Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Faculty pass resolutions condemning board process

The UO Statutory Faculty met en mass today in Mac Court and heard statements from the Chancellor and State Board of Higher Education member and OSU professor Lynda Ciuffetti (kudos to them, especially Lynda, for attending a difficult meeting). A few pictures here. News coverage: KMTRKEZI, Register Guard, OPB.

The highlight of the afternoon was the entrance of President Lariviere to thunderous applause and not a few tears (here's some cell phone video). It was difficult to observe his reception and not to understand how crazy this whole process has been. When does any organization have such support for their leader -- especially an organization comprised mostly of headstrong academics. It is a real tragedy and a wasted opportunity. But the current power structure means that the UO must move on.

Many effective and impassioned speeches from faculty and students followed. The strongest statement of the day came from Pete DeFazio (thanks UO Matters).

The faculty then unanimously passed four resolutions:
1) A motion copied almost verbatim from a faculty resolution passed in 1987 when Paul Olum was fired by the State Board. Apparently not too much progress has been made, although the provides 65-70% less funding in 2011 dollars now, so the financial incentives of being subservient have lessened.

2) A motion calling for the establishment of an independent board of oversight for the UO.

3) A motion calling for the Chancellor to follow a recommendation from the Senate for who should be the interim president.

4) A motion calling for a State Board meeting on the renewal of the Chancellor's contract before the end of the year (when it is due to be renewed).

The major theme that emerged from the Chancellor's comments throughout the day today is that the actions that President Lariviere was taking were counter to the interests of higher education in the state as a whole, even if they appeared to be good for the UO.

The equity versus excellence issue is a difficult one in the public's mind. As this process moves forward, it will be important for someone (perhaps our newly activist marketing program) to reverse this message and show how an independent board structure is not selfish, but instead benefits public education in the state.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The financial benefits of excellence

Here are the numbers of budget funding sources and how they have changed over a three year period. Note that the state fraction has dropped by 50%. Also note that all categories except state funding are much higher now -- the capacity of the university to invest in education has increased by 25%. Gifts and grants show the largest percent increase, but an equally important category in terms of total amount is tuition and fees. Some of this has come from tuition increases, but for the most part those increases have been used strictly to balance losses in state funding. Most of that increase is driven by the increase in enrollment, especially for out of state students.

Tuition and Fees
State Appropriation
Gift, Grants & Contracts

Three main points here:

  • Somehow President Lariviere was able to lead the university to unprecedented growth despite the worst economic climate in the state in many generations. When you include the investment multiplier of this spending, this is a multi-billion dollar impact on a state that is seriously struggling. Was this at the forefront of the minds of the governor and board when they considered how much President Lariviere annoyed them? Shouldn't their vision been a bit broader in terms of the students and citizens of the state?
  • The areas in which the budget has been able to increase are in "prestige funding." These are the grants, gifts and out of state students that have been flocking to the university because of our rapidly increasing reputation. Again, this is largely a flow of funds from outside the state to inside the state. It does not seem that the folks making these decisions have thought much about these numbers.
  • The raise in faculty salaries (totaling a few million dollars) in a time of fiscal hardship has drawn much of the attention. First, tax dollars from hard pressed citizens did not fund these raises. Second, OUS member institutions were already empowered to make salary decisions for their academic staff. President Lariviere apparently only perturbed the Governor in his desire for salary freezes; there was no official policy at stake here (i.e., it is all about politics, not finances). Third, this set of employees had just doubled their financial impact on the university while working several years under frozen wages. UO faculty make 80% less than faculty at public peer institutions and are constantly being poached by other universities. Was it a good management decision to adjust their salaries in this climate or to risk the hard fought gains of the last three years by losing them? Perhaps whichever state manager who is currently calling themselves the CEO in this circumstance can explain the proper business case here.
And for those students wondering why tuition keeps increasing, check out the chart below. The central feature of the New Partnership agreement was to stabilize the level of state contribution in order to generate tuition stability over the long term. This is still a worthy goal, not properly acknowledged by the OUS.

Statutory Faculty meeting

There will be a statutory faculty meeting Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 in Mac Court. Faculty should plan to arrive by 2:45 so that they can check in for voting purposes. For procedural reasons the meeting actually officially begins with a University Senate meeting at 3pm, followed by the broader meeting at 3:10.

Live coverage of the meeting will be provided by the UO Channel here.

The entire university community is invited to attend. It is likely that motions will be entered in support of President Lariviere, in support of establishing a separate oversight board (independent from the OUS) for the UO, and perhaps a motion calling for an evaluation of the renewal of Chancellor Pernsteiner's contract, which must be decided upon by December 31.

Pernsteiner himself will be in attendance, as will a representative of the board. This is an important opportunity to move the university ahead on a positive path forward.

Rally success!!

The UO community held a highly successful rally today at noon outside the EMU. Lots of press coverage (we'll provide links as they come available, add them to the comments).

The main themes to emerge were a great sense of loss of President Lariviere. Many great testimonials regarding his outreach and diversity efforts. Also, many speakers emphasized the need to continue the President's vision of an oversight board that is independent of the OUS.

Here is the updated fact-sheet and informational flyer that was distributed at the rally. Pay special attention to the financial figures in terms of state support. It has decreased 50% in the last three years, down to less than 6% of the total budget.

Rally flyer

Rally today at noon!

There is a rally today at noon at the EMU amphitheater. While we still want to support our president, it is important to start moving onto next steps.

There are two main issues:
1) Input form the UO community was not sought. It was also clear that the State Board does not know and does not care about the impact of their decision on the University of Oregon. Board President Donegan touted the fact that he had "spent a whole day on campus" since becoming president. The process here is broken and political, and does not serve the best interests of the university system or the state.

2) The UO needs an independent oversight board that is responsive to the needs of the university. Board President Donegan is to be commended for breaking protocol and at least attempting to address some of the concerns of the audience (the rest of the board in no way participated in an open meeting process). However, his description of his distress of seeing how wonderfully everything was going at the UO and then having to return to the difficulties facing the board generated by President Lariviere's actions seemed especially telling. It is not about him and how hard the life of the board is. It is about building excellence in higher education within Oregon, which is exactly what President Lariviere was doing. Falsely pitting the UO against other campuses is a complete canard, since the state only supplies 5.8% of the UO's funding. Whose funds the UO stealing exactly? In fact, the UO has been subsidizing many of the other state universities for years.

The issue at hand is exactly the opposite of the State Board's position. Building excellence in higher education in Oregon is dependent on each university being allowed to play to their unique strengths. The entire state benefits from the increasing reputation of each of its member institutions. It brands the state as a place that businesses that rely on well-educated employees can come for innovation and engagement. It allows natural rivalries to be based on who is doing things the best, rather than how an unnecessary bureaucracy can attempt to keep all institutions uniformly mediocre.

It is time to aggressively push forward the need for an independent board. The OUS is irrelevant to this discussion. It the State Legislature and the Governor who must build on the outrage of this broken process to provide a future path for excellence within a state that no longer provides adequate support for higher education for the benefit of its citizens.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lariviere given 30 day termination

The State Board voted at 5:56 pm to terminate President Lariviere, with his termination taking place on December 28.

Chancellor Pernsteiner will be visiting the campus this week to consult with UO faculty and administrators in order to identify an interim President. He would like the board to name the interim next week.

Board Meeting transcript

Oregon Live has a good live blog going (with abbreviated transcript).

Rally/Teach-in on Tuesday!

Tuesday November 29 at NOON

In light of the OUS Board of Education’s decision to dismiss University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, the faculty of the University of Oregon have organized a teach-in /rally to educate ourselves and the UO campus community about the UO/OUS governance system and relationship.  How is it possible that the OUS can fire our president without a clear process that involves students, faculty, staff, and members of the University community?  To learn more, or to show your support, come join us at this very important gathering!!

See you there!!!  Go Ducks!!

The plan is to have a series of student, faculty, legislative, and community speakers starting at noon, followed by a march around campus. Following those activities there will be Q/A session to address questions. The organizers are trying to put together a FAQ sheet, so send in the questions you would like to have addressed.

State Board meeting webcast

A webcast of the State Board of Higher Education meeting on the decision to fire UO President Richard Lariviere is available starting at 3:00 pm at:

Please don't crash the server (although that may be inevitable).

Aggressively Aspirational

The stereotypical view of a university professor is someone with leather elbow patches kicking back in their office discussing philosophy. They get paid for that? To be sure every university, like every workplace, has a few professors who mail in their lectures and ride the end of their tenure into retirement. Life for the vast majority of faculty is wildly different, however. The most successful faculty members work 60-80 hours a week and function as small business owners running their own enterprises. They are responsible for securing venture capital, staffing their operations, and efficiently producing their products (students, papers and books). This is why the faculty bring in twice as much research funds (>$130 million) than the money provided to the university by the state.

The other largely unknown feature of faculty members is that, if they are to succeed, they must be aggressively persistent in the face of failure. Faculty working at the edge of their fields are close friends with failure. The acceptance rate at top academic journals is 5-10%. The slow down in the economy means that most funding agencies reject 90% of all proposals sent to them. Every year the university hires the best and brightest in the country, rigorously evaluates their performance, and then fires them if they do not meet a high set of standards dictated by the review of their peers drawn from around the world. Laying down in the face of failure is not an option, and only those that stand up from a beat down remain to fight on to advance their scholarship. The simple reality is that only doers can succeed.

That may be why President Lariviere is so well liked on the University of Oregon campus. He is the ultimate faculty member. He is a true scholar in his field – a field (Sanskrit) that seems so esoteric that it speaks to what it means to be a university that embraces knowledge for its own sake. But mostly, the university loves him because he continually strives for excellence for the students, faculty and staff of the UO. That is what we are all about, or at least it is what we should be all about. President Lariviere’s experience as a faculty member has trained him to keep striving to advance the field, to advance the university, in the face of all obstacles.

And sometimes those obstacles are institutional in nature. The bureaucracies of the state higher educational system are clearly not keeping up with the financial realities of today. Lariviere has ruffled feathers by being perceived in not working within the existing system to achieve his aspirational aims. Rather than giving him space to push the state forward, the power structure is collapsing back upon him in what some might portray as a cynical attempt to maintain the status quo and their own positions. It’s Dumbledore versus Umbridge. It is exactly these properties that have brought two of the major entrepreneurs in the state, Phil Knight of Nike and Tim Boyle of Columbia Sportswear, to Lariviere’s defense. It is rare to find a great man whose epitaph reads, “He played well with others.”

Word has it that the UO’s sister institutions have been very quiet on the issue of the firing of the president. They obviously are being trained to keep their heads down, which is likely to be the longest lasting negative impact of this action. But it is also possible that they think that it is time for the “uppity” UO to be brought down a notch. This is truly sad if true, because excellence in higher education in the state is not a zero sum game. You can be sure that weakening the UO will lead to damage to every other institution of higher learning within the state. Being known as a state where innovation is suppressed will drive away faculty and administrators in all locations. It is easier to steer clear of controversy than to come into a situation where to have to worry about fixing it.

The University of Oregon aspires to be great, and it will not be apologetic about it. This is the highest role that a public university provides its citizens, and it is exactly what Oregon needs now and in the future. And so the campus mourns the potential loss of a true academic leader at the helm of the university. Whoever comes next will by default be more bureaucratic and less visionary. And we know that the actions of the Governor and the State Board of Higher Education means that we will not be seeing likes of Richard Lariviere again for a very long time. The State of Oregon is diminished by this fact.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

President: Work for meaningful change in the system

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

Thank you for your support this week.  Jan and I are deeply touched.  More than anything I want the University of Oregon to flourish. Like so many of you, I love this university and all it represents.

I came here because the University of Oregon is a model for how public universities fulfill their mission in troubling times.  I came here because the state of Oregon is a place so often at the forefront of change, a crucible where innovators, dreamers, mavericks and fair-minded citizens devise new solutions to old problems. I still believe this is true.  

The conflicts that resulted in my termination are a symptom of the broken system of governance and funding in Oregon higher education that desperately needs changing if the state of Oregon is going to achieve the greatness we all aspire to.   You know that.  This is why there has been the outcry—the genuinely amazing outcry—from so many of you.

I am humbled by your support, but your cause should not be my employment status. Your cause must be how Oregonians will be educated.  Your cause must be how institutions like the University of Oregon can be strong in a state with weak public resources.

I urge those of you who plan to rally or attend the state board meeting to focus your time, energy and efforts, not on questioning the wisdom or process of the decision.   Instead focus yourselves on the larger cause of meaningful policy reforms that will benefit the UO, the system of higher education, and the state of Oregon.  The Governor and Legislature already took actions this year to create a promising new governance structure for all education in Oregon.  It is possible for the state to take the next step and create a strong, independent governing board for an institution like the University of Oregon.

Universities in Oregon need to be differentiated based on their mission.  Strong independent boards should be guided by goals set by a statewide coordinating authority.  Each individual university must be able to best organize resources, serve the state and meet its mission. 

A system approach that delivers conformity among institutions by applying the same fiscal and policy lens to all, regardless of mission, will continue to be costly to the state’s future.  It will not harness the unique strengths of each institution.  Such an approach has not and cannot deliver the fullest promise of higher education for Oregon’s future. 

Work for a genuinely independent, genuinely powerful institutional governing board.  That is the doorway to a better future for the UO.  Stay the course.  Don’t let disappointment prevail.

Thank you for supporting the University of Oregon and for the honor of serving as the sixteenth president of the university.


Richard Lariviere

Message to Governor & Board: Slow Down

Thus far, we have seen a great demonstration of the use of power to try to resolve a contentious issue.

  • The State Board used their administrative power to inform President Lariviere that he would be terminated and encouraging him to resign; using the Thanksgiving weekend in an attempt to blunt possible negative responses.
  • The UO community, led primary by faculty who were able to mobilize during the Thanksgiving weekend, attempted to use their collective power to force the Governor to change the Board's decision.
  • The Governor then asserted his ultimate authority (power) by firmly backing the board in its decision in bidding a not too friendly farewell to President Lariviere

Now that all of the sides have firmly established their positions, and now that it is clear that any of the parties is unlikely to back down, there is an obvious train wreck coming that is almost certain to cause damage to the state for years to come.

This would be an ideal time for all parties to take a step back and reinsert some reasonable sense of process into the resolution of these issues, as opposed to attempting to use power to crush their "opponents." Really critical here is the question of what happens next. If Lariviere is indeed to be fired on Monday, then how does a new leader gain traction in the mess that is left behind? The faculty, in particular, will continue to press their point of view, as they should. What happens next? Will people continue to work together to further the institution or will they work to subvert what they see as a pretender to the throne? Will they work for the new leadership at all?

Although their motivations are understandable, the State Board has clearly been hasty in their actions, never allowing any meaningful public input into the process. Time will tell if this was a legal requirement, but it is certainly the proper way to create a meaningful transition to new leadership, if that is their goal.

Word has it that Chancellor Pernsteiner has agreed to attend the UO statutory faculty meeting on Wednesday. The Governor may be attending as well. Frankly, these are brave acts. Perhaps braver still would be to use the Board meeting on Monday to table the motion on Lariviere's termination for at least several more weeks. If all parties have the same goal of making higher education in the state great, but there is a difference of opinion in how to make that happen, then we have the foundation for working together for the next few months. The alternative is to destroy the overall goal itself, which goes well beyond counterproductive.

There is an old adage about the value of slowly removing the bandaid versus ripping it off quickly. The Board appears to be heavily in rip-off mode. Dr. Kitzhaber should know that you can not rip the bandage off of a wound that clearly still needs a great deal of suturing.

The scars that may remain for years to come depend heavily on the actions of the next few days.

Rallies on Monday and Tuesday

Here is a rundown of upcoming events related to the State Board's firing of President Lariviere:

Monday in Portland: The big kahuna is the hastily announced public meeting of the State Board of Higher Education at 2:00 pm. The board will meet in private session at 2:00 and then open up to a public session at 3:00 pm. UO Senate Robert Kyr and ASUO President Ben Eckstein will be given an opportunity to speak before the vote. The Board will then vote and then open to floor to public comment (seems a bit backward, but why beat a process while it's down). Buses and carpools leave the UO campus at 12:30. There will be a pre-meeting gathering at the Oregon Business Institute in Portland. OBI is in the 200 Market Street building. Gathering of supporters in the public square outside of the main building at 1:30 or so is encouraged, although there is no formal events planned. If anything happens, it will be an occupy-style spontaneous event.

Monday in Eugene: The Facebook group Laviriere for UO President is planning a simultaneous demonstration on Monday at 2:00 pm outside Johnson Hall. Check in with them for updated details. In deference to the PDX events, the big Eugene rally will be Tuesday.

Tuesday in Eugene: Rally/March/Teach-in at noon on campus. Logistics are will be confirmed and announced Monday morning. Right now the plan is to rally at the EMU amphitheater with student, faculty, legislator, and local community speakers, followed by a brief march around campus. The march will end back at the amphitheater with an opportunity for the speakers and audience to engage in a discussion so that everyone can gain clarity on the underlying issues. Look for firm details tomorrow.

Stand by for further updates. Follow @weloveourpres on Twitter for regular updates.

Mutually Assured Destruction

The Governor’s recent press release supporting the State Board of Education’s decision to fire UO President Richard Lariviere leaves the university in a very dark place. The standing hope over the last few days was that mounting opposition to the firing would provide political cover for the Governor to encourage the board to reverse its decision. The Governor has now gone so far in his statements that it would be a major embarrassment for him to reverse course. On the other side, the UO constituency is truly up in arms about the firing, not only because President Lariviere has been doing a good job, but mainly because this is such a clear affirmation that the state has no clue how to build excellence in the face of its ongoing disinvestment in higher education. The state currently provides less than 8% of the funding to the University but demands 100% of the control. It instead should be paying closer attention to what is going on with the other 92%.

In his statement, the Governor belies a serious misunderstanding of the situation on several counts:

1. That current UO efforts are somehow coordinated by the President’s office.
In his release, the Governor refers to an “orchestrated media blitz”, perhaps implying that efforts on the President’s behalf are being organized by the President’s office. They are not. Other than issuing two statements regarding his firing and his decision not to resign, the President has not been directly involved in any retention efforts. These all spontaneously erupted on Wednesday morning following the announcement of the firing. Faculty in leadership roles acted quickly to condemn this action and to plan rallies in support of the President. Phil Knight immediately provided a strong response, which undoubtedly matches the concerns of many major donors (who contribute 50% more to the UO each year than does the state). Largely due to the Board’s cynical use of the Thanksgiving holiday as a means of suppressing dissent, we have yet to hear strongly from the students, although it is clear that they will have mixed opinions because of their concerns about rising tuition costs. Ironically, it is continuing state cuts and not any small university actions, such as increasing faculty salaries (which are paid for via increases in enrollment), that are the ultimate source of all tuition issues.

The bottom line is that the University of Oregon community is very angry and it is difficult to see them backing down any time soon. This creates a dangerous situation that is sure to ultimately erode the strength of the UO.

2. That the University is run like a business.
The Governor relies on the oft-used maxim that the university should be run like a business, with its employee (the President) completely beholden to its CEO (the Chancellor). A major source of the state’s ongoing issues with higher education is the lack of recognition that this is a horrible analogy for how a university actually functions. Instead of a monolithic corporation, a university is much more like a collective of 1000 small businesses, each run by an individual faculty member. The majority of these “businesses” have essentially no capital and are therefore completely dependent on the central organization for generating their “products” (research and education). However, some of these are multimillion-dollar operations manned by staffs that number in the dozens. These small business operations work for the benefit of the university, but they are also surprisingly mobile and can be moved to other universities with little difficulty. Indeed, this kind of poaching occurs all the time, and every year and the university must work very hard to retain its top faculty. Any deviation from a commitment to excellence will inevitably lead to a loss of the university’s best faculty.

Currently the top 30 researchers at the UO bring in as much money to the university as the contribution provided by the other 3.8 million citizens of Oregon. This is amounts to the in-state tuition of 18,000 undergraduates. Losing the UO’s top 2-3 faculty would be equivalent to a 10-20% cut in state funding. It is appropriate for faculty to be the ones who work the hardest to improve the university. To dismiss them as simply “whiny employees” is a major mistake, however. Under the current and future fiscal reality of the state, a misstep here could result in a multi-billion dollar impact on the state economy. The stakes are not small and do not only involve the delivery of education to undergraduates.

3.  That the State Board is qualified to manage higher education.
The Governor is attempting to portray the current situation as a dispute between employer and employee. Again, this is a false model. Instead the state should be seen as an important stakeholder in the success of the university, but not its sole provider. What company allows a shareholder with a 8% interest to control 100% of strategic decision making? There is an old saying in the charitable giving world: winners invest in winners. So it goes with donors, with faculty retention and recruiting, and with attracting the best students to the university. (It is no accident that the athletic departments have been a strong supporters of President Lariviere). We should be paying our closest attention to those 92% (and that fraction grows by 1-3% a year). Why a minority shareholder would be allowed to poison an institution that is on such a strong upward trajectory is completely puzzling. It is not business; it is politics. One would hope that the perceived political cost of pursuing such an obviously wrong path would be sufficient to dissuade one from going that route. Unfortunately, it appears that this is simply to be the politics of destruction, with the major players long gone by the time the real impacts are keenly felt.

Curiously, the current State Board of Higher Education, which seems so intent on bringing the University of Oregon into line, has no representation from the UO. The Board is also likely to be eliminated in June with the implementation of Senate Bill 909 (unless they have cut a new deal with the Governor). With the exception of a faculty member from Oregon State, the board has absolutely no experience with the operations of a major university. Looking at the resumes of the board, it is clear that these are very accomplished individuals who are strongly committed to improving Oregon’s communities through their work with a wide variety of groups and service organizations. One can only assume that they mean well. But why are they in a position to make such decisions? The Chancellor’s office itself does not contain any individuals with strong academic backgrounds; they are largely financial managers.

There is a clear dispute here on how the future of state higher education should be structured. The Governor asserts that President Lariviere has been a poor employee and should do as he is told. The other side of this coin is that these “employers” are not competent to make proper decisions, and so the only option that a true leader has under these circumstances is to do what is right for the future of the state. Presdient Lariviere is likely to be fired, but that there is no way that this can be portrayed as anything other than martyrdom at the hands of political operatives.

4. That it will be business as usual after this “blows over”.
No matter what happens, the university will go on. This is not the last controversy to face the UO, nor will it be the last. No doubt the Governor feels that he can simply weather this storm and install a new, more compliant president at the helm. It may work this way, but there are important warning signs that say otherwise. First, these actions are seen as a clear deviation from the path of excellence that the UO is currently on. Unlike past years, the UO is almost completely dependent upon “reputation money” (grants, donor contributions, out of state tuition), and state contributions will play no role in stabilizing university finances if this situation becomes unbalanced (as it can by the decisions of just a handful of faculty and donors). Second, any new administration that is installed by the Governor will be viewed as illegitimate by the UO community. How many current faculty and administrators will be willing to serve such a person? It is not about quitting per se, but service to the university takes much more effort than simply carrying out one's own teaching and research. Even a known entity, such as past-president Dave Frohnmayer, would not be supported in such a role. Someone from the OUS will lead to outright rebellion. The saddest aspect of all possible outcomes, other than the continued presidency of Richard Lariviere, is that actions perpetrated by an outraged community will mostly harm the UO itself and have little impact on the Governor. Perhaps a court intervention precipitated by the Board's questionable adherence to open meeting laws will provide a cooling off period.

Overall, though, the Governor and the university are locked in a pact of mutually assured destruction. The Governor’s actions ensure that the faculty and donors of the university will be forced to react, and the nature of their reactions will lead to long-term damage of the university.  Given that the State of Oregon has essentially no resources to back its controlling interest, the worst-case scenario is that this is a decision that will forever label Governor Kitzhaber as the destroyer of higher education in the state.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Game ball to Lariviere

You can mess with academics, but this university all pulls on the same oar.

Chip Kelly gives President Lariviere the game ball.

Governor backs State Board

From a press release earlier today (Saturday):

"First, let me say that the situation involving the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and Dr. Richard Lariviere has nothing to do with an "ongoing difference of opinion over the future of the University of Oregon," as Dr. Lariviere suggested in an email sent out to faculty and students last Tuesday. 

My education strategy includes building a world class, innovative system of higher education that delivers better results for students and serves as an engine for our state's economic recovery. Achieving these goals requires all of our university campuses, the Oregon University System and the State Board of Higher Education to be pulling in the same direction. 

While the timing of the Board's action on Dr. Richard Lariviere's employment contract may come as a surprise to some, the possible decision to terminate his contract should not, given his record.

There have been a number of well-publicized incidents involving Dr. Lariviere that have eroded trust and confidence with the Board of Higher Education. He disregarded Board direction on more than one occasion. His decision to bypass the Board and lobby for increased independence for the University of Oregon was a clear violation of policy and made our larger, collective efforts to advance system-wide reform much more difficult. Consequently, Dr Lariviere's employment contract was limited to one year and included specific performance standards in an attempt both to alert Dr. Lariviere to the seriousness of these issues and to create an opportunity to rebuild trust. 

But his conduct has not changed. 

Most recently, after agreeing face-to-face with the other presidents to limit compensation increases given the state budget's severe revenue constraints, Dr. Lariviere unilaterally granted substantial salary increases to his administrators and faculty. Unlike every other university president in the state, he disregarded my specific direction on holding tight and delaying discussion about retention and equity pay increases until the next biennium to allow for a consistent, system-wide policy on salaries. 

His decision not only undermined the Board, it undermined my own directive and the credibility of my administration with the other campuses that complied with the agreement. I am not saying that retention increases are not warranted – they are – but the faculty retention problem is not unique to the University of Oregon. By acting alone, Dr. Lariviere has created significant difficulty for other schools. At Portland State University, the increased pressure on the administration continues to prevent successful conclusion of contract negotiations with its faculty. His actions show little regard for the needs of the rest of the university system, other campuses, and the state. 

Dr. Lariviere's popularity in the University of Oregon community speaks for itself. But evaluating his performance requires more. His responsibility to the Board of Higher Education and his contribution to the larger issues and success of the entire system fall short. Indeed, Dr. Lariviere's actions have done damage to our vision for higher education and other institutions of higher learning; and, ironically, have served to undercut his own aspirations for the University of Oregon. 

His vision for the U of O ultimately needs the support of the Governor, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate and a majority in both chambers of the legislature. That does not exist today. I am personally committed to the concept of local governing boards and seeking new funding sources for Oregon's universities, including consideration of an endowment funding model, but Dr. Lariviere has made the path to reform much steeper. Indeed, the orchestrated media blitz over the past few days has made some of those who are not warm to his ideas even more resistant. 

In my opinion, should the Board of Higher Education decide to terminate Dr. Lariviere's contract on this basis, it would be fully justified from an executive management standpoint. Any private sector CEO, faced with a division manager who was totally dedicated to his or her specific department but willfully and repeatedly undermined the needs and goals of the overall company would, I expect, fire the manager – and probably after the first instance of such behavior; not the second. And few would be sympathetic to a call for special treatment. 

The Board of Higher Education is a group of thoughtful and dedicated Oregonians – many of whom have executive management experience themselves – and I am confident that their decision will not be arrived at lightly but only after much deliberation. I intend to fully support them as we pursue excellence in higher education across the state of Oregon."