Minutes of the University Assembly meeting June 2, 1999



University President Dave Frohnmayer called the last regular meeting of the University Assembly in the 1998-99 academic year to order at 3:15 p.m. in 150 Columbia. Minutes of the October 7, 1998 meeting were approved as distributed.


The president recognized Kenneth Ghent, professor emeritus in mathematics, to read a memorial for Ivan Niven, professor emeritus of mathematics, who passed away May 9, 1999. Professor Niven joined the university's faculty in 1947 and served in the mathematics department until his retirement in 1982. He played an instrumental role in developing the Ph.D. program in mathematics and was well respected as a teacher, author of numerous books and articles, and a researcher. Full text of the memorial can be found as an attachment to these minutes.

The president also noted that the chair of the FAC was unable to attend the meeting, thus the year-end FAC report will be added to the minutes at a later date.


Senate President Hurwit began his remarks by thanking his executive committee and members of the senior administration for their assistance and support throughout his 1998-99 term of office. He noted that the president of the senate occupies a delicate position between the faculty, students, and staff on the one hand and the university's administration on the other. The vantage point afforded him the opportunity to see how hard many members of the university community work, often times under intense pressures that, over time, has led to ruptures in the fabric of the university. Years of under-funding and reductions in resources has demoralized faculty and administrators alike, sometimes leading to suspicion of each other in doing what is in the best interest of the university.

President Hurwit went on to say that he believes such questioning of motives is unfounded; rather, with enhanced funding from the legislature likely and the new budget model implementation looming, there is cause at long last for some optimism. It is his hope that the administration will, as a high priority, act to construct a schedule for salary improvements as it gains greater control over its fiscal future; and further, that the faculty will give the administration a chance to do so, thus helping to restore faded morale. President Frohnmayer thanked Professor Hurwit for his work as senate president this year.

The chair then asked for a motion to suspend the rules and change the agenda's order by moving directly to items under new business, delaying his state of the university message to the end of the meeting so that it could be held as an open discussion on diversity issues on the campus. The motion was made and passed unanimously.


Professor Steve Bender, chair of the Academic Requirements Committee, made the following motion to confer academic degrees. Moved that,

The faculty of the University of Oregon recommends that the Oregon State Board of Higher Education confer upon the persons whose names are included in the Official Degree List, as compiled and certified by the University Registrar for the academic year 1998-99 and Summer Session 1999, the degree for which they have completed all requirements.

The motion passed unanimously without discussion.


President Frohnmayer next called on Peter Gilkey, senate president for 1999-2000, to present motion UA98/99-1 which delegates authority to confer degrees from the University Assembly to the University Senate. Moved that,

The University Assembly delegates to the University Senate its authority to award degrees to individuals on the Official Degree List.

Professor Gilkey noted that the University Senate was now the primary legislative body of the faculty and thus it was appropriate to move this traditional activity of the year-end assembly meeting to become part of the senate's duties. Further, the issue of establishing a quorum in assembly meetings could jeopardize the timely conferring of degrees. The motion passed unanimously.


Recent events on campus in which a male student's crude and hateful email was sent to a minority woman classmate led to other students' outrage and subsequent unlawful occupation of Johnson Hall. Consequently, President Frohnmayer decided to replace his year-end message to the assembly with an open discussion of diversity issues on the campus. The president began by noting that in the wake of the Johnson Hall sit-in, numerous meetings with students and faculty already had taken place and would continue throughout the summer. Several different groups were working, one on developing a mission statement with assistance from Dave Hubin, assistant to the president, and another with vice president Duncan McDonald to look into fund-raising for a new position whose primary focus will be on diversity issues. Other members of the president's staff were looking into first amendment rights issues raised by the email sent by the offending classmate.

The discussion explored ways to be proactive in developing a campus climate that is more inclusive and welcoming. The question of diversity training was raised with a mixed response from students and faculty. Whether such training should be mandatory and be done at the department or higher levels were sticking points. Ways in which faculty could gain greater sensitivity and effectiveness in raising such topics in classes was another point of the discussion. The general consensus was that there is a real need for greater attention to and action on diversity issues. President Frohnmayer noted that a number of summer internships were being made available to develop these and other ideas over the summer months in order to not lose the momentum gained during the past few weeks. He indicated that he would continue to pursue these issues, and thanked everybody for the contributions to the discussion.


With no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned.

Gwen Steigelman




Ivan Niven

October 25, 1915 -- May 9, 1999

Ivan Niven, an internationally respected mathematician, was born in Vancouver, Canada on October 25, 1915. He died in Eugene on May 9, 1999. A 'Celebration of Life' is scheduled for 3 PM on Sunday June 19 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene.

Ivan earned a bachelor's degree (1934) and a master's degree (1936) at the University of British Columbia. He received the Ph.D. in 1938 at the University of Chicago with Leonard Eugene Dickson as his thesis advisor. He held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania for the year 1938-9. He served three years on the faculty of the University of Illinois and for five years on the faculty of Purdue University. He joined the mathematics department of the University of Oregon in 1947, retiring in 1982. During that period he also had visiting appointments at the University of British Columbia (1953), Stanford University (1957-58), and the University of California, Berkeley (1964-65).

Ivan played a very important role in developing the Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Oregon. He was adviser for the first three individuals who earned Ph.D. degrees in the department and for thirteen others who earned that degree under his guidance.

Ivan's colleagues recognized him as an articulate, inspiring, dedicated teacher whose classes were enlivened by his charming sense of humor. He was clearly an excellent teacher. He was the author or co-author of seven highly respected books dealing with mathematics. Five of those books are still in print. Collectively they have been published in eleven different languages. He was active in research throughout his life. His research publications comprise more than 60 papers.

Ivan served the national mathematical associations with great distinction throughout his career. He was president of the Mathematical Association of America in 1982-83. He was governor of the Pacific Northwest section from 1955 to 1958 and again from 1979 to 1982. He was in demand as an invited lecturer and as a traveling lecturer. He was a valued member of innumerable committees of the Mathematical Association of American and of the American Mathematics Society. He was a consultant for nearly 30 years for the New Mathematical Library Series. In 1989, he was given the MAA's highest honor for achievement, the Award of Distinguished Service to Mathematics.

Ivan's value to the University of Oregon was clearly recognized by his many years on the President's Advisory Council and on the Dean's Advisory Council. In 1981, he received the Charles E. Johnson Award for his outstanding faculty service. His wise counsel was sought throughout the University. In describing Ivan's contributions to the mathematical world and to the University of Oregon and to the Eugene community, one can only use superlatives. He was outstanding in all areas.

In his activities he was aided and complemented by his talented wife, Betty.

Professor Emeritus Kenneth S. Ghent

Department of Mathematics