UO Board legislation

12/28/2011: Former ASUO Pres and current UO Law Student Sam Dotters-Katz has started a group to promote UO independence by encouraging the legislature to give UO authority to have its own governing board.

As you know, President Lariviere’s contract was prematurely terminated last month by the OUS Board. Our President’s employment officially ends today, December 28th — but there’s meaningful action within our grasp to ensure our university’s future, and WE NEED YOUR HELP. ….  


Sam Dotters-Katz

Executive Director, Students for Higher Education Excellence Now
Former UO Student Body President (2008-2009)
University of Oregon School of Law JD Candidate 2014

He points people to a facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/OregonSHEEN which has a variety of links. This effort appears to be closely associated with Phil Barnhart’s proposed legislation and looks very worthy of support. Let’s face it, nobody in this state give a damn what UO professors think, but the students? That’s a lot of votes.

Rep. Phil Barnhart to introduce UO Board legislation

12/27/2011: Read the whole thing, in the Eugene Weekly:

Barnhart said he’s been talking to other elected officials, a legislative attorney and UO student and faculty leaders in drafting the bill. “Nothing is final yet,” he said, inviting more input from the public. …

Barnhart said the local UO governing board would improve the transparency of the current local decision making at the UO. Now, “the decisions get made by the president within Johnson Hall without much oversight,” he said. For example, Barnhart faulted former UO president Dave Frohnmayer for deciding to sell Westmoreland family housing without public input. 

Any piece of legislation that starts with a call for more transparency from Johnson Hall deserves serious consideration. Barnhart and other local legislators are planning a meeting at UO, January 17th, 7PM, room TBA, to discuss this. Like the idea? You can donate to Barnhart’s campaign online, here. Remember, Oregon has a tax credit for your first $50 in political donations.

RG reports UO will freeze hiring

12/14/2011: Kitzhaber’s just full of good news for UO lately. From the RG:

Oregon universities, including the University of Oregon, will abide by Gov. John Kitzhaber’s call for a state hiring freeze while lawmakers wrestle with expected declines in tax revenue.

Presidents of all seven state universities are expected to meet with Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner today to discuss the freeze and how it will be carried out.

This is the middle of the hiring season for a lot of departments – mine has interviews scheduled, starting in a few weeks, fly-outs start in mid January. The Oregonian has more here. Did anyone need another example of just how right Lariviere was about the New Partnership, and how little Dr. Pernsteiner, Matt Donegan, and Dr. Kitzhaber understand about our “higher education business model”?

New Partnership moves ahead

in New York. 12/13/2011. From the NYT:

[James H. Simons] joined two governors, David A. Paterson and Andrew M. Cuomo, in pressing the Legislature to shore up the finances of the State University of New York, the parent system of Stony Brook, in part by raising tuition. He made it clear that he could be very generous if the state acted, and this year lawmakers made the kinds of changes he sought.

On Wednesday, Mr. Simons, 73, and his wife, Marilyn, will announce the biggest gift by far in SUNY’s history, $150 million to Stony Brook. It is the sixth largest donation ever made to an American public university, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, and is twice as large as the previous record for a gift to a public university in New York — the $60 million that the Simonses’ foundation gave to Stony Brook in 2008.

Simons’ plan was not just “raising tuition”. More here.

Effect of firing on fundraising

12/7/2011: Allan Brettman of the Oregonian has a good piece:

For donors like Lorry Lokey and Vinton “Slim” Sommerville, Lariviere’s ouster was a stunning blow that no amount of explanation of process and political niceties can soothe. “It’s the governor’s fault and I hope the voters remember this two years from now and knock him out,” said Lokey, the founder of the Business Wire news service who has pledged or paid about $134 million to UO.

Lokey said he will wait until spring — when emotions have subsided and when the Legislature convenes — to decide on the future of his gifts to UO. “I’m not in a position to say what I’m going to do,” said Lokey, a Stanford University graduate who grew up in Portland. “I don’t know. I want to wait six months to see things evolve.”

Lokey, a University of Oregon Foundation trustee, said it was essential for the Legislature to approve an independent governing board for at least UO. “If it all works out, great,” Lokey said, a California resident. “I’ll be glad to pledge even more money.”

Donors are too smart to give their money to Pernsteiner, which is essentially what happens now.  He reacts to UO’s success by cutting UO’s state allotment and funneling the money to EOU, WOU, SOU, and IOU – after a tithe for George’s personal expenses, of course. Thanks to a reader for the link.

UO to get UO Board of Governors,

but Dr. Pernsteiner and his crack team will decide when, and how much authority and independence it will have. Or that’s the essence of this 11/18/2011 press release from OUS:

Next steps for the committee outlined by co-chairs Paul Kelly and Allyn Ford are to develop what delegated authorities could be granted to university-level boards; determine what statutory changes would need to be made to implement these; and to prepare a draft legislative concept that would be presented in spring 2012.

The tone in Governor Kitzhaber’s letter, here, is a little more positive for UO and Lariviere’s New Partnership. But this process will take years, and meantime UO’s legal advice will all be from Pernsteiner approved lawyers. We are so screwed.

What will Kitzhaber do?

11/28/2011: The fate of President Richard Lariviere, of his New Partnership, and of UO as a serious research university is up in the air. Path A is control by OUS Chancellor Pernsteiner, followed by gradual but inevitable descent into mediocrity. Path B is Lariviere’s New Partnership, followed by a big question mark. At the moment Pernsteiner is winning. Governor Kitzhaber will make the final call. We might learn something about his plans from today’s legislative committee meeting:

OUS outmaneuvers UO

11/12/2011: We wrote about this possibility back in August. Now it seems to have happened. This new IMDB from the 11/4/2011 OUS Board meeting will leave President Lariviere unable to obtain legal advice from anyone other than attorneys appointed and monitored by Pernsteiner. Read it all.

Not only does it make UO subject to OUS in a way we never have been in the past, but it leaves little room for Lariviere to try another New Partnership end run around Pernsteiner. Lariviere can’t even use Foundation money to get legal advice without OUS oversight. This is a disaster for UO.

University sells $500 million in bonds for academics

11/6/2011: Ohio State has just borrowed big to fund an expansion of the academic side. Fascinating Oregonian column by David Sarasohn here on the very unusual 100 year bonds. (Yes, we know Frohnmayer sold $230 million in bonds for 2008, but that was for a basketball arena – although tuition money guarantees the repayment.) You know President Lariviere with his New Partnership, and Governor Kitzhaber with his 40/40/20 plan, are watching to see how this goes over. And so is UO’s Athletic Director, Rob Mullens – who may well want to soon call on UO’s borrowing authority to expand Autzen Stadium. Especially now that he knows how easy it is to trick the academic side into repaying athletic department debts.

UO runner Ben DeJarnette on student animosity toward student-athletes

10/23/2011: An Op-Ed in the RG. DeJarnette is a journalism major, a scholarship athlete on the track team, and a member of UO’s Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. He argues there are some legitimate concerns, but also some intransigent stereotypes which he attempts to clear up:

I recently witnessed two classmates roaring with laughter at their newest nickname for the John E. Jaqua Center, “The Center for Students Who Can’t Read Good.” Socioeconomic prejudice aside, the animosity and contempt behind “jokes” like these are reason for concern.

Although some students and faculty at the university have legitimate questions and concerns regarding athletic department policy, the most intransigent stereotypes are rooted in years of misinformation and myths that have now taken on a life of their own.
The group that pays the price for these misconceptions is student-athletes.

 He also argues the funding problems for regular UO students are best addressed with President Lariviere’s New Partnership, not by going after the athletic department budget.

And FWIW, here’s a piece about another UO runner, which I came across while googling “outspoken Oregon athlete”

David Breneman on Virginia’s experience with restructuring

9/24/2011: Breneman is an economist at the UVA Ed school, I think Pernsteiner hired him to consult on the OUS alternative to Lariviere’s new partnership. Or maybe UO hired him to consult on the new partnership. Lariviere wants a UO board, and SB 242 allows one, but Pernsteiner doesn’t want to give up control. Listen to Breneman talking to the Legislature higher ed committee here, 2:20 in:

The key requirement for being appointed to the University of Virginia Board is that you have given generously to the Governor’s re-election campaign.

Interestingly, it hasn’t worked that way in Oregon. While Chancellor Pernsteiner does donate token portions of his chancellor loot to the usual Democratic candidates, the new (unpaid) OUS Board chair, Matt Donegan, was a big Dudley donor – and was appointed by Kulongoski, then became chair after Kitzhaber won the election. Admirably non-partisan.

Earlier in the meeting there is some pointed talk by Tim Nesbitt on the future of the OUS board: he wants them gone. The governor wants decisions to be made by his new investment and coordinating boards. Pernsteiner vigorously defends what OUS does – or at least his version of what OUS does – he didn’t mention skimming 5% off the top for “expenses”.

Jack Roberts supports raises, in Oregonian

9/22/2011: His math makes no sense, but we appreciate the sentiment. Op-Ed here:

The OUS has identified eight comparator universities against which to evaluate the UO, ranging from the University of California at Santa Barbara to the University of Michigan. Based on that scale, UO salaries for tenured faculty in comparable fields were just 85 percent of the average last year. After the increase, it’s 97 percent (and, yes, that includes PERS).

The data for administrators and non-tenured faculty is more anecdotal, but the gap was real. And considering the UO is bursting at the seams with record undergraduate enrollment — including record out-of-state and international enrollment, which pays the highest tuition rates — its non-state revenues are also booming.

Any successful business in a comparable situation would reinvest a significant portion of those revenues in its workforce without a second thought. So should a public university. The fact that President Lariviere’s action is so controversial says less about the economy than about a state that talks excellence while pursuing mediocrity.

Ohio to try Larivieresque NP plan

8/9/2011: From Insidehighered.com:

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro will on Thursday unveil a
plan designed to reduce government involvement in the state’s 14 public
universities, giving the institutions more authority in administrative
and financial matters if they meet certain performance benchmarks.  …

Because the process to date has not involved many faculty members,
students, or employees, Kilpatrick said, there are more likely to be
aspects of the plan that various campus groups oppose, potentially
making the process of getting the plan through the state legislature —
which would have to take place before any reforms are enacted —
messier. “The plan could have a lot better buy-in and consensus before
the legislative process if they had consulted folks,” Kilpatrick said.
“Instead, they’ve set themselves up for a very adversarial legislative

Legislative updates


SB242, having passed the Senate a while ago, is now moving through the House. If you understand what is going on please leave a comment.


The Oregonian reports the legislature has cut Chancellor Pernsteiner’s pay and benefits package by 11%. Just kidding, it’s for higher ed in general. Academic programs will take the hit – George won’t be touched.


12:25 PM: If I understand this Tony van Vliet rant correctly, SB242 is dead.

From what I can tell the legislature is done with education. Maybe they will get back to SB242 before adjourning but it seems unlikely. Odd. This bill was Pernsteiner’s reaction to Lariviere’s new partnership, designed to give more power to OUS instead of UO. But now, with SB909 passed and Nancy Golden in power to keep an eye on Pernsteiner, SB242 would be good for UO.


11:11PM Jeff Mapes gives his analysis of the day, focused on K-12.

4:10 SB909 passes. Good news for UO and Pres Lariviere. Not sure what happened to SB242/HB2118.

3:54 Debate on SB909 starts.

3:19PM: All day kindergarten passes.

3:00PM:  The house is now onto all day kindergarten, may take a bit to get to higher ed. I’m no political science professor, but I have to say I’m impressed by the quality (and passion) of the debate by the legislators on these K-12 bills.

1:10: House is in recess til 2PM

12:00: HB2301, the “virtual schools” bill – requiring licensed teachers, has now passed, with amendments from the Republicans, potentially breaking the logjam.

11:30AM Jeff Mapes reports they are working on a charter school compromise that would get higher ed bill rolling again.

11:00 the house is back in session

9:30AM The House session does not seem to be starting as scheduled. See below for possible reason.


SB 242 and SB909 have now passed the Senate. They will likely come up in the House Tuesday, the session starts at 9:30 AM. Audio and video here: http://www.leg.state.or.us/listn/ (If you need a political fix meanwhile, watch this. I’ll miss this guy.)

I understand the relationship between SB909 and SB242 to now be as follows. (Both have been amended substantially.)

SB242:  This is Pernsteiner’s bill: Redefines Oregon University System (OUS) as public university system with greater authority and independence to manage affairs, operations and obligations. Creates Higher Education Coordinating Commission (Commission). So, 242 gives OUS independence from the state and creates an HECC to oversee the current OUS Board and Chancellor.

SB909: This is Kitzhaber’s bill: Establishes the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) to oversee a unified public education system. (K-16 or K-20). Jeff Mapes has a good summary here.

If they both pass, SB909 contains language ensuring that Kitzhaber’s OIEB will “oversee” the HECC, which in turn oversees the existing OUS Board and Chancellor. Or so I understand it. So, best case for UO is SB242 plus SB909, and that’s where my money is. But it’s possible that the coalition will break up, over K-12 issues.

A break up which Jeff Mapes and Saul Hubbard now report has in fact happened:

The defeat, on the House floor, of a bill that would have made it easier for students to enroll in online charter schools caused a blow-up Monday in the evenly divided chamber, one that casts some doubt over the path ahead for a series of key education reform bills that still need House approval this session.

Legislators had hoped to either approve or defeat a total of 14 wide-ranging education policy bills in both chambers Monday, potentially an important step in bringing the legislative session to a close.

The bills included Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan to create a single board to oversee the state’s entire public education system; a bill that would have allocated an additional $25 million for K-12 education over the next two years; and three “school choice” bills, among them the online charter schools enrollment bill: House Bill 2301. …