Tuesday, November 29, 2011

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.

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