Monday, December 22, 2014

It’s not a power grab

The Register Guard
December 10th, 2014

As the University of Oregon’s new Board of Trustees gropes its way toward a sure-footed understanding of its role and responsibilities, apprehensions are likely to arise that the governing body will claim too much power, or will abandon long-standing arrangements with other authorities. The UO Senate is expressing those apprehensions now, and is expected to vote today to ask the trustees to delay consideration of a policy perceived as marginalizing the Senate. A delay might do no harm, but fears of a power grab are misplaced.
The UO’s charter, dating to 1876, states that “The president and professors constitute the faculty of the university, and, as such, shall have the immediate government and discipline of it and the students therein. The faculty shall also have the power, subject to the supervision of the board of regents, to prescribe the course of study to be pursued by the university, and the text books to be used.”

WOU succeeds but faces challenges

The Statesman Journal
November 29th, 2014

Western Oregon University can make a strong case for being the state's best-run public university, but its future will hinge on two significant changes.
One is the selection of a new president next year to succeed Mark Weiss, who is retiring. The other is the transition next summer to WOU's having its own governing board, instead of being under the statewide Board of Higher Education.
Led by the University of Oregon and Portland State University, Oregon's public universities pushed for more autonomy. One rationale is that the individual institutional boards can be more successful raising money, given the Oregon Legislature's relatively meager investment in higher education.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Keep pay in perspective

Register Guard
December 18th, 2014

In its annual survey of public university presidents’ pay, the Chronicle of Higher Education quoted Ann Weaver Hart, who took a 23 percent pay cut when she left Temple University in Philadelphia to become president of the University of Arizona at an annual salary of $560,500. “Nobody is starving at my house,” Hart said, and she was willing to work for less so she could be closer to her mother in Utah. And in Arizona, salaries in the upper six figures or higher meet public resistance: “In the populist world of the West,” Hart said, “that wouldn’t fly.”
The University of Oregon Board of Trustees can find several pieces of useful information packed into Hart’s words as it works toward setting a salary for the UO’s next president. One, half a million dollars is a lot of money, even though some presidents make more. Two, money isn’t everything; a president may accept a job for a variety of intangible reasons. And three, public perceptions matter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pay boost for UO president considered

The Register Guard
December 16th, 2014

University of Oregon trustees are mulling whether to use the tools of business to recruit, sign and retain a new president to run the UO.
They’re kicking around ideas such as a signing bonus, pay-for-performance compensation, use of a jet for work trips, penalties for early departure and/or deferred compensation — perhaps totaling $600,000 to $800,000 annually. That would handily top the $544,000 annual package of previous president Michael Gottfredson.
“Clearly, (incentives are) used in worlds we come from,” said Connie Ballmer, chairwoman of the UO Board of Trustees’ presidential search committee.
Gottfredson’s pay rate won’t get a top-­caliber candidate to the UO, she said. It’s “crystal clear from the search firm that we are way low,” she said.
Trustee Susan Gary, a law professor who represents faculty on the UO Board, suggests a more earth-bound approach, such as scaling the president’s pay to faculty salaries, which average roughly $100,000 a year.

University of Oregon considers pay package of $600,000 to $800,000 for new president

December 16th, 2014

The University of Oregon's new, independent board of trustees is considering incentives that could boost total compensation for a new president to $600,000 to $800,000 annually, the Eugene Register-Guard reports.
Previous President Michael Gottfredson, who resigned in August, received a total of $544,000 a year in pay and benefits.
Last month, the university selected a national company, Parker Executive Search, to recruit candidates. The university used the same firm in the 2010 hiring of Athletics Director Rob Mullens.

Monday, December 15, 2014

How Did These Graduate Students Improve Their Working Conditions? They Went on Strike!

The Nation
December 12th, 2014

On their campus set amid the idyllic northwestern woodlands, graduate students at the University of Oregon stepped out of their classrooms and onto a historic picket line last week. The union, representing some 1,500 graduate teaching fellows, went on an eight-day strike and emerged Wednesday with a final deal, embattled but triumphant. The agreement, now set for a final vote, fell somewhat short of their central request for paid family and medical leave. Instead, the university will establish a “hardship fund” to support graduate students who need time off to tend to healthcare needs, including students who are not employees or union members. From a fund of about $150,000 ($50 per graduate student), students will apply for grants “up to $1,000 in the case of serious medical issues and $1,500 in the case of the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child.” The union also got a 10 percent wage hike over two years.
These benefits clearly provide just emergency supplemental support, but will make life a little easier for the graduate fellows, who teach about one-third of the university’s coursework while juggling their studies and caregiving duties. According to the GTFF, their gross annual income ranges from $12,000 to $19,000—in line with national compensation trends for student instructors. They’re part of an overall shift in academic labor toward lower-paid graduate student and adjunct teachers who lack the salaries and benefits afforded to established professors.

What will the PERS fund look like in 20 years?

The Statesman Journal
November 20th, 2014

The Public Employees Retirement System board will consider the long-term financial projections for the $70 billion PERS fund on Friday, the board's final meeting of 2014.
The Milliman firm's actuaries, Matt Larrabee and Scott Peppernau, have prepared a report that describes what they predict the fund will do over the next 20 years. The projections are used to plan for how much PERS benefits will cost employers in the future and monitor the health of the fund.
Milliman creates a comparable report every year, PERS spokesman David Crosley said. This one paints a positive picture of the future, one in which costs for local governments are likely to drop in the future.
The PERS fund is considered relatively healthy, but the question is always how much local employers will have to contribute. A certain percentage of every government's payroll is paid into the fund. That amount changes over time, and it is generally tied to how much the fund earns. Higher earnings will mean lower costs for employers and vice versa.

Oregon Offers To Sell Forest To Fund Education

Huffington Post - Education
December 10th, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore., Dec 10 (Reuters) - Want to buy a forest? Oregon is preparing to sell off 92,000 acres (37,200 hectares) of coastal woodlands, in a move to distance itself from environmentally questionable timber sales that have long provided revenue to the state's public schools.

Officials expect a sale price between $300 million and $700 million - a big range that reflects uncertainty about the extent of logging restrictions in the Elliott State Forest, an Oregon Department of State Lands spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Proceeds from the sale would go to the public school trust, as Elliott was made a state forest in 1930 and put into a public trust to fund education through timber sales.

The move to sell it aims to provide funds for education, even as the state under pressure from environmental groups has recently curtailed logging in the coastal rainforest.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

UO deal with graduate teaching assistants grants flex time, 'hardship fund,' 10 percent raise

December 10th, 2014

A tentative contract with University of Oregon graduate teaching assistants calls for a 10 percent wage increase over two years, two weeks of flex time and access to a $150,000 "hardship fund."
University officials disclosed details of the agreement after negotiators reached the deal early Monday in a 22-hour mediation session.
Hourly wages will increase 5 percent in each year of the two-year contract, reaching roughly $20 to $24 an hour, depending on experience.
The hardship fund will include $50 per master's and doctoral student. Based on current enrollment, the fund would total approximately $150,000, the university said.
Any graduate student facing financial hardship, regardless of union membership, will be eligible to apply for grants of up to $1,000 for serious medical issues and $1,500 for birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child.

Graduate Assistants at U. of Oregon End Strike

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 10th, 2014

Graduate assistants at the University of Oregon have reached a tentative contract agreement with the administration, ending an eight-day strike that left classes short-staffed as final examinations began, The Oregonian reports. The university met the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation’s central demand for paid medical and family leave by guaranteeing that a hardship fund would be established.
The deal’s announcement followed a 22-hour mediation session. Union officials told the newspaper that graduate assistants would return to work on Wednesday.
Scott Coltrane, the university’s interim president, praised the contract in a written statement on Wednesday. “Not only will it meet the needs of graduate students during life’s most challenging and rewarding times, it also allows the university to meet those needs in a fiscally responsible way and will help us attract the best graduate students in the country,” he said.

Tuition-free community college proposed in Oregon

Statesman Journal
December 11th, 2014

Some states are picking up the tab for community college tuition, and Oregon could be next.
Under a draft bill in the Oregon Legislature, tuition not covered by federal and state grants would be waived for some high school graduates. Students would still be required to contribute $50 per course.
"I think it's reasonable," said Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, chairman of the Senate Education & Workforce Development Committee. "We're saying we're throwing open the doors to community college to any high school graduate in Oregon."
It's a plan that will likely help more middle-class students than low-income. But it's also a proposal the Beaverton lawmaker called realistic when it comes to costs.
In September, committee members got an overview of different scenarios for a free community college tuition program from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Annual costs ranged from $8.9 million to $226.9 million.
The nonprofit looked at different assumptions, including whether the state would pay for room and board, a cost that is significantly more than tuition.

Graduate staff, UO reach deal; strike over

Register Guard
December 11th, 2014

Graduate teaching fellows at the University of Oregon returned to work on Wednesday following an announcement that the two sides reached a tentative labor agreement to end an eight-day strike — the first in the local union’s 38-year history.
The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation’s bargaining team and the UO administration reached a compromise after a 22-hour mediation session over the sole major sticking point: paid sick leave for GTFs.
The tentative contract agreement would create a $150,000 fund that all GTFs could dip into to cover lost wages in the event of medical or parental leave. Every graduate student, regardless of union membership, would be able to receive up to $1,000 for medical leave, and up to $1,500 for a new child’s birth, adoption or foster placement.
The tentative deal also gives GTFs a 5 percent pay raise for minimum wages retroactive to Sept. 15, and another 5 percent pay increase next year. Depending on seniority, GTFs currently receive at least $553 per month.
Calling it a “qualified victory,” Steve McAllister, a bargaining team member and a biology GTF, said the union is pleased with the overall tentative contact.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

UO faculty tensions flare

Register Guard
December 9th, 2014

In the throes of a constitutional crisis, the University of Oregon Senate’s executive committee convened an emergency meeting Monday to figure out how to change the course of impending Board of Trustees legislation.
The board on Thursday is scheduled to consider a policy that some faculty members believe will supersede the UO constitution, usurp faculty authority over academic matters — and even repeal part of the university’s 1876 charter.
Interim President Scott Coltrane appeared at Monday’s meeting to say that superseding, usurping or repealing is not what the Board of Trustees has in mind.
“I don’t attribute to the board evil intent. There was a lack of full and transparent communication. I take some responsibility for that,” Coltrane said. “They (trustees) might not have the appreciation for faculty debate and processing that we do. It’s true of almost any board that I know of, so we have a lot of education to do.”

Oregon wins five grants from National Endowment for the Humanities

December 9th, 2014

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded five grants to Oregon, totaling $799,953. Two grants go to the University of Oregon.
Nationally, the NEH awarded $17.9 million in grants for 233 humanities projects. Grants will support research fellowships and awards for faculty, traveling exhibitions, the preservation of humanities collections at smaller institutions, and training programs to prepare libraries, museums, and archives to preserve and enhance access to their collections.

UO officials, striking graduate teaching fellows meet until 2 a.m.; mediation resumes this morning

December 9th, 2014

Representatives of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and the University of Oregon will reconvene with a mediator this morning after meeting in a marathon negotiation session that began Monday afternoon lasted until 2 a.m. today.
The teaching assistants went on strike Dec. 2 after contract talks stalled over medical and maternity leave benefits. It is the first GTFF strike in the 38 years the union has been on campus.
The 1,500 teaching assistants represented by the union play a large role in conducting and grading final exams, which began this week. But the university promises to close out the term by extending the grading deadline to Dec. 19, giving exams with short answers rather than essays, assigning extra duties and pay to faculty members, and proctoring exams with volunteers and paid non-union graduate students and undergrads.

Monday, December 8, 2014

GTF strike a bad sign for UO

Register Guard
December 8th, 2014

While launching the University of Oregon’s $2 billion capital campaign, UO Interim President Scott Coltrane proclaimed, “This is about more than numbers, dollars or buildings. This is about capitalizing on an extraordinary opportunity to make lives extraordinary. It’s about empowering our students and faculty to make an impact and find a better way.”
Given the turmoil of the current strike by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, these words ring hollow. The situation is extraordinary, but not in a good way.
The federation has bargained in good faith for more than a year. It has offered reasonable and affordable terms to university negotiators. And yet the university administration, stumbling through a series of unsettling transitions in the president’s and the provost’s offices, has shifted from a position of distraction and inattention to one of rigidity, and it has now provoked a needless, expensive and embarrassing strike. I don’t feel “empowered,” given the opaque and head-scratching course of these negotiations, and the new era does not look so promising.

Strike continues as finals begin at University of Oregon

December 8th, 2014

Graduate teaching fellows remain on strike today, as finals weeks begins University of Oregon in Eugene.
The 1,500 teaching assistants represented by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation play a large role in conducting and grading final exams, but the university promises to close out the term by extending the grading deadline to Dec. 19, giving exams with short answers rather than essays, assigning extra duties and pay to faculty members, and proctoring exams with volunteers and paid non-union graduate students and undergrads.
Some students will also be given the option of taking the grade they had earned by Dec. 1, the day before the strike started, and skipping the final.
"Final exams will be held and graded, and grades will be entered," said a statement from interim President Scott Coltrane. "And we will all look forward toward winter term."

Friday, December 5, 2014

Governor Kitzhaber Outlines Spending Priorities In Budget Proposal

December 1st, 2014

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has outlined his spending priorities for the next two years. He says his $18.6 billion budget proposal makes targeted investments in education and job creation.
Earlier today, OPB’s Beth Hyams delved into the details of the governor’s proposal with Salem reporter, Chris Lehman:
$18.6 billion would represent the largest state budget in Oregon history — more than a billion dollar increase from the current budget cycle.
Where,  Hyams asked, is the extra money coming from?
Lehman explained that Oregon’s revenue structure is weighted heavily towards the income tax.  Roughly 83 percent of expected state revenues over the next two years will come from personal income taxes. The rest comes from corporate taxes and a smattering of other sources including the lottery, tobacco taxes and estate taxes.

Union, UO fail to reach accord

Register Guard
December 5th, 2014

A quiet, daylong mediation session at an undisclosed site Thursday failed to bring an end to the graduate teachers’ strike at the University of Oregon — for the moment dashing fervent hopes on both sides.
After 11 1/2 hours, the bargaining teams decided to call it a night. They planned to resume at 11 a.m. today, according to union sources.
But Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation members also are preparing to return to the picket lines today, the fourth day of the first strike in the local union’s 38-year history.
“Our numbers have been consistently strong. Despite the cold and rain this morning, we still had folks out,” said union spokesman Gus Skorburg, who normally teaches Philosophy 110, a class on human nature.
Striking GTFs failed to turn up at 13 percent of 414 classes on Thursday, UO spokesman Tobin Klinger said. That count includes only classes where students waited for their GTF to show up, and not those that were canceled in advance.
Administrators were making plans to enter thousands of grades for undergraduate students who are taught by the striking graduate teachers, should the strike continue into the final exams week that begins Monday.

Mediation resumes Friday as strike continues, finals loom at University of Oregon

December 5th, 2014

Another mediation session is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, as the strike of graduate teaching assistants continues at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
A full day of bargaining ended Thursday with no resolution. Both sides agreed to keep details of the negotiations confidential to avoid "mixed and conflicting messages ending up public and having to mend fences in the morning," according to a statement from the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, the union representing the strikers.
Friday is the final day of fall term classes at the university, and finals begin Monday. The university's 1,500 graduate teaching assistants play a large role in conducting final exams and grading final term papers.
The university said it has an "academic continuity plan" ready in case the strike extends into finals week. School documents describe measures such as extending the grading deadline, giving exams with short answers rather than essays, assigning extra duties and pay to faculty members, and hiring.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pickets walk the line for labor deal at UO

Register Guard
December 3rd, 2014

Graduate teaching fellows ditched their classrooms full of undergraduate students at the University of Oregon on Tuesday to strike for a better labor contract.
On Day One of the first-ever Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation strike, the graduate students shouldered picket signs and walked circles in front of 10 buildings across campus.
They plan to do the same today and Thursday — though bargaining team members have agreed to leave the picket lines on Thursday for a sit-down with UO bargainers called by state mediator Janet Gillman.
Both sides said they most sincerely wish that something will give, and that everyone can get back to the business of finishing up the waning days of fall term.
“We’re really worried,” interim President Scott Coltrane said Tuesday. “We don’t want students to miss out on getting a graduation in the next term or qualifying for financial aid, so we’re working to make sure there’s (staffing) coverage for all of the classes.”
This is the first labor negotiation to reach an impasse since the UO’s new Board of Trustees took charge of the university from the state in July.
Strikes were rare under the old system. The last on the UO campus was in 1995, when statewide members of the Service Employees International Union, which represents the UO’s classified workers, walked out. It lasted less than a week.
This year, a key question in the failed negotiations between the GTFF and UO is who’s calling the shots for the administration? Who makes the decisions on contract proposals?

Mediation talks resume amid reports of canceled University of Oregon classes

December 4th, 2014

Amid social media reports of canceled classes at the University of Oregon, mediation resumes Thursday in hopes of ending a strike by graduate teaching assistants.
State mediator Janet Gillman called for the session between University of Oregon bargainers and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, which represents about 1,500 teaching assistants.
The session comes four days before the start of finals week.
Graduate teaching fellows went on strike Tuesday after contract talks stalled over medical and maternity leave benefits.
The university said it has an academic continuity plan in place. School documents describe measures such as extending the grading deadline, giving exams with short answers rather than essays, assigning extra duties and pay to faculty members, and hiring.

Strike for Better Benefits

Inside Higher Ed
December 3rd, 2014

Hundreds of graduate student instructors at the University of Oregon exchanged teaching for picketing Tuesday as part of a strike over stalled negotiations on health benefits.
The teaching assistants walked off the job during the last week of regular classes, just before final exams start next week and term papers are due. The strike comes after a year of negotiations between the administration and union members, whose previous contract expired in March.
The Graduate Teaching Fellowship Federation was asking for a pay increase to bring wages closer to the cost of living in Eugene, as well as for better health benefits. They succeeded in one respect: the university has agreed to a 9 percent minimum salary increase split between the two years of the contract.
But the two sides still disagree over paid absences for medical and parental leave.
They also disagree on the effectiveness of the strike. While the university administration has said repeatedly that classes will go on and final grades will be tallied, the graduate student union says that’s simply not practical. Nearly 1,500 graduate students teach a third of all undergraduate classes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Graduate Assistants at U. of Oregon Walk Out

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 2nd, 2014

Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Oregon went on strike on Tuesday after their union and the administration failed to come to an agreement on a new contract, The Register-Guard reports. The roughly 1,500 graduate students are walking off the job as the university enters the last two weeks of the semester, when final examinations are administered and final grades are due.
In a last-ditch effort at an agreement on Monday, representatives of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and the university couldn’t come to terms on medical and parental benefits. Oregon offered to create a $150,000 hardship fund that the teaching assistants could tap in cases of medical emergency or the birth of a child. But union leaders said the administration would not put the terms of the proposed fund in the new contract.
After the union threatened to strike, the university sent out a memorandum suggesting that work normally done by graduate assistants could be handled by adjunct professors, retired faculty members, or nonunionized graduate students.
The University Senate, which is made up of students, faculty and staff members, and administrators, voted to condemn that response last month, saying it ignored the wishes of the faculty and could bring about “the dilution and degradation of teaching standards.”
This is the first time in the union’s 38-year history on the Eugene campus that its members have gone on strike.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Oregon's 7 public university presidents say Kitzhaber budget 'will not do enough'

December 1st, 2014

The presidents of Oregon's seven public universities released a statement Monday that offered muted praise for increased education funding in Gov. John Kitzhaber's proposed 2015-17 state budget. The joint statement calls the budget "a step in the right direction" but warns that "it will not do enough ... to position Oregonians for a lifetime of opportunity":
"Today we learned that Governor Kitzhaber has recommended a two-year higher education budget of $626 million. We commend the Governor for his efforts to end a decade of cuts to Oregon's universities. All Oregonians deserve a fair shot and while this budget is a step in the right direction it will not do enough to control tuition, expand access, and position Oregonians for a lifetime of opportunity.
"Oregon's universities are key to the economic health of our state. Jobs are driven by growth in Oregon's industries, and they demand a diverse pool of college graduates. Oregon needs to rebuild a strong middle class with a workforce that is trained for today's economy. This isn't free. Restoring funding to pre-2007 levels allows us to reach the student outcome mandates from the Legislature and Governor in the 40-40-20 goal.
"We are committed to working with the Governor and the Legislature to increase this budget for our students, and for more degrees, jobs and companies in Oregon." 
-- Jay Kenton, Eastern Oregon University; Chris Maples, Oregon Institute of Technology; Ed Ray, Oregon State University; Wim Wiewel, Portland State University; Roy Saigo, Southern Oregon University; Scott Coltrane, University of Oregon; Mark Weiss, Western Oregon University
Read more here

Kitzhaber proposes 9 percent increase for education in 2015-17

December 1st, 2014

Gov. John Kitzhaber today proposed spending $9.4 billion on education from preschool through college in the state's next two year budget.
His plan, if enacted by the Legislature in 2015, would mean a 9 percent increase in education spending in an $18.6 million budget that would have an 11 percent increase overall.
Kitzhaber said the base funding for public schools should be $6.9 million in 2015-17, up 4 percent from its current level of $6.65 million.
That money, known as the State School Fund, is awarded to school districts based exclusively on how many students they enroll. The governor wants the Legislature to give schools more of their state funding for particular state-designated programs and approaches, including teacher training, career or science-related courses and reading instruction in the early grades.
The governor proposed a huge increase in state funding for early childhood education: a $135 million increase. That would provide $50 million more in subsidized daycare for children of low-income workers and fund creation and expansion of other preschool programs, he said.

Mediation fails; UO union may walk

Register Guard
December 1st, 2014

The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation union on the University of Oregon campus says it’s continuing to prepare for a strike on Tuesday after 24 hours of mediation with university bargainers earlier this week failed to produce a tentative settlement.
Union leaders said they plan to stage a rally, at 5 p.m. Monday, outside the Johnson Hall administration building on campus.
The union is demanding a 5.5 percent raise for minimum graduate teaching fellow salaries for each of the next two years, and two weeks of paid medical and parental leave annually for every GTF.
In a statement released Thursday morning, union leaders said 24 hours of mediation over Tuesday and Wednesday failed to head off a potential strike.
Among other issues, the university was unwilling to make paid sick leave a “legally enforceable” part of a new contract, according to the union.
Frances Bronet, the UO’s senior vice president and provost, said in a statement released early Thursday evening that during mediation the university proposed a $150,000-per-year financial hardship fund for which all graduate students, those represented and not represented by the GTFF union, would be eligible.
The fund, Bronet said, would allow graduate students to apply for grants of up to $1,000 for medical emergencies and $1,500 for needed financial support related to the birth or adoption of a child.
The proposed hardship fund, Bronet said, is the latest addition to the university’s offer, which also includes a 9 percent pay increase over two years on minimum graduate student salaries; full tuition waivers; significantly reduced fees ($61 per term for GTF students); and full family health, vision and dental coverage, with the university paying 95 percent of the premium.

UO Grad Students Prepare To Strike

December 1st, 2014

About 1,500 graduate students at the University of Oregon are preparing to strike this week.
Negotiations between the University of Oregon and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation have failed to bring about an agreement.
Grad students say they want two weeks of guaranteed paid medical leave, two weeks of parental leave for having or adopting a child, as well as a raise.
A final round of talks is scheduled for Monday. Students may strike Tuesday.
Jon LaRochelle, a graduate teaching fellow in the philosophy department and part of the bargaining team, said graduate students teach one-third of the classes at the University of Oregon, meaning if they strike the impact could be significant.
“Classes won’t get taught, grades won’t get done, office hours won’t be held,” he said.
He said the two sides are the closest they’ve ever been.
University spokesman Tobin Klinger said they’ve agreed to establish a $150,000-per-year fund.
“It would supply hardship dollars for graduate students that they could apply for, for medical emergencies,” he said.
Klinger said the university is still hoping to avoid a strike, but has contingency plans in place.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Quit Picking on Old Professors

November 19th, 2014

This week, academia is in a frenzy—well, an erudite tizzy—over an op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education by recently retired art professor Laurie Fendrich. In the piece, Fendrich, who’s 66, lauds her own decision to leave her position at Hofstra—and characterizes her aging colleagues as doddering dinosaurs who are clogging up the academic pipeline.
As in other professions, baby boomers “hanging on” past retirement age is a hot-button issue in higher education—and it’s easy to see why. In the university, the over-65s are the final generation for whom teaching college has provided a stable, (somewhat) respected, remunerative middle-class existence. They’ve had benefits and job security for longer than most of their younger colleagues have been alive. And they didn’t have to work nearly as hard to get all that—back in the ’60s and ’70s, when most of them began their careers, requirements for hiring and tenure were a fraction of what they are now. (It was also legal to stipulate that your department wanted a “male between 25 & 45,” so the good old days are a matter of perspective.)

Reed College psychology professor wins 2014 Oregon Professor of the Year

November 24th, 2014

Reed College psychology professor Jennifer Henderlong Corpus has been recognized as the 2014 Oregon Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, according to the college.
Corpus' selection was announced Thursday at an award luncheon in Washington D.C.  The Council for Advancement and Support of Education organizes the program and selected Corpus from almost 400 professors nationwide.
"This honor underscores how lucky I feel to be at Reed, surrounded by outstanding educators and truly inspiring students," Corpus said in a statement. "I am grateful for the opportunity to know and learn from them on a daily basis."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Outcome-based budget won’t serve students

Register Guard
November 16th, 2014

Money — how it’s raised, how it’s budgeted and what it buys — has been the silent driver of education reform across this nation for more than a decade. Now, with state funding for public higher education in post-­recessionary decline, most institutions have been forced to raise college tuition, cut back on academic programs, privatize services and seek new revenue streams, including from private foundations and corporate sponsors. Insidiously, another “innovation” in education money matters is “performance” or “outcomes-based” funding.
Amid the chatter about top-to-bottom reform in Oregon, one missing link is consideration of its mission. Here’s what the statutes say higher education’s tasks are: to deliver high-quality education; to prepare students for a democratic society; and to contribute to the economic, cultural and civic advancement of the state. Years of disinvestment have undermined these aims, as Oregon’s rank of 47 among states in funding attests.

U. of Oregon Draws Criticism for Response to Threatened TA Strike

The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 20th, 2014

The University of Oregon’s Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to rebuke the institution’s administration for planning for a threatened strike by graduate teaching assistants in a manner that bypasses the faculty and stands to bring about “the dilution and degradation of teaching standards.”
The Senate, which includes representatives of the faculty, student body, administration, and staff, adopted the motion in response to a confidential memorandum that Oregon’s top academic and human-resources administrators sent to deans and directors last month.
The memo, on how the university can cope with a threatened strike at the end of the fall term by the labor union representing its graduate teaching fellows and research assistants, suggests that students be given the option of not taking final examinations or that such tests be reformatted to make them easier to grade. The memo also says that the instructional work normally performed by graduate fellows could be handled by adjunct instructors, non-unionized graduate students, recently retired faculty members, or qualified administrators who volunteer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

UO professor among group of experts against nationalized sexual violence survey

Register Guard
November 18th, 2014

A University of Oregon professor is leading a group of sexual violence experts who are urging dozens of university presidents to reject what they call a flawed nationalized survey that seeks to measure rates of sexual violence victimization on college campuses.
In a letter signed by 16 researchers, UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd and other sexual assault experts criticized the Association of American Universities’ efforts to oversee a campus “climate” survey that will be developed and administered by a private firm in April — at a cost of about $85,000 to each university that signs on. Schools have until Dec. 1 to decide whether to give the survey to students.
The researchers say that the AAU — a nonprofit higher education trade group whose members include some of the nation’s top public and private universities, including the UO — is pressuring its university members to agree to a costly survey that university officials won’t be able to review until after administrators write the check.
The expert group sent the letter to presidents of all 60 AAU universities on Monday afternoon.
The AAU announced last week that Maryland-based research firm Westat will conduct the survey. If all 62 public and private universities agree to take the survey, the firm could generate about $5 million. 

Shrimp on a treadmill? Pacific University professor defends his research, excoriates Republican critics

November 18th, 2014

Forces as powerful as U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn and one-time presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee made a national laughingstock out of marine biologist David Scholnick's research on ocean microbes that involved putting shrimp on miniature treadmills.
Forbes went so far as to claim he spent $3 million on crustacean exercise equipment.
Now the Pacific University professor is fighting back.
In a piece published last week, he called out Republican politicians for their small-minded take on scientific inquiry. He explained his work's direct connection to Americans' food safety. And he pointed out that the treadmill he built mainly from cast-off parts cost less than $50.
He was frustrated, he said, with relentless attacks on his work and other research by people who made snap judgments based on misinformation and showed no willingness to get more information.

Monday, November 17, 2014

How a $47 Shrimp Treadmill Became a $3-Million Political Plaything

The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 13th, 2014

Over the past few years numerous media stories have surfaced about how hard-earned taxpayer dollars are supporting scientists who run shrimp on treadmills: listed shrimp-treadmill research as wasting $3-million in taxpayer dollars, AARP produced a nationally distributed commercial of lab-coat-wearing scientists running shrimp on treadmills to equate the lack of federal support for retiree health-care services to money spent on shrimp-treadmill research, and Mike Huckabee linked the National Science Foundation’s funding of shrimp-treadmill studies to limited military spending.
A video clip of a shrimp running on a treadmill has somehow become the nation’s poster child for wasteful spending and grounds for the Republican-led House of Representatives science committee to recently investigate wasteful spending of NSF-funded research projects across the country.
My name is David, and I am the marine biologist who put a shrimp on a treadmill—a burden I will forever carry. To be clear, the treadmill did not cost millions of taxpayer dollars, the goal of the research was not to exercise shrimp, and the government did not pay me—or anyone else—to work out shrimp on treadmills.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ballmers give $50 million to university

Register Guard
November 13th, 2014

Connie and Steve Ballmer showered $50 million in Microsoft-­made wealth on the University of Oregon on Wednesday.
The UO said it will use the money to help bright, low-­income students get through college; hire five new researchers to study obesity; and pay for a marketing campaign to make the UO’s academics as famous as Duck football.
A large share of the $50 million will go into a UO endowment, and the annual interest it will earn will pay in perpetuity for the scholarships and researchers.
The gift is critical to the university, interim President Scott Coltrane said.
“Without enough money to build our endow­ment, we don’t have a secure future,” he said. “What this (gift) does is makes us able to compete for the best students and the best faculty in ways that we can depend on.”
Connie Ballmer, 52, manages the couple’s philanthropic ventures. She’s a UO alumna, and she’s a governor-appointed member of the UO’s recently created board of trustees. She also is leading a committee that will find and interview UO presidential candidates. The presidency has been vacant since Michael Gottfredson left abruptly in August.

Tech Billionaire Gives Millions to Harvard and U. of Oregon

The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 13th, 2014

Steve Ballmer, the billionaire former Microsoft chief executive, was behind two large donations announced on Thursday: $50-million to the University of Oregon and an unspecified amount to Harvard University.
Oregon will receive the $50-million from Mr. Ballmer and his wife, Connie Ballmer, an alumna of the college, to tackle a variety of initiatives, including new professorships, scholarships, and a marketing campaign. The Register-Guard reports that the donation is the second-largest in the university’s history.
The donation to Harvard, Mr. Ballmer’s alma mater, will finance an expansion of its computer-science faculty, The Boston Globe reports. The department will add 12 faculty members in the next few years, largely as a result of the donation, bringing its total to 36. By comparison, Stanford University has about 50 faculty members, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has 55, in the field.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Wheeler vows to 'continue this fight' for higher education funding

Portland Business Journal
November 5th, 2014

Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler on Wednesday said he will "continue this fight" for more funding for higher education after voters soundly defeated a proposal to create a statewide scholarship fund.
Wheeler had worked on the proposal, known as the Oregon Opportunity Initiative, or Measure 86, since at least early 2013.
Although voters weighed in against it by roughly a 3:2 margin, Wheeler said it remains a priority because of the state's dismal support for higher education. Oregon ranks No. 47 in per-student funding for higher education.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ballot Measures, Bonds and Colleges

Inside Higher Ed
November 5th, 2014

...In Oregon, voters rejected Measure 86, which would have allowed the state to issue bonds to support a fund that would have provided scholarships to Oregon students. The debate over the measure was less about the value of student aid than over whether it was policy to issue bonds to support student aid, as opposed to for facilities, which is more common.
Indeed, voters in one Oregon county approved facilities bonds on the same ballot. The Clackamas Community College district on Tuesday approved a plan to issue $90 million in bonds for facilities. The funds will be used both to build new facilities and to modernize equipment used in training students for some career fields....

Monday, November 3, 2014

Oregon to Vote on Tuesday on Using Bonds for College Funds

Business Administration Information
November 3rd, 2014

With the midterm elections right around the corner, Oregon could soon make history by allowing the state to sell bonds to set up an endowment with bonds sold to help provide financial aid for college students.
If passed, Measure 86 would amend the Oregon Constitution to allow the state to borrow funds for non-capital purposes.
Ted Wheeler, Oregon’s state treasurer, has championed the measure’s campaign because he thinks that the state can create returns on the endowment that will be higher than the price of repaying the bonds.
With decreased state funding for education in recent years, Wheeler felt that major change was needed. Oregon’s amount of financial aid for public universities has decreased by 34% in the past five years, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
“It’s a bold proposition, but considering where we’re starting, it requires us to take some bold steps,” he told Bloomberg.
With the midterm elections right around the corner, Oregon could soon make history by allowing the state to sell bonds to set up an endowment with bonds sold to help provide financial aid for college students.
If passed, Measure 86 would amend the Oregon Constitution to allow the state to borrow funds for non-capital purposes.
Ted Wheeler, Oregon’s state treasurer, has championed the measure’s campaign because he thinks that the state can create returns on the endowment that will be higher than the price of repaying the bonds.
With decreased state funding for education in recent years, Wheeler felt that major change was needed. Oregon’s amount of financial aid for public universities has decreased by 34% in the past five years, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
“It’s a bold proposition, but considering where we’re starting, it requires us to take some bold steps,” he told Bloomberg.
- See more at:
With the midterm elections right around the corner, Oregon could soon make history by allowing the state to sell bonds to set up an endowment with bonds sold to help provide financial aid for college students.
If passed, Measure 86 would amend the Oregon Constitution to allow the state to borrow funds for non-capital purposes.
Ted Wheeler, Oregon’s state treasurer, has championed the measure’s campaign because he thinks that the state can create returns on the endowment that will be higher than the price of repaying the bonds.
With decreased state funding for education in recent years, Wheeler felt that major change was needed. Oregon’s amount of financial aid for public universities has decreased by 34% in the past five years, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association
“It’s a bold proposition, but considering where we’re starting, it requires us to take some bold steps,” he told Bloomberg.
- See more at:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Your Professor Isn’t a Lazy Luddite

October 30th, 2014

Lucas Matney, a junior at Northwestern University and columnist for the Daily Northwestern, is concerned that his school is not adequately preparing him for the challenges of today. In his experience, he says, “very few” of his professors “have used technology in the classroom in a way that offers a radically changed educational experience.” Instructors like me and my friends, he argues, “need to ponder what a 21st century education really means if they desire the University to maintain relevance as an institution.” Trust me, Lucas, most every professor younger than 75 (and a few older!) has pondered this question a-plenty. In the words of the great rhetorician Ali G: “Techmology … is it good, or is it wack?”
As someone who routinely teaches paperless courses and has made regular use of class wikis, discussion boards, and of course my great nemesis PowerPoint, I still tend toward wack.
I see where concerned students like Matney are coming from, and some of the ideas he presented when I pressed him for specifics in a follow-up email were quite compelling: He suggested videoconferencing with the scholars who write the academic articles he’s assigned, for example. But as someone who has done a lot of work with teaching technology (one of my grad-school pedagogy projects was to develop a bookless second-year German curriculum based on online “modules”), I’ve still come to the conclusion that unless you’re teaching a course actually on technology—digital humanities, computer science, engineering, fascinating-sounding stunt courses at Penn, etc.—what our students could really use is some time unplugged. That professor you think is a lazy Luddite might actually be doing you a favor.

Portland places second in national college contest with $1 million first-place award, wins $10,000 instead

The Oregonian
October 29th, 2014

The national group CEOs for Cities is so convinced that a college-educated population drives regional economic success that it offered a $1 million prize to the U.S. metro area that could produce the biggest increase in college graduates per capita from 2010 to 2013.
Portland entered and came in second among 57 cities vying for the Talent Dividend Prize, contest organizers announced Wednesday. The seven-county Portland area showed a whopping 17.7 percent increase in new college graduates.
But Akron won, showing a 20 percent increase in students earning associates, bachelors and graduate degrees. It gets $1 million. Higher education leaders there are ecstatic.
Portland, for placing second, gets $10,000.

Ebola could be wiped out in five months, OSU researcher's study says

The Oregonian 
October 30th, 2014

The Ebola epidemic could be contained in five months if West African countries adopt a high level of prevention focused on the spread of the virus in hospitals, at funerals and in the community, a new analysis published Thursday says.
"It's pretty hopeful," said Jan Medlock, an epidemiologist and assistant professor in Oregon State University's Department of Biomedical Sciences. "We can control it. The implementation is the tougher question."
The analysis was published Thursday in Science Magazine by Medlock and researchers from the Yale School of Public Health and the Ministry of Health in Liberia. Their analysis looked at ways to prevent the spread of the virus, which is highly infectious and often deadly.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oregon's abandonment of higher education: it's criminal (guest opinion)

October 28th, 2014

The Oregon Legislature should be declared a crime scene.
Oregon's state universities are increasingly that in name only. Because of the Legislature's calculated callousness or pure indifference in funding Oregon universities, young people across the state are facing soaring college loan debts and diminished opportunities for higher education.
The state is also sabotaging its goal of ensuring that 40 percent of all adult Oregonians have a bachelor's degree or higher by 2025 and undermining the rationale for the state having a say in the operations of what are still called public universities.
Gov. John Kitzhaber says he deserves to be re-elected because he froze tuition at Oregon colleges.
Sure, for one year.
In June, the state Board of Higher Education approved a tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Teaching fellows vote 'yes' to strike if UO doesn't meet demands

October 27th, 2014

Monday marks the beginning of a 30-day "cooling off" period between the federation and the University of Oregon administration.
GTFs, or graduate teaching fellows, are grad students who instruct in undergraduate courses. Federation President Joe Henry said the union is requesting a pay raise and paid leave.
After a vote, GTFF members agreed to go on strike if school administrators don't come up with a plan to meet their demands.
"We do not want to strike,” said Joe Henry, the president of the GTFF, “but we feel that we must if the needs of GTFs aren't met."
Last year, the U of O’s teaching fellows were paid an annual salary between $25,000 and $30,000.
"The numbers stated are based on a 1.0 FTE. Graduate school rules prohibit GTFs from working more than .49," said Thibaud Henin, GTFF Steward. "In practice, many departments pay their GTFs at a 0.2 or 0.4. What this means is that some GTFs make as little as $5,000 per year."

Monday, October 27, 2014

U. of O. graduate teaching fellows threaten strike over pay, unpaid leave

October 27th, 2014

The union for graduate students who help teach undergraduate courses at the University of Oregon is threatening to strike in a dispute with the administration over pay and leave.
Members of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation voted to strike unless there's an agreement. KVAL Television reports Monday is the start of a 30-day cooling off period.
Teaching fellows are paid between $25,000 and $30,000 a year. The union wants a 5.5 percent raise plus medical and parental leave.
The university says no part-time employees on campus receive paid leave. It says it has it has expanded its offer through the bargaining process to address most of the federation's concerns.
Read more here

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Views on Measure 86: Yes: Make education an achievable goal

Portland Tribune
October 23rd, 2014

It’s no secret that many working families in Oregon are falling behind. We know that for many Oregonians, the key to getting ahead financially is a college degree or skills acquired through vocational and technical training; yet for many, this goal is simply out of reach.
That’s why SEIU Local 503 urges a “yes” vote on Ballot Measure 86.
Measure 86 has three goals: One, make higher education and job training more affordable; two, reduce student debt; and three, encourage the expansion of vocational and technical job training in Oregon.
When it comes to funding higher education, Oregon ranks 47th in the nation. Colleges have responded to dwindling state support by shifting the burden to students and their families. The high cost of tuition means many Oregonians simply cannot afford college.
To make matters worse, access to student aid is scarce. The Oregon Opportunity Grant program is an effective tool for those students who secure a grant, but onl y one out of every five eligible applicants for Oregon Opportunity Grants receives anything at all.

Welcome to 13th Grade!

October 22st, 2014

I did not enjoy high school. Chances are you did not either. So imagine, somewhere midway through your sophomore year, if your parents and teachers casually informed you that you’d now “get” to attend the 13th grade before leaving. If someone had pulled that crap on me in 1992, I would have set my room on fire.
Turns out, however, the 13th grade is not a half-bad idea when that “super senior” year also counts as a free first year of college—as it does in a few rural and exurban school districts in my home state of Oregon. For the students who participate in this optional fifth year, their transition to postsecondary education comes without tuition, but with substantial support and oversight—not only are they required to get periodic progress reports from every professor, every term, but sometimes the very classes they take are housed on that self-same familiar campus.

Measure 86 will boost access to higher education: Guest opinion

October 23rd, 2014

Everyone who wants a chance at higher education should have the opportunity. This November, there's one idea on the ballot with the best chance of ensuring access to higher education and reducing student debt — Measure 86.
As president and CEO of the Oregon State University Foundation, I know how difficult securing necessary resources for higher education can be. I support Measure 86 because when it comes to student financial aid, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach. Measure 86 gives the Legislature additional tools to fund student financial aid for university and community college students, and encourages the expansion of vocational and technical job skills training. 

Controversy surrounds UO speaker

The Register Guard
October 23rd, 2014

A controversial biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, will be in Lane County on Friday and Saturday leading a string of educational and community events centered on the dangers of herbicides.
Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology, is despised and dismissed by some chemical and agribusiness interests. But he’s a favorite of environmental and anti-herbicide activists, in particular for his reasearch on atrazine, a widely used herbicide that Hayes says damages the sexual functions of frogs and causes hermaphroditisim in them. Partly because of the similarities between amphibian and human hormonal systems, Hayes advocates banning the chemical.
Atrazine is used in the United States to kill weeds in crops, mostly in corn, but also in orchards and cotton and rice fields, and on turf, from golf courses to home lawns. About three-quarters of the atrazine used in the United States is on corn crops, mainly in the Midwest. Its use is banned in the 18 nations of the European Union, including Switzerland, where the maker of atrazine, Syngenta AG, is headquartered.
Published reports list atrazine as the second-most widely used herbicide in the United States, after glyphosate, with 76 million pounds used annually.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UO aims high

The Register Guard
October 21st, 2014

When Phil and Penny Knight gave $500 million to the Oregon Health & Science University a year ago, with the provision that OHSU raise an equal amount within two years, supporters of the University of Oregon had to ask themselves a question: Would the UO be able to meet such a challenge? The answer, UO officials believe, is yes, and then some: The UO intends to reach a $2 billion fundraising goal within four years, with $700 million already gathered from donors during the “silent” phase of the campaign.
That leaves $1.3 billion to go by 2018, or $325 million a year, a significant quickening of the current pace of fundraising. It is the largest philanthropic drive ever conducted by an Oregon institution of any kind.
While Knight, co-founder of Nike Inc., and his wife gave part of the $700 million raised so far and may make important contributions during the remainder of the campaign, they were conspicuously absent from Friday’s event announcing the $2 billion goal, underscoring a vital point: The UO is confident that it can count on more than one megadonor to secure a future that is increasingly dependent on private philanthropy.
The UO plans to use the money to increase the number of need-based and merit-based scholarships, add 150 tenure-track faculty positions, expand enrollment in the Robert D. Clark Honors College by 50 percent, underwrite its effort to establish “centers of excellence” in teaching and research, and pay for a number of academic and athletic buildings and facilities. The overarching goal is to kick the UO into a higher gear, as befits its status as a member of the Association of American Universities.