Five years ago, Gov. Ted Kulongoski recruited a new slate of business leaders to serve on the State Board of Higher Education and charged them with saving the state's university system. This summer, the last of those appointees stepped down, feeling disappointed and frustrated over the structural and political roadblocks to making the big changes needed for dramatic improvements. John von Schlegell, who resigned from the board recently, sent Kulongoski a letter this week calling for an overhaul of the way the state manages and funds its seven universities. "If people just wait around for more money and don't change the system with pretty radical changes, we're just dying a slow death," von Schlegell, managing director of a Portland-based private equity firm, told The Oregonian.
von Schlegell's letter is here. His frustration with politics and academic bureaucracy is obvious. He argues for a more independent OUS system, including an end to political appointments to the board. Meanwhile, Oregonian reporter Harry Esteve writes a scathing story about the appointment of a State Rep to a job as "academic planner" for the OUS board:
State Rep. Larry Galizio got help from Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office to secure a job with the Oregon University System, a spokeswoman for the governor confirmed Thursday. The appointment, announced Wednesday, raised some eyebrows among Salem insiders because Galizio made a dramatic about-face and provided the crucial vote to bar a resort from being developed near the Metolius River -- an outcome Kulongoski desired.
In an interview with The Oregonian, Galizio said he made no deal with Kulongoski to exchange his vote for a job. "That's laughable," said the Tigard Democrat. Galizio also said he never talked to the governor about working for the higher education system. What he didn't mention, however, is that he met at least twice with Kulongoski's chief of staff, Chip Terhune, to discuss his future job prospects.
Taylor said the phone call from the governor came before the first vote, when Galizio voted no, and had nothing to do with his getting a job. "There was no quid pro quo," she said.
Odd, but OUS spokesperson's Di Saunders' PR blurb on this hiring - apparently done without any sort of search or effort to follow affirmative action principles - doesn't get into the sordid politics. If, as Esteve says, Kulongoski is using University jobs as political payoffs, a move towards more independence would seem like a really good idea, and a really unlikely outcome.