Blandy and Altmann’s offer of $1000 a course not enough to make department heads scab on their grad students

11/21/2014 update: The video from the Nov 19th Senate meeting debate on legislation to oppose the administration’s efforts to “dilute and degrade academic standards and the secretive process by which it was made” instead of negotiating a fair deal for the grad students, is now posted. Please note the time from the video in your comments if appropriate:

Update: UO undergrads mock Coltrane’s strike plans in the Daily Jade, here.

11/20/2014: Blandy and Altmann’s offer of $1000 a course not enough to make department heads scab on their grad students

The offer from the administration is here (the confidential plan is here, and for the curious the resume of $300-an-hour Jeff Matthews, the HLGR lawyer and Sharon Rudnick protege that mysteriously got the job of leading the administration’s disastrous bargaining is here. This appears to be his first exposure to labor negotiations. Hell of a job he’s doing.):

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This works out to about $1000, to cover one course for one week. The response, from a group of UO Department Heads and Directors is here. I’m guessing I know that many others have similar sentiments but aren’t willing to send them to the newspapers, or use that ugly word scab, yet:

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Chronicle of Higher Ed quotes Coltrane on Senate strike vote, Board Chair Lillis speaks.

Scroll down for the Senate agenda and live-blog.

Institutionalized News Media Updates:

Once again Johnson Hall’s administrative incompetence crowds out the important news, in this case Chuck Lillis’s speech. Alexandra Wallachy does have this in the Emerald: UO has “bad reputation” for faculty-admin relations, Lillis says. And well paid former TV journalist and UO PR flack Jennifer Winters has the spin in “Around the 0“.

Chronicle of Higher Education: University of Oregon Draws Criticism for Response to Threatened TA Strike

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. …

Scott Greenstone has a good report in the Emerald on the dilute and degrade legislation, here:

By supporting this resolution, University Senate is saying two things:

- University Senate does not support the administration’s plan to change finals and called it “diluting academic standards” in the resolution. The plan includes turning final essays into multiple-choice tests, shortening long essay finals, or hiring non-GTF graduate students, officers of administration or even upper-level undergraduates.

- University Senate doesn’t appreciate the UO administration sending the plans to department heads instead of discussing the plans with the senate. University Senate wants to instead work with the university and come up with a solution together.

Originally, the plans were sent out with a stamp of ‘confidential,’ which the faculty pointed to as an attempt to hide the plans from them in the resolution. Barbara Altmann, senior vice-provost of Academic Affairs, denied this. Altmann said the watermark was “vestigial,” and that the university knew emails would be shared and faculty would learn of the plans.

Altmann says she and Blandy marked the plan as confidential, and only addressed it to deans and directors – not department heads, not faculty – because they knew that meant they’d get a lot of attention and feedback from the faculty. And these people wonder why no one trusts them?

GTF Union updates:

GTFF responds to today’s flex-time proposal from the administration here, and officially calls the strike for Dec 2nd, press release here.

Senate Meeting Highlights:

1) UO will dump Blackboard course management software for Canvas. Live Spring 2015. Yea!

2) Lillis speaks, answers questions. Very honest about UO’s situation and in the Q&A. (See below.) He wants administration and faculty to cooperate more to help UO. But will the Johnson Hall administration step up to the plate? Their refusal to work with the faculty on how to deal with the GTF bargaining and strike planning is not encouraging.

3) Opposition to administration’s efforts to dilute and degrade academic standards in the event of a GTF strike. AKA “educational malpractice”: dropping essay exams, canceling classes, having students watch videos, etc. Blandy: Tries to cover his butt, it’s all about protecting our undergraduates. Altmann: THe confidential stamp was there to attract more interest for what was an initial draft. We knew it would get leaked in 30 minutes to UO Matters (WTF? It wasn’t stamped “draft”, it was stamped “confidential“. And it took me days to get it. Embarrassing. And Altmann just can’t keep from digging that credibility hole deeper and deeper.) Dreiling: Sometimes good people make bad decisions. This secret memo was a bad decision. Just Settle. Lots more discussion, Coltrane gives a weak defense of how he’s handled the situation, gets called out on mis-statements by many in the room. One speaker gives HLGR’s $300-an-hour lawyers a special mention for abusing and insulting our grad students, during the year of botched negotiations that led UO to this point.

Legislation passes unanimously almost unanimously (25 to3?) at 5:10, Senate then adjourns. How’s that for Senate action to help UO improve its research standing, by making clear we stand behind our grad students? Now it’s the administration’s turn to show they can work together on this important goal.

Packed room. I’ll try and live-blog a little. No promises, check the livestream link. Usual disclaimer: nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

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Good news for UO: UC system raises tuition

11/20/2014 update: The Chronicle has the story here.

Increased UC tuition and CA living costs will make UO more attractive for Californians. Couple this with the flat or declining Eugene rental rates, driven by the recent boom in city subsidized student apartment buildings and UO will be able to increase out-of-state tuition substantially. And, as explained below, this (and Connie Ballmer’s recent $25M donation for Pathways) will allow UO to increase the “discount rate” it offers to low SES and high ability students.

12/6/2014: UO’s efforts at (price) discrimination praised by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

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Friday, November 21 is “Remember the Hat” day

Break out your hats and mark the day. On November 21st 2011, three years and four presidents ago, OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner and Board Chair Matt Donegan came down to UO with their ultimatum demanding Lariviere resign for trying to implement his plan to bring faculty pay to the AAU averages, and trying to set up an independent UO Board. Lariviere refused to leave, so they fired him, on instructions from Governor Kitzhaber. Nigel Jaquiss broke the news on the 22nd.

Phil Knight said it best:

“It deeply saddens me that some people in power in our state continue to drive Oregon into a death spiral with their embrace of mediocrity. It’s yet another application of Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law.

A week later the UO faculty, alumni, boosters, and even a few JH administrators united in protest, hired buses, and went to the board meeting in Portland to protest, with no effect:

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$360K a year provost sweetens offer to $14K a year grad students – or does she?

This just in. Has $360K a year (plus $775 a month for her car) Acting Provost Frances Bronet decided to ignore the advice of her $300 an hour HLGR lawyers Jeff Matthews and Sharon Rudnick (and Randy Geller and Dave Frohnmayer?) and sweeten the GTFF deal?

Apparently not. This “flex-time” is something virtually every department already gives as a matter of course:

Colleagues and students,

I’d like to update you on the latest status of negotiations with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation. The University of Oregon has announced that it has expanded an already robust offer to include guaranteed flex time, officially recognized in the contract.

Under this new contract provision, it is guaranteed that all GTFs who need to take up to two weeks off due to a family or major medical situation will be able to flex their hours in order to do so. They also will have the ability to work with their departments and the Graduate School to explore whether more extensive schedule changes can be accommodated over the life of their contract. During the period that GTFs are exercising flex time, they will still receive full salaries, tuition and fee waivers, and health insurance coverage for their entire family.

Complete details are available here.

This new flex time proposal is an important complement to an already substantial package. This package also includes:

A nine percent pay increase, over two years, on minimum graduate student salaries. This is the largest negotiated pay increase since 2006;

Full tuition waivers;

Significantly reduced fees (a GTF pays only $61 per term); and

Full family health, vision, and dental coverage with the university paying 95 percent of the premium. This is by far the best healthcare package for graduate student teachers in Oregon and across comparable AAU institutions.

We respect the right of GTFs to conduct a legal strike and hope to reach a fair and equitable agreement quickly. For complete details of the current offer, please visit

This is a critical time for the University of Oregon. We recognize that there are thousands of undergraduate students who are looking to the university to finalize grades so they can graduate, secure financial aid, or solidify their registration for winter term. As this offer demonstrates, we do not want our ongoing negotiations to negatively impact anyone, especially our students. We are working on contingency plans designed to ensure that there is as little negative impact as possible.


Frances Bronet

Acting Senior Vice President and Provost

11/16/2014 update: VPAA Doug Blandy blames deans, department heads, and faculty for secret strike plan to degrade academics Continue reading

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University President tells the truth about student-athlete admissions

That would be the President of the University of Michigan:

Speaking to the University of Michigan faculty senate last week, Mark Schlissel, the university’s president, was candid in his assessment of the admissions process for athletes. “We admit students who aren’t as qualified,” he said. “And it’s probably the kids that we admit that can’t honestly, even with lots of help, do the amount of work and the quality of work it takes to make progression from year to year.”

His comments — made as the University of North Carolina is still reeling from a high-profile academic scandal where athlete preparedness was a central issue — were perhaps too candid for some. …

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Coltrane consults Freyd on AAU sexual violence survey

In brief: It’s as if the US Census refused to break out population data by state. I’m not sure this AAU survey would be fundable through the NSF or NIH given its restrictions on sharing the data.

11/19/2014 update: Coltrane consults Freyd on AAU survey

Francesco Fontana  has the report in the Emerald, here:

Interim president Scott Coltrane released the following statement regarding the survey.

“The fact that the AAU is proposing member institutions participate brings a great deal of credibility to the survey,” Coltrane said. “However, Jennifer Freyd also has a great deal of credibility with the university, and her expertise is important to consider. We will need to spend some time weighing the pros and cons before determining what is in the best interest of the university as we work to address this critical issue.”

11/18/2014 update: UO should ignore AAU’s anti-science effort to control rape survey biz

Chronicle and Huffington Post report criticisms of AAU: Continue reading

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UO data shows huge raises for top admins, not faculty, OA’s, or staff

From UO’s own increasingly transparent and subversive Institutional Research website, here:

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As one admittedly extreme example of our top end bloat problem, look at provosts. Last year UC-Berkeley was paying Provost George Breslauer $322K (now retired). He had seven years experience in that job, and a budget of about $2.5B. In comparison, UO is paying Interim Provost Frances Bronet $360K. She has no experience in the job, and has a budget of about $850M.

Here’s some more data:

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President gives heartfelt statement supporting survivor of alleged gang rape by student-athletes

11/17/2014 update: That would be President Ed Ray of Oregon State:

I am sure that many of you have read the article just published on OregonLive and being published in three segments this week in The Oregonian regarding the horrific assault suffered by Brenda Tracy in 1998 at the hands of several men.

I learned the details regarding this assault on Friday. Apparently, statements were taken from Ms. Tracy and the suspects, two of whom were on the Oregon State University football team at the time.

We are told that law enforcement officials in 1998 were not able to bring criminal charges because Ms. Tracy did not wish to participate in a prosecution.

OSU cannot control the criminal justice system, but I have asked university staff to obtain the police reports for the case and to determine if there are any actions we can take now under OSU’s code of student conduct. There may be no formal course of action available to us but we must try. While legal minds could no doubt explain how it makes sense to have a statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes, I find that appalling. Hopefully, justice delayed is not justice entirely denied in this case.   We are currently trying to get the facts regarding OSU’s handling of this matter in 1998, including what efforts were made then to reach out to Ms. Tracy to help her deal with the terrible physical and emotional harm she suffered. If a case of this nature was reported to the university today, OSU’s Office of Equity and Inclusion would work to stop the sexual misconduct, assist the survivor and prevent a recurrence.

Ms. Tracy’s journey has been simultaneously heart-breaking and inspiring because of her own capacity to reclaim her sense of self-worth and pursue her education so that she can help others through her work as a nurse.

There is no statute of limitations on compassion or basic human decency. I understand that Mike Riley, who was our football coach at the time, has offered to meet with Ms. Tracy and would like to have her speak with the football team if she wishes to do so. The immediate response from us to Ms. Tracy is to ask how we can help her address the effects of this violence. It is our hope that any role she is willing and interested in pursuing to help educate our community on the horrors of sexual assault by sharing her story could bring some healing.

This would be of great interest to us, but only if it is helpful to Ms. Tracy in continuing to deal with all that she has suffered.

We cannot undo this nightmare. I personally apologize to Ms. Tracy for any failure on our part in 1998 in not helping her through this terrible ordeal. This is a moment from which each of us can learn. But it is mostly a moment for us to help Ms. Tracy heal.

Edward J. Ray President

11/14/2014: 16 years after Oregon State football gang-rape allegation, survivor talks

John Canzano has her powerful story in the Oregonian, here. Read it all. It ends with this:

Mike Riley, the football coach who Brenda Tracy resented so much all those years, is contemplating the unthinkable. He wonders if Tracy, nurse and survivor, might stand in front of his football team someday and share the gravity of her terrible experience.

“What do you think?” he asked me.

I told the coach she’d be powerful.

“I always try to research the right people to talk to our team and do it throughout the year,” Riley said. “That would be a compelling talk. A real-life talk. Instead of just talking about rape and sexual assault, actually having someone talk about how things can change for everyone in a moment like that.”

… When I told Tracy about OSU’s reaction and Riley’s wish to think about having her speak to his team someday, she broke down. Of course, she’d love to be part of an educational program, not just for the football team but for any group interested in hearing her story.

“Maybe that’s where this was supposed to go all along,” she said.

She’d speak out not because she wants justice. She’d talk not because she wants someone to pay off her therapy bills or student loans. Her desire isn’t for blood, an apology or retribution. She has no interest in a lawsuit, in case anyone wonders.

Instead, she wants to talk about domestic violence and gang rapeShe wants to let 16 years of confusion and pain bleed out in a room filled with strangers because for the first time, maybe ever, Brenda Tracy is liberated.

She said, “I feel like I just went free.” 

And the NYT has yet another report on the corrupt relationship between FSU football and the Tallahassee Police, here.

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UO alum donates $1M to endow PLC long underwear fund

Breaking news from “Around the O”:

UO Foundation leaders held a press conference in front of the gas fireplace in their new $25M offices, to announce that a generous $1M alumni donation would fund an endowment to buy every PLC faculty member one pair of long-johns each winter, “in perpetuity, or until the next earthquake kills them all.”

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160over90 Branders to try out media campaign plan on faculty, staff

11/17/2014: Today, 4PM in the Alumni Center. Deputy Chief Strategic Communicator Tobin Klinger has the report here.

11/14/2014 update: Strategic Communicator Tim Clevenger fiddles with the brand, as grad students burn away

Job #1 was keeping us in the AAU by boosting research and grad student enrollment. But UO’s IR office reports that grad student enrollment has dropped yet again: down 100 just this year:

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Admins back off veiled threats to international grad students about visas

11/14/2014: Senate to vote on admin efforts to “dilute and degrade” academic standards

Here’s hoping Scott Coltrane will reign in Gottfredson’s $300 an hour lawyers and settle with our grad students. If not, the Senate will be taking up legislation next Wednesday:

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One well spoken UO faculty member sent out a pretty plain response to the Deans and Dept Heads about that “confidential” Doug Blandy, Barbara Altmann and Bill Brady memo:

I feel compelled to share my frustrations about the messaging to Dept. Heads and Program Directors in relation to the strike. Just two points:

First, the messaging that repeatedly compares the planning and management process in relation to the strike to what we would be doing if there were an earthquake or a flood grates against this philosopher’s remaining rational capacities. An earthquake certainly, a flood presumably, is not the sort of event that is negotiated in advance by human actors. The continued reference to natural disasters as somehow analogous to what is about to happen here is apparently designed to engage our basic moral sensibilities in a way that is inappropriate to the situation at hand. In the face of a natural disaster, the necessity to adapt and adjust, to be creative and compassionate in the face of tragedy, to also go above and beyond our normal obligations and responsibilities, even in heroic ways, would be unquestioned. The impending events are the result of human decision. They are not comparable in any way to a natural disaster. Our obligations are different in this case than they would be in the case of a natural disaster. Our responsibilities are different.

Second: The imperative to assign all students a grade in order not to interfere with their financial aid, puts the entire responsibility on Dept. Heads and Program Directors for these students’ ability to pay THE UNIVERSITY the tuition dollars they owe. The University administration is apparently willing to put these students in a very vulnerable position. They are also willing to imperil the income to the UO that these financial aid dollars represent. Yet they are asking us to feel fully responsible for the fate of these students and these dollars. If students don’t get their grades, they are implying, we bear the moral responsibility for that. Doesn’t the administration bear responsibility for engaging in this level of stubbornness and brinksmanship in relation to these very same students, and putting us, dept. heads, and program managers who don’t have a place at the negotiating table in the position of carrying out a decision that we have no voice in? If our commitment to the undergrads is sacred, why is the administration willing to put their education at risk? Department Heads and Program Directors should NOT be put in a position of feeling the moral responsibility and weight for individual student’s financial-aid fates, when the administration is clearly willing to put these very same students in jeopardy. We have NO VOICE in the negotiations with the GTFF, no power to impact those negotiations, we should not be made responsible for the result of the failure of those negotiations. The moral appeal is designed to pit our concern for our undergraduate students against our concern for our Graduate Teaching Fellows. No educator should be put in this position, certainly not without having had some voice in the process through which the situation has come to be what it is. A basic tenet of most ethical systems and theories is that one cannot be ethically responsible for those things that one had no part in creating and has no power to influence or control.

Thanks for listening.

In related news, the Daily Emerald reports on today’s GTFF rally in front of the Johnson Hall administration building, home to many overpaid UO administrators:

A member of SLAP also held a sign with the face of Michael Gottfredson on it, and the number $940,000 written across his forehead – a reference to the severance package Gottfredson received upon resigning. The SLAP speakers addressed Gottfredson’s severance as well.

“Our tuition shouldn’t be wasted on presidential severance packages and union busting lawyers,” Huebner said, referring to the outside lawyer hired by the university to aid in bargaining.

Personally, I think the $940K Chuck Lillis spent to get rid of Mike Gottfredson was a hell of deal. I’d have paid $4M of other people’s money.

11/14/2014: Admins back off veiled threats to international grad students about visas

This latest effort from $300 an hour land-use lawyer Jeff Matthews is not going to help UO recruit top international PhD students. The GTFF union has the story here. After they sent our administrators this letter, patiently explaining that the University of Oregon is part of free country, governed by laws, Johnson Hall backed down and retracted their veiled attempts to intimidate international grad students.

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Geller, Matthews, Rudnick and Grado to bill $200K from grad student strike?

11/13/2014 update: HLGR made it to $125K in billable hours on the GTF negotiations in September. They’re a little behind schedule if they want to get in $200K by the holidays. But a strike would certainly provide many opportunities for extra billings. Presumably bonuses for HLGR’s lawyers are tied to calendar billable hours, as is common, and Dec 31 is fast approaching.

The word is that noted zoning easements lawyer and chief UO labor negotiator Jeff Matthews did not accept a deal at today’s mediation session. Would you, if you could bill $2400 for each day you dragged it out, and your paycheck ended the day you agreed to a fair deal for UO’s grad students?

This is why UO will soon be replacing HLGR with its own labor lawyers. Unfortunately for our grad students they are still stuck dealing with Bob Berdahl’s leftover nastiness. And now with Randy Geller’s too:

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11/10/2014: UO Matters pays UO $94.58 for detailed HLGR invoices on grad student bargaining

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Coltrane to stop redacting public records. Instead, he’s going to hide all of them.

Dave Hubin writes a glowing report on Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office, for UO’s official “Around the 0″ blog:

“The UO is open with its information, much of which is available in many places, and our hope is to consolidate some of the existing information and make it more accessible for public records requesters,” said Dave Hubin, senior assistant to the president.

That’s not what the newspapers say, of course. The headline to this Register Guard editorial captures the truth pretty well:

Redaction run amok: UO blacks out most documents about allegations

But the real news from Wednesday’s meeting of the Senate Transparency Committee was Hubin’s bald statement that UO has decided to stop redacting documents, after the humiliation of having the RG and several TV news stations and the NYT mock the redactions, and President Gottfredson:

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What solution to these redactions, the ensuing embarrassment, and the resulting lack of trust in the UO administration did Hubin propose? He said UO is going to change its public records procedures so that UO simply will not release documents – not even a page of them – if they contain any exempt information. And then Hubin topped it off by telling the Senate Transparency Committee that this change would be implemented by an administrative committee that would meet in secret. The faculty did not react favorably to this plan, which is utterly at odds with basic principles of open information and public records and FOIA law. People need to know enough about what is hidden so that they can use the law to protect their rights to information about what public agencies are going.

Hiding the redactions this way may indeed produce a bit less public ridicule for UO administrators the next time they decide to hide something, but it will also shred any hope that Interim President Scott Coltrane wants to rebuild trust between the press, the community, the faculty, and his Johnson Hall administration. Bad move.

Full COI disclosure: I made almost $20 from selling “Omnia Dissimulavimus” coffee cups and t-shirts showing these redactions. Enough to pay for a month of web-hosting. Get yours here:

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Senate Transparency Committee meets:

It’s a public meeting. Under Lariviere, UO did a lot to improve transparency. Berdahl and Gottfredson did their best to clamp down. Coltrane is sticking with the Berdahl plan so far – for example, stalling release of documents that might help the GTFF, or explain what Gottfredson’s secret rape review panel is up to. Dave Hubin will have some explaining to do today. The committee’s charge is here:

The Committee shall;

a) Review UO’s procedures regarding access to public records and financial information, and evaluate the effectiveness of those procedures. The Senate requests that the administration give the committee free and unfettered access to a listing of public records requests and their status, and to any reports by the UO public records officer to the administration regarding public records.

b) Accept and review complaints from faculty, staff, or students regarding access to public records and financial information, and make suggestions to the UO public records officer and President’s office on resolving such complaints.

c) Hold only open meetings. …

For some background, read this 2013 RG story on UO charging student-journalists for public records, or any of the many stories on UO’s redactions of the rape allegation cover-up emails.

UO Senate Transparency Committee Tentative Agenda – November 12, 2014 11:00 am
Johnson Hall Conference Room

• Convene Senate Transparency Committee

• Report on work patterns of the Public Records Office during 2013-14

Data on usage, response times, fees charged, and fees waived
Appeals and findings from Attorney General and District Attorney
Comparisons to other Oregon state agencies and entities and comparator AAU Institutions

• Discuss Committee’s reorganization, broadened membership and charge
(Passed by the Committee on Committees and awaiting consideration by the full Senate.)

• Elect STC Chair.

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