Thursday, January 29, 2015

UO professor Bill Harbaugh returns 22,000 pages, declares victory in exposing 'obsessive secrecy'

January 29th, 2015

Why'd you give them back, Bill?
University of Oregon Economics Professor Bill Harbaugh stopped, composing his thoughts. A good minute ticked by. Harbaugh, a tenured faculty member with a high forehead and shock of white hair, gazed past students passing a busy lunch restaurant Wednesday across from campus.
There was his job to consider, and the fates of the two archivists whose decision to release 22,000 pages of presidential records put them at risk of their jobs. There was the assertion by Scott Coltrane, UO interim president, that the documents were unlawfully released because they contained confidential faculty, student and staff information.

Cache of Records Released by U. of Oregon Is Returned

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 28th, 2015

The 22,000 University of Oregon records that were released without permission to a professor have been returned, The Register-Guard reports. According to the university, the records contained confidential information about faculty members, staff members, and students that should have been combed out before their release.
The Chronicle identified the recipient of the records as William T. Harbaugh, an economics professor who runs the blog UO Matters, which advocates for administrative transparency. Two Oregon employees were placed on administrative leave after the documents’ release.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Professor named in records dispute

The Register Guard
January 28th, 2015

An article published Tuesday in the Chronicle of Higher Education asserted, without attribution, that University of Oregon professor Bill Harbaugh is the faculty member in possession of 22,000 pages of electronic documents that the UO administration has been trying wto recover.
In the week since the UO announced that an unnamed professor obtained the papers of the past four UO presidents from the UO library archives, Harbaugh has frequently been mentioned as a likely possessor of the documents.
Harbaugh on Tuesday did not return emails seeking comment on the Chronicle story. He posted excerpts of the article on his blog, . He has previously implied on his blog that he is not in possession of the troves of documents.
However, Harbaugh, an economics professor, makes an avocation of obtaining university public documents and posting them on his blog. Over the past four years, Harbaugh formally asked the UO for public records 229 times, according to the university’s Office of Public Records.

David Sarasohn: The lowdown on the Legislature's higher-ed options

January 27th, 2015

Nobody could say that Oregon doesn't value higher education.
We're so fond of it we have a state policy declaring that some time in the future — maybe around the time Interstate 5 is replaced by a Disney people mover — 40 percent of Oregon adults will have at least a four-year college degree and another 40 percent will have a two-year degree.
We're just not big on paying for it.
The multiyear national trend of states cutting college spending and increasing tuition and student debt levels is the rare area where we've been a higher education leader, starting from an especially low point and then dropping faster — to where we're 47th in higher ed funding in the country. A below-average per-capita income makes our tuition levels even harder for students and families to reach. A proposal by state Treasurer Ted Wheeler to issue bonds to set up a state scholarship fund got clobbered by voters last November.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Open-Records King of Eugene

The Chronicle of Higher Education
January 27th, 2015

Since 2009 the University of Oregon has had five presidents, including interim officeholders. It has gone through four athletic directors, and it’s now advertising for its fourth general counsel.
During that time the institution has endured an almost endless stream of controversies, involving athletics, governance, union contracts, and allegations that the administration mishandled reports of sexual assaults by three student basketball players.
Through it all, there’s been one constant: William T. Harbaugh. Mr. Harbaugh, a professor of economics, has chronicled every twist and turn on his blog, UOMatters—a project he began more than five years ago, he says, to shed light on an administration that many believe lacks adequate transparency.
The blog, along with his persistent requests for public records, has earned Mr. Harbaugh the reputation of a muckraker, a thorn in the side of the administration, and the sharp end of faculty discontent.

Friday, January 23, 2015

UO publishes job description for new president

The Daily Emerald
January 23rd, 2015

If the University of Oregon had a Tinder account, its bio might read, “One of the nation’s premier research universities seeks innovative leader for president.” Since UO can’t just swipe right for the next president, the matching process is a little different.
The current presidential search is unique for the University of Oregon. In previous years, the university was a part of the Oregon University System, which used to pick the president. Governor Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 270 in 2013 allowing Oregon universities to set up their own independent governing boards.
The UO Board of Trustees formed after SB 270 was signed into law and the board assumed responsibility for the university July 1, 2014. Among its many duties, the Board of Trustees is now responsible for the hiring of UO’s president.

University of Oregon officials urgently try to recover records from still-unidentified professor

January 23rd, 2015

University of Oregon officials say they are "in communication" with whoever is harboring 22,000 pages of records that UO leaders contend were released unlawfully because they contain confidential information.
As university officials urgently seek return of the documents, they are warning employees not to talk with reporters. Adriene Lim, dean of UO libraries, wrote an internal memo instructing library faculty, managers and staff members to keep a lid on information.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Obama and Oregon hoping for free community college

Statesman Journal
January 20th, 2015

Among the proposals contained in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address was the idea that all Americans should be able to attend community college for free.
Whether that idea comes to fruition remains to be seen. It would cost billions nationwide, and Obama's speech did not explain how he plans to pay for the plan, although he referenced tax increases for large corporations.
However, Oregon lawmakers hope that free community college could, at least, become a reality in this state. The issue has come up before and failed, but it is back in 2015, already assigned to the Senate Education Committee.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

University of Oregon unlawfully releases 22,000 pages with confidential faculty, staff and student records

January 21st, 2015

University of Oregon officials have placed two employees on leave after the "unlawful release" of 22,000 pages of records from the president's office, including confidential information on faculty, staff and students.
Interim UO President Scott Coltrane sent out an email Tuesday night, addressed to colleagues, saying an investigation was underway. Although no Social Security numbers, financial information or medical records apparently were divulged, Coltrane wrote that, "We are committed to taking steps to mitigate the potential injury associated with this situation."
The information includes records such as correspondence to and from the last four UO presidents, according to Tobin Klinger, a university spokesman. It was requested by a professor, whom Klinger declined to identify, and released without being vetted to comply with state and federal privacy laws, Klinger said.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Is Carol Swain Charlie? or Hateful?

Inside Higher Ed
January 19th, 2015

A prominent Vanderbilt University professor published a column last week that is being called hate speech for its critique of Islam in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Angry students held a protest Saturday that attracted many critics of the professor -- as well as a prominent supporter who is accusing the students and Vanderbilt of censoring her defense of the professor.
The professor is Carol Swain, a professor of political science and law, who is the author of numerous scholarly books published by top presses. On her own website, she identifies herself this way: "From high school dropout and teenage mother to esteemed Vanderbilt University law professor, Carol M. Swain is passionate about empowering others to confidently raise their conservative voices in the public square. Dr. Swain’s education and experiences make her a credible and powerful force for change in today’s social and political climate where conservatives are intimidated to champion an often-unpopular message."

Troubling Developments at Oregon

January 15th, 2015

In November, AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum commended the University of Oregon faculty senate on its stand against the administration’s attempt to subvert faculty governance as a way to undermine a Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation's strike. The strike has ended, but concerns about attempts to undermine shared governance have not.
In December, the board of trustees considered a plan that would have radically changed the role of the faculty senate and of shared governance; the board plans to revisit the issue in March. And in January, a 2012 memo recommending the abolishment of the faculty senate came to light. The national AAUP is watching these developments at the University of Oregon with concern. The 1966 Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities affirms that the faculty “has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.”
This standard is reflected in the University of Oregon’s constitution and in the collective bargaining agreement at UO. Decisions related to these fundamental academic areas must involve the faculty, through the appropriate shared governance body.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kitzhaber, business leaders urge education changes

Statesman Journal
January 7th, 2015

Oregon's schools and corporations need to be far more connected if the state's children and economy are to have a bright future, according to the speakers who have addressed the Oregon Leadership Summit in Portland.
The summit's morning sessions centered around education. Politicians and business leaders spoke little about funding or academic standards, focusing almost exclusively on how students' skills need to be relevant to the workforce they will one day enter.
The tone stood in sharp contrast to the conference two years ago when the same group urged the Oregon Legislature to put more money into the K-12 budget during the 2013 legislative session.
The conversation rarely mentioned money. Ideas were floated and policy discussed, but funding remained quietly in the background.

Oregon would seriously consider joining free community college plan floated by Obama

January 9th, 2015

Oregon would seriously consider taking part in the "bold" and "intriguing" proposal for free community college tuition that President Obama is floating in the days leading up to his State of the Union address, Oregon higher education chief Ben Cannon said Friday.
That is true even though Oregon spent much of 2014 considering its own free community college proposal -- then ultimately rejected it as less deserving of state funds than other approaches to help young Oregonians afford and complete college.
Cannon, executive director of Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission, stressed that there are many unknowns about Obama's proposal, first unveiled by video Thursday evening.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Request for nominations to the Executive Council

January 9th, 2015

On Thursday, researchers from the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center and Department of Sociology released The High Cost of Low Wages, a new report that details the economic reality for Oregon’s low-wage workers in the post-recession economy. 
The report found that over 400,000 Oregonians – roughly 25 percent of the state’s entire workforce  – are employed in low-wage work. Further, about one in seven Oregon workers receive public assistance. 
The report offers new data on the costs of public assistance low-wage workers in Oregon must rely on to make ends meet and how taxpayers are supporting a new form of corporate subsidy to the largest companies employing low-wage workers in the state.

Obama proposes making community college free

January 9th, 2015

President Barack Obama on Thursday proposed making community college free "for everybody who is willing to work for it."
The president planned to formally announce his plan during a visit Friday to Tennessee. He gave a preview in a videotaped message shot aboard Air Force One and posted on Facebook.
"It's not for kids," Obama said. "We also have to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to constantly train themselves for better jobs, better wages, better benefits."
Obama provided no details about how he would fund the program.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New OSU technique helps surgeon spot, remove and kill cancer cells, study says

January 6th, 2015

When it comes to surgically removing tumors, surgeons can have difficulty identifying and cutting out every cancer cell but help could be on the way, thanks to a new technique developed at Oregon State University.
OSU researchers used a compound that makes cells glow when exposed to near-infrared light. They inserted it into cancer cells, allowing them to surgically remove the cancer cells and also zap them with phototherapy to kill them.
"This is the kind of double attack that could significantly improve the success of cancer surgeries, said Oleh Taratula, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy.
The researchers tested the technique on laboratory mice with ovarian cancer. There was no cancer recurrence after phototherapy and the rodents did not lose weight or exhibit signs of other side effects.

Monday, January 5, 2015

‘Right to Work’ Benefits CEOs, Not Workers

In These Times
December 24th, 2015

Earlier this month, in the sparsely populated Kentucky county that’s home to Bowling Green, officials voted to convert the place into a right-to-work (for less) sinkhole.
The county officials did it at the bidding of big corporations. They certainly didn’t do it for their Warren County constituents because employees in right-to-work (for less) states get smaller paychecks than those in states that support the right to unionize. They did it at the demand of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation, both of which are corporate owned and operated.
They did it despite the fact that there’s no evidence they have any legal authority to create an anti-union bastion on the county level, which means they’ve subjected the residents of Warren County to substantial costs for a legal battle that Warren is likely to lose.

Former University of Oregon employee sues, says she was fired because of migraine disability

January 5th, 2015

 A former University of Oregon employee has filed a $900,000 lawsuit, claiming she was wrongly fired after taking medical leave to deal with migraine headaches.
Laura A. Gerards says she was fired because of the disability.
She had asked for "reasonable accommodation" but was fired in April from her job at the Erb Memorial Union's craft center.
The Register-Guard reports the lawsuit was filed last week in Lane County Circuit Court.
University spokeswoman Julie Brown said no one was available Friday to comment.