Lariviere talks:

3/10/2010: And as an antidote to the post below, our new President talks to the Washington Post. Not a word about athletics – I am starting to like this guy.

Coffee with U. of Oregon President Lariviere

I had coffee recently with Richard Lariviere, president of the University of Oregon.

One of 60 members of the elite Association of American Universities, UO has one of the nation’s premiere education schools, a cartoon character as its mascot and the glorious — or perhaps dubious — distinction of having loaned its campus to the makers of Animal House.

“My office is Dean Wormer’s office,” Lariviere said.

For the president’s 60th birthday in January, his wife smuggled a life-size fiberglass horse into the office,

“This is actually a really optimistic and hopeful moment for the University of Oregon,” Lariviere said. The university is “hiring aggressively” — How many state universities are doing that? — and working with state government toward a new, more predictable funding model than annual appropriations from the state.

State funding has dipped from $80 million to $67 million in the downturn, and now represents 8 to 9 percent of total university funding, he said.

“We just learned two days ago, three days ago, the amount of funding we will receive for this academic year,” he said, in a meeting last week.

How to make it more predictable? The proposal, if I understood it correctly, is to convert state funding from annual outlays to a bond fund, which “would be managed as if it were an endowment,” with consistent revenue going to the school each year. Attempting this “would probably result in trying to change the constitution of the state of Oregon,” he said.

UO has weathered the recession well because its state funding was small to begin with, Lariviere said. The university’s situation is similar to that of the University of Virginia, whose state support has dwindled from 26 percent to 7 percent of the school’s budget over the past 20 years.

In its state of relative health, the university is “aggressively pursuing” the thousands of students who will not get in to the University of California system this year because of grevious cuts in the neighboring state.

Like Virginia, Oregon has increased tuition to replace lost student funds. Tuition is up 14 percent this year, to $7,428 for residents; students absorbed a $150 midyear increase last year.

“No one is happy about it,” Lariviere said. “We simply sat down with students and showed them why it was necessary.”

Through its Pathway Oregon program, in its second year, the university helps students from low-income families by picking up the difference between a federal Pell Grant and total tuition and fees.

UO relies heavily on nonresident tuition. Nonresidents pay $16,107, and they make up 43 percent of the student population, significantly higher than the nonresident ratio in any Maryland or Virginia school. Local politics dictate that U-Va. and the University of Maryland reserve at least two-thirds of their seats for locals, who don’t like to compete with out-of-state students for admission.

Unlike U-Va. and U-Md., UO is able to admit all qualified applicants, who must bring a 3.0 grade-point average and a competitive SAT score. But in another two years, Lariviere fears the school will run out of space and start turning students away. Then, one supposes, local attitudes about out-of-state and foreign students may shift.

UO accepts ever-larger numbers of students from India and China, as well as California, Washington and Colorado.

“Our prices are still, in terms of international value, a huge value,” he said.

Lariviere, a linguist by training with a doctorate in Sanskrit, came to UO last July. He had been provost at the University of Kansas and, before that, an administrator at the University of Texas in Austin.

I asked him whether he expects to see a decline in the great public flagship schools of California, whose deep budget cuts sparked a statewide student and faculty protest last week.

Yes, he said, but it will be “a longer-term phenomenon.” Berkeley, for example, houses “a dozen or so departments that are as good as you will find anywhere in the world.” Senior faculty aren’t likely to leave those departments because of the economy, Lariviere said. But younger faculty — the future leaders — may take their careers elsewhere.

“If you talk to any young faculty at Berkeley, all you will hear is endless complaints about the quality of life itself,” he said.

The university has hired about 50 new faculty this year, from California, the University of Michigan and other prestigious institutions.

“The department chairs and deans have big grins on their faces,” he said.

 That’s true.

Lariviere, UO and 66 and 67

1/27/2010: Now that 66 and 67 have passed, UO’s budget seems pretty safe. Rumors are that there is plenty of cash about. We can expect a big announcement from new UO President Richard Lariviere soon about how he plans to spend it – sometime after he deals with his first priorities, Masoli and Kelly.

The administrators have already jumped the queue. The Provost’s budget has grown from $1.4 million to $3.7 million in 4 years, and now Lariviere is letting Jim Bean make even more VP hires – the UO jobs website currently lists 3 of them.So if you go by what he does rather than what he says, Lariviere thinks UO’s number one problem is too few VPs.

The academic side can expect some promises and some trickle down, but Lariviere has been in charge for 7 months now and shows no signs of wanting to rock the boat, much less change course.

Sorry, but that’s how it looks from here and I’m hardly the only one saying it. If you’ve got another interpretation, post it.

Questions for President Lariviere?

12/3/2009: The Oregon Public Broadcasting show “Think Out Loud” did an interview with President Lariviere today. You can listen to the interview and see questions here. (Click on the > arrow to start.)

Also, CJ Ciaramella has this story in the ODE, about UO accountability to the state. “I would like this faculty to come up with a set of metrics that will be meaningful to the average person and help them see how we’re doing,” Lariviere said. See our previous post “WTF? Ignorant anti-tax Texans vote to increase funding for research universities” for an example of how this actually has worked in Texas.

Budget Town Hall

10/22/2009: The ODE has a CJ Ciaramella story on the town hall here.

University administrators faced a worried and sometimes angry crowd on Wednesday when they held a town hall-style meeting addressing upcoming furlough days for classified and unclassified staff.

An anonymous observer at the Budget Town hall writes to us:

Lariviere started things off by saying that he was pained by the provision in the SEIU contract forcing employers to make classified staff take furloughs and that he would do everything in his power to “make the classified staff whole again”.

When pressed for a clarification, he said that the furloughs would take place but that the University administration was looking into all possible ways to legally give back the pay lost because of the furloughs.

Jim Bean(UOM: salary $320,700) then explained the budget situation and how the university has taken in $37 million in increased tuition and fees but that has been eaten away nearly entirely by continued state cutbacks, increasing scholarships and other support for needy students, and providing student support services. (UOM: No mention of big ticket items like UO-Bend, diversity, sustainability, golden parachutes, increasing administrative positions, etc?)

Frances Dyke ($212,493) and Melinda Grier($184,710), who shared the dais with Bean and Lariviere, were completely unempathetic towards the classified staff’s situation. Fortunately they only answered a few questions.

One possibility that Lariviere might explore is a UO Foundation fund for the staff. While donations for the benefit of an individual are not tax deductible, presumably donations to a general fund to help out low income staff would be. Perhaps Melinda Grier could redeem herself – a little – by figuring out how to set this up. Nah, she’s beyond redemption. But about 1/2 of President Lariviere’s pay comes from Foundation funds – surely it is possible to set up a similar fund to help out staff too? I know many faculty would contribute. Especially if Lariviere would enact some transparency reforms, so that we would know if Frances blew the surplus on more Johnson Hall remodeling.

Please email additional views on the meeting, or post in comments.

face punch

9/4/2009: Contrast President Lariviere’s statement below with what the RG wrote in May, about then President Frohnmayer’s refusal to say anything to condemn the threats by Duck fans against Professor Sohlberg. Change we can believe in?

Update: Lariviere has suspended the player for the year, while letting him keep his scholarship and the support services he gets as an athlete. Tough and generous. We are starting to like this guy.

5/15/2009: “So the bullies have won.” The Register Guard Editors. The RG takes UO President Dave Frohnmayer to task for failing to defend Professor Sohlberg from the mob that was incited by this RG story on the O sign.

Statement from University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere regarding player conduct following the Boise State football game
Sept. 4, 2009

At the conclusion of last night’s University of Oregon season opening football game against Boise State University, a UO player displayed inappropriate and unsportsmanlike behavior. There is no place on the field of play for that kind of action, and his conduct was reprehensible.

We do not and will not tolerate the actions that were taken by our player. Oregon’s loyal fans expect and deserve better. The University of Oregon Athletics Department is reviewing the situation and will take appropriate action, reflecting the seriousness of the player’s behavior.

We then hope to put this incident behind us and look forward to the rest of the season.

UO players, coaches and fans are known for their passion and enthusiasm for athletic competition. At the University of Oregon, we are committed to demonstrating that passion in positive ways.

Richard W. Lariviere
University of Oregon President

Administrative reorganization?


From the HR website:

Richard Lariviere, Incoming President, wishes to announce a reorganization within the President’s Office. The reorganization is necessary to ensure a smooth transition in leadership that is as seamless as possible and will allow the business of the university to move forward quickly and effectively during a critical time. The reorganization involves a number of changes.

Jim Bean, Interim Sr. Vice President and Provost, has agreed to continue in that role on a long-term basis.

University Advancement ultimately will be reorganized into two units, each with a Vice President reporting to the president — the Office of University Relations and the Office of University Development. Interim Vice President for Advancement Michael Redding has been asked, and has agreed to serve as Vice President for University Relations. In addition to its primary role of strategically positioning the UO with it various constituents and securing public resources to further its aims, the Office of University Relations will have responsibility for senior and executive assistant staff providing support for the president. A search for a Vice President for University Development will commence as soon as practical, with Sr. Vice President/Provost Bean serving as chair. Until that position has been filled, University Development will report to Vice President Redding.

As a result of his role in managing the university’s legislative priorities and providing policy and communication support for university leaders, Director of Intergovernmental Relations Tim Black has an extensive knowledge of university policies and procedures, the university’s role within the state, and the ability to work effectively with a wide range of internal and external constituents. Those attributes are essential to ensuring that the president is positioned to further the objectives of the institution. Tim Black has been asked, and has agreed to serve in an expanded role as Assistant Vice President.

Executive Assistant President Dave Hubin will continue to support the Office of the President in much the same manner as he currently does, meeting with individuals who contact the president’s office for assistance, serving as accreditation liaison officer and NCAA certification coordinator, serving as the president’s liaison to the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon and on faculty governance, and many other important tasks. His title will change to Senior Assistant to the President.

In light of the retirement of Carol Rydbom, Becky Couch-Goodling, who has provided administrative support in the President’s Office since 1997 has been asked, and has agreed to serve in an expanded role as Executive Assistant to the President.

Finally, in light of the campus-wide reach and critical importance of campus diversity initiatives, Charles Martinez, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity, will report directly to the president as Vice President for Institutional Equity and Diversity, rather than to the Sr. Vice President/Provost.

The above changes will ensure a core team of knowledgeable and dedicated staff to support the incoming president and contribute to a smooth transition that will allow important work to continue without disruption. The changes are anticipated to be effective on or about July 1, 2009.

Current UO employees who wish to share any thoughts or comments regarding the reorganization within the Office of the President are invited to submit comments to [Incoming] President Lariviere. Comments should be directed to Barbara West at and must be received by 5:00 p.m. on June 30, 2009.

RG Editorial on salaries

6/15/2009: The RG has an editorial today on low faculty salaries at UO – repeating the now infamous $7,300 less than Missouri number, and making enough other comparisons to head off the counter-arguments and excuses we’ve been hearing from President Frohnmayer and UO’s administrators on this. The RG then argues – or maybe this is my explication – that the current high unemployment rate shows that the state should diversify its economic base, that higher education is a proven way to do that, and that low faculty salaries are not going to make it easy to build UO back into the strong research university the state needs.

As always the question is how to come up with the money to do this. It will take about $10 million per year to get salaries up near peer levels. UO has this money already – thanks to higher tuition and enrollment. This site tries to document how the current administration has been spending that money on their own salaries (120% of peers), perks ($3 million on remodeling!) and a raft of pet projects that distract from our core academic mission. If incoming President Lariviere is serious about rebuilding UO, he is going to have to start by making some tough decisions about the millions of dollars that UO has been spending on increased administrative salaries and expenses, subsidizing Bend, new programs in Portland, diversity, sustainability and so on. Tough choices. The sooner he starts, the sooner the rebuilding will start.

I hope that editorials like this will make Lariviere’s decisions on these issues easier. They will be opposed by many special interests, including President Frohnmayer. Unfortunately Frohnmayer has chosen to forego the traditional year long off campus sabbatical for retiring presidents. The reason for this tradition is to ensure that the old president will not meddle in the decisions of the new one. It is a bad sign that Frohnmayer did not do this voluntarily, and a worse one that Lariviere did not have enough influence with the OUS board to insist on it.

"Big Ideas" or better pay than Missouri?

6/10/2009: Update on Frohnmayer’s Foundation slush fund: Apparently he has been in a mad rush to spend $1 million in leftover money as quick as possible. Anyone with details, post a comment. We’re guessing this money is not going to Faculty!

Provost Bean has now selected UO’s next “Big Ideas” which will … well, we don’t really know what it means to be a big idea. All of Bean’s revolve around green/sustainability/diversity. While President Lariviere has said that his own #1 priority is getting faculty salaries about the bar set by Missouri, at least one “Big Idea” proposed that UO take steps to increase faculty salaries and research support. This did not make Bean’s cut. More in the comments.

The Daily Emerald now has a news blog. They’ve posted a story on UO .lt. UM.

According to this Kansas newspaper, incoming President Lariviere will be paid $540,000 in salary and deferred compensation. Adding in the usual perks and ORP, and this will probably add up to about $600,000 using the definition of total compensation. The average for all PhD granting schools will be about $500,000 next year. OUS Secretary Ryan Hagemann tells us that he and Lariviere are still negotiating, and that there is no final contract yet. We’ll post the contract when Hagemann approves it.

Be the Change

UO’s new President Richard Lariviere takes office 7/1. We hear very good things about him from people we trust. He has a few less than two a months to decide how to fix UO. Don’t let him get all his information from the usual suspects. Email him at, and tell him your perspective on what is right and wrong about UO.

Paul Kelly, chair of the OUS Board is another good person by all accounts, who gets too much information from Frohnmayer, Bean, Grier, Dyke and Hubin, and too little from faculty and students. cc him at