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.

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