The Greeks had a name for these people:

1/11/13: Thanks to an anonymous commenter for the idea. Here’s a clip from the administration’s proposed contract provision for “professional responsibilities”, from the website of their official union matters spokesperson, here

Rudnick explained this as meaning that our administrators (or as she called them, our “colleagues”) did not want the faculty taking vacations for winter and spring break, or going away from Eugene on non-teaching terms even to do research, without taking a formal presumably unpaid leave. She did have the grace to blush after the room broke out in laughter.

This new policy is for us little people. For our administrative colleagues, well, here are some of their Auto Reply emails, from recent inter-session periods. Pretty out-of-touch. Disclaimer: for all I know these were all during official leaves:

From: Roger Thompson
Subject: Automatic reply: Fiesta Bowl recruitingDate: January 3, 2013 12:50:23 AM PST
Currently, I am out of the office for winter break and the Fiesta Bowl on January 3, 2013 in Phoenix.  I will return to campus Monday, January 7, 2013. If you need immediate assistance, please contact our organization by phone at 541-346-9386. Thank you and Go Ducks!

From: Jamie Moffitt
Subject: Automatic reply: Date: December 31, 2012 9:15:29 PM PST
I am going to be out of the office until Monday, January 7th and will have limited email access. If you have an issue that must be addressed before I return, please contact Kelly Zimmerman at kellyz@uoregon.edu. Thanks -
 Jamie Moffitt
Vice President for Finance & Administration & CFO
University of Oregon 

From: “Randy Geller”
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: Date: December 18, 2011 11:08:20 PM PST
I am out of the office and will return on December 28th. If you need immediate assistance, please send an email to gcounsel@uoregon.edu or call 541-346-3082. 

From: “Michael Redding”
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: Date: December 22, 2011 10:23:38 AM PST
I will be out of the office from December 21-Jan 5. If you need assistance, Greg Stripp is AIC for University Relations and can be reached @ stripp@uoregon.edu or 346-5551. My assitant Karen Scheeland can also provide assistance, karensch@uoregon.edu. I will have limited access to email while I am out of the office.
Thank you.
Michael 

From: Randy Geller
Subject: Automatic reply: Sanctions against you might include a letter to your personnel file.
Date: March 23, 2012 10:49:30 PM PDT
I am out of the office and will return on March 30th. I will check my email periodically during my absence. If you need immediate assistance, please contact Lauren Townsend at lmt@uoregon.edu or 541-346-3082.

I confess I really like the subject of that last email from Randy: “Sanctions against you might include a letter to your personnel file”. And here’s administration negotiator Tim Gleason doing some research during winter break at UO’s Fiesta Bowl Pep Rally:


If you want to see who else took this junket, there’s video here and photos here.

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40 Responses to The Greeks had a name for these people:

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wish they found such things embarrassing. Note, however, the absence of a Jim Bean auto reply. That is because he can always be found in his office, giving everything he has to fulfilling his duties. (Please… Take him from us.)

    Are you serious about them not allowing paid research absences? What is this place becoming?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Surely someone offered a definition of “fully engaged?” What are they implying?

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    • Anonymous says:

      They want the right to call you a “professional” when it serves their interests (such as saying they can’t define what a 1.0 FTE looks like because faculty are professionals…effectively giving administrators full freedom to tell you what and how much work you should be doing) and also the right to treat you like a child when it serves their interests (we can’t trust that you will be a professional during times when we can’t track you so we want nonsense like this in the contract).

      Everything they want is about centralized control and what they call “flexibility” which is code for “we can do whatever the hell we want without accountability”.

      Read their counter-proposals very carefully and these are the consistent themes.

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  2. UO Matters says:

    Gottfredson’s just not minding the store. This is going to help us stay a credible AAU research university? Good luck with hiring! Idiotic.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Who is this Gottfredson you speak of? Is it a mythical creature? Like Bigfoot? Have there been sightings?

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe that’s Jennifer Geller in the background of the video shot with Gleason & the student.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Geller out until 3/30? Wow

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  5. Anonymous says:

    One would be inspired by your fresh feelings about the “little people” and their wrongs and their sorrows and their perpetual smothered ferment if only…

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  6. Anonymous says:

    …one were inspired by tergiversation.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I, for one, was not in favor of faculty unionization, but I’ve been pleased by some of the positions the union has take in the early going of negotiations. The discussions that are now developing over “professional responsibilities” really scare me, though. At this stage my concern isn’t with a particular position taken by one side or the other; my concern is that negotiations over a CBA will necessarily lead to efforts to hammer out statutory language specifying professional responsibilities for faculty members. What this invites, in turn, is an agreement that casts faculty as corporate employees who have to do x, y, and z in exchange for a, b, and c (the way much of the business world works). I know — many of the union supporters say we’ve become like a corporation anyway, so we just have to live with it and use unions to make the best of the situation. But it’s precisely the flexible, malleable, quasi-entrepreneurial ways in which faculty at leading research universities work that help keep them leading research universities. (Some of our leading faculty do not work in ways that can be easily clocked/specified, and will not want to play the game of getting approval to take a few days off during spring break after putting in five straight 80-hour weeks.) My great fear, then, is that discussions such as the ones going on around professional responsibilities will be fundamentally destructive of the kind of environment that led many of us to choose a life in the academy in the first place.

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    • Anonymous says:

      As if the union would do otherwise. But look how quick they got down to their self-interest: dues deduction, “fair-share” fee deduction from non-members, release time for faculty to do their work for them. And no, contrary to the senate, the union is not part of the university – legally or any other way. And if you want to give me the “I am the NRA” line, fine, but I don’t think NRA members are asking their employers to pay them to bargain with them about changing their weapons at work policies. Some naive, idealistic folk have been taken for a ride here. Like members of many apocalypic groups, they’ll never be able to admit that. But they will fade away, leaving the worst of them to rise to the top. It is not a pretty picture.

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    • UO Matters says:

      The union’s position is generally to “incorporate current practices be reference”. It is the administration that is trying to cram down specific rules like that above.

      Their position is the remains of Berdahl’s anti-faculty anger, filtered through his hire to fight the union, Rudnick.

      Gottfredson should have hit restart, ditched Rudnick, and appointed Coltrane and Altmann.

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    • Anonymous says:

      But UO-M, that seems naive. The union is asking to negotiate numbers, salaries, etc. You can’t expect the other side to just smile and be understanding. It’s a legal contract that is affecting money and job descriptions. For example, a new defined faculty handbook – now they have to actually write one, right? Someone has to define ‘current practices’. Argh.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is pretty shaky logic, UOM.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “Berdahl’s anti-faculty anger?” I suppose that is what made him so successful as President/Chancellor at Texas and UC Berkeley, and then a unanimous choice to head the AAU. Is it possible that we’re creating a culture at the UofO that assumes the worst of all senior administrators — making it impossible for them to succeed and leading faculty to adopt the kind of naive assumptions mentioned two posts up?

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    • Anonymous says:

      I think that is only the culture at UO Matters.

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    • Anonymous says:

      President is typically the job of dealing with external people – government, board, donors. Provost deals with the faculty. And the AAU President deals with other presidents, and the feds, very far removed from faculty.

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    • Anonymous says:

      UOM clearly has an axe to grind with Berdahl (and a long list of others). Now that he sees that the union might help him stick it to this group, he’s become…let’s say sympathetic, to their viewpoint on most issues. But that’s just one reader’s take.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely agree with Anon above. This problem of defining the job is one reason why I have been very concerned about trying to create a faculty union. Academic research does not live in a defined 9-5 environment. There’s too much to do, and too many variable and off-hour, long-hour, and travel activities. In the sciences, we’re judged by grants and papers, graduating PhD’s, talk invitations, etc. To stay in the game we go to meetings and review panels, workshops, student recruiting activities, and, more and more, outside or university-linked fundraising. If we fall off the ball, our labs close- there’s no place for students, RA’s, postdocs to work. That is a good readout for success. Trying to write down a job description or trying to justify the hours spent on different activities, and having to get approval to get off of campus for all of these things, is stone-age behavior. Moreover, Oregon is particularly isolated. We really, really need to get around the country and the world in order to stay current and keep our work out there. Nobody loves those 6 am flights – anything that chills travel is more than counterproductive for this University.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The administration is the one that proposed a policy that could limit faculty travel and could require “getting approval to take a few days off during Spring Break after putting in five straight 80-hour weeks”. The union proposed a policy that asks units to create faculty developed policies on workload. The idea is that current local practices that work could be maintained but there need to be some boundaries to curb the many abuses that occur because of capricious and whimsical administrator decisions.

      For all of you who have it really good, realize that many of your colleagues who do quality work are subject to abuses of power because there are no written guidelines about these issues and/or no recourse if guidelines aren’t followed.

      To just throw up our hands and say things can’t be defined plays right into administration’s desire to grab more central control over your work life. They proposed that workload be solely defined by the “Provost or designee” with no guidelines at all. That is worse than current practice.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe the faculty senate should draft a faculty handbook.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The point is that the whole process invites meddling in an area best left uncodified (with the exception of general guidelines to prevent abuse). You can be sure the general public, and many legislators, would be very sympathetic with efforts to put straightjackets on faculty practices. Alas the can of worms has been opened because of the unionization initiative, and the results may not be pretty.

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    • Anonymous says:

      General guidelines to prevent abuse is what the union is seeking. The administration wants complete authority with no guidelines other than the minimum of state law.

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    • Anonymous says:

      We have seen the enemy and he is us! Protect us from our department chairs, please! They are evil-doers carrying out corporate directions from the President’s office!

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    • Anonymous says:

      “many of your colleagues who do quality work are subject to abuses of power”

      Sorry – I don’t see it. In fact, the biggest problem here is that my colleagues that don’t do quality work aren’t subject to any sort of “abuses of power”. No one cuts the dead wood to let the saplings up.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t see it so it doesn’t happen?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dog agrees with Oryx

      The University is not a factory floor. I would love it if
      my own workload got managed, because then I could do less and still get paid …

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    • Anonymous says:

      Minimum teaching load is a common provision of a CBA.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Faculty don’t use leave when unavailable over breaks?

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    • Oryx says:

      No, and I also don’t charge overtime for my normal 65 hour workweek, I routinely work on holidays (on Jan. 21 the university is closed, but I’m sure I’ll be working as usual), and I’m generally far more accessible to students (grad and undergrad) than any of our administrators seem to be. Being faculty isn’t a clock-punching, factory-like job. I thought this was obvious, but these union/administration discussion is really starting to worry me.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Statutory overtime exemption does not excuse failure to use of leave when unavailable over breaks.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Wasn’t there a state audit of faculty leave practices (or was it just workload)?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Although flexibility was the historical norm, it’s probably in everyone’s interest to tie these matters down and provide more accountability.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The previous anon thinks it’s in everyone’s interest to “tie these matters down.” If so, I’d suggest a chat with faculty in the Cal State system to see how they like their CBAs, many of which specify number of teaching hours, numbers of office hours, when you have to do this and that, etc., etc. We really could turn ourselves into a Cal-State style school if we went that route. Fortunately, the union folks seem not to be pushing in that direction, but alas the whole CBA process opens up this can of worms, as one can’t ask the administration to agree to all sorts of specifics without the administration requiring all sorts of specifics in return. In the process, the idea of a university as a community of professionals/scholars rather than a set of factory employees can easily get lost in the process.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed that there are dangers in the CBA process. However, I would argue that the administration was quietly (or in some cases not so quietly) going down this road of treating faculty less and less like a community of professionals/scholars already and that is a primary reason we have a union. If you read carefully the proposals/counterproposals you can clearly see this theme. The CBA processis at least forcing the administration to more explicitly play their hand rather than engage in this slow erosion of a professional/scholarly community.

      The more faculty that show up to the CBA sessions and voice their disagreement with the admins proposals, the more power the union has to have the CBA reflect faculty’s wishes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t see how you can argue that the CBA negotiation process demonstrates that the admin was going down this road before the union – twisted logic. The CBA process has forced the admin to make things explicit that weren’t so before, and I strongly agree with Anon’s concerns that doing so is likely to be a bad move.

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    • Anonymous says:

      How is being more explicit a bad thing?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because of the diversity of what we do – good luck trying to codify it all without doing harm.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “Overemphasizing the rational and technical side of an organization often contributes to its decline or demise….Artistry is neither exact nor precise; the artist interprets experience, expressing it in forms that can be felt, understood, and appreciated. Art fosters emotion, subtlety, and ambiguity. An artist represents the world to give us a ddper understanding of what is and what might be. In modern organizations, quality, commitment, and creativity are highly valued but often hard to find.” – Lee G. Boman, Reframing Organizations

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