,” he said recently.

Fortunately new VP for Communication Kyle Henley thinks we can. As his email below explains, 160over90 is not working for UO any more, and they are not going to get the other $17M that Lillis was apparently prepared to spend on their branding [redacted].

Instead, Henley sketches out a centralization and in-house shift for UO communications, designed to save money. Maybe even enough money to support President Schill’s academic excellence plans? Of course the expensive Duck athletic department’s communication operation is exempt, and Tobin Klinger keeps his well paid job sending out “No Comment” emails to reporters. FWIW, here’s the latest google trends data. Searches for UO in green, vs. a few comparators. Worth the $3M we paid 160over90? I’m not sure I even see a blip.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 11.24.28 PM

From: University of Oregon <[email protected]>
Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 at 12:01 PM
To: Univ Communications – All Staff <[email protected]>
Subject: Communications Integration


I hope all of your holidays were fantastic and that 2016 is off to a good start. At the beginning of a new year, I am so optimistic and excited about the progress we have made in building the division of University Communications in such a short time and about the opportunities that are ahead of us. You’re a talented group of communications professionals who are doing wonderful work on behalf of UO, and I’m honored to lead this team and work alongside you.

I want to let you know about some significant developments in University Communications that we are rolling out this week. President Schill has charged University Communications with integrating communications operations from the other vice presidents’ units into our central communications operation. I have had conversations in the last few days with members of the university’s executive leadership team and with our University Communications directors about this plan.

This is part of a university-wide focus on aligning our resources and operations with the university’s strategic priorities and goals as stated in the president’s email to campus Broad decentralization across the university has weakened the UO’s abilities to achieve administrative coordination, predictable budgeting and realize economies of scale. It is a challenge in communications, IT, HR, budgeting and elsewhere. Addressing this issue through smart and well-planned integration strategies in a variety of areas is one of many steps the university will be taking in the coming weeks and months as we focus on improving coordination and efficiency across the university.

For us, it’s pretty simple. Starting now, those in marketing, graphic design, public relations, writing and web development positions who currently report to a vice president within the administration will jointly report into University Communications. Over the next six months, the directors and I will work with the other vice presidents to ensure a smooth transition process from a management, HR and budgeting perspective. Beginning July 1, 2016, these communications positions will permanently report directly to University Communications. In most cases, individuals will continue to sit within their respective units and remain content experts, but they will be part of our management infrastructure and have greater access to communications resources.

A couple of caveats – Communications directors in enrollment and student life will be joint reports with University Communications and their respective units. I plan to have them join our leadership team, but their staffs will continue to report up through their current structure. Athletics is not included in this integration plan, but will remain connected to communications as they are now.

There are a lot of details that need to be worked out and many of you will have questions about this. I have some, but probably not all, the answers, and I’m happy to discuss your concerns and answer questions. We’re going to talk more about integration during our all-staff meeting on Friday, but I want to make a few things very clear – our priority is to improve coordination, collaboration and strategy across the board. Our priority will be to improve the central communications support to other administrative units throughout the university. Our priority will be to rein in expenses by aligning communications work with strategic priorities and by working to reduce the need for outsourcing.

This integration effort is not about cutting costs by reducing staffing within our shop or within any of the administrative units. Our priority and focus is on improved collaboration, coordination and service.

To launch this effort, I am making some changes within the University Communications management structure to help us successfully realize this integration strategy. As I’ve told many of you, I am not going to hire another AVP for branding and marketing. Instead, I’m asking people to step up within a flatter management structure to help us build the organization we need. Those moves include:

· I’ve asked Ann Weins to manage an expanded Marketing and Branding portfolio. This will include all of our graphic designers (including those coming in from other units), advertising and partnership marketing, and licensing and branding. Ann will be charged with ensuring that our branding efforts maintain strong momentum even though we are no longer using 160/90 and that the brand continues to be rolled out across the university. This is a massive effort, an institutional priority, and will require her full attention. I want to thank Ann for her willingness to take on this new, important challenge.

· I’ve asked Jonathan Graham to take on the role of editor of Oregon Quarterly. He’ll do this under the leadership of George Evano, who will head up Alumni and Development Communications. Ultimately, Oregon Quarterly’s primary audience is UO alumni – Alumni Association communications also reports to George – and this move will create opportunities for greater alignment and coordination of our efforts to engage this important audience. George will now report directly to me. Oregon Quarterly is an amazing channel that is the envy of universities nationally. That must continue, and I’m tremendously confident in the ability of both Jonathan and George to maintain and grow the publication’s reputation for quality and excellence.

· Jennifer Winters will lead our Internal Communications program. Under this new structure, she’ll continue to serve as our executive communications lead and manage a team that includes communicators from academic affairs and human resources. Internal communications is increasingly important at UO, and Jennifer will be responsible for helping us break down traditional silos to rethink the way that we engage faculty and staff. She will also continue to manage President’s Office communications.

· Tobin Klinger will continue to lead Public Affairs Communications, although we may elect to change the name of this group of communications pros. He will serve as our university spokesperson and crisis communications counselor, while taking on management of staff from other administrative units. This support will be critical as he and his team transform Around the O into one of the nation’s premier digital communications platforms within higher ed. ATO is good, but we must aggressively work to make it better. We have amazing content, we have powerful channels, and we must build ATO into a tool that reaches out into the world – regardless of what traditional journalism is doing – to tell the UO’s story of academic and research excellence. This is a big lift, my expectations are high, and I’m confident Tobin has the vision and leadership to help make it a reality.

· Zack Barnett’s world will become significantly more complex as we start to integrate digital communicators and web developers from across campus into his shop. As we move to bring consistency across the UO’s digital platforms – no small job – Zack will also continue to lead visual communications, social media and e-communications strategy for the university. Going forward, he’ll report directly to me.

OK, deep breath, lots to take in (that may have been more for me than for you). Let me just say that this is not something that has happened in the last few days. These moves reflect themes and priorities I’ve been talking to all of you about since the first day I stepped foot on campus. Integration reflects the themes and priorities of our university president. A lot of discussion, analysis and planning has taken place in the last few months as we’ve moved toward this day.

As I’ve said before – I don’t have all the answers. There will be questions, concerns and challenges that we’ll need to work out as we move forward. But we have solid leaders within this department that care about the University of Oregon and that care about each of you. I have no questions that, together, we will overcome the challenges and come out of this transition stronger, more nimble and unified behind a mission of telling the stories that position UO to succeed and thrive in the future.

Thanks for all that you do. Go Ducks!


Kyle Henley
Vice President, University Communications
O: 541.346.2329 C: 541.972.0222
[email protected]

Greg Bolt saves Around the O from Tobin Klinger and Tim Gleason

“Around the O” is the official UO blog that Bob Berdahl, Scott Coltrane, and Jim Bean paid former Journalism Dean Tim Gleason to start, to counteract the baleful influence of UO Matters:

Gleason took the money, but he didn’t deliver:

But now it’s all good. Instead of Gleason, UO has a new communications VP, Kyle Henley. And now Greg Bolt is in charge of Around the O. And it’s way better. No more Klinger crap. No more potentially defamatory posts from Tim Gleason. And lots of interesting science reporting from Jim Barlow:

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New VP Kyle Henley cuts off Clevenger’s 160over90 branding cash

10/13/2015: That’s the latest from the faculty club – no more money down this hole. It’s nice how even the rumors are more optimistic at UO these days.

But don’t forget how much effort it took to end this, if it’s really ended: public records requests, a petition to the DA after UO’s General Counsel told the PRO office to stonewall, then a full blown five story investigative report from RG reporter Diane Dietz, and a lot of UO donors asking “What the F” is our university wasting money on now?

9/16/2015: New VP Kyle Henley drops in on 160over90, asks how Clevenger blew $5M

That’s the rumor from the SOJC profs watching Mad Men reruns down at the faculty club tonight. Meanwhile VP for branding Tim Clevenger has been moved out of JH, to a suite far, far away from campus. We’re still paying him $209.625 a year though. Fire Clevenger and UO could hire, say, 2 new Human Physiology profs, with money left over for startup. Or give 15 full-ride scholarships to Oregon National Merit Scholars, including dorms and meals.

So which is it gonna be, Mr. Henley?

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Here’s hoping our new general counsel Kevin Reed can also find a way out of the 160over90 contract, which UO’s misnamed Public Records Office is still hiding from the public.

Meanwhile Mike Schill is off to the Pendleton Roundup, to see how branding is really done. Keep the iron hot and make your mark, Mr. President:

8/26/2015: Tim Clevenger to get the boot for 160over90 branding mess?

The rumor from a generally well-informed source down at the faculty club is that I’m not the first person who’s heard of Google Trends, and that Clevenger’s branding campaign is failing on other metrics as well. Meanwhile hits to the Crap-Free UO Homepage (TM) are way up.

8/19/2015: Tim Clevenger’s $5M 160over90 branding campaign fails Google buzz test

A few years ago the UO Economics department invited Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian out to give a talk to our undergrads. Among the topics was Google Trends, which lets you compare how often people search for different search phrases across time. Very interesting, the slides are here.

Try it here. Here’s what you get if you compare the frequency of searches for “university of oregon application” with searches for a few of our competitors in the market for undergrad students. Blue for Colorado, red for Arizona, yellow for Oregon State, Green for UO, and purple for last year’s BCS champions Ohio State:

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If there’s any impact from the rollout of UO’s $5M “What the If?” branding campaign, which started in March 2015, it would take a pretty creative econometrician to make the t-stat significant.

Oh well, there goes that $5M. Here’s hoping our donors will cut off UO’s $207K-a-year AVP for branding Tim Clevenger and $5M 160over90, and redirect those generous gifts towards, say, teaching and research.

Also no apparent effect from football. The Ducks win, the Beavers lose, it really doesn’t matter.

For more on UO’s branding and how hard UO tried to hide the public records showing how much we spent on it, check out Diane Dietz’s stories in the RG, links here.

And in response to comments here’s the last year of weekly data – noisier, and some spikes that may well be from football, but I still don’t see the branding buzz:

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Tim Clevenger and 160over90’s $5M “We If” brand campaign loses award to Tyler Junior College’s registration video

You can’t make this shit up. Thanks to an anonymous reader for the link. 160over90 was also in a 4-way tie for second place in the not very prestigious “Individual Sub-Websites” category:

University of Oregon – University of Oregon “Explore If” website

This website was built as a special landing page to accompany the new “We If” commercial. The commercial directs viewers to, where they can explore each individual story that is featured in the commercial in an interactive way. The Rose Bowl and National Championship bowl games provided an excellent platform to launch a new 30-second TV spot for the University of Oregon. …

I wonder how CASE, which does a lot of good work, ended up supporting this ridiculous contest. These ads make lots of money for UO’s branders and PR flacks like Mr. Clevenger, who costs UO more than, say, two new physics professors. But even if they were done well they’re not about helping academics. They’re about providing cover for Duck athletic director Rob Mullens and his coaches, so they can continue to exploit UO’s tax-deductible status to increase their own paychecks by claiming big-time sports doesn’t just sell beer, it also helps UO’s academic mission. Tell that to Jane Doe. Here’s hoping UO’s new VP for Communications Kyle Henley puts a quick end to this nonsense.

New VP for Comm Kyle Henley to represent UO, or just the Ducks?

9/7/2015: Silly question. He’s paid to be the athletic department’s sacrificial anode.

It took the UO Public Records Office a month to provide his resume and the justification for changing the job from Associate VP to VP. They claim they didn’t have to provide his resume, but only did it because he agreed to. I’ll extrapolate that this new hire is not going to be the sort to deal with UO’s fundamental transparency problems.

Another bad sign is that the hiring committee was mostly PR flacks:

  • Tim Clevenger, AVP For Communications, Marketing and Brand Management
  • Jennifer Winters, Director of Public Affairs, Presidential Communications
  • Rita Radostitz, Director of Strategic Communications, Student Life
  • Zack Barnet, Director of Digital and Social Media
  • Kelli Matthews, Instructor, Public Relations

If this job was really to “… foster relationships and transparency among students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, as well as media, community leaders, and other constituents” as President Schill wrote, then why not put some of those constituents on the search committee?

My prediction is that Mr. Henley soon burns his credibility with the press, trying to explain away the latest tax deductible Duck extravagances and the heavily redacted documents that UO releases after the forthcoming athletics scandal.

But maybe he’ll surprise. The search docs that Greg Stripp’s public records office was willing to release are here:

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8/20/2015: Initial reports suggest that my skepticism about this guy is unwarranted, and that he may be the person to shake up UO Communications. Details on the way. Meanwhile UO’s Public Records office is still sitting on my request for his job description and hiring info, which really isn’t doing him any favors on the transparency dimension.

8/10/2015: UO hires Kyle Henley from CSU as new VP for Communication

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Job number one will be to write a press release explaining why UO is spending its money hiring PR flacks instead of faculty.

We’re paying strategic brander Tim Clevenger $209,625, and he’s just an Associate VP. This new hire will cost ~3 faculty slots. No wonder the well is dry.

While “Around the 0” says “Henley has been the assistant vice president for strategic communications at CSU, where he focused on promoting academics and research,” it looks to me like Henley’s main job was promoting their new $235M football stadium. Uh-oh.


Dear Colleagues,

As many of you have heard me repeatedly say over my first month as president, my top priority is to build the academic program and reputation of the University of Oregon. It is vital that we not only grow the faculty by adding great scholars, but that we promote the work that all faculty members do here to the outside world.

The University of Oregon has a wonderful reputation as a world-class institution. Strengthening our capabilities to promote the university―specifically related to academics and research―will further enhance our standing within the higher education community, help attract even more extraordinary students, support our fundraising goals, and bolster efforts in the area of faculty hiring. I am therefore pleased to announce that I have changed the institution’s organizational structure to create an independent University Communications office, and I am appointing Kyle Henley as the new Vice President for Communications.

Kyle is joining the University of Oregon in early September. He comes to us from Colorado State University, where he served as assistant vice president for strategic communications and led successful efforts to enhance communications related to academics and research. He’s an innovator with a track record of delivering results and effective advocacy among key external audiences. Kyle will provide counsel, vision, and leadership in our communication efforts to help foster relationships and transparency among students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, as well as media, community leaders, and other constituents.

I would very much like to thank Vice President for Advancement Michael Andreasen for his willingness to oversee communications over the past two years. The office has thrived under his leadership. However, as we move into the crucial stages of our ambitious $2 billion fundraising campaign, this frees Mike up to focus on development, alumni affairs, and government relations. In conversations with Kyle and Mike, we have agreed that, in the interest of achieving efficiencies, the new University Communications office will continue to receive operational support―such as IT and HR functions―through University Advancement.

I am thrilled to have Kyle join the University of Oregon and lead our talented team of communications and marketing professionals. Please join me in welcoming him to the UO community.


Michael H. Schill