SOU to become OSU-South, or UO-South?

Rumor is that SOU, bleeding students and money and now starting a retrenchment process to layoff tenured faculty, will try to attach itself to UO. No money for teaching, but it looks like OUS board chair Matt Donegan is spending freely on consultants, and an attachment to OSU may be more likely. From the docket for the next OUS board meeting, here:

February 5, 2014

Meanwhile WOU recently announced it wants its own independent board.

OUS to condemn Treetops, give it to Gottfredson, or return it to the heirs

It looks like the OUS Board is finally going to decide what to do with Tree Tops. By condemn they mean seize it under eminent domain, and presumably pay the heirs the market value, which according to Zillow is $1.4M.

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 12.28.06 AM

The full docket for the board’s 1/10/2013 meeting, which includes one of Matt Donegan’s special executive sessions as well as approval for work on utility tunnels and Chapman Hall as well as cuts to the state lottery subsidy for Duck sports scholarships, is here.

2/12/2011: Treetops / Pernsteiner scandal
Greg Bolt of the RG has a great story about OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner’s non-use of his state provided mansion in Eugene, Treetops, at 2237 Spring Blvd.

The state pays $50,000 plus in maintenance, plus another $20,000 for travel, plus $280,900 in straight salary. (See this Oregonian report on how Pernsteiner got raises while others got furloughs). Oh yes, we also give him $23,120 for “professional development” expenses. OUS does not have any documentation on how he actually spends that. Unbelievable.

Here is some documentation on how he charges the state for per diem while living at his 2nd house in Portland – for which the state gives him another $26,000 a year, so he can make the mortgage payments. He is using tuition money to pay for his morning croissant and latte.

The Treetops utility bill is $1,000 a month. Pernsteiner was letting his kids’ college student friends live there. Maid service is ~$8,000 a year, paid by the state. Party on.

State Higher Education Board President Paul Kelly is quoted:

“Whether we’re imposing an obligation on him that’s worthwhile, from the board’s point of view or not, that’s something we perhaps ought to take a look at,” Kelly said.

Yes, that sort of money can be a tough obligation to impose on someone, I hear. I’m glad the board doesn’t spend it on professors. Or students, god forbid.

In unrelated news, yesterday Governor Kitzhaber announced his intention to disband the State Higher Education Board. It’ll be tough for Pernsteiner to get another gig like this, without a PhD.

Here are some of the Tree Tops documents:

1938 Campbell Church gift letter on “actual use”
Mrs. Gerlinger’s warning
Historical interest from DOJ file
Interior photos from ~1983

Maintenance and maid service costs:
Some 2004-2008 costs
Some 2008-2010 costs
IRS tax levy documents for maid service and OUS payments
Maid in Oregon housekeeping contracts

“Actual use” and misc:
Pernsteiner employment contracts 2004-2010
Pernsteiner Portland house 
Pernsteiner expense reports and per diem charges (more soon)
Heidelberg junket (more soon)
Treetops use by unrelated individuals (soon)

Voting investigation:
Lane County election supervisor initial inquiry
Pernsteiner’s attorney’s reply.

Lawsuit docs (email me).

Gottfredson on new academic plan

11/7/2013: Letter from President Gottfredson and Interim Provost Coltrane to faculty, on benchmarking and a new academic plan. The links include documents shared with the new UO Board. Presumably they will soon announce efforts to involve the Senate and Union leadership.

Dear Colleagues, 
As a comprehensive research university and a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the University of Oregon stands among the top 62 high-intensity research universities in North America, and the top 34 public universities. We are well positioned to distinguish ourselves further. To this end, we are taking a critical look at where we stand currently in relation to the top institutions in the country. 
We celebrate the remarkable work being done on our campus that positions us among the highest-ranking universities in the world. We are continually impressed by the quality and dedication of our faculty and staff; the significance of the research, scholarship, and creative inquiry being produced on our campus; and the intellectual curiosity and engagement of our students. We acknowledge that your accomplishments have occurred in the context of the significant challenges posed by declining state funding and increased enrollment. Imagine what we’ll achieve with more faculty, better support for research and graduate students, and enhanced facilities, which are all among our highest strategic priorities. 
With our new governing board structure and continuing shared governance we have an extraordinary opportunity to ensure that the UO is competitive with the finest universities in the nation. We are about to embark on a strategic planning process to focus intently on refinancing our organization and elevating the stature of our university. 
To advance this goal, we asked Brad Shelton, vice provost for Budget and Planning, to chair a committee to update the data that show us where we stand in relation to our AAU peers. As you know, we have measured ourselves for some time in relation to the OUS set of eight AAU public research universities (University of Michigan; University of Washington; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Iowa; Indiana University; University of Virginia; University of California, Santa Barbara; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Vice Provost Shelton led a committee that included Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for Research and dean of the Graduate School; Yvette Alex-Assensoh, vice president for Equity and Inclusion; Roger Thompson, vice president for Enrollment Management; Frances Bronet, dean of the College of Architecture and Allied Arts; Karen Sprague, then vice provost for Undergraduate Studies; and Mike Bullis, then dean of the College of Education; with input from others. 
This committee produced a benchmarking report, which we shared on the Senior Vice President and Provost’s website this week, that compares the UO with our AAU public peers on several metrics. Used along with other tools, it provides empirical evidence we need to inform our decisions moving forward. The metrics identify some areas of remarkable strength, including a high percentage of female tenure-track faculty members and the significant number of books published by our faculty. The report also identifies areas in which we should improve, including our faculty–student ratio, the number of graduate students we support, and the resources we have available to invest in students and research. Not surprisingly, the comparative data show that our public peers are better funded than we are. 
We are sharing this information with our new trustees as they prepare to participate in the governance of the institution, and with you, as we embark on a planning process that depends on the active participation of our campus community. You may download the orientation notebook we prepared for our trustees, which includes a variety of information about the UO, from the Board of Trustees website. 
Our goals for improvement remain aspirational, but attainable. The UO has a rich history of creativity, scholarship, and scientific achievement and a well-deserved reputation for delivering high-quality education to the people of Oregon. As we go forward, we will need to make strategic adjustments to focus additional resources where they will be the most effective. As we embark on a campus-wide process of identifying objectives linked to the values articulated in our academic plan, there will be opportunities for everyone to participate. We look forward to working together with the entire UO community as we set new goals for the future. 
Michael Gottfredson, President
Scott Coltrane, Interim Senior Vice President and Provost

OUS board just gives up and goes home

7/29/2013: Busy summer:

7/11 Governance & Policy Committee, Cancelled
7/11 Finance & Administration Committee, Cancelled
7/11 Academic Strategies Committee, Cancelled
7/12 Special Full Board meeting, 8-9a
7/12 Executive Session, 8a-3p
7/19 Full Board Meeting (telephonic), 9:30-11:30a
8/1 Finance & Administration Committee, 1-3p, Cancelled
8/1 Academic Strategies Committee, Cancelled
8/1 Executive Session of the Finance & Administration Committee, 5-6p,Cancelled
8/2 Executive Session, 7a-3p

But what’s that 8/2 executive session about?

OUS holds secret meeting on chancellor or presidents(s)

7/12/2013: Vague Notice of Meeting here:

Following the Board meeting, the Board will convene in executive session pursuant to ORS 192.660(2)(i) to review and evaluate the employment-related performance of the chief executive officer of any public body, a public officer, employee, or staff member who does not request an open hearing for the purpose of discussing personnel matters.

The DOJ rules call for a bit more explanation, but in any case Donegan does the real work during bathroom breaks. In other OUS news the GC Ryan Hagemann is way behind on the required evaluation of legal services at UO and the other institutions, which was supposed to be done in January or so. From May 29:

The legal services report will be made in July.  When the report was initially slated, we were attempting to get historical information from DAS to understand risk management charges.  We have received much of that, but, now, the Finance & Administration Committee was occupied with the important work of considering preliminary tuition proposals.  This schedule will allow for a fiscal year report and I anticipate this will be how I conceive of this report going forward into the future.

Thank you for your questions.

General Counsel
Oregon University System

Pernsteiner evicted from Treetops mansion, accuses Lane County Clerk of "specious challenge to my citizenship"

6/8/2013: Sorry, long story. Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart, who is in charge of elections and investigating illegal voting, recently sent former OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner a form asking if he really should be voting in Lane County. He sent back this response:

Yup, that’s our former Chancellor, accusing the Lane County Clerk of making a “specious challenge to my citizenship and residency”.

Specious? Really? Pernsteiner has been living at the Treetops Mansion at 2237 Spring Boulevard since 2004, courtesy of Oregon college student’s tuition money. At 6,389 square feet it’s the second largest house in Lane County. Maintenance is $150K or so a year. Our students also spring for Pernsteiner’s maid service.

Except Pernsteiner doesn’t really live there. He just pretends he does. If he doesn’t, the house goes back to the heirs of Campbell Church, a rather remarkable man who made his fortune in the Alaskan gold rush:

The early days of ecotourism – the M.V. Westward had a harpoon the guests could try out on passing whales.

In 1938 the formidable Irene Gerlingher, a UO booster from back when that term had nothing to do with athletics, persuaded the widowed Mr. Church to give Treetops to UO, on the condition that it be used as the residence of the UO President or the Chancellor:

But Pernsteiner’s actually been living at his own house in Portland. In fact his contract was giving him another $23K a year to pay for his mortgage there. Greg Bolt had a great story about it in the RG a few years back. That’s all over now. OUS board president Matt Donegan finally fired the right guy, and OUS has a new interim chancellor, Melody Rose. And as of 7/1/2013 she’s kicking Pernsteiner out of Treetops (and has no intention of getting involved in the scheme to keep it, by pretending to live there herself.)

This is sort of a problem for Mr. Pernsteiner, since back in 2011 when I challenged his claim to be a Lane County resident, he got his lawyer Bill Gary (of Harrang, Gary, Rudnick and Long) to tell Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart that:

Pernsteiner most recently voted in Lane County in the May election. Of course it’s illegal to vote in one county when you really live in another. But Ms Betschart said there wasn’t much that she could do except take his word – or his lawyer’s word – about his plan to someday return to live at Treetops. We’ve all got a dream I guess, and it does have a fabulous view from the verandas, a guest house, and a tennis court.

But, somewhere between 2011 and now reality set in. Pernsteiner changed his mind about buying Treetops from the Church heirs, and bought another house for his permanent residence. According to Zillow he did it on 4/27/2012, but what’s a few illegal elections? At 800 square feet it’s a bit smaller than Treetops, but it’s got a little history too, as James Beard’s beach cottage, and when you have to pay for your own maid service you make some sacrifices.

What will become of Treetops? Presumably President Gottfredson will move in, satisfying the gift letter terms, and UO will then let McMorran House, the current presidential residence, be used as the official residence of UO general counsel Randy Geller, the man who really runs UO. Or maybe Athletic Director Rob Mullens? The Duck football coach? Phil Knight?

Puff piece on Matt Donegan

5/25/2013: From Laura Gunderson in the Oregonian, promoting Donegan’s political ambitions. She pitches his steely stand against the UO faculty and boosters at the Lariviere firing meeting as a plus. Doesn’t mention the public meetings law violations or the secret bathroom caucus where he rallied the board to stand firm behind Pernsteiner. Does get into some rather personal divorce stuff at the end.

HB3120 makes HECC boss of UO, guts OUS

Legislative website on the bill hereBetsy Hammond has the story in the Oregonian:

If the Legislature approves the bill, this year will be the last that lawmakers get to decide how much money goes to the four-year universities, how much to community colleges and how much to financial aid. Under the plan, the Legislature would make a single allocation to higher education, and the HECC would decide how to divvy it up.

UO’s new Board of Boosters will report directly to the HECC, which will be responsible for approving tuition increases above 5%, and will have control of degree programs and “university governance.” The board will supervise all of Oregon’s universities and community colleges and financial aid. If I’m reading the current draft correctly, it will have just one faculty member on it. 4/14/2013.

New Chancellor update: Politically appointed boards do strange things …

2/14/2013 update: Melody Rose appointed Interim Chancellor. Betsy Hammond has the story. No word yet on whether or not her contract will

  1. Give her $23,200 for “professional expenses” and then let her pocket it as extra pay.
  2. Require her to pretend she lives at Treetops, and pay for her maid service, landscaping, and mortgage, and croissants.
  3. Encourage her to lie on her voter registration form and vote in Eugene.

2011 Update: This Harry Esteve story reports that SB909, Kitzhaber’s plan to shove OUS and Dr. Pernsteiner under the nearest bus, is building momentum:

As the session heads into its final days,  he appears to have the upper hand on his remaining priorities, including a statewide super-board to oversee all levels of education spending and a plan to trim health costs by overhauling the way low-income residents get medical care. 

6/18/2011: The quote is from Mrs. Irene Gerlinger, first woman regent of the University of Oregon, and “a formidable fundraiser” for the UO’s academic side.

UO no longer has a Board of Regents. We gave that authority up to the statewide Oregon State Board of Higher Education in 1929. As the impressive Mrs. Gerlinger predicted, this was a mistake. 
She was trying to keep the Chancellor in Eugene, where UO could keep an eye on him. Sure enough, in 2005, then interim Chancellor George Pernsteiner reneged on the Treetops deal, split for Portland, and has been taking our money ever since. The Campbell Church heirs are still trying to get their house back from him. 
President Lariviere’s new partnership plan would bring back the UO Board of Regents. Good idea. I can just imagine what Mrs Gerlinger would have said about Pernsteiner’s rule that Lariviere
(c) Refrain from advocating, in any way, including through employees and contractors, for The New Partnership or a governance/financing proposal substantially similar to The New Partnership, except through the Board’s processes;

I don’t think Pernsteiner would have lasted a month.

Update: Watch Donegan give Pernsteiner $300K in student tuition money

1/28/2013: Pernsteiner’s buy out deal is here, courtesy of OUS Board Secretary Charles Triplett – no fee this time, though it’s going to cost the students plenty:

Word from the recently dedicated Lariviere Smoking Lounge down at the UO faculty club is that the state Audits Division may be looking into how Pernsteiner has been accounting for some of those past “professional development expenses”.

1/27/2013: The OUS board meeting on his golden parachute is 10AM Monday, live-streaming here. But rumor around the faculty club snookers table is that Paul Kelly and Matt Donegan are going to do the deal in the men’s room, as usual. Here’s their last effort. Charles Triplett refused to post the video on the OUS minutes website – but UO put it on youtube:

Cuts to Pernsteiner’s Treetops maid service?

Christian Whithol has the story in the RG:

Oregon’s top higher education officials are engaged in a hypothetical analysis of financial pressures that the state’s public universities, including the University of Oregon, face over the next few years. 

But they want to keep the projections secret. …

Pernsteiner said he’d only release the projections “if I were assured that it wouldn’t be misconstrued and misinterpreted.”

Stay calm George. You may lose the maids, but Oregon tuition money is still going to pay your mortgage and croissant expenses. The RG is reporting on the “executive” meeting that OUS Counsel Ryan Hagemann kicked me out of. 1/21/2013.

Kitz keeps OUS health care costs high

1/14/2013: Nigel Jaquiss in WWeek:

In his report, Kenton says allowing OUS to find less expensive health insurance would have a real impact: In-state students pay $630 in tuition for every $1,000 OUS pays in employee health-insurance premiums. 

The system costs OUS more because its employees tend to be healthier than state employees as a whole. As a result, universities (and students through their tuition) subsidize the state’s health-insurance costs. 

It’s the first serious test of Kitzhaber’s commitment to giving universities more independence. But Kitzhaber believes if OUS employees got out of the state insurance pool, premiums for the remaining state employees could rise—creating long-term consequences that are bigger than higher tuition costs.

EMU Update: Hagemann kicks UO Matters out of OUS meeting

Update: It appears from the docket that one of the bond sales approved during the public part of this meeting was $2.06 Million to start Robin Holmes’s EMU renovation project:

Which explains why they met while the students were out of town. The Oregon Commentator has stories on the EMU from Ben Schorr and Nick Ekblad – who got Dave Hubin to cough up the Holmes emails.

Live blogging at bottom: 12/21/12: The public meeting of the OUS Finance and Admin Committee starts at 8:30 AM and lasts 30 minutes. The executive session starts at 9:00, and is scheduled for 7 hours. I have no idea what they plan to discuss. The only thing they will tell the public is that

“… they will discuss records that are exempt by law from public inspection.”

The last time OUS did this Paul Kelly called for a secret bathroom break, then they all filed back in and fired Lariviere. And they’re still trying to keep UO Matters editor Bill Harbaugh out of the stall:

Thank you for the message.  The UO Matters blog is not an institutionalized news media organization and you will not be admitted to the executive session portion of tomorrow’s meeting as a “representative of the news media” on that basis.

General Counsel
Oregon University System

It stinks. I’ve agreed to follow all the normal executive session rules, and I’ll be there at 8:30. Nigel Duara of the Oregon chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has written a letter endorsing my efforts to be admitted to this session:

While we are astounded that the Attorney General has essentially laid the responsibility for defining who is and who is not “institutionalized” news media in the hands of the very organizations who are the subject of coverage (one is put in mind of teenagers permitted to set their own curfews), we can only assume that, in the spirit of transparency,
openness and goodwill toward all, the Oregon University System will reconsider its troubling and meritless rejection of Harbaugh’s request.

Check back to see if Hagemann kicks me out – in which case I’m really going to start wondering what is going down. Call to meeting and docket:


They kicked me out: Very crowded room, something big is going on in there. 
Free coffee cup to whoever leaves the comments with the most and least accurate description of what fresh hell OUS is up to in there. Something Mayan? 

Who’s in? 10-12 Board people including Pernsteiner, Ciufetti. Kurt Shuler, Gottfredson, Bean, Moffitt, and a swarm of well dressed lobbyist types. n~40. Think I saw Roger Thompson. Mary Spilde. Ed Ray. 

Who’s out? Mullens, Holmes, Espy, Harbaugh

Live Blog:
8:30 AM:
Public meeting starts – bond sales – revenue bonds, they have enough revenue to keep the tax exemption (unlike with Matt Court).

Kirk: Do individually. #1 passes
Moderator?: OSU renovations:
Pernsteiner enters, looking very shaky.
OSU Athletics projects – bonds paid with PAC12 $16M in new revenue.
Schueler: PAC12 – isn’t already allocated? Ed Ray: $30+ million in new cable money coming.
Mod: In the next couple of years Beavs will erase $8 million subsidy over several years. They also have pledges.
Mod: PSU Housing renovations. Self-sustaining.
Motion to sell the bonds, passes unanimously.
#4. Mod: All universities are within 7% ceiling.
#5. New standing resolution to refinance bonds when advantageous, work w/ State Treasurer.
#6. New bonds to fund – plenty of revenue to fund – passes.

That’s it for public meeting – move on to executive session of the committee, all present.

Kirk Schuler now reads language on news media. Two reporters identify themselves. One is allowed to stay – didn’t get his name. Charles Triplett walks over to me and says “I am Charles Triplett, Board Secretary. Ryan Hagemann has determined that you are not a member of the news media and we are asking you to leave.” What would HHDL do? I left. 

As I was in the hall, Jamie Moffitt came walking in for the executive session. President Gottfredson was already in the room, along with the Committee and about 30 well-dressed hangers on. So your guess is as good as mine about what’s going on in there.

9:15: Had a good chat with Hagemann in the hall – tried to scare him with a little lawyer stuff, he doesn’t care, not his money. There may or not be a public meeting to make decisions about what they see in secret today. Think I’ll sit here and drink their coffee for a bit.

9:23: Biker dude in full leathers walks in.

Bean walks out, searches for the elevator, comes back 15 min later.

The science post-docs have discovered Dr. Pernsteiner’s croissant stash in the atrium. Going fast, George.

Googling open meetings law – Franklin in the Philadelphia Gazzette:

10:22: In France, they wouldn’t serve these croissants to a dog. Graduate students walk off muttering.

10:34 Coming out for a break. Seem happy. I’ve staked out the refreshments table. Moffitt and Gottfredson turn back. Monica Rimai from PSU comes out. Allyn Ford seems like the most popular. No one’s talking to Bean.

10:52 They go back in the room. Lots of complaints that it’s too small. It’s huge.

11:13: OK, I finished off the last of their coffee – I’m outta here. Might check back later.

OUS calls secret meeting in Eugene, 12/21/12

What fresh hell is this?

And yes, it appears Oregon public meetings law does not require Pernsteiner give any more description than that below. Reporters can attend, but only if they promise not to report. I tried to go to the executive session on firing Lariviere. Triplett told me I wasn’t a reporter. 12/18/12.