State board decision sparks frustration in campus community

Posted by Colton Totland and Sam Stites on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 3:47 pm.

Faculty from the School of Journalism and Communication have rallied in support of University President Richard Lariviere. Advertising Professor Deb Morrison posted this on Twitter

University faculty expressed strong disapproval throughout Wednesday following an announcement by the Oregon University System to not renew President Lariviere’s contract at the University beyond July 1, 2012.

The decision — which was made known to the public late Tuesday evening — prompted immediate outrage from several professors and department heads across the university. The overwhelming response culminated in a decision by the University Senate to hold an emergency session Wednesday afternoon to discuss more formal actions that, according to an email sent by Senate President Robert Kyr, “will involve (the) entire university community.”

The Senate has already organized a petition that hopes to reinstate Lariviere, and is seeking support from both faculty and students.

One of the more prominent efforts throughout Wednesday came at noon when the University’s School of Journalism and Communication held an impromptu meeting organized by SOJC Dean Tim Gleason. The meeting hosted dozens of faculty and staff as they conversed for nearly an hour about strategies for overturning the decision. Governor Kitzhaber’s affirmation of the decision drew scrutiny from those present at the meeting.

“I saw all the emails and internet traffic going on, so I figured I would give us all a chance to come together and talk. We have the opportunity to make clear the devastating impact of this decision,” Gleason said. “Kitzhaber has let us down.”

Other efforts to express opposition to the OUS decision began earlier in the day, when several university professors sent emails out on various list serves in order to garner support for Lariviere. University political science professor Daniel Tichenor, who had sent emails and said he had received feedback from at least 40 individuals, said he was surprised to see such a strong response from University faculty.

“It’s weird to see so many faculty from across different units so uniformly outraged,” Tichenor said. “The typical reaction from academic faculty is often to be sympathetically concerned from the sidelines. It’s rather striking just how mobilized people feel about this.”

Nike cofounder and major University donor Phil Knight was also outraged by the decision. “It’s yet another application of Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law.” Knight said in an interview with the Oregonian. “For the Chancellor and the State Board of Higher Education, a ‘team player’ is someone who falls in line with their acceptance of mediocrity, and the one who strives for excellence does not fit in.”

Wednesday morning also saw a remarkable show of support from department and program heads in the College of Arts and Sciences, all of whom signed a letter demonstrating their “unequivocal support for the leadership of President Lariviere.”

Online, a new Facebook group entitled “Lariviere for President,” has been created in light of the OUS decision. Growing rapidly, the page had already accrued more than 850 likes by Wednesday afternoon.

According to Kyr, the University Senate will publicize on its website the decisions made during its emergency meeting by Thursday afternoon at the latest.

  • Kyle Callahan

    I’m not entirely surprised by this reaction from faculty for two reasons. One, as University President, Richard Lariviere has invested in retaining top educational talent by providing excellent compensation. Two, Lariviere has worked with faculty across the entire campus as the University spends around $500 million to improve facilities and build collaborative environments for students. What has surprised me is the news today and a lack of explanation for why politics threaten to kick out a fine university leader.  I’ve signed the petition along with nearly 3,000 alumni, students, and faculty.

  • Justicewillbdone

    Are you all freaking drones?  Really?  He is raising up our fine university by spending $500 million to improve facilities like what the new stadium?  The other exclusive Jaqua Education center that is only for athletes that already get enough perks, and will probably get paid in addition to any scholarships within the next year or two?  Really?  We now have to pay to go to our own team’s football games since he has become president.  Tuition has gone up faster with him as president.  Really your elitist views are absurd and don’t account for the fact that fewer and fewer Americans can afford to attend this university.  Let’s make it easier for foreign interests to buy out US properties and interests by keeping affordable education out of reach.  Seriously?  If I could afford to do absolutely nothing all day I would occupy his office until he left!

  • Anonymous

    What is with this outpouring of support?  What has he done?  Why should we support him?  This University has spent alot more on sport related complexes since he’s been here and my tuition has gone up at a higher rate from year to year than before him.  Now I have to pay to go to my own school’s football games when I didn’t before.  Soon enough I will be paying “amateur” NCAA athlete salaries!  More funding for research is meaningless if the students can no longer afford to attend.  Only the few researchers fully appreciate the sustainable cities initiative.  These cities are worthless if they’re full of drones that blindly sign petitions.  Sustainable cities are only a component that is not sustainable without the components in close proximity adhering to the same concepts.

    Of course the professors that are getting paid well because of him will be up in arms!  He has allowed a lot of money to be spent on studying foreign sustainability initiatives which seem to me have been more like vacations for the professors that have participated rather than opportunities for research.  They money could be better spent here in the US, contributing to our economy.  This University will, within the next ten years, see a major shift in the amount of foreigners attending because Americans can no longer afford a college education.  Going to college and then owing for the rest of your life vs being ingenuitive and educating yourself, you decide.  The exchange rates are already showing we are declining in prominence in the world and we will continue to lose jobs overseas.  At some point in the near future none of us will be able to afford to contribute as buyers in our economy and our system will completely tank.  We are already being bought out by the Chinese and other foreign interests. 

    Don’t blindly sign that petition!  You shouldn’t just be 1 of a group of numbers to tout.  I personally believe these people coming out of the woodwork to support care about potential petitioners as much as a lobbyist for a politician.  There are special interests and elitists involved that aren’t thinking about the common man.  They likely care less about the president himself than the money he provides for their research or their salaries.  They are like the politician who could care less about the voters except at election time, telling them what they want to hear.  If you balance all of these issues and can rectify them in your mind, please support.  My qualm is that I am getting a bunch of emails to support a guy that has taken more money out of my pocket than I believe is necessary.   Decide for yourself but don’t let blurbs about the “positive” (Mr. Callahan’s comments), or the “negative” (my comments) make the decision for you!

  • Jordan T.

    Why have they decided to not renew his contract? I cannot find anything explaining this and The Emerald articles have been severely lacking in any information to this effect. 

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t clear on my previous comment and was partially incorrect.  I only had to pay because I was not chosen in the lottery system for football specifically.  My bad!  I got another email today however that troubles me somewhat, ”
    Re: Chancellor Pernsteiner’s Contract Renewal”.  The reason that this troubles me is because this email tells me some reasoning behind why I should not support Chancellor Pernsteiner which I could then research myself.  The email asking me to blindly sign the petition about our current president gives me no information whatsoever.  These are both coming from the same lobby and are exactly why I have such a problem with this.  I know that people are signing that petition without even knowing any of the real issues, or have not been at the UO long enough to have seen thee dramatic tuition increases.  Petitions are meaningless and any pressure that one creates is only legitimized wht you seek the signatures legitimately.  If you want people to take this petition seriously then present the issues seriously.  I hope anyone reading this will balance the negatives of these men’s tenures vs the positives.  Do not rely solely on your experience, since it is likely limited.  Do you research like you would a candidate for political office or a car or a house.  Make up your own mind.  Don’t let it be made for you!