Governor Kitzhaber, displaying not an ounce of wisdom, was quite strong in his support of the Board on Saturday:
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.
So that's what this comes down to. That would be understandable, if taxpayer money had been used for the raises. Except, it used donor money that was raised by the University, after it lost 15 professors last year who moved to other institutions because of low compensation at UO. Apparently, instructors at other OUS institutions were hurt by this, and Kitzhaber felt it made him look bad.
Why should we have a system-wide policy on salaries? Why should the U of O not be able to use donor money to raise salaries in order ot retain faculty? I don't see SOU alumni pouring out the dollar for pay raises. As an alumnus, why should I donate money to the University at all if this be the case?
Kitzhaber's statement may well have read that "Lariviere interferes with our system-wide policy to do nothing to improve higher education." The policy of the board and the current administration is that of "No University Left Behind," a race to the bottom where no institution is allowed to rise above another, ensuring mediocrity for all. UO is losing professors, about to get kicked out of the AAU, and the Governor is worried that people might be hurt over at WOU? Certainly, pay for all professors across the system would be warranted, but who does this tit for tat system help?
Of course, it turns out the board probably broke the law in how they've made this decision, but the Governor remains steadfast in his support.
Its clear that in order to achieve its potential, the UO needs to be unchained from the other univeristies in the state system and be allowed to pursue excellence with its own board. I'll be protesting along with many others at the OUS meeting this afternoon, but there are many events going on on campus as well. Meanwhile, the UO faculty will be holding its first all-campus meeting in two years this week, where a vote of no confidence will be given to the board and to the chancellor. Members of the state legislature are showing support of Lariviere. The UO community is not prepared to back down to the governor or the board.
The unaccountable bureaucrats on the board will likely get their way, and Lariviere will likely be ousted. But its clear that there is going to be carnage along the way. If need be, I hope that faculty and students shut the whole campus down and show the board and the chancellor that we mean business. Higher education policy in this state must be changed, or we will be doomed to mediocrity. This situation has to serve as a catalyst for that. LaGrande, Ashland, and Monmouth cannot continue to control our system or higher education (not to mention, four people with ties to the timber industry are on the board, wonder with which school their sympathies lie?)
The state is down to providing 5.8% of UO's funding. In dollar figures, they provide the same amount as they did in 1986, when there were 7,000 less students. Yet, Kitzhaber's bureaucrats retain 100% control to make wishes that go against nearly everyone on campus.