Golf proposal aims to build golf course for alumni, athletes

Diane Dietz has the story in the RG. UO currently spends about $1.2M subsidizing the men’s and women’s golf teams. I thought the idea to build them a special golf course had died, but it’s back, still without any faculty review of the budget etc.

Presumably the developers’ business model is to use UO’s non-profit status to keep the course off the county tax rolls, while cashing in selling nearby real-estate to alumni for McMansions. Just a guess.

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Genetics proposal aims to build research on the mystery of life

9/1/2014: Diane Dietz has the report in the RG:

The university is floating a proposal to hire a “cluster” of three new professors to rebuild the classical genetics and genomics program at the University of Oregon and to launch a Center for Genome Function. … “You could think of it as re-establishing our eminence in this field,” said Eric Selker, whose work in epigenetics mirrors fundamental genetics research.

Researchers are likely to find out beginning this fall whether donors are ready to help with their cluster proposals.

The UO’s success in genetics in the 1960s and ’70s was built on just such a “cluster hire” as the university now contemplates, [Frank] Stahl said.

8/24/2014: Systems biology cluster hire proposal

Diane Dietz has the report on a real cluster of excellence proposal: Continue reading

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Wear this T-shirt within UO’s Clery Act boundaries, get a conduct code violation

8/31/2014: Just $21.99, and you too might get a nasty letter from the UO Office of Student Life. But you’re safe if you stay just outside the borders of the map UO used to decide they didn’t need to tell the students about the basketball rape allegations:

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8/28/2014 update: UO drops “I hit it first” charges but keeps them on student’s permanent record

From FIRE, and an RG story here:

UO did not respond to FIRE’s August 1 letter or to a previous June 5 letter regarding its problematic speech codes. In an August 27 article on the student’s case in The Register-Guard, a UO spokesperson defended the university’s Student Conduct Code as “appropriate” and claimed that it “doesn’t conflict with speech laws,” despite FIRE’s overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Later that day, however, UO informed the student via email that it was removing the charges against her. While still claiming that her “behavior may be a violation” of the UO Student Conduct Code, no record of the incident will be noted in her file and no further action will be taken.

A first small step towards sanity from the Coltrane administration, or just another reminder that ridicule in the national press is the only way to make Johnson Hall do the right thing?

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8/26/14: Four word joke nets UO student five unconstitutional bad-conduct charges:

Continue reading

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Let’s throw “Go Ducks” on the end, and call this turkey done

Update: Administration’s mission of mass distraction accomplished. Faculty take knives to the mission statement in the official JH blog comments, here:

What does “sustainability”—a trendy word I realize we feel must go in there somewhere—mean as a component part of community? (Is it still the Edison Elementary School motto (with hand motions!): “Safe and respectful, including all learners”? Can we follow the lead of Anonymous and think about what we mean by this in a university?)How is “define” as aspect of “vision”? What does it mean to “seek definition”? What does the phrase mean: “seek definition through the recognition”? Can one do that? Does it clarify anything to say “seek definition through the recognition of the quality of…”? Someone needs to fix the punctuation to make the next part flow the way it seems to be intended: “We seek definition through the recognition of the aspiration, passions, and success of our students”? Our students apparently have a singular aspiration and plural passions.

Come on, you know you can’t resist – add your comments here. Or don’t, and instead read up on what really will matter, Brad Shelton’s budget model. Oh, wait, that’s a secret – website hasn’t been updated in a year, and apparently the Senate Budget Committee (report here), the deans, and the department heads are also in the dark. Here’s the projected data for the 2013-14 FY that ended in June. It will be very interesting to see how much more CAS gets taxed this year, and how much more the law school gets subsidized:

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University must pay $3M in damages to public records whistleblower

That would be at Chicago State University. Apparently the president fired a university attorney who refused to go along with an attempt to hide public records. This would never happen at the University of Oregon.

A new judge has just affirmed the verdict against the president and board of trustees, and increased the award to include legal fees, etc. Details from the CSU faculty muckraking blog, here:

In a 44-page, harshly worded opinion against Chicago State, Cook County Judge James McCarthy said there were no reasons to overturn the verdict and that the large sum was intended to send a message. The jury had found that former university employee James Crowley was fired in 2010 in retaliation for reporting alleged misconduct by top university officials, …

Crowley’s lawsuit — filed against the South Side university, Watson and the seven trustees on the board in 2010 — alleged that he was fired after he refused to withhold documents about Watson’s employment requested under the state’s public records law, and for reporting questionable contracts to the attorney general’s office.

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Athletic department effort to hype heroic player goes south

As we know from the snowball fight, PR flacks desperate for a feel-good story will do stupid things. Yahoo sports has the latest from USC.

As the LA Times notes about the trend for ADs to hire ex-reporters, as UO did with the RG’s Rob Moseley:

“There’s obviously a self-serving interest to any story that comes out of a university athletic department,” said Daniel Durbin, director of the USC Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society. They want to protect the athlete. They want to protect the university. They want to protect the bottom line.”

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Live-blog of Gottfredson’s sexual assault panel open meeting

10-11 AM, 8/27/2014, Ford Alumni Center. As usual, nothing is a quote unless in quotes. About 35 in the audience, 7 panelists.

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Short version: Very strange session, basically a bunch of UO staff pitching the effectiveness of their various programs, no comments or questions from panel.

Chair Diets starts with intros. Asks for comments on prevention efforts.

Coltrane: Starts by calling panel extremely well qualified. Says it’s important to have public sessions, but much of the work must be confidential. Report will be public. Talks about “respectful college environment.”

Bonnie Mann (Philosophy chair): Hope you’ll have an event like this when students are here. Experience on crisis hotline, personal experience, importance of prevention and “culture work” for prevention. Can’t be done in a three hour workshop, given cultural problems. Wants required course in sexual ethics, to reflect on how you want to treat other people. Many qualified UO faculty to do this.

Rita Radowitz (sp? Admin working for Robin Holmes on sexual assault prevention): Wants to improve efforts to communicate what UO is already doing. Coordinate different programs.

Keith ? (UO Health Center): “Don’t rape” on a poster is not enough. If the only time students hear us talk about rape is after a publicized incident, they don’t take it seriously. Talks about cell phone app, now licensed by other universities. Need to incorporate our expectations to students on a daily basis.

Sam (HS teacher and grad student, director of women’s self defense project Warrior Sister Society, student of Jocelyn Hollander): Self defense works to prevent sexual assault, helps them set boundaries and it works because women *can* defend themselves. But there is only on UO self-defense course, in PE.

Rachel (Honors student): UO has an effect beyond campus. Also supports self-defense, gives evidence of effectiveness from a police led program in Orlando.

Carol Stabile (co-chair of Senate Task Force): Wants a “good samaritan policy” implemented on campus as short term goal. Long term goal may be a mandatory course. Also urges rethink of UO’s unusual mandatory reporting requirement and how to implement it.

?, Director of Residence Life: Shows poster they put on back of every dorm room. Runs sessions in residence halls, has increased number of RA’s in dorms to provide more 1-1 interactions with students.

?,: Talks about teaching students simple strategies to avoid date rape situations. UO does not have a staff person to deal with perpetrators who often stay on campus after disciplinary actions.

Susanne Hamlin, director of outdoor programs: Talks about need for telling students about rape reports as they occur, so they are aware. [Gottfredson apparently intended to keep the basketball allegations secret forever - but apparently the panel is not going to look into that.]

?: Also supports women’s self-defense programs. Research has shown more lights, call boxes, more cops have no effect on sexual assaults, while programs to train women on how to avoid attacks and defend themselves have been shown to be effective. Also important to tell women to tell men “what you are doing is rape”.

Schumacher, OSA: Wants to know what UO is doing about revenge porn. AG is looking into legal prohibitions, easier to implement on campus.

10:43 AM: Deits: No more speakers? Thanks, we’ll have more sessions when students are on campus. Adjourned.

Reporters doing their post-session interviews, panelists mingling, Tobin Klinger wandering around keeping an eye on things.

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Did Gottfredson sexual assault panelist Ted Spencer lie about public records?

Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s hard to see how else to interpret this. Cocktail party version: I was trying to get some info about Gottfredson’s sexual assault review panel. Dave Hubin tried to charge me $508 for the public records, so I made requests to the universities where the panelists worked. Ohio State gave me the docs gratis, but the Michigan panelist, Ted Spencer, told Michigan he hadn’t received anything, even though he had – including info about his $10K honorarium. I pointed out to Michigan that he wasn’t telling the truth, and they’ve now provided all the docs, also at no charge.

On July 7th I made this FOIA request to Patricia Sellinger at the University of Michigan’s FOIA office, asking for documents involving UM employee Ted Spencer’s service on Gottfredson’s sexual assault review panel.  I cced Mr. Spencer at his official tsz@umich address:

Subject: public records request, records related to Theodore Spencer’s service on UO review panel
Date: July 7, 2014 at 12:24:25 PM PDT

Dear Ms Sellinger:

This is a public records request for public records (including emails etc.) related to Mr. Spencer’s appointment to the University of Oregon “External Review Panel” listed at

Specifically I am requesting documents from 6/6/2014 to the present, and dealing with the charge, meeting schedule, agenda, and rules for expense reimbursement (not individual receipts or invoices).

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

A week or so later I received a letter from Ms Sellinger, saying that UM had no responsive documents and denying my request. I then made a follow-up FOIA request for the communications between Ms Sellinger and Mr. Spencer. The emails I received showed Mr. Spencer had met with Ms Sellinger, and that after this meeting she had emailed a variety of UM employees about this FOIA request, saying:

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As it happens, former President Gottfredson had also appointed Ohio State employee Javaune Adams-Gaston to this panel, and I had made a similar FOIA request to Ohio State. They provided these documents, which showed that, actually, Mr. Spencer had received emails from UO at his email address on June 19th, June 23rd and June 26th, and that these emails contained information were clearly about the panel. Here’s one example of these documents, which includes information on contacting Greg Rikhoff about the “financial elements of this work” (On this note I should point out that UO has finally revealed that Gottfredson was offering $10,000 “honoraria” for agreeing to serve on his review panel.):

I pointed this obvious discrepancy out to the University of Michigan General Counsel Tim Lynch, and today Ms Sellinger responded with a full set of Mr Spencer’s UO related emails, here, and this note:

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UO offered $10,000 to each of Gottfredson’s sexual assault panelists

Update: (Posts on prostitute warning, public records, and panel history here.)

Two weeks after my public records request, UO has finally disclosed what it is paying the panelists Gottfredson, Mullens, and Holmes appointed to review their response to the rape allegations and UO policies. $10K each, plus expenses:


The University of Oregon is paying the travel and incidental expenses of the panelists. The UO has offered an honorarium of $10,000 to the panelists to cover the substantial time and expertise dedicated to this review effort.

I think this is for four day-and-a-half meetings. Presumably Bob Berdahl will decline on the grounds that he’s already got plenty from UO, and only took the job to help out Mike. Trustee Mary Wilcox probably cannot accept this even if she wanted it. As he has noted in the comments, Judge David Schuman has turned down the honorarium and is acting as a volunteer.

8/25/2014: Gottfredson’s Sexual Assault Review Panel Chair denies panel is a response to basketball rape allegations

The panelists come to town Tuesday for their second secret meeting in an undisclosed location, and will then accept brief public comments on Wednesday, 10-11 at the Ford Alumni Center. KMTR TV had this report a few days ago, interviewing Chair Mary Deits (a former judge and expert on business/construction law, now working as a mediator for hire):

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KMTR says Deits is claiming that the panel is not a direct response to the basketball rape allegations. Seriously? She expects people to believe that? Here’s the guy who appointed her to his panel telling the UO Senate why he set up the panel:

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Not exactly trust inspiring. How much tuition money is this charade costing UO? I sent in a public records request two weeks ago asking for how much we’re paying for expenses and to the panelists:

Dear Ms Thornton and Mr Rikhoff -

The attached public records on former President Gottfredson’s “External Review Panel” note that panelists should contact Mr. Rikhoff for information about “the financial elements of this work”.

This is a public records request for copies of any documents showing policies for expense reimbursements for members of the panel, honoraria, of other “financial elements”.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

No response yet. Any guesses on how much of the bill, and the time of Rikhoff and Jane Gordon (Law), who appears to actually be running things, will be covered by the athletic department?

Meanwhile Gottfredson appointee Javaune Adams-Gaston (Ohio State) has left the panel after one meeting, replaced by Jackie Balzer (Willamette):

Jackie Balzer
Jackie Balzer has been a leader in student affairs for higher education institutions in the state of Oregon for two decades. In August 2014, she was named the associate dean of Campus Life at Willamette University. She previously served as the vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Portland State from 2011-2014, vice provost for Student Affairs at Portland State from 2008-2011 and as the dean of Student Life at Oregon State from 2003-2008.

Javaune Adams-Gaston
Javaune Adams-Gaston is the vice president for student life at The Ohio State University, where she oversees university operations including the student judicial process and student advocacy and crisis intervention. Prior to her arrival at Ohio State in 2009, she served in a variety of positions, including associate dean of academic affairs, assistant athletic director, and equity administrator at the University of Maryland. She earned her Ph.D. in psychology from Iowa State University.

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UO cancels legal contract with HLGR, will negotiate directly with grad students and faculty

Josephine Wollington has the story in the RG about this very unusual mid-negotiation change and the positive response from the union leadership. This is great news, Rudnick and Matthews have been an expensive disaster for UO. It seems that the new leadership wants a less confrontational approach, and isn’t going to be tied to the mistakes of the previous administration.

Oh, wait, never mind, this about the Eugene Public Schools and their negotiations with the teachers union. I guess we’ll have to wait to learn what Coltrane does about fixing the problems with UO’s General Counsel’s office and HLGR.

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AAU membership is no longer even an “aspirational goal” for UO, but Ducks ranked #3 in pre-season polls.

Update: The official UO post on the mission statement mentioned below is now getting some comments, here.

As President, Dave Frohnmayer would trot out UO’s AAU membership as a way of silencing faculty who criticized him for shifting priorities, administrative effort, and money towards his goal of running a big-time college sports factory. In 2013 Gottfredson doubled-down on the bullshit, setting an aspirational goal of getting to the top half of the AAU. UO’s academic accreditation comes through the NWCCU, which in turn is supervised by the US DOE. UO filed it’s latest report on 3/1/2013, compiled by Dave Hubin. Full of bold talk and more than a few half-truths. Read it all here. The cover page refers to our goal to be in the top half of the AAU:

But the subsidies for sports and pet projects like armed police and Portland kept growing, and sports scandals continued to suck up what little competent administrative focus the administration had. Just a year after this letter Scott Coltrane came clean with the new Board of Trustees, revealing the chilling “Benchmarking report”, which finally exposed where years of misallocated resources had left us.

The Trustees have responded with a realistic mission plan. Forget about moving up. They no longer mention even staying in the AAU as even an aspirational goal:

We aspire to lead as a preeminent public residential research university encompassing the humanities and arts, the natural and social sciences, and the professions.

Full (draft) statement here with a place for comments. Mine is that, with the board’s authority behind it, the goal of continued (or restored) AAU membership could provide some constraints on the administrative excesses and pet projects we have seen and continue to see come out of Johnson Hall. Giving up on the AAU is not just a sad recognition of reality, it’s a discouraging signal about where money and resources will be redirected in the future.

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U of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise’s sneak attack on academic freedom

The UO faculty union and the Senate fought hard with President Gottfredson over academic freedom. Gottfredson and his negotiators Tim Gleason, Doug Blandy, Randy Geller and Sharon Rudnick wanted the union contract to include rules requiring civility and proper respect, and they didn’t want the university to give explicit protection for criticizing administrative policies.

They lost, after a year of hard work by United Academics and the UO Senate’s Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom. Gottfredson and Geller are gone, Gleason has been put out to pasture as FAR, and UO now has an Academic Freedom Policy which says:

… Members of the university community have freedom to address, question, or criticize any matter of institutional policy or practice, whether acting as individuals or as members of an agency of institutional governance. … Public service requires that members of the university community have freedom to participate in public debate, both within and beyond their areas of expertise, and to address both the university community and the larger society with regard to any matter of social, political, economic, cultural, or other interest. … The academic freedoms enumerated in this policy shall be exercised without fear of institutional reprisal. 

As well as Lariviere’s strong Free Speech Policy, which says:

Free speech is central to the academic mission and is the central tenet of a free and democratic society. The University encourages and supports open, vigorous, and challenging debate across the full spectrum of human issues … The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or “just plain wrong” cannot be grounds for its suppression. …

These policies are of course founded on basic human rights and the social purposes of universities, but they are also entirely practical. No sensible university leader or trustee wants to get distracted from their jobs by a political fight over some statement by some professor that offends some politician, donor, or alumnus.

They want to be able to respond like this: “Yes, that statement by professor X about Y in Z was deplorable. But I can’t interfere. My job is just to manage the administrative side of the university. I’m sorry, and I appreciate your years of support, but the only response our university can make to free speech that someone doesn’t like is more free speech.”

The latest example of the practicality of this approach is in Illinois. UI made a job offer to a professor. He then wrote something controversial. (The professor’s name is Steven Salaita, his writing was about Israel and Gaza, and it was on Twitter, but that is irrelevant). The Trustees and donors got upset about what he’d written and put pressure on the Chancellor, who caved and rescinded the job offer. The Chronicle has an article about some of the backlash.

Scott Jaschik has an excellent report on this in, with emails between the chancellor, trustees, and lawyers obtained from public records requests. And the AAUP blog Academe has an excellent post as well, by John Wilson:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chancellor Phyllis Wise has written an open letter to the campus (copied below) explaining her decision not to allow the hiring of Steven Salaita. The letter is an appalling attack on academic freedom and a rejection of the basic values that a university must stand for.

Wise argues, “What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.”

Of course, this standard is ridiculous: individuals should be free to say personal and “disrespectful” things about others (for example, everyone should be free to say that Wise’s argument here is both stupid and evil, without facing punishment from the respect police). Respect is not a fundamental value of any university, and being “disrespectful” is not an academic crime.

But it’s notable that Salaita really didn’t say anything personal about anyone. So here Wise greatly expands the concept, declaring that not only persons but “viewpoints themselves” must be protected from any disrespectful words. I am puzzled as to exactly how a free university could possibly operate when no one is allowed to be disrespectful toward any viewpoint. Presumably, Wise will quickly act to fire anyone who has ever disrespected or demeaned Nazism, terrorism, racism, sexism, and homophobia. Since all “viewpoints” are protected, then biology professors must be fired for disrespecting creationism as false, along with any other professor who is found to believe or know anything.

Wise’s other main argument confirms this absurd approach: “A Jewish student, a Palestinian student, or any student of any faith or background must feel confident that personal views can be expressed and that philosophical disagreements with a faculty member can be debated in a civil, thoughtful and mutually respectful manner.”

If what a professors tweets before they’re even hired might undermine those “confident” feelings, then all professors would have to be banned from ever expressing any opinion anywhere, lest it create any doubt that a student will be unable to debate in a respectful manner. There is clear evidence in Salaita’s teaching evaluations that students are free to express disagreements with him. But since the standard that Wise sets is the imagined feelings of students, rather than actual evidence or reality, Salaita’s long experience as a teacher is no defense.

Wise claims, “We have a particular duty to our students to ensure that they live in a community of scholarship that challenges their assumptions about the world but that also respects their rights as individuals.” That sentence is exactly right. But Wise’s grotesque mistake is imagining that one of the rights of an individual is to be protected from the possibility of hearing “disrespectful” criticism. To the contrary, one of the fundamental rights of individual students is the right to hear dissenting points of views without censorship, and Wise is clearly violating that right of students to hear Salaita teach when she imposes her personal standards of “civility” on a university.

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Former UO DPS employees give support for “bowl of dicks” complainant

8/23/2014 update:

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I’ve redacted the 4 names and signatures, of the grounds that they probably don’t want to see the bowl come up #1 when someone googles them.

It seems like interim UO GC Doug Park is still paying HLGR’s Jens Schmidt $300 billable for every hour he can drag this out. The case docket is here (courtesy of the RECAP program that Aaron Swartz and Carl Malamud helped create). The complaint, well worth reading in full, is here, and Schmidt’s response is here.

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7/23/2014: Latest Oregonian story details additional UO PD sexual harassment grievances.

Betsy Hammond has the story, here. One sexual harassment complaint was settled for $2K in attorneys fees, mandatory sexual harassment training, and 5 box seat tickets to the Civil War game. You can’t make this up. The department comes across as out of control, to be kind. No wonder Gottfredson had the EPD investigate the basketball rape allegations, and then gave the report to his athletic director instead of his police chief.

This story doesn’t even cover the three previous public safety directors who left under unexplained circumstances. Daily Emerald reporter Ryan Knutson won an award for reporting on one situation back in 2009. Some other recent scandals are here, but it’s hard to keep up. Last time I looked up the salary information UO was paying Chief McDermed more than the City of Eugene paid its police chief.

7/18/2014 update: UOPD dick list goes viral

Betsy Hammond has the story in the Oregonian, with many interesting comments, here.

UO’s Strategic Communication Command is still in full denial mode, but a UO Matters stringer has now provided incontrovertible photograph proof of the actual bowl, here. (Warning: This link is NSFW for most though apparently not all UO employees.) Continue reading

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