Open Forum and Panel Discussion concerning the mission of the University of Oregon February 14, 2001

Senate President James Earl opened the special panel discussion on the mission of the university in place of the Open Forum Discussion that precedes the regular meeting of the University Senate. These panelists include: faculty members Sandra Morgen and Cheyney Ryan, philosophy; Michael Kellett, chemistry, Jeffrey Hurwit, art history; Steven Shankman, humanities center, and Caroline Forrell, law school. University Senate President Earl's opening remarks are followed by remarks of the panelists.
 

Opening Comments by Senate President James Earl


There's no more general, vague, elusive and protean topic for discussion than the University's mission. The FAC, which meets weekly with the President and the Provost, has been grappling with the mission issue this year, and they've found it very difficult to focus the discussion. Perhaps inviting the whole senate to join in will help, maybe not. Perhaps we work best when we stick to discrete problems and legislative process. But I don't think so. Every institution needs to return periodically to the question, what are we? What are we trying to accomplish, and how well are we doing? It's on big questions like this that shared governance seems most crucial. Several professors will be speaking to the question today to suggest various directions for the discussion. Everyone has a different way of coming at the problem. The mission is often clearest when we think it's being forgotten, compromised or betrayed. Many of us will want to talk about the mission in terms of particular problems but I'd like to make some general comments about the mission, to remind us that the mission is a positive ideal, a source of inspiration, not just a basis for complaints. I'd also like to address a particular problem that concerns me. Then the podium will be given to Sandy Morgen of Sociology who's been helping direct the FAC discussion.

Senate President Earl continues with his comments on the mission. When OSU got Bend, Greg Bolt of the Register-Guard called. Has the University been damaged? Are we in decline? If we can't go over the mountain, does it mean we're over the hill? I said to him, "No, the ideal of higher education, the mission of a research university like this, of a residential college with a liberal arts core, id quite solid; it's deeply traditional, it's centuries old, it's withstood bigger shocks than this, it's stable and it's very durable. This ship can't be blown off course by winds like these."

Obviously, I am a complete egghead and a Platonist. For me, there is the university (with a small u) which is an institution, a lovely campus, a state agency (underfunded), a Eugene community (a little weird), a particular faculty (underpaid), etc., but then there's the University (with a capital U), an idea (an ancient one), an ideal (a high one) the community of scholars, higher learning, and all that. Our mission is largely defined by this ideal, capital-U University.

I'd like to say how proud I am of John Moseley and his team, that when they were asked to present a proposal for a new college, they took the high road, and offered Bend a University with a capital U. They offered unapologetically to build the very embodiment of the University ideal, a small liberal arts college. They argued for liberal education in a community where liberal is a suspect word.

We all have our versions of the history of the capital-U University. In my version, it's as old as Socrates, the gadfly. He too managed to annoy the state, and the relation of the academy to the state has been vexed ever since. One of the University's most stable features is the distrust it's always inspired in the state. The academy tends to shelter, if not foster, non-conformity and critical thinking. The state has reason to lament that its hired intellectuals are doing some pretty strange and impractical research, that there are no controls on how and what they teach the young, that their usefulness and productivity as state employees can't be measured very well.

As a medievalist, I see another root of the University, in the monastery. It was such an oddly disinterested institution. What was it for? It was for learning but not for profit, rather for the love of God. We still ask of the modern, secular University, what's it for? It's an open question, it has lots of answers.

Eight hundred years ago, the University as we now know it was founded in Paris; later in Oxford, Wittenberg, Harvard. Already in Chaucer's day universities were thought to be subversive. No matter how unclear and impractical their purpose, however, the ideal has been durable; it has survived inquisitions, persecutions, revolutions world wars, depressions, and the 60's. The ideal has evolved, though. First there was secularization, then democratization and professionalism, and now globalization.

Today, some see the University as an engine for the economy, some as an engine for social change. There are any number of views and any number of metaphors. I don't like the engine because it's more mechanical and practical than a university. I prefer nautical metaphors, like the ship not being blown off course, or an anchor, or a safe harbor for free inquiry. That one especially, a safe harbor for free inquiry. I see the University as the freest of all the institutions in a free society. When I taught at the University of Virginia, I looked out my office window at Jefferson's motto inscribed over the door of the administration building. "Here we will tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." The liberal in liberal education is just the Latin word for free. It's freedom that's always found suspect by a practical- minded world.

(Senate President Earl uses an overhead of the UO Mission Statement.)

Now let me walk you through the eloquent mission statement developed by the University only last year. Any problem we're having with our mission isn't due to the mission statement. (He underlined key words in the mission statement.)

The particular problem I'd like to address, and this will come as no surprise to many of you, is sports. Sports are a problem at the University although it wasn't always. For those who think, we've always had sports and we've always had professors who didn't like them, so what's new? I beg you to think again. In the last decade college sports has changed fundamentally. College sports has become a billion-dollar business driven by the national entertainment media. Universities are beginning to wake up to the new situation. (Beer and Circus, Game of Life, NY Times, New Yorker, Chronicle of Higher Education, NCAA News, Knight Commission, Drake Group, Ron Bellamy.)

Who could have dreamt when I entered the profession, or even ten years ago, that a university like ours, so short of funds that it can't pay its faculty competitive salaries, and facing yet another round of major budget cuts from the state, would still be willing to spend $80 million to build luxury skyboxes in its stadium? Who would have dreamt that one day we wouldn't be able to hire a coach for under a million a year? I know the arguments, I've done my homework, I know the $80 million isn't really 80 million, that the money hasn't been drained from the academic enterprise, that the project will increase revenue, that coaches' salaries are just a market issue. I know we need sports to recruit students, to stimulate donations, to enhance our reputation, to placate a public skeptical of our educational mission. I know the ultimate argument too and that is that "the horse is out of the barn." I hear that all the time.

But my point is that the mission statement contains no shadow of a reference to big-time sports, which used to be a part of student life, but which now become an independent industry driven by outside forces, especially by the money made by the media, and the public's insatiable demand for sports. Student attendance is dropping off nationwide because students can no longer afford to go to their own university's games. College sports is now an industry with its own independent dynamic. It's in a period of very fast growth. By its nature though it never brings money home to the universities that support it, although I realize there are many ways of arguing that it does. It's a highly debatable question. I recently wrote President Frohnmayer. "It's not just that we have hitched our wagon to the wrong horse; we have hitched our wagon to a rocket ship, and we haven't a prayer of controlling it. It is now controlling us." It's now commonly argued that we can't even fill our classrooms without it which means we have to do whatever it demands.

The horse may be out of the barn, these changes have happened, but it should be obvious that our job is to catch the horse and put it back. No one would dream of thinking of eliminating or even cutting back sports, the object is to slow its growth, to bring it back under control of the institution. Nothing so far distant from our mission should be allowed to have such control over it.

Senate President Earl concludes his statement and introduces Sandy Morgen.
 

Panelist Sandra Morgen, philosophy


Last year a faculty survey was done about a variety of issues focusing on faculty compensation. The survey results haven't been relayed back but this is an opportunity to do that. A couple of findings from the survey have had an effect on how those of us in the FAC and the Senate have conducted a series of discussions over the past year about rather alarming findings. Approximately 50% of the faculty answered that they were not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with the UO's overall direction. Because we often go for big words rather than small words, this is often talked about in terms of the lofty issue of mission. One of the things that the FAC has learned is that sometimes mission and direction, while overlapping, are going to take us in different directions. What is important to point out is there are some things we are very satisfied with: our colleagues, our job security, advancement opportunities, departmental leadership.

But there are areas where the faculty have very serious concerns that overlap with many of the issues that Jim and other colleagues have raised. One of the interesting things is that one of the other findings in this survey had to do with whether we felt that essentially the UO was upholding academic standards. Faculty think that this is the case and only a relatively small percentage disagrees. One of the most important findings from the survey is that faculty attitudes are very diverse and they cluster by groups. In terms of overall levels of dissatisfaction, the groups that tended to have the most dissatisfaction were within the College of Arts and Sciences, within the humanities and social sciences, and within the professional schools in AAA, and on many issues, music and journalism. Also, as a group, associate professors were the most dissatisfied, followed by full professors, followed by assistant professors. As a group, women have a different series of concerns than men, particularly about faculty compensation issues and the relationship between reward structures and duties.

There are three significant problems that have to do with direction, which have to do with mission. First, workload issues; secondly, the disjuncture between the expectations of faculty and the resources available to meet those expectations; and thirdly, the broad category of faculty-administrative relationships.

There has been a lot on conversation with the FAC about workload. Everybody feels overworked. We are a very lean institution. There are particular areas where faculty feel that their workload has increased of late and then there is the issue of the relationship between where the workload is increased and where the rewards are concentrated. Forty percent of faculty are not very, or not at all, satisfied with their overall workload; 50% with their mix of duties, 65% with time available for research, and 64% for time available to keep current in their field. At a research university, those last few would be very troubling. One of the words reiterated over and over again in the short answer responses on the survey was time. People are desperate for time. The respondents used words like crushing to talk about their administrative and service responsibilities. At the same time, they are very aware that those areas are where workloads have been dramatically increasing in the last number of years are the very places where we do not get rewards. So faculty find it to be a mission problem, a mission problem they experience on the grounds of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kind of situation.

Faculty also speak over and over about how administrators don't seem to understand the workload issues. There has been a series of recent changes in the university, decentralization of the administrative tasks, both at the college and departmental levels, which seem on one hand to bring decisions closer to faculty; but what faculty say is that there is not enough time to get to the decision making. The whole notion of governance is undermined because there is so little time to put attention on these things, or if you do, it competes seriously with teaching and research. Two-thirds of respondents do not feel rewarded for service activities, 62% feel they do not feel rewarded for teaching, 56% for research and scholarship, and 50% for administration. So the less important the task, in terms of promotion and tenure, and raises, the less likely people are to feel rewarded. Part of the problem this has created on the campus is that people are smart, and we realize that we don't get rewarded for doing some of these things; So what has happened is that it is harder and harder to get people to take on service. Service is a bad word. But governance is a good word. But service and governance is the same thing. Governance is the lofty word for it; service is what we don't get rewarded for, and that is a problem for the faculty.

Finally, on the issue of faculty-administrative relationships, there does seem to be a relationship between the higher up you go, the more distant people are from the administrative level, the less faith there is currently, or at least as expressed in the survey, in administration. They don't feel there is a lack of good will or a lack of good values or even, to some extent, a lack of good communication, although there is some communication problems. What faculty are talking about here is a problem about governance, and it has to do with who gets to make decisions, at what level decisions are made, and what kind of resources are attached to the decision. We often are making decisions but with no resources to implement them.

We had a good model last year. We saw the issue of faculty salaries, for the first time in ten years, taken very seriously at all levels. It wasn't just that administrators said we have to do something about the problem. The way they went about addressing the problem was in a very real partnership with faculty, but a real partnership with resources attached, where opinions were listened to, and where a plan would be set into effect that hopefully the resources will be there to allow it to come to its fruition. Those kinds of partnerships will help us in the future bring all us closer to common ground. There are deep structural issues that are affecting this campus and this community. We can't solve those problems from one or another vantage point. It is only when we come together in a real partnership will we be able to do it.

Panelist Cheyney Ryan, philosophy


Professor Ryan said he has been focusing his attention on issues of diversity and community in relationship to the university's mission. He recognized at the start that the issue of diversity is a difficult one to talk about. It is fairly clear that one major source of difficulty is the disparity between the depth of feeling of some communities, particularly those that feel themselves marginalized and excluded, on the one hand, versus the certainly perceived lack of alarm, lack of concern, and lack of prioritizing the issue of diversity, on the other hand. He sympathizes with the feeling that there isn't much of a problem here because he comes from a significant number of privileged groups, and that living in Eugene, Oregon, issues of diversity don't impinge on his life very much. He understands the kind of comfort that people feel around this. At the same time, he has seen the surprising level of vehemence of reaction against them.

Professor Ryan related a story of organizing a conference on ethics after the Holocaust. It was generally an enjoyable and rewarding experience that happily fulfilled almost every expectation. What he had not expected was to be subjected to a continual barrage of anti-Semitic literature for almost an entire school year. After discussion with some of his colleagues, they were surprised that he hadn't expected it. It made him realize the difference between his understanding of issues related to anti-Semitism and the reality we are dealing with this, not just in Oregon. He received hate mail from as far away as Montana, for being involved with the conference.

A second experience was being involved a decade ago with a committee that was looking into gay and lesbian concerns. The most disturbing finding was that the level of incidence of violence against gay and lesbian students was qualitatively higher than he had expected or known about. On a personal level, what surprised him more was getting death threats with having his name associated with this issue in the paper. Two of the threats were signed, which he found odd and more disturbing for some reason, because someone would actually attach their name to it. He feels this schizophrenia within his own life. He feels on one level that living in this region that things are basically fine. On the other hand, every time he gets involved with an issue of diversity, alarming things seem to happen and it makes him think about what life must be like for people who are not privileged white males, like himself. That is one way of getting into problems of diversity but it doesn't address the question of why, as a university, you should take these things upon ourselves.

Professor Ryan said that Jim Earl wrote an article on the issue of sports and he used an analogy that he thinks is interesting. At the same time, it raised questions for him. In the analogy, Jim asked how we would think if Sacred Heart Hospital began fielding a football team to raise money. It made him think of how the university is different from another professional entity such as a hospital.. A university like ours aspires to be a community in a way that something like a hospital does not. He thinks that people who involve themselves in a community like our university should think of themselves as joining a community. The fact that the university is a community in a rather expansive and fixed sense, has some interesting consequences in terms of what is appropriate to go on here. Rousseau famously argued -- Rousseau is one of the great theorists of community in the liberal tradition -- that an important element in any community is what is called civic festivals. It is very importantly said that a community not just be some instrumental tool for achieving the particular purposes of each individual, but that there be what he called civic festivals: occasions for joining together that weren't serving the interests of any particular individual so that in some sense they could provide bonding occasions for everyone in that community. Professor Ryan said that he believes this bears on why we need college sports. He thinks college sports are to some extent our equivalent of Rousseau's civic festivals. If we take seriously the notion that the university is a community, something like college sports actually proves to have a value that it otherwise might not have. This does not mean that a civic festival should run everything else, which is perhaps the concern about big-time sports. To what extent are the central activities that we are engaged in part of not just educating individual people, but creating a community of scholars and teachers and workers at the university?

Diversity should be understood, and the problems of diversity should be understood first and foremost as part of the university's larger mission of creating community for our students and ourselves. Professor Ryan has come to realize this more and more through working during the past two years with a group of people who are attempting to create a center to deal with these issues. It has helped him see in some sense how different the issue of diversity can be thought of when we think of it as an issue of community building, of creating and enabling people to participate in the community.

About ten years ago most of us remember the controversy that went on about the multicultural course requirement. We should have feelings of sorrow around that experience. It was not a good experience; there were many loud, shrill voices we didn't understand then as much as we can understand now. In some sense, if we betray our own community in addressing this issue, then we are betraying the heart of what the problem of diversity is about. It is learning how to both recognize differences and problems that are created by differences, with the means of creating a community that is larger than those differences and more inclusive than those we include already.

The purpose of creating community in the university is not just as an intrinsic purpose but there is also the purpose of modeling the community of the entire world. We are training and educating people to live in a world community. It is not enough that we model the community of Lane County, it is not enough that we model the community of Oregon. We don't just teach people the languages they need to know to live in Oregon, we shouldn't train people in the kind of community they should have just to live in Oregon. It is our obligation to create or move toward creating and modeling a community that is as diverse as it can possibly be to answer to the demands of the world we live in. This is one reason that the center that is now under discussion will be both a center on diversity and community.
 

Panelist Michael Kellman, chemistry.


Professor Kellman states that what he is saying is his own personal opinion and doesn't represent any group or committee that he is involved with. He begins by speaking of the research and academic standing of the university. There are periodic rankings of Ph.D. programs (1982, 1994) done by the National Research Council. U. S. News and World Report also does a ranking where, for several years, we were ranked #58, which put us at the top of the second tier of national universities. They ranked us overall in the third tier, but that's for financial reasons ? academically, we were doing pretty well.

Professor Kellman goes on to use, as a specific example, the ranking of chemistry Ph.D. programs. In the 1982 rankings, the University of Oregon chemistry department was #29, which is good considering that we are competing against the University of California, the Ivy League, MIT, Cal Tech, and so forth. He did his own adjustment of the ranking, adjusted for department size, which puts chemistry at #19. The UO is the highest in Oregon. In everything we do which is ranked, we are number one in Oregon. In the natural sciences we are better than our friends in Corvallis in every department. This should be better known throughout the state, that we are the natural science school.

In the 1994 in the Natural Research Council survey, the chemistry department at Oregon had dropped to #41. It wasn't just the chemistry department, the drop was almost across the board. It wasn't just the UO, it was the whole OUS system. The reason for this is money. We are doing remarkably well with the amount of money that we have. Our faculty salaries rank about #110 in Ph.D.-granting universities. We are doing better than we should be doing given the amount of money we have. This has been going on for a long time. It hasn't just been the 90s; in fact, maybe we have turned it around. It certainly was going on from 1982 to 1994. People who are retired now tell me that it probably started 30 years ago because of chronic underfunding.

Everything is in place for us to take off again. All we need is a little bit of lift to take off and it looked like that was going to happen back in 1989. Then Measure 5 passed. What can we do? We need to recognize the situation. The university salary plan is a big step in the right direction. If we can continue the salary plan contained in the White Paper and get our salaries up to competitive levels, we will undoubtedly move up in these rankings. While there are other areas where we need more money, the salaries are the most critical. The academic reputation of the faculty is what basically makes the academic record of the university, although certainly there are other factors involved.

We need some kind of new relationship with the state, perhaps a better relationship within the existing organizational structure of OUS. It is interesting that a few weeks ago there were two big articles in the Oregonian about how OHSU in Portland had become a public corporation, distinct from the Oregon University System, and much more independent than the other institutions in the system. These articles said that OHSU had done very well in this new type of structure.
 

Panelist Jeffrey Hurwit, art history.


Professor Hurwit worked last summer and early fall with David Frank and Ann Tedards at the request of Senate President Earl to craft a document dealing with the WRC controversy. His contribution to the document presented to the Senate last September was whether the WRC decision could be reconciled with the mission of the university. He came to the conclusion that the decision of joining the WRC or any such organization was well within the scope of the mission statement, particularly its charge to be a leader in guiding social, political, and technological change.

The University of Oregon like any university is organic, not just because we have living, moving parts, which we call students and faculty and staff, but because it is an entity that is constantly changing and evolving: adding a department or program, building new facilities, enlarging the student body or restructuring the curriculum. In spite of changes, the vision of the University remains to a large degree the same. The university can manage or attempt to manage its own evolution or growth and it is the mission of the university mission statement to provide general guidance for that evolution -- to set forth principles that govern the way we change ourselves when we wish to, or undertake change when we are compelled to do so by forces beyond our control.

We saw earlier in the mission statement what we expected to find: commitment to teaching and research, freedom of expression, commitment to guide students to think critically and ethically, to provide models for social action, and increasing diversity. What we don't find there is something very important. What we do not find there is this: The mission, or the need, or the obligation of the university to maintain and nourish itself, to continually improve its fiscal health so it can carry out its other missions and live by all the other principles that guide it. In the last decade it became clear that this need cannot be adequately met without dramatically increased outside help, without the financial support and donations of alumni and friends of the university, both private and corporate.

As state funding has declined to the point that we can argue that we are really no longer a state university, donated dollars have become all the more critical. As recent events have shown, it has forced a reconsideration of who we are, what we are becoming, and what we should be. We have the need to strike a balance between what is expected of us by those who give to us and fund our activities, and what we choose to expect of ourselves. We cannot afford to alienate our friends; we cannot afford to forget our mission. Sometimes, inevitably, these obligations come into conflict. So what? We should expect that they come into conflict. We should expect it, if not welcome it. Negotiating those conflicts may not always be easy, but it can be done. Other universities have done so without corrupting or undermining their ideals. But in this fiscal environment we can no longer afford to be na´ve or disingenuous. Like any organism, we must adapt. The question is, How do we do this while fulfilling our mission and respecting our ideals?
 

Panelist Steven Shankman, English and Humanities Center.


Professor Shankman notes that we have been told that, according to rising SAT scores and high school GPAs of entering students, our freshmen are better prepared than in the past. He has taught introductory freshman humanities courses at Oregon, on and off, for about 15 years. What he has noticed is a rather alarming lack of curiosity on the part of many students. They see their education chiefly as a means of getting a good job. We need to continue to develop an idealistic counter-utilitarian rhetoric of liberal education on this campus. He'd like to see this university, which regards itself as the flagship liberal arts institution in the state, rededicate itself to the mission of a broadly humanistic liberal arts education pursued for its own sake in all its historical and global richness, and because such an education will make our students responsive and responsible citizens of the nation and the world. One of the things that continues to make the American university an unusual place is that it has the ability to be at least relatively immune from the pressures of the marketplace. The university is a place where the professors get paid to do research in subjects such as ancient Chinese, Greek, Arabic, music of the Baroque Era, and which attracts students who are passionate about studying subjects like these and more eager to have their eye open.

On a related topic, he'd like to see the university rededicate itself to the importance of the international perspective. We often talk of internationalism but our students are not given sufficient opportunity to live and study abroad. One way to encourage our students to gain a more international perspective is to offer scholarships. This should be part of our capital campaign in order to model an international community and do everything we can in that regard. The next time he teaches a freshman class in the beginning of the fall quarter, he would like to feel that the incoming students have a strong sense that intellectual curiosity and the love of learning is what this university prizes and expects of all its students.
 

Panelist Caroline Forrell, law


I've been wondering what is the purpose of higher education, what is the purpose of the university, what makes the University of Oregon special, and why don't we feel that way enough. What makes the university special, of course, is us; we make the university special. The Law School is not at the top of the U.S. News and World Report every year but the place that we always score much higher than when we end up being ranked is how we are perceived by our peers. That is what matters. Actually we are very special. The problem is how to feel good about that, and how to communicate that to other people who may be able to help us. What makes us special? We are the AAU flagship institution, we are dedicated scholars, we have a commitment to teaching. The part of the mission statement that emphasizes the core is the talk about the integration of teaching, research and service as mutually enriching enterprises, that together accomplish the university's mission and support its spirits of community. The problem is that despite all of that and our belief in it, from the survey and talking with folks generally, we feel undervalued and unrecognized.

A word we should reclaim is productivity: productivity, not meaning student contact hours, but meaning what we do as teachers and scholars. Part of what we do as our mission is to take back that word and what we view as productivity and translate it how it is perceived outside the university institution as value. From discussions of the FAC and from the faculty survey last year, one of the things people feel uncomfortable about at this institution, is that there is somewhat of an inequity in how rewards, both monetarily and otherwise, are distributed. They talk all the time about there not being enough time, that they feel fragmented by demands unrelated to the core mission, there are feelings about insufficient communication, feelings that concerns aren't heard, concerns about community. These are the things that we all heard, and feel and share. It is a question of where the university is headed, what is just over the horizon. Do we have our core values upfront and centered, or are we straying from the focus by focusing instead on fundraising, bottom lineÑand athleticsÑpleasing folks besides our colleagues and students? What should be done in regards to direction? It is important that we keep the pressure on improving faculty salaries. It wasn't just that we actually got higher salaries; it was the process that we all came together, that is was faculty and administration working together, that there really was a community effort on that. We need to continue to look for ways to recognize and reward people besides money; achievements in teaching, research and service should be publicly recognized at the department, college and university level. We need to talk with each other, to be sure channels of communication and decision-making are open and easy to participate in. We need to remember to thank our colleagues, our deans, our upper administration folks when they do something right and vice versa. And we need to get that $2 million back from athletics.
 

Senate President Earl thanks the panelists for their participation and opened the floor for questions and comments.


Mark Watts, library assistant. He says that he feels we have a very good mission statement which seems to articulate what our capital U University goals are. Does the panel feel that the mission statement is a good document and something we can live with?

Sandra Morgen responded by saying that the FAC members came to that conclusion as well. There is a difference between a document and what it says and our ability to embody that. When she asks people for their concerns, she gets a lot of different answers. For example, one stressed the need to talk about the student credit hour model, this is the thing that is the most wrong. Someone else would say to her you need to talk about inequities in salaries. The problem is that while we agree with the mission statement, many of us wonder whether we are being driven by the mission statement, whether key decisions flow. She participated outside of this institution in a community organization that did values-based decision making. What that means is that when you made important decisions, you had to justify it in terms of the most core values and when those values conflicted as they often do, that you had to have a value-driven reason for choosing one over another. That is what she felt they were saying commonly, there is unease and outright criticism on many issues that stem from a sense that we are not making decisions that are based on core values, they are bottom-line driven, or they are efficiency driven, or donor driven, or athletic driven. This is the most important thing about the mission statement is whether we are embodying that.

Panelist Jeffrey Hurwit asked how many people in the audience even knew there was a mission statement and if they had read it. (A number of hands were raised.)

Senator Rebecca Cambreleng, ASUO: Asked if the quality of education given the students by the faculty is up to standard. Morgen responded by saying that on items that had to do with the quality of undergraduates or quality of graduate students, those did not find much dissatisfaction. Where dissatisfaction was found was in faculty's ability to meet the diverse needs of their students because of the competition on their time. A significant number of people did not feel rewarded for that work, that what counted was publications. The problem is not the students.

Senate President Earl stated that in his experience the faculty are not disappointed in the students, they are disappointed in economic factors that have driven us to larger classes. This is a serious compromise with the quality of education and students feel it too. We do not have enough faculty; we cannot afford enough faculty. We don't have enough classrooms. Schools across the country and particularly large state schools are driven by the same kinds of economic factors and so education at large state schools has moved more and more toward the large lecture format and left the small liberal arts college as the ideal locale for the small class.

Senator David Conley, Education: We are unique in that the state system purposely kept some of the professional schools, such as medicine and engineering, at other campuses so that one campus didn't become the dominating one. We should think about the fact that we are a unique model. We have a very strong arts and sciences and other professional schools but not the engineering and medicine that have historically contributed something to these large universities. If we accept the fact that this is way the system is set up, how do we maximize or take advantage of our uniqueness since this is the structure we have and probably can't change the state system.

Panelist Michael Kellman responds that it brings him back to what he said earlier about the relationship with the state. In his opinion, a more flexible relationship with the state where we had more freedom to have the kinds of programs that we decide that we want to have and perhaps can raise the money to have, would be advantageous. Cornell comes to mind, they have an agriculture school, engineering school, a medical school. He feels that if we had the money, it would be wonderful to start an engineering program. But within the confines of the current, he doubts that it is even conceivable.

Panelist Jeffrey Hurwit said there has never been anything wrong with the University of Oregon that another $30 or 40 million dollars wouldn't fix. The first thing we need to do is lobby the legislature for more funding. Until we become a public corporation, we need to do hard work. We need to go to Salem; we need to press the case that a major liberal arts university has a major role to play in the state, and it always will whether we have a branch in Bend or not. This is a case we need to make for ourselves. It's hard and sometimes monotonous work to convince them that higher education matters when those people in the legislature are primarily concerned with K-12 as they rightfully should be. But it matters for all of us to go to Salem when the time comes and make the case. This worked two years ago and it can be made to work again.

Panelist Michael Kellman stated that it is very important that people go to the rally in Salem and lobby as a private citizen. He is told that the funding we got two years ago came because of the noise at the rally in Salem and that if we don't do that again this year in Salem, we are going to be ducks in the soup! The rally is March 6.

Panelist Sandra Morgen says that it is not enough to go to Salem every two years. The university needs to be making itself more public, not more private. We need to be in Salem not just on our own behalf but we need to be very visible in the state. We need to be taking the research and the teaching and the unique and special things we do and finding ways to translate that beyond the wonderful effect it has on students. We need to take this to the legislature and to the citizenry that says what happens here matters. We have units such as LERC on campus that has played a very important role of our walls. We need to recognize that if we only appear in Salem when we are advocating for ourselves once every two years, it sounds hollow to legislators.

Senator Greg McLauchlan, sociology, spoke to the issue that was raised about service to the university not being valued. Because of demands on our time, service tends to get cut back. It seems that this is a crisis issue for the university. By looking around, this room should be full today given the nature of the conversation. People are stressed out. We become more fragmented and governing suffers. He would like to see a systematic effort by departments, by the FAC, by the Senate to see that service to the university counts as it should.

Professor Daniel Pope, history: Regarding Dave Conley's comments, we can turn our uniqueness into an asset. We are not Ohio State, we're not Michigan State. There are some things that perhaps don't require a whole lot of money. Supporting more interdisciplinary cooperation, removing bureaucratic barriers. Making sure that the library system is well treated.

Senate Vice President Nathan Tublitz, biology: The University of Oregon is a family. As part of being a family, the other side of love is respect. It is easy for different parts of the university community in times of duress to be somewhat disrespectful of each other. He is talking about professional schools versus CAS, faculty versus staff, administration versus faculty, students versus everybody. The way we are going to deal with the issues raised by the panelists is to actually band together and be respectful toward each other. We need to identify the issues and move forward to come up with a solution. Don't just talk about the issues, solve them.

Senator Shaul Cohen, geography: He states that he is not sure this is a part of the mission statement or that it needs to be but please be aware that the university is a member of this community. The university is a community member and we need to be aware of this and use it to our advantage. It is good politics and good sense to build our relationships with the people around us. He then gives an example of how that can be good and how it also can be loaded. Provost Moseley recently came to a meeting on school closures on behalf of Edison School. He read a letter from Dave Frohnmayer. It was very powerful and the people from Edison were very grateful for the support that came from the university for their particular cause. Others at that meeting who were from other schools were a bit resentful that the university had weighed in on behalf of Edison. That why it is loaded. Although he was delighted that John was there and that Dave saw fit to participate as well, in an issue that was taking place in the community that did not bear directly on the fortunes of the university. We need to be aware that we are a powerhouse in this community, we can be a bully or but we can also be a resource and a good neighbor.

Professor Margaret Hallock, LERC/Wayne Morse Center: Remarked that it is important how we are viewed from the outside and that we need to keep the public's view of the university a positive one.

University President Dave Frohnmayer: He would like to respond to metaphors such as community and family. He wants to remind us that a great number of state universities and private universities would not be having this discussion. They might be feeling the same malaise and the same sense of under appreciation and misvaluation but they wouldn't have a forum in which to talk about it. They wouldn't have a dialogue sufficiently comfortable that faculty and administrators could be in the same room in which sensitive issues of this kind are raised. Many of the issues that face us are ones that plague higher education in general. We need to be careful not to mistake the specific for the general. We have a healthier climate than most. Amidst all of the issues, we can give ourselves a vote of thanks and a pat on the back.

Senate President Earl drew the discussion to an end by thanking all the participants and moving on to the regular business portion of the senate meeting. 


Web page spun on 14 March 2001 by Peter B Gilkey 202 Deady Hall, Department of Mathematics at the University of Oregon, Eugene OR 97403-1222, U.S.A. Phone 1-541-346-4717 Email:peter.gilkey.cc.67@aya.yale.edu of Deady Spider Enterprises