Monday, March 30, 2015

An education is more than getting a certificate

Register Guard
March 17th, 2015

Outcomes-based funding espouses a singular version of academic success — a vision that would harm Oregon community colleges and their students. This funding approach has proved less than successful in other states. It is fraught with complexities, and community colleges in states where it has been implemented are attempting to find ways to make the flawed model work.
I strongly agree with Lane Community College President Mary Spilde on this matter. In opposing plans to tie state funding levels for community colleges to their graduation rates, she’s had her head on the chopping block for years — it’s time more of us got involved.
Essentially, outcomes-based funding favors colleges with higher student completion rates. All things being equal, the model might be fair — but things are not equal. At LCC, 74 percent of students qualify for the Pell Grant. This means that a very high percentage of Lane students live in poverty. For them, this proposed funding basis spells trouble.
When people with financial security experience setbacks, it’s inconvenient. For our students on the fringes, any setback can be catastrophic; they don’t just drop out of college, their whole lives can fall apart. The majority of our students are in this predicament, and attending Lane gives them a fighting chance to get out of it.

Higher ed commission asking for $143 million for Opportunity Grant

Statesman Journal
March 30th, 2015

Only 24 percent of Oregon students who qualify for the Oregon Opportunity Grant actually get one.
The grant program needs more state support, according to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, which presented its budget requests before the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education last week.
The commission has elevated the topic of affordability to its highest priority. One way its members are hoping to combat the issue, said Ben Cannon, executive director of the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, is by increasing state funds for the Oregon Opportunity Grant.
The grant is the largest state-funded, need-based program for students going to college. The commission is requesting about $143 million out of the governor's budget to invest in the grant program.

University of Oregon, employee disagree on her exit tied to rape victim's records access

March 26th, 2015

The University of Oregon and an employee who worked in its counseling center disagree on whether she was fired or chose to leave following a dispute over the school's access to therapy and medical records of a student who claimed she was sexually assaulted by school basketball players.
The Register-Guard reports Karen Stokes, who worked as an executive assistant to the counseling center director, announced in an email Thursday that she was fired for submitting a letter to university administrators in February with concerns that the school violated the female student's privacy by accessing her medical records without her permission to prepare their attorneys to defend against a lawsuit.

UO archivist involved in records leak left job for personal reasons, union says

March 27th, 2015

A statement from the United Academics of the University of Oregon union says that an archivist involved in a records leak left her job earlier this month for personal reasons and was not fired or forced to resign.
In December, the University Archives gave a professor who requested presidential records a zip drive with documents that university officials said included confidential faculty, student and staff records. Two staff members were then placed on administrative leave.
The university demanded that the records be returned, which economics professor Bill Harbaugh, who had acknowledged that he possessed the records, subsequently did. 

University, worker feud over whether she was fired

Register Guard
March 27th, 2015

An employee of the University of Oregon counseling center says she has been fired for signing a letter criticizing the university for accessing an 18-year-old student’s therapy records — but a university spokesman disputes the claim.
Karen Stokes, former executive assistant to the director of the counseling center, announced she was terminated in an email sent to counseling center staff Thursday.
Stokes and senior staff therapist Jennifer Morlok alleged in February that the university interfered with the student’s care and took the student’s private medical records — to prepare for litigation — without the student’s permission.
In Thursday’s email, Stokes said: “I am disappointed that the UO has chosen this course of action. I, along with Jenny, had hoped that our letter of concern regarding the medical records that we believe were unethically and illegally disclosed would promote positive changes.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Democrats, school officials tussle over education budget

March 21st, 2015

Education interests have mounted an unusually vocal challenge to the schools budget proposed by Democratic legislative leaders.
School officials say the $7.24 billion plan would lead to larger classes and shorter school years. They're asking for an additional $265 million.
Legislative leaders are defending their plan. They say most school districts will do neither better nor worse than their current funding situation. They say their proposal is the best they can do without devastating other areas of the budget, including higher education.
The school budget is likely to come up in the House and Senate in the coming weeks.

Reed student says prof barred him from class for views on rape; college says he was disruptive

March 21st, 2015

Imagine the national headlines that would result if a professor at Reed College, a liberal-arts bastion of free speech and thought, banished a student from class for expressing his views.
Indeed the Portland college did get a raft of negative publicity this week for suppressing free speech and academic debate after Professor Pancho Savery told freshman Jeremiah True that he could no longer attend Humanities 101 class discussions.
True, a student from southern California, said Savery booted him after the 19-year-old disputed a statistic that one in five women in college are sexually assaulted. But a Reed spokesman said True was bounced for being persistently disruptive.

Friday, March 20, 2015

OSU tuition hits $8,535 for some full-time students

March 20th, 2015

Oregon State University students will be paying more next school year.
The Corvallis Gazette-Times reports that the university's Board of Trustees voted for the increases Thursday.
Undergraduate tuition for an in-state student taking 15 credit hours will be $8,535 a year in 2015-16, a 7.6 percent increase, while nonresident students will pay $27,195, a 5.7 percent jump.

Monday, March 16, 2015

UO tuition increase reflects mission failure

Register Guard
March 15th, 2015

Almost 55 percent of students enrolled at the University of Oregon will not finish their degrees within six years. Largely a result of significant increases in tuition and the difficulty of balancing work and school, many students have had to choose whether or not to leave the university.
The decision of the UO Board of Trustees and the administration to raise tuition (Register-Guard, March 6) is wrong, and it will have devastating effects on thousands of students.
The university’s top priority should be student retention. Neglecting this priority is not just a failure of the university as a public institution, but also fails the very students it seeks to educate. The UO bears a historic responsibility as a public institution to provide affordable education to in-state students, particularly those who come from low-income families or who may be first-generation college students.
Yet the UO is raising tuition, and there is no mention of offering increased financial assistance. Increasing tuition, in conjunction with insufficient financial aid resources, effectively forces students who receive needs-based aid out of the university.

PSU and OHSU plan to build Viking Pavilion, a landmark athletic and academic center

March 13th, 2015

Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University plan to renovate an aging arena on the PSU campus into a landmark academic center and 4,000-seat auditorium for athletics, performances and other events.
The 200,000-square-foot Viking Pavilion and Academic Center will include space for banquets, conferences, classrooms, computer labs, study areas and student gathering places, as well as basketball and volleyball games. High windows will admit natural light to illuminate multifunctional spaces for study areas, an arena, classrooms, computer labs and counseling offices.

University of Portland professor says he has unraveled mysteries in pi

March 14th, 2015

Aziz Inan is more interested in the mathematics of 3/14/15 than he is in the pie many will eat to celebrate Saturday.
He and Peter Osterberg, a fellow engineering professor at the University of Portland, ran the numbers and discovered a dozen facts about the day.
We spoke with Inan -- an animated, too-smart-for-journalists type -- about this once-in-a-century day. For more on the mysteries he has unraveled, check out his article at the end of the Q&A.

Friday, March 13, 2015

University of Oregon scores graduate degree program over PSU objections

March 13th, 2015

The University of Oregon has permission to start a new master's degree program in Portland but may have opened a deep wound with Portland State in the process.
The state Higher Education Coordinating Commission on Thursday approved UO's application to start a Master of Science in Sports Product Management. The program, long sought by the region's sports products companies, will enroll students this fall.
But before the commission's 6-2 vote in Salem, PSU President Wim Wiewel delivered a fusillade of criticism at the program. He accused UO of failing to collaborate with PSU on the curriculum and made clear his dissatisfaction with any other state higher education institution infringing on PSU's turf.

PSU students protest plans to raise tuition to $8,124

March 12th, 2015

About 200 Portland State University students and supporters gathered Thursday on campus to protest plans to raise tuition and fees for resident undergraduates to more than $8,000 a year.
The students waved signed and chanted ("Education is our mission; stop increasing our tuition") before the PSU Board of Trustees gathered for a meeting to consider the increase. Some faculty and staff joined the demonstration in support of the students.
PSU proposes raising undergraduate tuition for a full-time student from $7,794 to $8,124 for the 2015-2016 academic year, a 4.23 percent bump.
PSU President Wim Wiewel (pronounced Vim VEE-Vell) defended the need for a tuition increase during an interview Thursday with The Oregonian/
"I'm very sympathetic about the student concerns about this," Wiewel said. "In the end it's the responsibility of the board, and my responsibility as president, to make sure the institution has a balanced budget and long-term viability, and that requires increasing tuition as well as continued cuts."

Monday, March 9, 2015

Over protests, board increases University of Oregon tuition

Statesman Journal
March 6th, 2015

The University of Oregon board of trustees has voted to increase tuition — by 3.8 percent for Oregon residents and 3.7 percent for out-of-staters.
The Eugene Register-Guard reports about 120 protesters came to the board meeting Thursday with signs saying, "We are ducks not bucks." Some said international students are being treated as ATMs.
The board voted 7-6 against trimming the increases and then voted 11-2 to adopt them.
The protesters rallied to the front of the room, circled the board's table and shut down the meeting for half an hour.
With the increase, in-state tuition goes to about $8,500 a year, $30,240 for out-of-state students.
Out-of-state tuition generates $227 million a year, while in-state tuition is $74 million.
Tuition is about 80 percent of the school's operating budget.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Report: Benefits bring UO president’s pay up

Register Guard
March 5th, 2015

The University of Oregon’s presidential pay may lag behind that of other similar universities but the generous benefits go a long way to making up the difference, according to a consultant’s report.
The UO’s existing presidential salary of $458,484 annually places it near the bottom of the pack for 17 comparable universities, according to figures presented by a Mercer executive pay consultant to the UO Board of Trustees on Wednesday.
But the president’s total remuneration — including deferred compensation and retirement benefits — hoists the UO to the middle of the pack, at $587,530.
By comparison, the University of Arizona president’s salary, at $494,950, is greater than the UO president’s. But total compensation at Arizona is a hair less, at $580,450, Mercer’s figures show.

UO trustees OK tuition increase

Register Guard
March 6th, 2015

Freshman Mickey Swartz is a top-of-the-line student, just the kind the University of Oregon covets and courts.
The UO academic recruit from West Virginia had a top high school GPA and sky-high test scores, and he burned to be a volcanologist — one of the UO’s top specialities.
Swartz got scholarship offers from the University of ­Washington and the University of Hawaii, but the UO won him over with a four-year, $36,000 Summit Scholarship, Swartz told the UO Board of Trustees on Thursday at the board’s most animated meeting to date.
“Then I realized — once I was here — that we were going to have a $1,000 out-of-state ­increase in tuition,” Swartz said. “I realized I might not be able to (stay) here.”
But after hearing Swartz and other plaintive stories from ­students, the UO board adopted a tuition increase for the next school year on an 11-2 vote.
Tuition for in-state students will go up by $315 (3.8 percent) and $1,090 (3.7 percent) for out-of-state students.
That increase will bump annual tuition next year to about $8,500 for in-state students and $30,240 for out-of-state students.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Oregon Professors Are Among Lowest Paid in U.S.

Go Local PDX
March 4th, 2015

The average salary for tenured professors at Oregon’s colleges and universities is $30,000 less than their peers across the United States.
Many schools in Oregon are replacing tenured staff with part-time or associate professors, according to Jose Padin, sociology professor at Portland State University and President of the Oregon American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Padin said lack of full-time professors is damaging the quality of education.
The average tenured professor in Oregon was paid $89,163 during the 2013-2014 school year, which is not only $30,000 below the national average, but $100,000 less than professor salaries at some of the nation’s highest paying universities.
Of the eleven universities in Oregon that reported their salaries in an AAUP survey, Willamette University paid the most for full professors, an average of $115,000 a year. In contrast, Columbia University and Stanford University pay full time professors approximately $215,000 annually. The national average salary for a full professor is $119,282.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Graduation not always the goal

Register Guard
March 1st, 2015

About 12,000 students attend Lane Community College, and they have nearly that many different reasons for enrolling. The state of Oregon should not assume that either the college or its students are failing if a large number of students attend LCC without ever graduating. Yet that is the direction Oregon is headed with a funding formula that rewards community colleges for raising their graduation rates, and penalizes them when students leave without obtaining a certificate or degree.
Last month, LCC President Mary Spilde quit the Oregon Education Investment Board partly because of that issue. The investment board is a new body with authority over education at all levels, and its fundamental task is to move the state toward its 40-40-20 goal: The state aims to have 40 percent of Oregonians obtain four-year university degrees by 2025 and an additional 40 percent obtain two-year college credentials, with the remaining 20 percent graduating from high school.

Evidence from Oregon backs Obama's fiduciary standard for investment advisers

March 1st, 2015

Last week, President Obama jump-started efforts to require all financial advisers to -- gasp -- put their clients' financial interests ahead of their own.
Legally, not all advisers have to do that right now, and that's shaving $17 billion each year, or 1 percentage point, off the returns of Americans' retirement savings, the President's Council of Economic Advisers contends.
The White House pointed to several studies supporting the need for a "fiduciary standard" for those who give retirement advice. Some of the studies come from the University of Oregon Finance and Securities Analysis Center. They focus on one aspect of the President's concern - advisers who have a conflict of interest because they're paid by the investment products they recommend. That ends up harming investors, the studies show - one detailing the experiences of employees in Oregon's university system.