11/12/2009: From CJ Ciaramella in the Daily Emerald on yesterday’s Senate meeting. Melinda Grier tries another end run around faculty governance. She and law professor John Bonine last tangled over the COC/COI issue. She lost. In fact, she loses every time she is challenged on something. Why hasn’t Lariviere fired her yet? Either he doesn’t realize how incompetent she is, or he supports her efforts to destroy any trust between the faculty and his new administration. The man has been on campus since April. There’s no good way to read this.
Questions arise over power struggle among senators, faculty and administration: CJ Ciaramella.
A legal opinion delivered by University General Counsel Melinda Grier to the University Senate led one incensed senator to consider arming the Senate with its own legal counsel at yesterday’s meeting.
The memo, delivered to the Senate the day before the meeting, suggests that Oregon Public Meetings Law may not apply to the body.
“In certain circumstances, the Oregon Public Meetings Law may by operation of law apply to the University Senate,” Grier said in the memo, “but in all others, it applies only to the extent the University Senate Charter self-imposes those requirements.”
However, the hullabaloo was not so much over the OPML as a perceived slighting of the Senate’s power. University Sen. and law professor John Bonine said the memo failed to cite the University’s charter, which he called the “key governing document of this University,” and misrepresented the Senate’s relationship with the administration.
“The fact is that power is split between the president and the Senate,” Bonine said.
However, Grier’s memo states that “the faculty, by statute, also has authority. While that grant is not stated in detail and its relationship with the president’s authority is not well-defined, historically the faculty’s authority has been over the curriculum and the discipline of the students.”
Grier went on to say, “it appears the University Senate’s authority is not express and is that authorized by the president subject to veto by the president.”
Bonine contends that the University Charter, which Grier never mentions by name, conflicts with her opinion.
The charter, found in ORS 352.010, reads, “the president and professors constitute the faculty of each of the state institutions of higher education and as such have the immediate government and discipline of it and the students therein.”
“To obtain a legal opinion that contains about as big of a legal error as I can imagine astounds me,” Bonine said.
Bonine verbally announced a motion at the meeting to provide the Senate with its own legal counsel and said he would officially produce a written motion sometime in the near future.
… More in the article, on voting for Senate VP.
The Daily Emerald has been doing good reporting about UO politics again. So far it hasn’t risen to the standard of Ryan Knutson’s Bernsteinian investigative pieces on the arena, but reporter Alex Tomchak Scott seems to know how to do an interview. See this story on the UO Senate’s version of Florida 2000. (Not in story: the Senate minutes show there was no quorum at the meeting that elected van Donkelaar either!) Check out Frohnmayer’s quotes on Tublitz – I hope Scott brought a handkerchief to wipe off the spittle:
“If anything,” Frohnmayer said, “I’ve made efforts to revitalize the Senate. If (demoralizing the Senate has) occurred, it’s occurred because of many other demands on faculty members’ time, and because frankly some people have attempted to use the Senate for their own personal agendas, including a couple that I’ve named, and that drives people away. But I don’t think it’s my doing at all. I really don’t. I’ve a clean conscience and an uninhibited mind on this.”
Nathan Tublitz will be Senate President for 2010-2011. This email from current President Paul van Donkelaar explains the situation:
I write to let you know that I have heard a number of concerns regarding the manner by which the election process for Senate vice-president was postponed until the October meeting. I have sought counsel from a number of respected colleagues including Paul Simonds, the Senate Parliamentarian; Gwen Steigelman, the Secretary to the Senate; John Bonine, a Senator from Law; as well as members of the Faculty Advisory Council. I trust the judgment of this group of colleagues and although they provided differing opinions on the matter, the consensus was that based on parliamentary procedures as applied in the context of the meeting last Wednesday the vote taken should stand. In discussions with Senate Parliamentarian, Paul Simonds, the following two issues became apparent:
- The election became final once the votes were taken and announced.
- My assertion that the election was out of order because of a lack of quorum was incorrect because the absence of a quorum is generally not permitted to affect prior action.
Therefore, the decision to postpone the election until October is not valid. From a procedural point of view, my decision today does not appear to be subject to appeal, thus, there is no need to hold a meeting at which such appeals could be discussed and voted upon. As a result of this counsel, I hereby announce the winner of the vote, Nathan Tublitz, as the next Senate vice-president.
Let me add that I have learned this year that trust is something that is often in short supply in matters of internal governance at the UO. I am not an unethical person nor do I wish to be viewed as such. It truly saddens me that, despite my efforts to build trust across many constituents, my actions last Wednesday were apparently viewed with suspicion by some present at the meeting and in the broader community. All I can say is that the goal of my original assertion was not to deny Nathan the vice-presidency, but simply to ensure that a sufficient number of people voted. I would have made the same decision had the vote totals for each candidate been reversed.
Yours, Paul van Donkelaar
Daily Emerald article says that at the 5/27 UO Senate meeting President Paul van Donkelaar decided after he knew the outcome of the voting for the 2010-2011 Senate President that there was no quorum and that the vote would be done over in October. The obvious interpretation is that Nathan Tublitz had the most votes, and that Paul made this decision to increase the chance of the election of an alternative he preferred. This is not a pleasant conclusion, so if someone knows more or has an alternative interpretation of what happened, please comment.
Just to be clear, we think the biggest problem with the Senate is that it has no input into basic budgeting decisions: like how much money will UO spend on academics, how much on administrators, how much on CAS, how much on Bend and Portland. The Senate doesn’t even have any credible information about current expenditures, because Frohnmayer, Bean and Dyke lie with impunity to the Senate and to the Senate Finance Committee about how they spend UO’s money. This problem needs to be fixed. Until it is the Senate does more bad than good, because it lets the administration claim their most bizarre and self-serving decisions have the consent of the faculty.