UO kicks off Constitution Day festivities with warning from Prof Frank Stahl

Sorry, long post, which includes a letter on internal threats to the principle of shared governance from Professor Emeritus of Biology Frank Stahl, and information on the 2012 threat from the administration to dissolve the UO Senate and Faculty Assembly.

Five years ago on Dec 15th 2011 the UO Faculty Assembly ratified the UO Constitution, codifying the roles of the Senate and the Faculty Assembly in shared governance. President Lariviere signed it on Dec 15th, as his last official act:


To mark the 5th anniversary, Professor Emeritus of Biology Frank Stahl sent this letter on his concern that the closed Faculty Advisory Council may subvert the open processes of the Senate:

On Constitution Day, the Old Man Reflects on Governance

The University of Oregon Charter dictates that the President and professors share the responsibility for governing the University: “The President and professors constitute the faculty of the University, and, as such, shall have the immediate government and discipline of it and the students therein…” (Oregon Revised Statutes, ORS § 352.010; originally section 14 of Law No. 9, Oregon Laws 1876)

Over the years, University governance drifted away from the requirements of the Charter, until, in November, 2008, a letter from the Oregon Department of Justice (DoJ) (www.uoregon.edu/~assembly/dirSF/dirExtra/DOJOP6735.pdf) condemned the UO’s entire governance structure as being in violation of that law.

The DoJ letter prompted the University to create a University Senate with governance authority (and broad membership) subject to oversight by an Assembly (comprised exclusively of Statutory Faculty). These governing bodies, and the relations between them, were defined in a Constitution that prohibited the Senate from delegating any of the governance authority entrusted to it.

UO Constitution, Section “7.1 … The governance authority conferred upon the University Senate may not be delegated in whole or in part to any officer or committee of the University Senate or to any other body.”

However, the Senate does appear to have delegated governance authority to its Faculty Advisory Council. This Council (FAC) has all the trappings of a branch of governance and is insulated from all oversight (December 15, 2015, Senate meeting). Officially, the FAC is charged with being “…responsible for providing the President and other Administration officials with faculty opinion and counsel on the wide range of university affairs.”  It is composed of elected faculty members, the Provost and Assistant Provost, the ASUO President and a couple of elected Officers of Administration as well as the Senate President and Vice President and, of course, the University President. It is allowed to operate in secrecy. The FAC’s charge naively states, “The FAC is purely advisory…”

But, what is the reality of the FAC?  Its composition gives it the gravitas of a governance body, and the FAC has labeled itself as a component of governance: “It [the FAC] is a key arm of shared governance.” (End of year FAC report, June 2013.)  One might say, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck … “

Harm to the Senate: By looking like a powerful secret body, the FAC attracts governance activists. In so doing, it starves the Senate of candidates, weakening that body. The harm done to the Senate doesn’t end there.

Conflicts of Interest: As ex officio members of the FAC, the Senate President and Vice President are confidential advisors to the University President. At the same time, the Senate Officers have been elected, by the Senate, to openly serve the Senate in its role as the channel by which the Faculty can make its wishes known and acted upon. Do you think that being in service to both the President and the Senate creates the potential for conflict of interest?  You can bet your old Nike AJs it does!

Presidential Interference in the Senate? An early, post 1996, Senate President asserted (to me) that a University President sought to manipulate Senate activities by pressuring him.  Later, in 2002, a President pressured the individual Senators (http://www.dailyemerald.com/2003/02/20/assembly-opens-iraq-dialogue/) to forgo both debate and voting on a certain resolution.

Subsequent examples of apparent presidential interference in the operations of the Senate are only inferred and best left unsaid.  However, the charge of interference gains credibility by the recent public testimony of a former Senate President that the University President does, indeed, interfere with the Senate (at 2:18;50 of the video at https://youtu.be/qn1T21TlS_0?t=2h8m2s).

      The President is, of course, free to influence the Senate by making his views known. He can efficiently do that by addressing the Senate in open forum. (That’s why the Constitution made him a non-voting member of the Senate.)  But influence becomes interference if the influence is concealed under a cloak of confidentiality, which is handily available in the FAC.

What can the Senate do to help secure a future for open, shared governance? Deep-sixing the FAC would be the best solution. The gains in the goal of transparent, constitutional governance are obvious. The losses include the FAC members’ weekly(?) hot lunch in the JH conference room.

         A less draconian step would be the removal of Senators from the FAC. This simple step would both reduce the FAC’s temptation to act as a governance body and would eliminate the lever by which the President can exert cryptic control of the Senate. It would also relieve the Senate Officers of the obligation of performing as Confidential Advisors to the President, freeing them to more fully serve the Senate.

The future of our Constitutional shared governance depends on acceptance of the Senate as the University’s sole body of internal governance. The Senate can achieve that acceptance only by freeing itself from control by the FAC. Go, Ducks!

Speaking for myself, I disagree that there is a conflict between faculty participation in open shared governance via the Senate and the closed (but elected) Faculty Advisory Council. I think they are complementary, and the more overlap between the two bodies the better. While President Michael Schill has done a lot to promote shared governance through the Senate, and make it more effective, I think future threats to shared governance with some future president are more likely to come from some future administration appointing un-elected faculty to its own “Advisory Groups”.

The extreme case would be this secret plan devised by former GC Randy Geller under Interim President Bob Berdahl. The Senate only found out about this plan from the fortuitous release of the digital Presidential Archives, or as current Deputy GC Doug Park calls it, “The Incident”:

1/4/2015: The UO administration’s secret plan to abolish the UO Senate

UO Matters operatives have obtained a “confidential” memo from former UO General Counsel Randy Geller to former Interim President Bob Berdahl, recommending that Berdahl abolish the University Senate and prohibit most faculty members from being members of the Faculty Personnel Committee, Faculty Advisory Counsel, Student Conduct committee, the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, etc.

Geller made this recommendation three weeks after the administration admitted defeat over the faculty union. The full memo is here. As you can see it advises:

1) abolition of the current UO Senate and all its committees;

2) creation of a new faculty-only Senate, limited to making recommendations to the administration;

3) membership on key committees to be restricted to non-bargaining unit faculty; and

4) other committees replaced by “administrative advisory groups” serving at the president’s pleasure.

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Geller’s proposal seems insane, but key parts of it have already been implemented, and it seems the likely source for the statements Interim President Coltrane made at the December emergency Senate Exec meeting about the need for changes in faculty governance “given our new unionized environment”. Coltrane has kept the administrative advisory groups that Bob Berdahl and Mike Gottfredson set up to replace Senate committees, such as the President’s Advisory Group on Intercollegiate Athletics, the Budget Advisory Group, and the Public Records Administrative Advisory Group.

Coltrane has also been working with new UO AVP Chuck Triplett (the former OUS apparatchik who helped Pernsteiner fire Richard Lariviere) and new University Board Secretary Angela Wilhelms to set up a President-appointed Policy Advisory Committee, and revoke the faculty authority that has existed since the founding of the University of Oregon and which is a normal part of faculty governance at other universities. …

December 15th, UO Constitution Day

December 15 is UO Constitution Day. The UO Constitution lays out the division of responsibilities between the UO President and the UO Faculty, and the procedures for resolving disputes. It was adopted by the UO Faculty Assembly on December 7th 2011, and signed by UO President Richard Lariviere on December 15th.

In honor of the event I am posting a history of the Constitution, from the pseudonymous “Old Man”. As prelude, here is the video from the Assembly meeting. The introduction by Senate President Robert Kyr (Music) is followed by Susan Gary (Law), John Bonine (Law) and Peter Keyes (Architecture) giving excellent explanations of what the constitution means:

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I had no involvement in writing the constitution or its adoption. I would appreciate it if those who did would post comments and corrections.

The History of the UO Constitution

(and the Policy on Policies)

as Recalled by the Old Man­­­

Introduction: This document recounts the loss of the University’s century-old tradition of faculty governance, enshrined in its Charter, and events leading to its recovery through the creation and adoption of the Constitution of the University of Oregon.

University of Oregon Charter

“The President and professors constitute the faculty of the University, and, as such, shall have the immediate government and discipline of it and the students therein…”

Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) § 352.010; originally section 14 of Law No. 9, Oregon Laws 1876

The Good Old Days

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The hat comes back

9/25/2015: Rumor down at the faculty club is that Richard Lariviere is back in town for a few days. After today’s events, it must seem like nothing’s changed. Maybe he’ll give Mike Schill some advice about how to deal with the UO General Counsel’s office.

9/18/2015: Governor Brown releases Kitzhaber emails on Lariviere firing

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Friday, November 21 is “Remember the Hat” day

Break out your hats and mark the day. On November 21st 2011, three years and four presidents ago, OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner and Board Chair Matt Donegan came down to UO with their ultimatum demanding Lariviere resign for trying to implement his plan to bring faculty pay to the AAU averages, and trying to set up an independent UO Board. Lariviere refused to leave, so they fired him, on instructions from Governor Kitzhaber. Nigel Jaquiss broke the news on the 22nd.

Phil Knight said it best:

“It deeply saddens me that some people in power in our state continue to drive Oregon into a death spiral with their embrace of mediocrity. It’s yet another application of Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law.

A week later the UO faculty, alumni, boosters, and even a few JH administrators united in protest, hired buses, and went to the board meeting in Portland to protest, with no effect:

Non affirmative action compliant Triplett hire

11/4/2014 update: UO Auditor to investigate Affirmative Action waiver for Triplett hire

The UO administration spends millions on promoting student and faculty diversity. But will it follow the law when it comes to hiring Johnson Hall administrators? UO’s new Auditor is going to look into it:

From: Brenda Muirhead <[email protected]>
To: William Harbaugh <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: PR request, AAEO documents
Date: November 4, 2014 at 3:47:51 PM PST


Thank you for the email yesterday. I will review this case and determine if a request to waive a search was appropriately approved for this position. If you have any questions about the fraud and ethics reporting process, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 541-346-6541.

Brenda Muirhead
UO Office of Internal Audit

11/3/2014: UO violated Title VII in Asst VP of Collaboration hire, according to Public Records Office:

Title VII is the section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act involving hiring, generally known as “affirmative action”. UO’s affirmative action policies require basic good hiring practices such as an open search and public job announcement, or an explanation for the exception. I’m no detective, but I think this evidence that UO violated its policies in hiring its new Assistant VP for University Initiatives and Collaboration is called “the dog that didn’t bark”:

From: “Thornton, Lisa” <[email protected]>
Date: October 16, 2014 at 12:14:09 PM PDT
Subject: Public Records Request 2015-PRR-076


Dear Mr. Harbaugh-

The University does not possess records responsive to your request made 10/06/2014 for “documents related to the job search for the new UO Assistant VP for University Initiatives and Collaborations… [s]pecifically I am requesting any documents showing exemptions or exceptions to the UO job search procedures”. [The full request is below].

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.


Lisa Thornton
Office of Public Records
University of Oregon
Office of the President

Presumably Ms Thornton and Dave Hubin have already brought this potential non-compliance with state and federal affirmative action law to the attention of Interim General Counsel Doug Park, for swift investigation and appropriate remedial efforts. But just in case, I have cced Park on the notification – at the risk of another set of retaliatory emails from him, accusing me of harassment.

10/16/2014: Administration kicks off diversity plan by hiring new AVP without an affirmative action search

“Around the 0” has the latest window dressing, here:

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Sounds great. So, did they do an affirmative action compliant search for their latest Assistant VP hire? Doesn’t seem likely:

Subject: Re: PR request, AAEO documents
Date: October 15, 2014 at 11:04:18 AM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <[email protected]> Cc: doug park <[email protected]>

Dear Ms Thornton

It’s been more than a week since I made this PR request. I would appreciate it if you could let me know when you expect to be able to provide the documents.

On MondayOct 6, 2014, at 3:19 PM:

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for documents related to the job search for the new UO Assistant VP for University Initiatives and Collaborations, announced here: http://around.uoregon.edu/content/uo-gains-statewide-education-system-expertise-latest-hire

Specifically I am requesting any documents showing exemptions or exceptions to the UO job search procedures explained at http://ups.uoregon.edu/content/new-appointments and http://ups.uoregon.edu/content/interim-recruitment-guidelines-unclassified-personnel

I believe that this search and hire may have violated UO policies and procedures, and Oregon and Federal affirmative action hiring laws, and therefore I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

10/1/2014: Chuck Triplett, who helped Pernsteiner fire Lariviere, now works in JH Continue reading

Wanted: A Gentleman with Elbows

According to today’s WSJ story, Richard Lariviere is busy. But you know the UO Trustees want him, or someone like him, to lead UO. And I’m guessing that plenty of the 6700 faculty, staff, alumni and boosters who signed the petition to protest the 2011 firing of Lariviere are telling UO’s new Trustees that a timid paper pusher like Gottfredson is not what they want:

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But first we’ve got to get rid of the interminably passive-aggressive Mike Gottfredson:

5/19/2014 update: Why Mike Gottfredson will be resigning as UO President 

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Legislature and UO Trustees

11/20/2013: Hannah Hoffman of the Statesman Journal has a report on the latest goings on with the legislature and the UO Board of Trustees appointments, here. For more perspective, read Mrs. Gerlinger’s prescient 1939 letter, here.

11/15/2013: OUS Board celebrates “Remember the Hat” day

They’re a little early this year, and boy are they capturing the spirit of this official University of Nike holiday. Two years ago they fired President Lariviere without consulting the UO faculty or Senate. Today they renewed President Gottfredson’s contract until June 30, 2016 without consulting the UO faculty or Senate. What info I can find on Gottfredson’s secret performance review is here. This decision ties the hands of UO’s new Board of Trustees for a full two years past the 7/1/2014 date they take authority. The scene sure brings back some memories:


11/21/2012: Remember the Hat: Lariviere Day is today, Nov 21st

Break out your hats and mark the day. Last year on November 21st OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner and Board Chair Matt Donegan came down to UO with their ultimatum. Lariviere refused to resign, so they fired him on instructions from Governor Kitzhaber. Nigel Jaquiss broke the news on the 22nd.

Phil Knight said it best:

“It deeply saddens me that some people in power in our state continue to drive Oregon into a death spiral with their embrace of mediocrity. It’s yet another application of Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law.

And in case words aren’t enough Knight’s “Oregonians for Higher Education Excellence” PAC now has more than $400,000 in reserve, ready to buy whatever legislative votes are necessary to get UO its independent board – probably with no faculty representation, unfortunately.

Some of our many posts on this sorry episode in UO history:

KEZI interview with Kitzhaber and excerpts from the OUS Portland firing meeting:
The Faculty Assembly meeting:

Dr. Pernsteiner has scrubbed the OUS minutes website of any mention of the angry 11/28/2012 public meeting with the OUS board and the UO faculty and alumni. Nice try, but UO has posted the full video on Youtube. Everything except what happened in Paul Kelly’s secret bathroom caucus, right before the official vote:

Disgraced Francesconi to run to replace disgraced Cogen

10/14/2013: Those who sat through the Lariviere firing meeting up in Portland will remember the gutless Jim Francesconi filing into the bathroom with Pernsteiner to do the deed in secret. He now sees his main chance in the resignation of Jeff Cogen after a sex scandal.

In the announcement, Francesconi touts himself as someone who will “shake up a bureaucracy to make it work better for people.”

Which people? The Oregonian has the story.

Faculty union contract vote, Tu October 8

10/2/2013: Updated announcement with links. 

I apologize but we do not have a budget or dues rate yet. Nothing nefarious, I’m traveling and the OC is busy with the contract and classes etc. Hard to arrange a meeting time to approve everything. I’d post the draft but I’m just one of many involved in this, so that would be presumptuous.

An email sent to bargaining unit members about the 10/8 meeting:

Next Tuesday’s General Membership Meeting and Contract Ratification Vote are rapidly approaching!  Please mark your calendars and make time to ratify our Tentative Agreement with the UO Administration.
Many of you have written-in asking about the schedule for 10/8.  Here is the agenda for next Tuesday:
5PM doors open for member check-in–voting begins
6PM–meeting convenes–Chief negotiators present the contract
6:30PM–Q & A with the bargaining team
7:30PM–Finance committee presents local budget and dues proposal to membership
8:00PM–Q & A with the finance committee
9:00PM – Meeting and Voting Conclude
The contract ratification vote will continue until 9PM–ballots will be counted at the end of the meeting and results will be announced via email.
The contract summary, the budget, and the dues proposal will be available at the meeting.

Members do not have to stay for the entire meeting.  You may come, vote, and leave at any time during the meeting.  However, we encourage everyone to attend the entire presentation and participate in the discussion.

9/20/2013: Union to use Treetops for contract ratification meeting?

That’s the rumor from the profs playing darts down at the Faculty Club tonight. Hard to think of a more appropriate location, really. Pernsteiner was evicted a few months ago, and if the celebratory goat roast gets out of control – god forbid – the cops will have a hard time figuring out who’s the landlord and enforcing the Social Host Ordinance. Meeting is set for the evening of October 8, details later. 

UVA coup attempt explained in NYT Magazine

9/16/2012: It’s a long and complicated story, the Andrew Rice article is very comprehensive, I’m not going to even try and synthesize it just now. The issue has many other interesting education articles as well, e.g. this one on computerized tutoring. Comments welcome.

Gottfredson contract is

here. For contrast Larivere’s is here. I don’t see a clause preventing Gottfredson from pursuing the New Partnership – but Pernsteiner’s board does reserve the right to fire him on 30 days notice, without cause. Page 6. Wow. But even Lariviere’s first contract had something similar, as does Pernsteiner’s. BTW – catch the contract reference to Gottfredson using Treetops as the official Pres residence? Now what could that be about. Meanwhile the New Partnership PAC has $415K in the bank – easily enough to buy a few legislative swing votes. That said there’s no indication Gottfredson wants to pursue this. 7/31/2012.

Why UO lost to board, while UVA won

Kevin Kiley of IHE has the story, read it it all:

“[The Oregon state board] can say, ‘For the good of the system, the matter is closed,’ “ Kyr said. “But it can’t say ‘We did this for the good of the university’ without extensive prior consultation with the faculty, which was missing with the firing of President Lariviere.” Unlike Virginia, where faculty members could argue that the board’s decision was in fact bad for the campus, which they arguably understood well, Oregon faculty members were not given enough essential information to discuss statewide priorities, Kyr said. In fact, one of the criticisms of some state officials was that Lariviere was so focused on his campus — to the delight of professors there — that he didn’t understand the larger state context. 

But the faculty’s success at the University of Texas, which also has a systemwide board and no campus governing board, shows that the Oregon faculty’s failure cannot entirely be attributed to that. 

Others say that Lariviere might not have had the same kind of support among faculty members that Powers and Sullivan enjoyed. Friedman, who worked with Lariviere when the latter was dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UT-Austin, said Lariviere had a tendency to alienate faculty members. During his tenure at Oregon, Lariviere angered faculty members by failing to get athletics spending under control.

Others chalk up the Oregon faculty’s failure to the fact that the faculty simply wasn’t as organized and cohesive as at the other universities. Unlike Virginia and Texas, the Oregon faculty doesn’t have a single unified body to represents its interests. The University Senate includes students and university staff, not just faculty, and thus represents a broader range of interests. The Oregon vote also took place around Thanksgiving, when many faculty members weren’t paying close attention to university news. 

Kyr said that the leadership debate, and the ensuing search for a new university president, was an opportunity for the chancellor, the state board, and the faculty to discuss the proper role of faculty in governance. He said that the Presidential Search Committee included diverse faculty voices, and that the selection of University of California at Irvine provost Michael R. Gottfredson as the new president reflects an emphasis on shared governance. “I’m confident that if new problems arise, we now have the means for achieving better communication through consultation and through new forms of collaboration between the university, the Chancellor, and the state system,” Kyr said. 

Many say the Oregon faculty’s failure in the leadership debate helps explain why the faculty, in January, began the process to create a faculty union, a relatively rare occurrence at major research universities in recent decade. The faculty approved the union in March. “At Oregon, I don’t think there was a sufficiently organized, unified voice of the faculty, which is one years the University of Oregon faculty are now being unionized,” Snyder said.

I’d say Lariviere lost because he pissed off and embarrassed the governor with the raises – particularly the administrative ones, like for Bean and his BMW. Other than the raises, he was not particularly popular with the faculty – until we had to make a choice between him and Pernsteiner!

As to why we got a union, it had more to do with the years of faculty neglect and incompetent administration than Lariviere’s firing. Look at the student faculty ratio, the cuts in F and A rates, mismanagement in many (most?) important administrative departments, repeated no-search appointments of old friends, expensive special deals for retiring administrators like Moseley, Frohnmayer, etc. And Lariviere left Jim Bean and Frances Dyke in charge of the day to day, which didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Bean’s sabbatical – another slap in the face. Then the interim President, Bob Berdahl, turned out to be a petty tyrant in thrall to Dave Frohnmayer of all people, who spent a lot of time trying to weaken faculty governance. The union won because enough faculty reluctantly decided we could run the place better than they could. We will see if that’s true.

Clueless independent board reappoints President Sullivan

of UVA. From The Hook:

In his remarks prefacing his reinstatement resolution, Fralin conceded that all Board members possessed advance knowledge of the desire to remove the president. He says he regrets that he wasn’t “clever enough” to know that he and just two other board members could have called a meeting to demand a full roll-call vote.

“I wish I’d been a little more clever,” Fralin reiterates after the meeting, and he asserts that he had “no idea” whether Dragas really had the 12 votes that Board rules require to remove a president.

More in the NYT here. 6/27/2012

Fired UVa president to be reinstated?

6/22/2012: Insidehighered is keeping a close watch on developments at UVa, here. Looks like the board may cave to intense faculty pressure and reappoint President Sullivan. The last graph makes clear how rare faculty input into independent boards is:

Presidents have to make controversial decisions that can alienate campus constituencies. If Sullivan were reappointed, for instance, she would have to confront the issue of whether to push for a faculty member to be appointed to the board, an issue the faculty has been championing since Monday. Pushing such a move — which would be highly unconventional among universities — would put Sullivan outside what are accepted best practices. Going against such a move could greatly upset faculty members who might feel betrayed by the president they rallied to support.

Now the Gov is threatening to fire the entire board if they don’t explain themselves. 

Would you support an independent board for UO if you knew it would have only token faculty representation – e.g. a member picked by the Governor rather than elected by the faculty?

Meanwhile President Ed Ray of Oregon State, having just received a modest emolument from Dr. Pernsteiner, does his best to repay his debt with testimony before the legislative committee on independent university boards. (Full disclosure: as a state taxpayer I am helping pay part of Ray’s raise.)

Independent board fires university president without consulting faculty.

6/19/2012: The NYT reports on Dragas’s firing of UVA Pres:

The board’s united front showed its first serious cracks, as four of the 15 voting members sent an emissary on Sunday night to the president, Teresa Sullivan, to discuss the terms on which she would stay, according to people briefed on the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Still, the board’s leader, Helen E. Dragas, the university rector, showed no sign of backing away from replacing Dr. Sullivan, saying at the outset of the Board of Visitors meeting that the decision was the product of “an overwhelming consensus of the board.” She acknowledged the widespread view that the board had failed to explain the dismissal, but offered no further rationale. 
“We want to express our sincere regret for the pain, anger and confusion” the board’s actions have caused, Ms. Dragas said, adding that “our actions too readily lent themselves to perceptions of being opaque.”

Their November report on Pernsteiner’s firing of Lariviere is here.

6/17-18/2012 updates: The parallels are astonishing:

More on protest and intrigue here, involving a donor. Meanwhile UVa Faculty Senate leadership demands board chair Dragas resign, faculty representation on board:

Statement of Faculty Senate Executive Council Concerning Meeting with Rector Dragas

June 18, 2012

This morning, the Faculty Senate Executive Council met with Rector Dragas to discuss the recent resignation of President Sullivan. We invited the Vice Rector, but he did not attend. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the Council to ask questions raised by the University faculty concerning recent events, and to hear the Board’s perspective.

We asked the Rector about the process and the reasons behind President Sullivan’s resignation; the principles of shared governance between the faculty, administration and the Board; the Board’s desire for a strategic plan; and the Board’s justification for the speedy and secretive nature of its actions.

We had a cordial discussion. Based on extensive input from our faculty constituents and the Rector’s responses to our questions, we made the following requests:

1. That the Board delay the naming of any interim president to provide an opportunity for shared governance;

2. That President Sullivan be reinstated;

3. That the Board recommend representation by UVA faculty on the Board as voting members; and

4. That the Rector and Vice Rector resign in the best interests of the University.

Channel 29 News has some video. (Full disclosure: I worked in the Channel 29 control room 35 years ago, as an FCC licensed first class radiotelephone operator.) The criticisms revolve around lack of transparency and shared governance. The UVa Faculty Senate met Sunday night, voting confidence in Sullivan, no confidence in the Rector, Board, etc. The Daily Progress reports UVa’s Provost John Simon is considering resigning. He says:

“I now find myself at a defining moment, confronting and questioning whether honor, integrity, and trust are truly the foundational pillars of life at the University of Virginia,” he said. “I find myself at a moment when the future of the university is at risk and what our political leadership value in the university is no longer clear. Much has appeared in the press over the last week, and the reputational consequences will be with us for many years to come. 

When the OUS Board fired Lariviere in November, UO’s Provost Jim Bean was enjoying a controversial and well paid administrative sabbatical. He immediately tried to get appointed to Lariviere’s job. The faculty stopped him. I’m trying to remember what Frohnmayer did and said when Lariviere was fired. Anyone? The Virginians are a bit tougher: former UVa President John Casteen said this at the meeting:

John T. Casteen III, the 20-year president of UVa before Sullivan was hired, said Sunday evening that the decision to remove Sullivan had been far too secretive.

“Obviously, I don’t know much about the ouster, because the board has not released very much information,” Casteen said. “And I’m not alone in thinking this, but I think there’s something flawed in the public process here. The assumption in Virginia law is that public business is done in view of the public, that people can see what’s going on, and it’s alarming to think that a decision this large was not made with the full time for discussion within the board and in particular not done within the appropriate view of the public.

“My situation is that I look for reasons and I don’t see them, and I look for information, evidence to show that the board has a formed philosophy that represents the future. And we haven’t heard what that philosophy is. Obviously, that need to be understood, and the president’s views of it need to be known and understood also. So the process is not what you’d want. It’s not the appropriate process.”

The secrecy is also at odds with the standards of sound university decision making, he said.

Casteen, who in earlier comments to the press had raised the idea of reconciliation between the board and Sullivan, said he’s “disappointed” if that conversation isn’t going on.

He also called for today’s meeting to be held entirely in open session.
“The cure for excessive secrecy is not more secrecy,” Casteen said. “It is open and responsible public discussions.”

UVA’s former President Teresa Sullivan has now hired Ray Cotton to represent her. Hope she got a cheaper rate than the $45,500 he charged Pernsteiner for a 12 page report cribbed from Chronicle data.

A commenter points us to this WaPo article, full of intrigue:

And in a frank 12-page strategic memo last month, Sullivan laid out the university’s fundamental academic weakness. U-Va. has a peerless reputation for undergraduate study, she wrote, but its graduate programs and research endeavors suffer from a “reputation gap.” Some vaunted doctoral programs don’t actually rank very high, and others are buoyed by a few star faculty.

Last month, the board adopted an operating budget that included substantial language culled from Sullivan’s strategy document, although most did not know it came from her memo. Yet, after Sullivan’s ouster, Dragas chided the president for lacking a “credible statement of strategic direction.”

One thing that strikes me is that as high-handed as Dragas appears – and it’s pretty amazing – at the root this seems to be actual dispute about how best to improve UVA. Compare this to the dispute that got Lariviere fired: he had a plan to improve UO, but the board and the governor did not want UO to get better, because they thought that would distract from the other state schools.

6/16/2012 update: Insidehighered has a *very* comprehensive piece on this by Chris Olds, here. Thanks to anonymous for the link. Michael Redding has used UVA as an example of how an independent board for UO might be structured. How to do this right certainly needs to be revisited now. One lesson, I think, is that a board must have more than token faculty representation – picked by the faculty, not the board or governor!

One story notes that the board may have broken VA’s public meetings law:

UVa is a public university, and any decision made about its leader should be made in public.

Dream on. I wonder if Virginia’s ethics enforcement is the same thin gruel that Ron Bersin and Oregon’s GEC serve up? Student protests, attacks on board:

“We’re not rabble-rousers here,” she said. “We’re simply calling for transparency.”
She called the invocation of Thomas Jefferson by the Board of Visitors “disgusting.”

6/15/2012 update: Faculty protests, resignations:

The gulf between University of Virginia officials and the school’s outraged faculty appeared to widen Thursday, as calls for unity from officials were met with a vote of no confidence from the Faculty Senate’s executive council. Late in the day, the author of a leaked email became the first casualty from the continuing scandal over the ouster of UVa President Teresa A. Sullivan.
In a resolution adopted by the body’s executive council during an emergency meeting, the faculty expressed “its lack of confidence in the Rector, the Vice Rector, and the Board of Visitors.”

(Older) More on UVA board’s firing of Teresa Sullivan in the Daily Progress here, and the Cavalier Daily here – including a complaint from the UVA faculty Senate. Been there, done that.