Students clash with police at UO’s partner University Omar Bongo, in Gabon

12/18/2014: And people at UO flip out over a few picketing grad students?

Last I heard the status of the $15M endowment payment to the UO Foundation was still up in the air. I can’t imagine $60 oil is going to increase the chances it will happen.

6/18/2014 update: Trouble in Gabon for Bongo jr. over education, corruption

From the NYT. I didn’t see a quote from former UO Ambassador and current Director of the $20M UO-Gabon project, Eric Benjaminson. Too bad, he must have some inside knowledge on this:

Many in Libreville are angry at the luxurious lifestyles of officials, including Bongo and his entourage. At an investment summit last month, traffic jams clogged city streets as presidential vehicles swept along the coastal road. VIPs drank champagne at a red-carpet gala at a seafront hotel, just blocks from the city’s sprawling shanties. …

Education is key to delivering on Bongo’s pledge to create opportunities for a growing young population, more than one- third of whom are unemployed. Yet at the state-run Omar Bongo University, the campus is littered with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters after police clashed with students protesting the lack of basics, such as text books and Internet access.

Exam results pinned to a classroom wall showed that just 19 out of 176 students studying for an economy degree had passed.

Like much of the political elite, whose offspring are educated in Europe or the United States, Bongo’s son was sent to exclusive British boarding school Eton.

“The authorities don’t send their children here. They send them away,” said 26-year-old student leader Anatole Nnang Mezui. “They want to keep ruling us just like their fathers did. It’s a small elite that’s going to rule over the masses.”

3/12/2014 update: Feds investigating UO donor Ali Bongo over suitcases of cash

According to the Wall Street Journal, US Homeland Security agents intercepted a $150,000 cash payment from noted UO donor and Gabonese President for Life Ali Bongo, headed to his former wife in LA.

There are some interesting quotes from retired Ambassador Eric Benjaminson, now employed by UO, and paid out of the $20M gift to UO from Bongo. A gift which Benjaminson and UO fundraiser John Manotti arranged while Benjaminson was US Ambassador to Gabon, despite US State department conflict of interest rules.

More on the gift, the RG editorials asking for some transparency from UO, and pro-Bongo comments from UO officials below. But here’s the WSJ story: Continue reading

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Athletic department ditches Nike for Adidas, gets twice the cash

12/18/2014 update: Matthew Kish has the story in the Portland Business Journal, here.

McElroy was hired from the Dallas Cowboys in May and charged with increasing the department’s revenue.
The Adidas deal does that. It’s worth $4.2 million annually through 2023, more than double the $2.1 million the university will receive from Nike this year.

That’s at Arizona State University. Nike’s contract with UO is far stingier – just $600K in cash. Doesn’t someone have a fiduciary responsibility to get a better deal on this?

12/9/2014 update: Which football championship team has the worst Nike contract? The Ducks.

From Matthew Kish in the Portland Business Journal:

Here’s a breakdown of Nike’s [athletic apparel] deal with each university in the playoffs. The terms cover the 2014-15 academic year [reordered in descending order of cash payment]:

- Ohio State: $2.5 million in equipment and apparel and nearly $1.5 million in cash. The university also gets $150,000 in discretionary apparel, typically for athletic department personnel.

- Florida State: $3 million in equipment and apparel and $1.4 million in cash.

- Alabama: $2.8 million in equipment and apparel, $780,000 in cash.

- Oregon: $2.2 million in equipment and apparel and $600,000 in cash. The university also gets $185,000 in discretionary apparel, typically for athletic department personnel.

But hey, we’re #1 in “discretionary apparel”!

From what I can tell from Dave Hubin’s redacted public records, $30K of that goes to our colleagues in Johnson Hall, presumably including some who signed off on the contract. So they’ll be looking good on their Jan 1 Rose Bowl junkets.

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Bad news for Hubin, Park and Coltrane on hiding UO public records

They’ve been hoping that opinions issued by Lane County DA Alex Gardner and Associate DA Patty Perlow would allow them to redact UO documents en masse, instead of having to explain what they were hiding.

But the Oregon Court of Appeals has just rejected that Gardner and Perlow interpretation of Oregon public records law ORS 192, in a case involving EWEB and the Register Guard. Christian Withol has the report in the RG, here:

The Oregon Court of Appeals has rejected the Eugene Water & Electric Board’s argument that its entire contract to buy power from the Seneca wood-burning plant north of Eugene can be kept secret, and it sent the public records lawsuit back to Lane County Circuit Court.

The appeals court in its ruling Wednesday also said Lane Circuit Court Judge Karsten Rasmussen erred in his 2011 decision backing EWEB’s ­refusal to release the contract to The Register-Guard.

At the most recent meeting of the Senate Transparency Committee, Dave Hubin asserted that this Gardner decision would allow UO to keep entire documents secret. Nope.

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Coltrane to give Duck AD Rob Mullens a retention offer, drop perverse incentives?

Rumor down at the faculty club snookers table is that Duck athletic director Rob Mullens is entertaining an offer from high roller Gordon Gee, currently president at West Virginia University. It seems unlikely Mullens would seriously consider a step down like that, even if he is an alumnus. But maybe he can turn it into a retention offer?

Personally, I think it would make sense to write a new contract that gives Mullens some incentives for reducing the $4M or so in subsidies the Duck athletic department is taking from UO’s academic side.

The perverse incentives in Mullens’s current contract do almost exactly the opposite, as explained here: http://www.uomatters.com/2010/10/perverse-incentives-for-mullens.html

The contract is here, and Gottfredson’s firing gives Mullens an easy out on the salary he’d otherwise have to repay UO:

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RG Editorial Board argues UO President is paid enough, already

12/17/2014 update:  The Johnson Hall central administration wants to argue we need to pay a lot to get a President, so that they can use that salary when justifying their own raises. Search firms have their own incentives. They are getting some pushback from the RG’s Editorial Board. Read it all here:

… The UO’s last president, Michael Gottfredson, was paid $544,000 a year plus a variety of attractive perks. … Most public members of the elite Association of American Universities in the West paid their presidents less in 2013 than Gottfredson received — an average of $387,000 at the five University of California system AAU members, and $422,333 at the University of Colorado. The University of Arizona was in the same ballpark as the UO. The outlier is the University of Washington, which paid $770,000, according to the Chronicle. The figures include deferred compensation, bonuses and retirement pay.

Yet some trustees are concerned that the UO will not be able to attract a suitable candidate at Gottfredson’s salary level, and are talking about some combination of pay and benefits in the $600,000 to $800,000 range. Connie Ballmer, who heads the board’s presidential search committee, said it’s “crystal clear from the search firm that we are way low.”

That depends on what the firm is searching for. At their first meeting trustees spoke as though the UO would need to persuade a talented leader to leave a secure and well-paid position to come to Eugene. That’s not necessarily the case. The UO’s next president could be, and perhaps should be, someone who hasn’t already broken into the academic big leagues — an ambitious administrator who sees an opportunity to make his or her mark at the UO.

… And then there’s that element of populism mentioned by Hart. As a public university, the UO should avoid offending public sensibilities with a presidential salary like that of a corporate CEO. The UO faculty and staff, on whose work any president’s success will depend, have long been underpaid relative to their peers, and should not be made to feel that the president is subject to a different set of expectations. Pushing the presidential salary into the stratosphere would be neither necessary nor politic.

If the board does this, they’ll presumably say it will be paid out of Foundation funds, as they did for Frohnmayer’s raises. I’m not sure why they think this makes it any more acceptable, but Lillis also made a point of noting this for Gottfredson’s $940K buyout.

12/15/2014:  Job #1 for new UO Board: Pay president 150% of comparators, and faculty 88%?

President Lariviere famously said that for him, job #1 was to get UO faculty salaries to the average of our AAU comparators. He meant it, he gave out raises, and a year or so later the OUS Board fired him. That was one step in the process that led to legislative approval of a new independent UO board.

So what is job #1 for that new UO Board? Shift UO’s scarce resources to the faculty, or keep spending them on administrative bloat?

That’s the question raised during Friday’s meeting of the UO Board’s Presidential Factors Committee, chaired by UO Trustee Ginevra Ralph.

Diane Dietz has the story in the RG, here:

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.

Despite Lariviere’s efforts, and the efforts of the new UO faculty union, UO faculty salaries are still at the bottom of the AAU, while UO’s Senior Administrators continue to pile on the pork:

UO’s Institutional Research office has posted the comparison of UO salaries to AAU averages,  by department and rank, here. Who is at the absolute bottom? I’m no economist, but it’s UO Economics, at 74%:

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OK, I’m exaggerating. There are a few small departments at 73%, and a few others tied for 74%. But whatever – UO administrators are doing more than fine:

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Nominations now open for worst (and best) of the University of Oregon’s 2014 annus horribilis

Yeah, I know it ain’t over yet. But it’s time to start collecting nominations. I’ll get things started, please add yours in the comments. (Very helpful if you include the link.) Voting for the worst of the worst and the best of the best will start a few days before the UO administration’s Jan 1 2015 bowl-game junkets.

Best:

April 15: VP for Research Kimberly Andrews Espy to leave UO for Arizona

August 7: UO Pres Mike Gottfredson resigns for $940K cash, Scott Coltrane is appointed Interim President

Worst:

Nov. 25: Paul Weinhold was secretly planning to mortgage UO for Track-Town’s losing IAAF bid

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Coltrane holds secret meeting with Gottfredson’s Athletics Advisory Group

Interim President Coltrane’s weekly calendar is here:

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The “President’s Advisory Group on Intercollegiate Athletics” or PAGIA was set up by President Gottfredson as an attempt to take power away from the Senate’s Intercollegiate Athletics Committee – which has been asking a lot of tough questions about athletics. While the IAC meets in public, the PAGIA doesn’t even post agendas. That’s right, if a faculty member wants to know what the PAGIA is doing about athletics, they’ll have to file a public records request with Dave Hubin.

The AD has been trying to evade the Senate IAC since at least the 2004 Athletics Task Force report, but Gottfredson’s decision was ostensibly based on a report to the Senate from last year’s IAC chair Rob Illig (Law, and yes, it’s that same Illig.):

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The Senate IAC has now repudiated that report, the Senate Task force on Sexual Violence has directed the IAC to take the point on sexual violence and athletics, and the IAC has voted to take up that responsibility over the objections of Margie Paris (Law) and Kim Sheehan (Advertising, and PAGIA Chair):

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But apparently that’s not enough to put an end to another Johnson Hall effort to subvert shared governance. The charge and membership of the PAGIA, which is chaired by Kim Sheehan (Advertising) is here.

The President’s Advisory Group on Intercollegiate Athletics advises the president on University of Oregon Athletics Department policies and practices as they affect the academic progress, the academic performance, and the well-being of student athletes. The group will provide guidance and make recommendations to help ensure athletic department programs and practices operate consistent with the university’s academic mission and comply with NCAA and Pac-12 rules and expectations.

The PAGIA will meet regularly twice per term. The group will assemble for additional sessions at the request of the president. Membership will consist of six faculty members, two students, three administrators, three staff advisors as well as the athletic director, senior associate athletic director and faculty athletic representative.

Members

Faculty:
Professor Kim Sheehan, School of Journalism and Communications, Chair
Professor Jenifer Craig, School of Music and Dance
Professor David Frank, Clark Honors College
Professor James Isenberg, Mathematics
Professor Lynn Kahle, Lindquist School of Business
One yet to be appointed

Students:
Jillian Alleyne, Communication Disorders and Science major, Basketball
David Spencer, Accounting major

Administrators:
Roger Thompson, Vice President for Enrollment Management
Lisa Freinkel, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies
Paul Shang, Dean of Students

Ex-Officio Members
Intercollegiate Athletic Director, Rob Mullens
Senior Associate Athletic Director, Senior Women’s Administrator, Lisa Peterson
Faculty Athletics Representative, Jim O’Fallon
FAR Designee, to be appointed

Staff Advisors
Jody Sykes, Senior Associate Athletic Director Compliance Officer
Sue Eveland, University Registrar
Steven Stolp, Executive Director, Services for Student Athletes

From what I can tell this was their first substantive meeting.

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Senate repudiates Triplett and Park proposal, directs TAIF to investigate potential retaliation against faculty

12/14/2014: Video of the Senate meeting is now available:

12/10/2014 PM update:

Alexandra Wallachly from the Emerald has posted a report on the meeting, here.

On the Board meeting Thursday: I think it’s important to show up at the Board meeting Thursday at 8AM in the Alumni Center. While the board has backed off on the latest power grab, there’s plenty of potential for surprises, those making public comments deserve some supporters, and it’s important that the Board sees that the faculty take what’s been happening very seriously. And I hear someone will be passing out “Save our Senate” buttons.

On the Senate meeting today: I got there at the very end. I’d love it if someone would send me some notes or post them. People tell me it was standing room only, and filled with dismay and outrage over what’s going on with our administration.

The Senate passed an amended version of the motion below, opposing the Triplett/Park power grab. The fact that they did this even after Coltrane announced the Board would withdraw the motion at his suggestion shows how deep the mistrust of Johnson Hall has become. Coltrane and Bronet need to take charge of that snake-pit, decisively and soon.

The Senate then apparently wrote and approved a second motion, directing the Academic Integrity Task Force to investigate the administration’s “alleged plans to establish groundwork for disciplinary procedures” against Philosophy Dept Chair Bonnie Mann and other faculty who refused to issue “fraudulent” grades. Apparently there is also an accusation that a CAS administrator not only gave out grades for courses, but then raised them after students complained. I don’t know if the TAIF will also investigate that.

I’ll post the video when available, and I expect the motions (passed unanimously?) will be on the Senate website soon, here. Meanwhile check Try Bree Nicolello’s twitter reports on the meeting: https://twitter.com/breenicolello.

12/10/2014 update: (see below for Coltrane response)

Sorry, I’m at the Board committee meetings, no live-blog.

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Coltrane to limit bowl junkets, tells admins to watch game at home

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This is part of Interim President Coltrane’s new effort to reduce athletic subsidies and shift money towards academic excellence. Breaking news here:

The biggest cost-cutting move is just limiting the number of people who go, which saves travel and hotel costs. In 2009, the Wolf Pack did not take its band to the Hawaii Bowl. Some schools will charter either a large jet, a second jet or take multiple trips, but Nevada has consistently gone with smaller, less-expensive jets and told some support staffers that they’ll have to watch the game on TV at home.

The school also saves money by taking the less-expensive team-meal options at the hotels and not splurging on expensive rings and watches in the event of a victory.

Brian Polian is headed to his first bowl game as a head coach, too. Hired three months before Knuth, Polian has extensive history in big bowl games as an assistant coach at Stanford, Notre Dame and Texas A&M, schools where the presumption is that money is handed out like athletic tape.

And while that’s a stretch, the comparison has legs. Schools with massive athletic budgets tend to be more free-wheeling with money, and big-money bowls tend to cost more — in some cases a lot more — which can lead to red-pencil accounting.

Oh wait, that story is about the University of Nevada. Never mind. Here at UO, all indications are that our Johnson Hall colleagues, and their families, are planning their usual all-expense-paid bowl-game junkets. The next one is to the historic Rose Bowl in sunny Pasadena, for the football championship semifinal extravaganza, Jan 1.

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Updated w/ pres search news. UO Board of Trustees, Friday Dec 12th meeting live-blog

Highlight of the day’s meetings: Page down for the live-blog of the Presidential Factors Committee meeting. They are setting up a reasonably open evaluation process for UO presidents starting next month, and setting pay for a new President.

Ginevra Ralph is chair, she runs a tight meeting. She was very cognizant of the need for transparency and the problems with paying a president more than our comparators when staff, OA, and faculty salaries are below comparators.

VPFA Jamie Moffitt really didn’t want to talk about that data. I assume she’s just being modest, since she’s making out pretty well. So here it is, from UO’s own IR website and other easily obtained public sources:

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And a snapshot from last year, showing salaries for faculty and some specific central admins at UO versus comparator data:

 The reports from the Wednesday’s committee meetings are here, and from Thursday’s meeting are here.

12/12/2014: The 8AM full board meeting is not off to a good start, given the quotes from Board Chair Chuck Lillis in today’s RG story about UO’s new Sports Product program. They make the University of Oregon Board of Trustees look ridiculous. And a board in their position cannot afford to look any more ridiculous:

… Lillis, however, wasn’t prepared to let the subject of efficiency drop. His friend, retired UO business professor Roger Best, worked at General Electric when Lillis was an executive there, he said.

“He was a world class business school professor,” Lillis said. “In the ’80s he routinely turned down $10,000-a-day as a consultant. He was the executive of a big British firm when he lived in Eugene and he commuted on the Concorde. He has started two businesses and sold them both — and is a very large donor to the university,” Lillis said.

That certainly is an interesting definition of a world class business school professor.

If the university is not going to trust someone like that, Lillis said, who will it trust. “We have this, like, superstar. …

… Barbara Altmann, vice provost for academic affairs, said the various committees gauge the soundness and coherence of proposed programs and ensure that the proposers have a stable line up of courses to guarantee quality for students who pay a lot, especially for business graduate degrees.

8:00 am (other times approx.) RECONVENE PUBLIC MEETING, FORD ALUMNI CENTER, GIUSTINA BALLROOM

Usual live-blog disclaimer: This is my opinion of what people said, meant, or should have said, nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

Notice  |  Agenda  |  Minutes

8.    Overview of Research Funding  
Vice President for Research and Innovation Brad Shelton will give an overview of the University
of Oregon’s funded research programs.

I missed most of it seems pretty similar to last year’s. Shelton is interim VPR, appointed after Espy left for a university that she thought had a better football team. Whoops.

Shelton doesn’t have the research background that would be normal for this job (short vita, no NSF grants) and he’s rather amazingly overpaid. He gives a reasonably informative talk though, and given his control over our limited research funding, no one on the faculty can afford to look cross-wise at him, unless you’ve got a pipeline to that sports product money.

Shelton ends his talk with a note of approval for the changes that Espy made in UO’s research office, and a word of thanks to Mussolini for getting those trains to run on time.

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Did a pinch of Diane Dietz’s integrity rub off on Tobin Klinger?

12/11/2014 update: One of the few funny parts of Thursday’s Board meeting was seeing UO public relations flack and $115K Duck advocate Tobin Klinger sitting in the press section, just one table over from Register Guard reporter Diane Dietz. Back in July Klinger sent this rant about Dietz to the RG editors, who promptly, and I’m guessing gleefully, published it. (Full disclosure: I’ve been known to hit send on a few hasty emails myself – but then I’m not a trained media professional and strategic communicator like Mr. Klinger):

I’m a recent transplant to Eugene, having spent a majority of my adult and professional life working with media in northwest Ohio.

Like many, I idealized life in the Pacific Northwest. Eugene and its people have lived up to my vision. Eugene is access to independent film, unique foods, outdoor activities, cultural happenings and community pride.

I don’t know that this shines through on the pages of The Register-Guard, particularly with the sophomoric “reporting” of Diane Dietz.

I admit to having a bias. Dietz covers my employer, the University of Oregon. In my role as head of UO public affairs communications, it is my job to defend the integrity and the reputation of the university. I advocate for faculty, staff, students, administration and athletics. I advocate for the Ducks.

Earning positive attention is a challenge with a reporter who is more interested in pandering to the lowest common denominator than demonstrating the value of higher education. Where else would you see the phrase “bowl of —–” five times in a single news article (Register-Guard, July 11)? This obvious play for shock value diverted attention away from the fact that the reporter waited 26 paragraphs before sharing important details from the university.

Moreover, this same newspaper in February dedicated significant space to a major Sunday story that used a blatant stereotype of Chinese students as its primary theme.

Even though I’m new here, I’m certain this community deserves better.

Tobin Klinger, Senior director, Public Affairs Communications, University of Oregon

But today, Klinger’s “Around the 0″ post on the UO Board meeting is actually not completely unfair and unbalanced. His lede?

On the first day following the conclusion of the strike by the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon heard impassioned comments from campus community members regarding trust and shared governance.

You’d almost think Dietz wrote this, instead of Klinger. It’s almost worth googling – although the report from student reporter Alex Wallachly in the Emerald, here, has much more interesting quotes.

So what happened? Did a pinch of Diane Dietz’s integrity rub off on Tobin Klinger? I’m guessing not. UO’s PR flacks must have got new marching orders from JH last night. And that, readers, is news. Really good news.

12/10/2014: “Around the 0″ lede shows why you should be at the Board meeting, 8AM TH

Jennifer Winters is one of Tobin Klinger and Tim Clevenger’s many PR flacks. Here’s the lede on her report on the Board’s wise decision to follow Interim President Coltrane’s advice, on the insistence of the Senate, and take the Triplett / Park power-grab motion off the Board agenda.

“Around the 0″ is the blog that Bob Berdahl and Tim Gleason started to try and counteract the influence of UO Matters. Sometimes I wonder if I should worry that Johnson Hall will get a clue, try a little honesty, and actually end the need for UO Matters. Apparently not – here’s their take on the Board’s policy-grab:

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UO Board of Trustees, Th Dec 11th meeting live-blog

Short version: It was good.

The board listened to the faculty and the students today. More than that, it felt like they heard us. They even responded. They took the administration’s policy-grab motion off the table, until the Senate has had a chance to fix it and restore some semblance of shared governance. Yesterday’s committee meetings were also very positive. It felt like we’ve got the board that we’d hoped we would get, when we supported the legislation to get UO out of OUS.

Here’s hoping Scott Coltrane and Frances Bronet heard us too, because UO is not going to make progress until someone performs a few Johnson Hall defenestrations.

The Board meeting resumes Friday at 8AM with the first item being a presentation from Interim VP for Research Brad Shelton. I expect to live-blog it too.

12/11/2014 Live-blog. Usual disclaimer: my opinion of what people said, meant, or should have said, unless in quotes:

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Coltrane discusses efforts to keep UO faculty from leaving

Diane Dietz has the story in the RG, here: (whoops, link fixed)

University of Oregon interim President Scott Coltrane on Wednesday outlined his plan to keep top UO faculty from getting picked off by wealthier universities — in the wake of two high-profile departures to the University of Chicago earlier this fall.

Coltrane told the academic and student affairs committee of the UO Board of Trustees that he has a new faculty retention plan.

“We lost those two to the University of Chicago,” he said. “We lost somebody to Missouri. We lost actually four or five to Penn State — one to the University of Florida, one to the country of Norway.”

In total, over the past four years, competing institutions have poached 25 tenured or tenure-track UO faculty.

… The hardest items to match when marauding universities (sic) knock is laboratory space, instruments and more research graduate students.

Salaries aren’t the problem, Coltrane said. “Professors’ salaries are just not that high. We can often match the salary,” he said.

Really? I thought the well was dry, especially now that our new interim VP for Research Brad Shelton is at the trough with the other JH admins.

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