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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UO faculty leaving over low salaries, President reports

7/19/2013: And more from Lariviere, on the need for additional faculty raises – written *after* he implemented the equity raises that helped get him fired:

Frankly, the single most important action the UO could take to ensure its long-term success is to finish the faculty salary equity project during FY12 and implement as rapidly as possible a more conventional and predictable merit increase process.

Average pay at UO for assistants and associates *fell* last year. We’re now into FY14. See here for data on how far you are behind our comparators. President Gottfredson’s response to the union’s wage proposal is due next week. Bargaining starts at 11 on Monday, and at 9 on Tu and Wed. Be there, important shared governance proposals will also be on the table.

7/18/2013: From an interview with the Daily Emerald:

The policies that we’ve had visited on us in the last two years basically have resulted in no salary increases for faculty or officers of administration. … We were losing faculty here for the first time in quite a while, in significant numbers — 12 really good faculty. We always have more turnover than that every year, but these were 12 people who were lured away by outside offers. These weren’t people who left because of their families or they didn’t get tenure or some other, these are people that we wanted to keep, somebody else wanted to hire and we lost them. And that’s a big number in that category. We said, “Look, you get an outside offer, we’ll match it.” But their response to that is, “Well, what have you been doing for the last 10 years that put me in this position where I’m so poorly paid that I can get such a big salary increase by going to another university?” That’s a hard question to answer if you’ve not given salary increases. 

Oh wait, never mind. That was President Lariviere, 2 years ago. The new mantra, chanted by Journalism Dean Tim Gleason and VPAA Doug Blandy in the union bargaining sessions, is that when UO faculty leave it is for non-economic reasons. What does President Gottfredson think? Who knows, he doesn’t give interviews.

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.

Presidential transition team

5/17/2012: This was Lariviere’s first mistake. Jim Bean as chair – Bellotti, Grier, Martinez!

A few months later Jim Bean had managed to move from interim to permanent provost without any search or campus discussion. With Bean’s advice Lariviere kept on Grier and Dyke, and then he hired people like Denis Simon and Kees de Kluyver. Then came the Bellotti fiasco and the AG’s investigation. Then the CFO search – also headed by Bean – failed. Lariviere never had a chance to get on his feet. Then Donegan and Pernsteiner came after him, as would a pack of savage wolves, sensing a moment of weakness in the heart of a noble but aged bull moose.

So, anyone got suggestions for the next president’s transition team?

6/9/2009. The following message is forwarded on behalf of incoming President Richard Lariviere: 

As July 1 approaches, Jan and I grow increasingly excited about the opportunity to join the University of Oregon community. Since being named the UO’s next president I have made monthly visits to Oregon to begin my education and orientation. These visits have reinforced my impression that the University of Oregon is one of the finest institutions in the United States.

I still have much to learn about the university, the state, and the community. I have assembled a short-term team of advisors to accelerate that process and to help ensure a seamless transition (see below for a list of the transition team members). This team will serve as a learning network and will add valuable perspective on the key issues I must be attentive to in the coming months. I have asked the transition team to meet several times between July and the end of the fall term with a charge of identifying the five most critical issues that face the institution.

In addition to the transition team, I will consult with other key internal and external constituencies such as the Faculty Advisory Council, University Senate leadership, staff and student leadership, trustees, alumni leaders, and others.  I am also eager to hear from you. You can reach me at [email protected], and after July 1, I will available by phone in the president’s office at 346-3036.

I value your input as we strive to support our collective goal of enhancing one of the preeminent public higher education institutions in the nation.  I look forward to meeting you in the coming weeks.

Richard Lariviere
Incoming President

Transition Team:
Jim Bean, Senior Vice President and Provost (Chair)
Melinda Grier, General Counsel
Michael Redding, Vice President University Advancement
Robin Holmes, Vice President for Student Affairs
Charles Martinez, Vice Provost Institutional Equity and Diversity
Barbara West, Special Counsel to President
Deb Carver, Dean University Libraries
Frances Bronet, Dean Architecture and Allied Arts
Larry Singell, Associate Dean College of Arts and Sciences
Paul van Donkelaar, former President University Senate
Geri Richmond, Professor Chemistry
Gordon Sayre, Professor English
Michael Moffitt, Associate Professor Law
David Wacks, Assistant Professor Romance Languages
Mike Bellotti, Athletic Director
Elaine Jones, Assistant Dean for Finance and Operations, College of Education (OA)
Steve Stolp, Director Support Services for Student Athletes (OA)
Joshi Wynn, Graduate Student
TBD, Classified Staff
TBD, Undergraduate Student
Tim Black, Director Intergovernmental Relations (Staff to Transition Team)

Richard Lariviere, unplugged

12/16/2011: Excellent interview with Jack Stripling in the Chronicle You may need to be on campus for the link to work.

I had plenty of problems with him as president. But I like the man because he’s witty and genuine. I admire him because he’s smart and because he cared first about our students, not about himself. I respect him because he’s nobody’s toady and he is as honest as Abe. I wish him the best because he fought like hell against people who deserve to be fought against, and because when they beat him, he left with a grace that left them looking like the fools they are.

I hope our next president is all these things, and also knows how to tame snakes. Maybe we can help:

Q: … In a recent opinion piece for the Eugene Register-Guard, [new interim UO President Berdahl] said, Oregon’s next president should “be prepared to knuckle under the chancellor.” Is this a person you thought the board would turn to?

A. I don’t think they turned to him instinctively. When the faculty unanimously demanded that Bob Berdahl be the interim president, it really became necessary for the board, in spite of what they may have felt, to choose him.

Forum with Pres Lariviere TOMORROW

11/1/2011: University Senate-sponsored session with President Lariviere TOMORROW, Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. in Beall Concert Hall at the School of Music and Dance. Details below. Meanwhile here is a clip of President Lariviere during his on campus interview in March 2009. The part about shared governance, 8:40 in, is interesting.


We are writing to remind you about our first PRESIDENT’S FORUM of the academic year. This is a University Senate-sponsored session with President Lariviere on this coming Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. in Beall Concert Hall at the School of Music and Dance.

The President’s Forum will give you and the entire campus community an important opportunity to ask questions and to engage in an open dialogue with President Lariviere.

There are crucial issues and conversations underway on our campus and across Oregon’s education continuum, and we want to be sure that you are an active part of this ongoing dialogue. Please attend the forum in order to hear the President’s presentation, and to convey your questions, concerns, interests and comments.

We strongly encourage you to participate and look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.

All the best,

Richard Lariviere,

Robert Kyr,
University Senate President
Philip H. Knight Professor of Music

OSU loves Lariviere

10/14/2011: From an editorial in the Corvallis paper:

Corvallis Gazette-Times, Oct. 11, on raises for university faculty:

Say what you will about University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere – and the man has picked up something of a maverick label during his term at the Eugene campus – he might be the next best friend for faculty members throughout Oregon’s public universities and colleges, including Oregon State.

Lariviere made headlines – and some waves – recently when it was revealed that the University of Oregon had handed out raises averaging $4,800 per year for faculty members. Those raises, of course, came at a time when faculty members at other state institutions were facing pay freezes and furlough days. (At Oregon State University, for example, faculty members voted to take furlough days.)

Lariviere wasn’t apologetic: He said the raises, which he termed “equity increases,” were to keep wages competitive for faculty members. …

Lariviere interviewed in Emerald

9/19/2011: Good questions from Tyree Harris, and some detailed answers, read it all here. A sample:

ODE: What progress do you hope to make this year with the New Partnership? What progress do you think can be made given the new terms of your contract?

RL: My contract doesn’t have anything to do with it. And the terms of my contract wouldn’t impede me from speaking my mind on this anyway. Governor Kitzhaber has really got this about right, I think. He’s got this new perspective on the state’s investment in education. 60 cents of every taxed dollar is spent on education, but it’s spent in silos on pre-K, K-12, community college and universities. And there’s no attempt to measure, from the state’s perspective, whether this oath investment is doing what we want it to do as an electorate. All we ask is, “Is pre-K doing a good job?” and we go to pre-K and say “Are you doing a good job?” and guess what, the answer is, “Yeah, we think so.” K-12, same conversation. Nobody’s stepping back and saying “is our investment resulting in a kid being able to go through this process to fulfill herself to the maximum potential, in a way that is going to be of a long-term benefit to the state of Oregon?” Those kind of questions have not been asked. This governor is asking those questions. He’s got a new structure for education that I think is really intriguing, and it matches with our understanding of our segment of higher education at the University of Oregon very, very well. Our intention is to follow the governor’s lead on the implementation of this new plan, and work with him and the Oregon Education Investment Board, OEIB, to figure out the details of implementation that will optimize the return on the investment that the state is making. My conversations with this governor around these issues have been a real breath of fresh air. This is one smart cookie, and I’m pretty cynical about politicians.

ODE: Did that make it a difficult decision for you to give those raises while classified employees are taking furloughs?

RL: Well they’re separate issues. We have no control over those negotiations. We have very little input into it. We have some, but we’re just one voice among seven institutions negotiating with the OUS faction, and then there’s the Department of Administrative Services negotiating with the SEIU as well, so we don’t really have a lot to say about the outcome of those decisions. And I have to be pretty careful about what I say about that because they’re negotiating now anyway. This is an institution that rises and falls on the basis of the quality of the people who work here. It’s not about the bricks and mortar. It’s only important to the extent that the people who work here can do their jobs well. Our salaries for our faculty, for example, when I came here were 80 percent of the average of our peers, so 20 percent below average. In that environment, with highly mobile, highly talented people, you’re vulnerable. Not to do something about that would be the height of irresponsibility.

Why does the Register Guard hate Lariviere?

9/7/2011: I don’t get it. First the two Diane Dietz stories, now this editorial. They repeat Di Saunder’s misinformation, put Bean’s quote in the worst possible context, and say nothing about the raises the OUS administrators took for themselves while they were forcing furloughs on the UO staff. Nothing on Lariviere’s courageous moves to use overtime to undo the furloughs for low paid staff.

It’s like the RG is trying to help Pernsteiner fire Lariviere. What a disaster for UO and the state that would be. There are plenty of tough questions to ask about Lariviere’s management of UO. Why did it take him 2 years to start cleaning the administration of Frohnmayer holdovers like Martinez, Linton, and Dyke? Why is he putting so much money into new administrative hires, and so little into new faculty? Why is the athletic department still sucking $5 million a year from academics, while he lets them pretend they are self-supporting? Why do we still not have a reasonable public records process? Attacking Lariviere over these raises is a cheap shot – while ignoring the important questions. I don’t get it.

Pernsteiner gets all pissy

6/17/11: From the Statesman Journal editors blog:

– President Lariviere was absent for three of the five full State Board of Higher Education meetings during the 2010-11 fiscal year.

– His new contract has not been written but these are the conditions read during the board’s meeting by telephone this week:

Richard Lariviere Contract conditions:

(1) (a) Attendance at Board meetings and Presidents’ Council meetings, absent a legitimate and unavoidable conflict;

 (b) Active participation in Board, Board committee, and OUS discussions on governance, institution boards, and sustainable financing models in preparation for the 2012 legislative session, including presenting and advocating for a specific proposal on governance and financing now known as “The New Partnership” for Board committee and Board consideration;

(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;

(d) Refrain from opposing any legislative proposal adopted by the Board and/or advanced by the Governor for presentation to the 2012 Oregon Legislative Assembly.  

(2) Termination without cause providing for 30 days’ notice and liquidated damages of whatever state salary is remaining on the contract.  

Shove it, Dr. Pernsteiner. The weird part is Mrs. Gerlingher predicted all this, back in 1939.

Students on Lariviere:

3/4/2011: From Mark Costigan in the ODE, attacking his lack of transparency:

Transparency has been a problem in political and educational administrations nationwide, but Lariviere has demonstrated he has little to no intentions of changing that trend. As we move out of the public sector, this could pose a serious threat to the academic freedom and equality this establishment was founded on.

Quoted by Melissa Haskin, in the Commentator, saying that which must not be mentioned:

“On the other hand, if you’re a 3.9 student, why the hell would you apply some place that only requires a 3.4?”

Tough job.

muckraking and worthy endeavor

11/6/2010: This blog is for muckraking and whistleblowing. But as Teddy Roosevelt said:

“The men with the muck-rakes are often indispensable to the well-being of society; but only if they know when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward to the celestial crown above them, to the crown of worthy endeavor. There are beautiful things above and round about them; and if they gradually grow to feel that the whole world is nothing but muck, their power of usefulness is gone.”

We wish President Lariviere a quick recovery. UO needs him.