Schill cuts tuition to $0, angry students say he just wants to make it harder to organize for Bernie

OK, so that’s not exactly what went down at tonight’s Town Hall on the guaranteed tuition plan. The Emerald’s Ryan Nguyen has a more nuanced report here.

As for the plan itself, it goes against what both the neoclassical *and* behavioral economic models predict about student enrollment decisions. So I’d give Roger Thompson a 50/50 chance of pulling it off.

As it happens there’s a good Economics undergrad honor’s thesis about guaranteed tuition here, by one of my former students.

Trustees to roll dice with guaranteed tuition plan

From President Schill:

University of Oregon community members,

I have received recommendations from the students, faculty, and staff who comprise the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board (TFAB) and am now ready to receive campus input on an innovative guaranteed tuition model for undergraduates that deserves serious consideration. This tuition plan is a change from past practices, and I encourage the campus community to look closely at the new tuition model proposed by TFAB. I am strongly inclined to support the guaranteed tuition concept because it addresses a persistent challenge within higher education and provides real benefits to both current and future University of Oregon students.

I am asking the campus to offer feedback on the details of this plan so that I can make an informed and thoughtful recommendation to the UO Board of Trustees, which will set tuition rates at its regular meeting on March 17. I will be hosting a student forum on the plan this Monday, February 24, at 6:00 p.m. in the EMU Ballroom. Pizza, salad, and refreshments will be provided. If you cannot make the forum, please take time to leave electronic feedback on this form by 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 28.

A tremendous amount of uncertainty is built into our current tuition-setting model and this new approach is about eliminating that uncertainty for students and families so that they can more easily navigate planning and paying for college. It is a noteworthy departure from the traditional system that has been around for decades. Every year at the UO we go through the same process—we analyze how much university operating expenses will increase, determine how much will be covered by state appropriations, and come up with a tuition rate that will generate enough revenue to cover all or most of the difference. Annual tuition jumps have ranged from nearly 20 percent in conjunction with state budget cuts during the height of the recession to under 3 percent in years when state funding has been more abundant. The one constant has been that tuition always goes up—an average of 5.4 percent annually for residents over the last decade, 4.4 percent for nonresidents during that same period. We have an opportunity now to end that cycle of tuition uncertainty for students who enroll at the UO.

The guaranteed tuition model recommended by TFAB locks in a tuition rate for incoming students that they can count on for five years. No increases. No surprises. Students will know the cost of their education at the UO—one guaranteed price for tuition and all administratively controlled fees that does not change from the time a student enrolls to the time they walk across the stage at commencement (assuming they graduate in five years or fewer). Higher education is one of the most important investments many people make in their lifetime, and this eliminates the guesswork of predicting how much tuition will cost. It is a model used at peer institutions such as the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Arizona. In fact, the ten-campus University of California System is also considering a similar proposal.

Here’s how it would work at the UO under this proposal. For the first year of the new program, TFAB is recommending a tuition increase of 10.75 percent for new resident undergraduate students and 7.5 percent increase for new nonresident students. After the rate is set for that cohort of students, tuition would not go up for five years—the per-credit-hour rate would be locked, frozen for half a decade. We would also lock all fees for the EMU, recreation center, health services, buildings, technology support, and international student fees (if applicable), as well as differential tuition for the Clark Honors College and Lundquist College of Business. The only fee not included in the model would be the incidental fee set by the student government. If this model is approved by our Board of Trustees, we would set a tuition rate for the incoming class each year and make the same five-year guaranteed tuition promise to every cohort of new students that enters the UO. We expect the increase for future cohorts to be similar to past annual increases, under 5 percent.

Transfer students would also benefit from the program, paying the same tuition rate as the freshman cohort in the year they enroll and that rate would be locked for the same five-year period. What about students who take longer to graduate than five years? In the sixth year, those students would pay the tuition rate of the class immediately behind them. If they were to take seven years, the rate would bump up to the class immediately behind that, and so on if it were to take longer. Students who are called away from school to serve active duty in the military would receive an exemption on their five-year guarantee window, meaning that they could return to the UO under the guaranteed tuition program the year after they end their military service.

Additionally, this would have no impact on the PathwayOregon scholarship program, which pays 100 percent of tuition and fees for qualifying Federal Pell Grant-eligible Oregonians. For students who receive other scholarships and grants, the guaranteed tuition plan would benefit them because the real value of their financial aid packages would stay consistent during their enrollment instead of diminishing every year in the face of tuition increases.

What about current students? TFAB has recommended that we provide a higher level of assurance and confidence around tuition rates for our continuing classes. For current students, both resident and nonresident undergraduates, the advisory board has recommended that we lock tuition increases at 3 percent per year for the next four years. I am comfortable with this proposal given that such increases are much lower annually than what students at the UO have seen on average over the last decade.

I want to be clear that this program is not without risk. The difference is that, in the past, students and families bore the brunt of that risk, particularly as it related to the strong correlation between state funding and in-state tuition. Under this new plan, the risk would shift to the institution, which must manage financial resources to account for year-over-year fluctuations in state support, potentially dramatic swings if, for instance, the state or nation were to experience a recession. For that reason, we are building a reserve of $20 million, mostly funded through philanthropy, which will be dedicated to hedging against potential state budget fluctuations and ensuring that we can continue the guaranteed tuition program for generations of future students.

I want to thank the entire TFAB for its hard work and dedication. This innovative new idea is the product of nearly a dozen open meetings and hours and hours of analysis and work by a group of volunteer students, faculty, and staff who care deeply about the UO and our ability to deliver quality, affordability, and accessibility. Please take time to review the TFAB recommendations and find out more about the proposal on a frequently asked questions page. That page also has information about the TFAB’s recommendations on graduate tuition rates and fee levels.

I look forward to hearing your feedback and insights.

Thank you.

Michael H. Schill, President and Professor of Law

University hid reserves from legislature while hiking tuition

I’m not exactly shocked. Hiding the reserves from the legislature is, of course, Job #1 for any public university’s VP for Finance. If the university is unionized, they also have to hide the money from the unions and the AAUP’s forensic accountant Howard Bunsis.

Thanks to an anonymous reader for forwarding the latest exemplar, from the SacBee:

The California State University stashed away $1.5 billion in discretionary reserves while raising tuition and lobbying the Legislature for more funds, according to a report released Thursday by California State Auditor Elaine Howle.

CSU put the money, which came primarily from student tuition, in outside accounts rather than in the state Treasury, the report said.

The investigation mirrors Howle’s 2017 report on the University of California Chancellor’s Office, which charged that top UC brass kept a $175 million slush fund while hiking students’ tuition.

… The CSU Employees Union, which had asked Quirk-Silva to request the audit, noted that CSU had threatened to increase tuition in 2018 if it did not receive additional state funding. At the same time, the CSU Board of Trustees increased pay for the top administrators, including those in the Chancellor’s Office and CSU president, said union legislative director David Balla-Hawkins.

Legislature to add ~$100M to PUSF, Gov Brown wants more

6/7/2019 update: Legislature to add ~$100M to PUSF, Gov Brown wants more

That’s the rumor today. According to Pres Schill’s proposal below, $120M would keep UO’s tuition increase below the 5% trigger for HECC review, and also save Duck AD Rob Mullens a couple hundred large to help pay for his new baseball coach.

5/20/2019 update: Update: Millions from staff and students, not a cent from Duck athletics or Law

President Schill has sent his tuition increase recommendations to the BOT, below. His proposal cuts TFAB’s support for low income students, keeps the LERC and museum cuts, and leaves athletic subsidies untouched. The TFAB’s proposal was for a progressive increase in financial aid as tuition increased. Pres Schill’s recommendation is for only $350K in new financial aid, and that only if the tuition increase goes above 5%, the level which triggers HECC review.

Meanwhile, the “temporary” budget funding for law school scholarships increases by $190K. Of the $44M in fee remissions President Schill mentions below, $7M or goes to UO’s ~410 law school students, for an average of $17,100 each, per year. (I don’t know how it’s split up). The other $37M is divided among UO’s 22,350 other students, for an average of $1,650.

Continue reading

Trustee McIntyre to propose tuition freeze & cuts to Duck subsidies

Just kidding, there’s no sign that Faculty Trustee Laura Lee McIntyre will make any such motion, or raise any questions about why the board continues to rubber-stamp raises for Rob Mullens and his coaches while increasing undergraduate tuition and cutting museums.


Full Board meeting.

Original meeting materials here. Latest release here. For some reason the webcast link isn’t working.

– Call to order, roll call, verification of quorum – Approval of March 2019 summary (Action) [There is no mention of what this summary is in the posted materials.]

Public comment: 

The room is full, the public comments are blunt, calling out the Board for incompetence etc., e.g.:

Immediate Past Senate President / Current Faculty Union President Chris Sinclair:

The board of Trustees at the University of Oregon is in an untenable situation. The people ‘below you’ on the .org chart—represented by the people in this room—are supremely unhappy with the financial management and strategic vision of the university. Simultaneously the people above you, legislators and political appointees, are supremely unhappy with the financial management and strategic vision of the university.

It seems the only people happy with university leadership on budget issues are donors (and trustees themselves).

The mission of the university, approved by this body, is:

The University of Oregon is a comprehensive public research university committed to exceptional teaching, discovery, and service. We work at a human scale to generate big ideas. As a community of scholars, we help individuals question critically, think logically, reason effectively, communicate clearly, act creatively, and live ethically.

And aside from the vapid “human scale to generate big ideas” phrase, it is a good mission. The mission is the touch stone for decision making. It should be the North Star of the board—the words to revisit when making your decisions.

You are about to be asked to approve an extremely high tuition increase. You are being asked to finance the university on the backs of Oregon students. By doing this you are implicitly agreeing that it is more important to preserve athletics and other donor driven initiatives in exchange for millions in additional debt for Oregon students and families.

The University of Oregon has already telegraphed the message that, instead of plugging the looming budget shortfall. it is more important to install state-of-the-art sound systems in athletics facilities. The new speakers will undoubtedly come from donor money, but this is irrelevant. Legislators have already heard the message that speakers are more important than students. Faculty have heard the message that world-class athletics facilities are more important than students. Students themselves have heard that we’re broke, and that they should take on debt (and years of financial risk) to accommodate the fickle whims of an octogenarian billionaire.

How do these decisions, and the resulting negative change in public perception, benefit students? How do they benefit the relationship between the university and the state? How do they support the mission—the North Star—of the university?

This is but one example, and it is emblematic of a larger problem.

Cultivating donors is like trophy hunting for University Presidents. However, as a skill, it is only valued by other university presidents and those who measure their success in dollar signs. Our president is particularly good at this aspect of his job, and it will undoubtedly lead to a promotion to a better university one day.

On that day, will we be looking at a university with a handful of expensive white elephants littering campus, and serving a handful of elite researchers/coaches, while the core academic facilities rot from neglect, classrooms overflow, and Oregon students are saddled with debt?

Or will we see a “community of scholars, who help individuals question critically, think logically, reason effectively, communicate clearly, act creatively, and live ethically.”?

The choice is yours, and it’s time for you as trustee to shift the financial decision making back to the mission of the university. You must be brave. You must do this. The University of Oregon is counting on you.

Thank you.

Chris Sinclair
Associate Professor of Mathematics, University of Oregon

A student: “You ask us to go to Salem and lobby for more state money, but the legislators tell us they don’t trust you to spend the money wisely”

Prof Ellen Scott (Sociology) walks the board through some of the work that LERC and UO faculty and grad students have done and how it has led to changes in Oregon laws that have improved the lives of working Oregonians.

Prof Maram Epstein (East Asian Languages) asks the board to exercise their independent fiduciary responsibility to redo the proposed budget in a way that is consistent with UO’s mission as a public university.

Many, many students make comments as well.

Former staff Trustee Kurt Willcox: The university is turning away from its outreach mission to the state by defunding LERC and the museums.

1. ASUO and University Senate Reports

-ASUO President Maria Gallegos and Incoming ASUO Vice President Montse Mendez and Chief of Staff Hibo Abtidon

“Hayward Field does nothing for me. I’m a student.”

– Incoming Senate President Elizabeth Skowron

written comments in board materials

2. Provost’s and President’s Reports

these seem to be postponed

3. Undergraduate Resident Tuition (Action): Michael Schill, President; Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO; Kevin Marbury, Vice President for Student Life

VP Marbury is upset because the ASUO President criticized him.

President Schill blames outgoing Provost Banavar for the budget cuts to LERC and the museums. This is chickenshit bizarre.

12:47, and none of the trustees have yet mentioned any of the issues that came up in the public comments, such as cuts to athletic subsidies.

Ginevra Ralph asks why students don’t understand about gift restrictions. VP Moffitt explains that they do, they just think the university should shift its fundraising priorities. (Or just tax athletic donations. The UO Foundation already taxes donations, but won’t explain where the money goes.)

Wilhelms reports that Pathways costs about $6M.

Lillis calls the question on President Schill’s tuition increase.

Ralph and Paustian talk about how difficult this is and what a great job VP’s Moffitt and Marbury have done. Paustian says he will vote no – but doesn’t present an alternative motion. Colas gives a shout out to the students and GTFFs – but doesn’t present an alternative motion.

Vote: All in favor except Paustian.

Recess: Estimated to Reconvene at 1:00 p.m.

4. Resolutions from Committee (pending May 22 committee action)
–Seconded Motion from FFC: Capital Construction Project (Housing Project Preliminary Costs) –Seconded Motion from FFC: FY20 Expenditure Temporary Authorization

5. Student Conduct Code Changes (Action): Kris Winter, Dean of Students

6. A Look at PERS: Tim Nesbitt, Interim Deputy Director of PERS Solutions for Public Services and former Higher Education Coordinating Commission Chair; John Tapogna, President and Partner, ECONorthwest economic research and consulting firm

7. Academic Area in Focus – ShakeAlert, ALERTWidlfire, and the Emerging Internet of (Wild) Things: Professor Doug Toomey, Earth Sciences

Meeting Adjourned

Tuition & fee board met Friday 10:30-12 to discuss athletics cuts

Just kidding, they’re actually talking about cuts to museums, OA’s and staff, and increasing in-state tuition. There is no sign that the Rob Mullens and the Ducks will even be asked to cut their bloated budget or the subsidies they take from the academic side. This recent report in Oregon Business, by Caleb Diehl, has an excellent story on the subsidies UO’s academic budget gives the Duck Athletic empire, here. Some snippets:

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a nonprofit that regulates college sports in the U.S., oversees a $13 billion college sports industry powered mostly by its premier league, Division I. The University of Oregon and Oregon State make millions off lucrative TV contracts, ticket sales and apparel deals. The 2018 budget for the University of Oregon athletic department, fueled almost entirely by men’s football and basketball, was $113.2 million.

The large amounts of revenue generated by college athletics stand in contrast to the frugality of academic departments at Oregon’s public universities, which decry the continual decline in state funding for tuition. In an era of record student loan debt and escalating tuition fees, academic departments are trimming costs wherever they can. But athletic departments continue to spend freely and even accept money from academia that could fund academic programs. Oregon Business examined their budgets and contracts, received through public-records requests.

The University of Oregon athletics department reports to the NCAA that it doesn’t get any funding from student fees. But in fact, the department’s critics say students pay athletics a combined $5 million a year at the very least.

The university does not publicly acknowledge these subsidies, leading to what Kenny Jacoby, an alum who covered athletics spending for the online student news site, Daily Emerald, calls “the greater myth of self-sufficiency.” The department shows a balanced budget, he says, but “a lot of this stuff at UO is spelled out in building contracts, memoranda of understanding, ASUO [student and faculty government] financial arrangements.”

One of these financial arrangements governs revenue from ticket sales. All students chip in to watch sports, whether they’re fans or not. In 2017 the student government paid $1.7 million for tickets to games. The amount is specified each year in a contract between athletics and the school senate, a governing body representing the interests of students and faculty. The money comes out of the student government budget, funded by part of a mandatory $250 student fee.

The academic budget also pays around $2.2 million (as of 2014-15) for student-athlete tutoring. This service comes at a much higher cost than tutoring for nonathletes. Athletes get their tutoring inside a $41.7 million modernist cube called the John E. Jaqua Center. The university drops $4,000 a year on academic support for each athlete, according to a 2014 University of Oregon senate estimate. Nonathletes get $225 each.

The academic side also remains on the hook for athletics subsidies it agreed to in a 2009 memorandum of understanding that then-president Dave Frohnmayer signed with the athletic department. Nike founder Phil Knight donated a portion of the funds for the Matthew Knight Arena, a new basketball stadium, but the university paid $22.2 million using tax-exempt general obligation bonds for the land.

The athletic department couldn’t pay all of the debt service on the land and facility, so they turned to academics. Consequently, roughly half a million dollars comes out of the academic budget each year for a quarter of the debt service on the bonds. Another $375,000 a year pays for luxury box seats for the university president, and more goes to debt on an underground parking garage.

But since the Holy Duck Empire subsidies won’t be cut, here are some potential increases to in-state undergrad tuition, from VP Moffitt. They range from 5% to 22.5%:

Out of state tuition to rise by $990 because $1000 looks bad

You can’t make this stuff up. Zack Demars has the story in the Daily Emerald on the “deliberations” of the Tuition Fee Advisory Board, here:

… One of the major considerations by the board was public perception: The board settled on 2.97 percent to keep the advertised increase slightly below $1,000 per year so as not to deter potential new students, who are needed to increase the tuition-paying population.

The proposal, which only impacts out-of-state undergraduate students, would increase the cost of a single credit by $22 next academic year. For a full-time student taking 15 credits a term, that shakes out to an increase of $990 a year, an increase slightly larger than last year’s 2.49 percent nonresident increase.

TFAB will consider and propose changes to resident tuition in the spring, after more data is available about how much the state legislature will contribute to the university, which of two revenue proposals the state will approve and how many new students enroll next year. …

Since I try to avoid meetings where the decision has already been made behind closed doors,  I skipped this. But there appears to have been no discussion of price elasticities, discount rates, differential tuition, or what the point is in spending money on out-of-state marketing, branding, recruiters, and subsidizing Rob Mullens’s big-time athletic enterprise if our tuition setting process boils down to this.

And since it apparently does, why not go to $999? That extra $9 would bring in about $90K, recurring – enough to pay for half a brander.

Board of Trustees approves modest tuition increase, higher for Business College, big cut for Honors College

Hannah Karik has the report from last week in the Emerald here. A few students – presumably not from the Honors College – responded with brief chants of “fuck the Oregon Legislature” as they walked out. Or that’s what I think I heard.

Meanwhile the Law School is still offering tuition discounts of 50% for law students. No discussion from the trustees of that.

Meanwhile up at PSU, they’ve matched UO’s PathwayOregon with “Four Years Free” and now extended it to low SES transfers:

Low-income Oregonian college students transferring to Portland State University will no longer have to pay tuition beginning Fall 2018 if they are eligible for the federal Pell Grant and enroll full-time upon transferring.

PSU’s new Transfers Finish Free program will cover base tuition and mandatory fees for up to 15 credits per term to eligible transfer students from any 4-year college or community college.

Provost seeks tuition increase feedback

The gist: 2.84% in-state, 2.49% out-of state, nothing new on increasing the discount rate for low-SES and high-achieving students, and only the sketchiest data on where the money is going:

To University of Oregon Community Members,

Pursuant to university policy, I have received tuition and fee recommendations for the 2018–19 academic year from the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board (TFAB), a campus body made up of students, administrators, and members of the faculty and staff. TFAB members conducted eight public meetings and participated in two student forums over a four-month period to arrive at this set of recommendations, which are based on detailed review and analysis of relevant university budget and financial data.

I want to express my deepest thanks to TFAB members for their hard work, transparent process, and commitment to both maintaining affordability and enhancing academic quality at the University of Oregon.

The committee’s recommendations include an increase in tuition of $6 per credit, or $270 per year, for in-state undergraduate students. Nonresident undergraduate students would see tuition rise by $18 per credit, or $810 annually. For the 2018–19 academic year, this equates to a 2.84 percent increase in undergraduate tuition for in-state students and a 2.49 percent increase for out-of-state students. The TFAB recommendations also include a $7 increase in the student health center service fee, which will help expand health and counseling services for students. 

I invite you to review TFAB’s full tuition proposal and to provide input using this online comment form by 8:00 p.m., Thursday, February 15. In addition, we will host a student forum at 5:30 p.m. this Thursday in the Alumni Lounge, Gerlinger Hall. I hope you can join me for the event.

After receiving input from the forum and online comments, I will provide that feedback to President Michael Schill, who will make a draft recommendation for additional public review. The president will then make a final tuition recommendation to the UO Board of Trustees for consideration at its next regular meeting on March 2.

Thank you.

Jayanth Banavar

Provost and Senior Vice President

Students are better off with higher tuition & higher quality

Earlier this year the Oregon legislature agreed to increase spending on higher education, so long as universities agree to cut tuition increases. This latest working paper shows that it might have been better for our students – in terms of completion and time to degree – if UO had been free to spend the state money on improving advising and teaching instead:

The Impact of Price Caps and Spending Cuts on U.S. Postsecondary Attainment

David J. DemingChristopher R. Walters

NBER Working Paper No. 23736
Issued in August 2017

Increasing the postsecondary attainment rate of college-age youth is an important economic priority in the U.S. and in other developed countries. Yet little is known about whether different forms of public subsidy can increase degree completion. In this paper, we compare the impact of the marginal taxpayer dollar on postsecondary attainment when it is spent on lowering tuition prices versus increasing the quality of the college experience. We do so by estimating the causal impact of changes in tuition and spending on enrollment and degree completion in U.S. public postsecondary institutions between 1990 and 2013. We estimate these impacts using a newly assembled data set of legislative tuition caps and freezes, combined with variation in exposure to state budget shocks that is driven by differences in historical reliance on state appropriations. We find large impacts of spending on enrollment and degree completion. In contrast, we find no impact of price changes. Our estimates suggest that spending increases are more effective per-dollar than price cuts as a means of increasing postsecondary attainment.

HECC do-over yields 7-1 vote in favor of UO tuition increase.

It’s official:

Dear University of Oregon community members,

Today the Higher Education Coordinating Commission reconsidered and approved the University of Oregon’s resident undergraduate tuition plan for the 2017-18 academic year. This decision allows the university to move forward with certainty and a well-thought-out plan for managing our finances.

I am extremely grateful to the commissioners for reversing their initial decision on our tuition plan. We appreciate that they were willing to reassess information about our tuition-setting process, our engagement with students and other campus stakeholders, and the untenable cuts to programs and student services we would have had to make without this source of funding. I am already actively working to improve these outreach and collaboration processes with various campus constituencies for next year, although we hope not to be faced with the same financial choices as this year.

As I have said many times, no one wants to increase tuition. The unfortunate fact is that decades of declining state support, coupled with increased expenses, has left us with very little choice. Even with the HECC’s approval of our plan, we have many difficult decisions ahead. The university has already identified $4.5 million in cuts, and an ad hoc advisory budget committee will be identifying another approximately $4 million in reductions or new revenue sources to close our funding gap.

I want to thank the many people who participated in this tuition setting process. These are challenging financial times for the university and the state. But we cannot be deterred. These constraints challenge us to find better ways to meet our educational mission and deliver outstanding student experiences. We must focus and think strategically about our priorities, and ensure that we efficiently and carefully spend every precious dollar we receive from students and their families, tax payers, and our donors.

We are up to the challenge, and I remain ever focused on making the University of Oregon the very best it can be.


Michael Schill
President and Professor of Law

May 25 update: From the RG’s facebook page:

I think PSU passed unanimously, and UO was 7-1. The opposing HECC member seemed to be concerned about a perceived lack of racial and ethnic diversity at UO.

May 15 2017: OSU reveals UO’s next steps on OSA/HECC’s rejection of tuition increase

Here’s the latest from UO’s government and community relation’s office, courtesy of “Around the O”:

Cute, but not very informative and way out-of-date. If you’re looking for substance on what UO will do next, try OSU:

From: “Mills, Jock” <[email protected]>
Subject: [Government_Relations_Update] May Salem Update
Date: May 15, 2017 at 4:28:05 PM PDT
To: “‘[email protected]‘” <[email protected]>

… Last week, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) approved requests for resident, undergraduate tuition increases above 5% for Western Oregon University, Oregon Tech, and Southern Oregon University. HECC did not approve requests from Portland State University and the University of Oregon. Those universities are in conversation with HECC staff and the Commission about reconsidering the votes by which HECC denied those requests. If at least five of the voting Commissioners agree to provide approval, the HECC will convene a meeting within the next two weeks to reconsider the votes. The Oregon Student Association (OSA) had a strong presence at the HECC meeting and disrupted the meeting briefly during Commission deliberations. OSA has signaled that it would continue to oppose requests for tuition increases but that their focus will generally shift to the Legislature and the need for increased revenue. To that end, OSA is planning on phone banking on May 17 and holding lobby days on May 24 and June 6 with SEIU and other partners. …

Full report below the break:

Continue reading

Dysfunctional HECC now wants UO & PSU to beg for tuition increases

Update: OPB’s Rob Manning reports on the latest from the HECC, here:

… HECC commissioners were critical of the large universities, suggesting they had not done enough outreach to affected groups, like students.

One commissioner also suggested that by rejecting tuition hikes it would send a message to state lawmakers that more funding is needed for public universities.

… In a statement released Thursday night after the meeting, HECC executive director Ben Cannon signaled an expectation the big public universities would come back to the commission to make their arguments again.

Meanwhile, InsideHigherEd reports that UO’s old friend, former OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner, will soon be available to help out the HECC:

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association has hired Robert E. Anderson to be its new president, beginning in August. He will replace George Pernsteiner, who has led the group for four years.

5/12/2017: Pres Schill responds to HECC’s denial of tuition increase

Dear University of Oregon community members,

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s decision yesterday to reject the University of Oregon’s tuition plan is disappointing and creates uncertainty on our campus. If it stands, we will be forced to make even deeper cuts at the UO than are already anticipated, including cuts that will likely affect student support services, academic programs, and jobs. While we would like the HECC to reconsider its vote, we are already evaluating additional budget reduction steps that can be taken if this decision holds and the state does not provide additional support for public higher education.
No one wants to increase tuition, but the university is left with little choice given that tuition is the UO’s main source of revenue after decades of declining state support. Prior to the HECC’s vote, the UO’s tuition plan would have required more than $8 million in budget reductions next year, which would come on top of more than $6 million in cuts made in the previous fiscal year. I have steadfastly expressed my view that we will try to shield the academic part of our university from the impact of this year’s budget cuts, but if we are forced to limit our tuition increase to less than 5 percent, then that aspiration will likely be impossible.

In the face of cost-drivers that institutions do not control—including retirement and health benefit costs—Oregon’s public universities have been clear that significant additional state support for higher education is necessary to keep tuition increases low and to maintain critical student support services. State legislators still have the opportunity this session to approve a higher-education budget that prioritizes Oregon students and their families and makes the proposed tuition increase at the UO and other institutions unnecessary.

The state of Oregon deserves a world-class research institution like the UO. The HECC’s decision to overturn a tuition plan that was reached through months of inclusive campus engagement and careful deliberation by our institutional Board of Trustees, however, threatens our ability to deliver on that promise for all Oregonians. We will continue to work with students, faculty, staff, and alumni to make the case in Salem that cutting higher-education funding and usurping campus independence will lead to untenable outcomes for the UO and all of higher education in Oregon.
As we have said repeatedly, the UO stands ready and willing to provide HECC commissioners with the information they need to reconsider their decision about tuition on our campus. This situation is very fluid and time is of the essence, given that the fiscal year starts on July 1, but you have my commitment that we will communicate with the campus community as we hear more. I appreciate your patience and understanding.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

5/11/2017: HECC turns down UO’s 10% tuition increase

That’s the bad news from the HECC meeting today. The tuition increase for in-state student tuition will be capped at 4.99%.

The vote on UO was 4-4, and a majority was needed. Will Campbell has a “to be updated” report in the Emerald here.

The docket is here, the official HECC statement is here:

PRESS RELEASE: HECC Takes Action on Public University Tuition Proposals, Approving Increases at OIT, SOU, WOU 

MAY 11, 2017
Contact: Endi Hartigan, Communications Director, Higher Education Coordinating Commission, [email protected], 971-701-4032 cell

Salem, Oregon  — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) voted today at a public meeting in Salem to approve three out of five requests for resident undergraduate in-state tuition increases at Oregon public universities. The Boards of Trustees for Oregon’s seven public universities generally set tuition for their students, but under Oregon law* passed in 2013, HECC is required to determine for the State of Oregon whether any public university proposal for undergraduate in-state tuition and fee increases greater than five percent is appropriate.

Facing significant budget shortfalls in 2017-18, five of Oregon’s seven public universities** proposed 2017-18 tuition and mandatory fee increases above the five percent statutory threshold. These proposals were based on anticipated state funding levels, as described in the Governor’s Recommended Budget for higher education. The Commission’s action today approved proposed tuition increases at Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), Southern Oregon University (SOU), and Western Oregon University (WOU). The proposals for Portland State University (PSU) and University of Oregon (UO) were not approved, in part related to concerns about student involvement in the tuition-setting process. Both PSU and UO fell one vote short of the five Commissioner votes required for passage. The vote followed nearly four hours of public testimony from students and other stakeholders over the last two days of Commission meetings, as well as vigorous discussion among the Commissioners.

Institution ApprovedTuition Increase**
OIT 7.42%
OIT-Wilsonville 8.08%
SOU 11.43%
WOU* 7.45%
Institution Not Approved
PSU 8.37%
UO 11.48%
*=Weighted Average Increase
**Resident undergraduate tuition and mandatory enrollment fee

Cognizant of the precedent-setting nature of its action, the Commission’s votes followed a careful evaluation of the universities’ requests against a set of criteria substantially shaped by Governor Kate Brown, who on April 10, 2017 issued a letter to HECC Commission Chair Neil Bryant detailing conditions for tuition approval. In her letter, the Governor expressed concern for whether universities gave serious consideration to alternatives, how tuition increases would impact underrepresented students, how they would be balanced with institutional cost-saving measures or cuts, the degree to which students and faculty were involved in tuition-setting processes on campuses, whether additional state funding would reduce these tuition levels.

Institutions prepared detailed responses about how they satisfied these concerns; those responses, along with HECC staff analyses are available on the HECC website under materials for the May 10 and 11 public meetings here. The Chairs of the Boards of Trustees of all five universities joined senior university administrators before a HECC subcommittee on May 10 to personally attest to how they met the Governor’s conditions.

Neil Bryant, Chair of the HECC, said, “This was an unprecedented scenario for our Commission, as Oregon faces stark challenges in higher education funding. We appreciated the Governor’s student and equity-focused vision, which we share, and her clear criteria, which reinforced HECC priorities. The fact that universities are committed to reducing tuition increases should the Legislature provide additional state funding was an especially important consideration to the Commission. Although the Commission did not approve the UO and PSU proposals, we are committed to supporting the institutions in every way we can on next steps.”

The Commission’s discussion focused heavily on the insufficiency of state higher education funding levels, which has a direct impact on tuition. A recent national report on higher education funding showed that while Oregon made significant investments in 2015, this was in the context of many years of underfunding. Oregon still ranks substantially low (37th) for educational appropriations per student, and has seen some of the steepest reductions in the country since before the 2008 Recession.

Ben Cannon, executive director of the HECC, said, “Our Commissioners were faced today with the same unwelcome dilemma that has tested university Boards of Trustees: namely, the gap between steadily rising costs and flat state funding levels. Under these circumstances, the Commission concluded that the proposed increases represent the ‘least bad’ option for WOU, SOU, and OIT. We look forward to hearing how UO and PSU intend to either adjust their tuition proposals or present additional information to the HECC that could result in reconsideration.”

In their remarks, Commissioners expressed appreciation for the institutions, students, agency staff, and all who testified and contributed to the public process. Commission Chair Neil Bryant said, “I commend all public testimony, both pro and con, concerning the tuition increases. The HECC understands the tremendous burden that is placed on students and their families and is committed to supporting additional funding to reduce tuition.”

Under Oregon law, UO and PSU will need to do one of the following before finalizing their 2017-18 tuition rates for resident undergraduate students: 1) Modify their plan such that it falls below the 5% increase threshold requiring HECC approval, 2) Receive approval from the HECC for a modified or resubmitted proposal that is at a level of 5% or greater, or 3) Receive approval from the Legislative Assembly for a tuition increase greater than 5%.

*ORS 352.087(1)(i) and ORS 352.102(4).
**Eastern Oregon University (EOU) and Oregon State University (OSU) did not seek HECC approval, as their boards approved tuition increases of less than five percent.

The HECC is dedicated to fostering and sustaining the best, most rewarding pathways to opportunity and success for all Oregonians through an accessible, affordable and coordinated network for educational achievement beyond high school. For more information, go to

More here:

2.0 DRAFT March 8, 2017 Minutes
4.0 2017-19 Community College Strategic Fund
5.0 Community College Support Fund Distribution: Growth Management
6.0a Public University Support Fund Distribution: Overview of SSCM Model
6.0b SSCM Funding Model Overview presentation
6.0c SSCM Summary
6.0d SSCM Calculation Map
7.0a Public University Tuition and Fee Increase Requests
7.0b UO Tuition & Fee Increase HECC summary
7.0c UO Tuition & Fee Institutional Board Packet
7.0d PSU Tuition & Fee Increase HECC summary
7.0e PSU Tuition & Fee Institutional Board Packet
7.0f PSU Tuition & Fee Institutional Finance Committee Packet
7.0g Letter from Governor Brown to HECC re  tuition increases

President Schill proposes $945 per year tuition increase + $150 tech fee

An excerpt from Pres Schill’s letter:

As I have already noted, we will do everything we can to shield our most vulnerable
students from the impact of this proposed tuition increase. The PathwayOregon
program continues to provide full tuition and fees to about 2,000 Pell Grant–eligible
resident students on our campus, including more than a third of our first-year resident
students. [UOM: Thanks in part to the generosity of Trustee Connie Ballmer.]
We have also made significant progress toward achieving the goals set when
we announced the Oregon Commitment in 2015, which provides advising, planning,
and academic resources to help every student at the university graduate in a timely
fashion. To every extent possible, we intend to maintain the integrity of those important

TFAB report here: They are reporting the following cost increases:

Despite that $11M salary increase – a good chunk of which goes to upper administrators – UO faculty pay is getting worse, relative to our comparators:

For 2015-16, UO Assistant profs averaged 94% of AAU public university salaries, Associates 95%, Fulls 87%. That’s down from 95%, 98%, and 89% the year before. So UO is not going to be able to maintain “excellence” without more money.

No differential tuition for B-School this year, and the in-state tuition increases will be bought down if the legislature coughs up more money:

Full text of the letter:

To University of Oregon community members,

Pursuant to university policy, the provost and I have received the recommendations of
the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board (TFAB), a body containing students,
administrators, and members of the faculty and staff. Among the recommendations is an
increase in tuition of $21 per credit hour—or $945 per year—for in-state undergraduate
students. The TFAB recommends the same increase for out-of-state undergraduates
students of $21 per credit hour, or $945 annually. For the 2017–18 academic year, this
equates to a 10.6 percent increase in undergraduate tuition for in-state students and a 3
percent increase for out-of-state students. The TFAB also recommended various tuition
increases for graduate tuition and a new technology fee of $50 per term.

I regret that I have little choice but to accept the TFAB recommendations on tuition and
fees for next year. Pursuant to university policy, I am posting the TFAB
recommendations together with this memorandum for public comment. After receiving
public input, I will forward my final tuition recommendation to the UO Board of
Trustees for consideration at its next regular meeting on March 2–3.

I wish it were not necessary for us to increase tuition by these significant amounts.
Although the vast majority of our lowest-income students will be spared from this
increase by the PathwayOregon scholarship program, for some students a $945 increase
will make attending the UO difficult or impossible. Yet the state’s fiscal problems leave
us no choice. Oregon’s disinvestment in higher education over more than two decades
has shifted the burden of paying for college from the state to our students and families.
In 2015, the state made some positive moves toward addressing this trend with an
increase in funding, which was greatly appreciated. The governor’s recommended
budget, however, keeping funding flat over the next biennium in the face of rapidly
rising costs, returns us to the previous status quo of disinvestment.

Only four other states in the nation provide less funding per student for higher
education than Oregon. That is simply unacceptable. Public universities in Oregon have
calculated that it would take at least an additional $100 million in state support for
public higher education to preserve core student services and financial aid. If we
received this amount we would voluntarily limit tuition increases to about 5 percent.
Flat funding may not sound like a reduction, but the university is forecasting very large
cost increases over the next couple of years—largely created by salary increases from
collective bargaining agreements and unfunded retirement costs. These increased costs
amount to roughly $25 million.

Even with the substantial tuition increases recommended by the TFAB, the university
will still need to close an $8.8 million recurring gap in our budget for next year. We
have already begun a process, aided by faculty members, administrators, and students,
to identify how we can create new revenue streams and/or cut expenses. Roughly 80
percent of our educational budget pays the salaries of our faculty, staff, and
administrators. Therefore, any efforts to cut the budget will inevitably lead to a loss of
jobs and pain to our community.

As we move forward, we will strive to protect the academic and research programs of
the university. Our goal will be to continue and accelerate the progress we have seen
over the past couple of years in enhancing excellence in teaching and research,
including investments in faculty hiring, research infrastructure, and support for student
access and success programs. Budget challenges will make this harder and may require
difficult choices, but we cannot and will not take our eyes off the pursuit of excellence
in all that we do at the UO.

As I have already noted, we will do everything we can to shield our most vulnerable
students from the impact of this proposed tuition increase. The PathwayOregon
program continues to provide full tuition and fees to about 2,000 Pell Grant–eligible
resident students on our campus, including more than a third of our first-year resident
students. We have also made significant progress toward achieving the goals set when
we announced the Oregon Commitment in 2015, which provides advising, planning,
and academic resources to help every student at the university graduate in a timely
fashion. To every extent possible, we intend to maintain the integrity of those important

It is my hope that we can still avoid raising tuition by more than 10 percent and
reducing our budget through layoffs and attrition. I call on all of our constituents—
students, faculty and staff members, alumni, and friends—to join me in requesting that
the legislature and governor prioritize higher education and stop shifting the cost of
educating our future workforce to our students and their families. Over the next several
months I will be in Salem urging our lawmakers to remember that the future of our state
is being shaped in places like Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland. Please join me in that

If, collectively, we are successful, we can reduce the tuition increase. The TFAB
recommendation estimates that each $20 million increment in increased state funding
for public higher education would allow the UO to reduce the proposed resident
undergraduate tuition increase by roughly 1 percentage point. The full $100 million in
state support for higher education would result in a 5.1 percent recommended tuition increase
at the UO. Increases of state support would also reduce the operating cuts that
would be needed in the coming year. This would significantly help our students, their
families, and our employees.

Ultimately, we likely will not know how state funding for higher education will shake
out until June or July of this year, which is when state lawmakers historically approve
the budget for the next biennium. I will continue to keep the UO campus community
abreast of changes to our budget situation and the potential impact on the UO campus
as information becomes available.

I invite you to comment on the tuition proposal prior to my making a final
recommendation to the UO Board of Trustees. Please provide input using this form by
5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 17, 2017.

Thank you.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

RG calls on UO to control “appearance of administrative bloat” and limit tuition increases

Today’s editorial here:

… A visible effort by the UO to bring costs under tighter control, however, would influence lawmakers and donors alike. Such an effort could begin by restraining both the number and the salaries of university administrators, which have expanded in tandem over the past decade. No potential supporter of the university, public or private, is pleased by the appearance of administrative bloat. If the UO can project an image of operational efficiency, and can show itself to be focused above all on its classrooms and laboratories, arguments for increased state funding and donor support will become more compelling. …

I’m all for cutting bloat, such as the large buy-outs we’ve been giving incompetent administrators, and while it would be simple to get $10M or so out of the bloated Duck athletic empire, (cut baseball, softball, golf, tennis) the RG has it wrong on the tuition increases.

The focus on the tuition list price is simplistic and the RG editors really should know better than this. UO should be *increasing* the tuition list price, and use the money to increase the discounts that it offers to good low and middle income students. We’ve done this for the lowest income students with PathwayOregon – partly supported with generous donations from UO Trustee Connie Ballmer. Raising tuition would allow increasing the income limit for that program.

Tuition increases can also fund programs to encourage quicker graduation and decrease the dropout rate – as President Schill has already started. Both these projects have the potential to cut the cost of college graduation by far more than tuition limits will do.

A 4-year college degree is an extraordinarily good investment for students. UO’s focus should be on increasing access to those degrees and improving their value, and tuition limits are not a sensible way to do either.