Minutes of the University Senate Meeting January 13, 2010

Present: G. Baitinger, T. Bars, J. Bonine, C. Bybee, S. Chakraborty, E, Chan, K. Dellabough, L. Forrest, H. Gangadharbatla, P. Gilkey, N. Gower, M. Henney, A. Hilts, J. Hurwit, M.A. Hyatt, M. Jaeger, K. Jensen, C. Jones, H. Khalsa Kaur, R. Kyr, K. Lenn, H. Lin, C. McNelly, L. Middlebrook, S. Midkiff, T. Minner, D. Olson, N. C. Phillips, J. Piger, M. Price, N. Proudfoot, L. Reichardt,  P. Southwell, Z. Stark-Macmillan, L. Sugiyama, N. Tublitz, T. Toadvine, L. Van Dreel, S. Verscheure, P. Walker, M. Williams

Excused:  A. Emami, A. Laskaya, T. K. Thompson

Absent:  C. Bengtson, A. Berenstein, T. Dishion, C. Ellis, D. Kennett, P. Warnek


University Senate President Peter Gilkey called the January meeting of the University Senate to order at 3:05 p.m. in the Harrington Room of the newly opened John E. Jaqua Academic Learning Center.  President Gilkey recognized Senator John Bonine, law, who moved to restructure the meeting agenda and discussion times allotted to reflect an order that he deemed of more importance to the senators (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen090/13Jan10Agenda.html).  The motion to reorganize the agenda was approved (31 in favor, 4 opposed).


Minutes of the December 2, 2009 were approved. 


The Coming Crisis in College Completion: Oregon’s Challenge and a Proposal for First Steps.  Mr. Dave Frohnmayer, university president emeritus, spoke about a recent report he had prepared at the request of OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen090/DF-18Nov09.pdf for full text of the report).  He indicated that the report was a series of data points that appear to illustrate the coming crisis in Oregon college completion.  The impact of the downturn in economics has been disproportionate among state agencies.  The disproportionately large loss of state general funding has been greater in higher education than other agencies.  Statistics available show the ever declining revenues for higher education comes at a time when college degree obtainment is more important than ever in the lives of Oregonians.  Mr. Frohnmayer went on to say that the National Bureau of Economic Research issued a paper that indicated the actual value of higher education is roughly doubled for everyone with additional degree obtainment.  However, Oregon is going in the wrong direction regarding degree obtainment: older Oregonians have a significantly higher percentage of degree obtainment than their children do, which is the first time in modern civilization that this is the case. 

Mr. Frohnmayer referred to a number of charts in his report that displayed the years of disinvestment in higher education in Oregon.  He said that reversing the downward trend of degree obtainment is a daunting task for the coming years.  In light of such data, the chancellor’s office recently adopted a policy saying that by the year 2025 the state needs to have 40% of its population with an associate degree, 40% with a bachelor degree or higher, and 20% with at least a high school completion.  To keep at the current degree pace, enrollment increase over the next 15 years would require building a campus 1½ times the size of the UO.  But to accommodate the goals outlined by the chancellor’s office would require building 3 new campuses of OSU size over the next 15 years.  He said that building and expansion is the challenge for Oregonians to maintain the quality and standard of living that is economically competitive and that provides individuals and families opportunities.  Mr. Frohnmayer added that the state never has faced such a demographic change or one occurring so rapidly as the one underway currently.  He said that higher education has an enormous responsibility to the future of the state.  The research and economic contribution of the three research universities (UO, OSU, and PSU) and OHSU is approximately $5 billion a year.  Mr. Frohnmayer concluded his report by opining that there needs to be a sense of urgency because the present higher education system is a system that is not sustainable and not designed for the success of either the students or the institutions.  The institutions need to be more flexible to better deliver educational services.  One way proposed to achieve greater flexibility is to provide for the establishment of independent public university corporations by delegating such broad authority to do so to the State Board of Higher Education. 

During a brief questioning period, Mr. Frohnmayer clarified that in the proposal, the UO would remain in the OUS but each university would have its own managing board and would manage its own budget. 

Motion US09/10-11 regarding the Riverfront Research Park.  Senator Zack Stark-Macmillan, ASUO, moved (second by N. Gower) the following motion


(1) the University Senate declares opposition to the planned development of the first 4.3-acre increment of the Riverfront Research Park North of the railroad tracks on the South bank of the Willamette River until the University undergoes a student and faculty inclusive, open process for revising the RRP Master Plan; and (2) that the Senate President be directed to write and send a letter to the University President and the City of Eugene expressing the Senate's opposition to the planned development North of the railroad tracks along the South bank of the Willamette River.

Senator Stark-Macmillan explained that the motion relates to the Oregon Research Institute (ORI) building proposed to be built in the Riverfront Research Park and to the UO’s request to extend its conditional use permit to build and start construction.  Senator Stark-Macmillan said that the students have issues with their non-inclusion the building planning process and with extending a building permit that is 20 years old and that has not been updated.  He noted that the Student Senate recently passed a resolution similar to this one; they would like faculty support in opposition to the permit extension (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen090/US090-11.html  for background information and relevant email and other explanatory correspondence).  Because there were students who wished to speak in favor of the motion, senators yielded the floor to students Daniel Rottenberg, ASUO Environmental advocate, Rena Schlachter and Christopher Brehm, landscape architecture students. 

Mr. Brehm drew attention to the location of the proposed building (north of the train tracks) and other landscape and design aspects of the planned building that did not meet the highest standards of environmental sustainability.  He noted that these concerns were raised at meetings of the State Board last June and during public forums held with the university, ORI, and citizens of Eugene to try to look at alternative site proposals where ORI could be accommodated south of the tracks (the area north of the tracks includes the Willamette River Greenway and the floodplain).  Although the university claims that the proposed location north of the tracks enhances the area and is sustainable, Mr. Brehm said that the issue was debatable and should be debated by reviewing the master plan for the area before building as currently proposed.  Further, Mr. Brehm noted that there was disagreement concerning whether the conditional use building permit had already expired, which was further reason to delay construction of the building.

Ms. Schlachter added that in proposing the resolution in question, the students are not opposed to ORI or to Riverfront Research Park development.  Rather, before development occurs, the students believe that the master plan needs to be updated to meet the sustainability standards of the 21st century, and that students and faculty need to be included in the process.  She said that the UO Department of Architecture is rated number one in sustainability and is a valuable resource that should be utilized in this planning process.  Lastly, she noted that public record shows overwhelming opposition to the current development plan, with over 600 citizen comments in opposition to the proposed building submitted to the city.  Mr. Brehm added to comments in support of the motion by saying that this is a critical decision point.  He repeated that the students are not against development, but the current building proposal will have implications for the short and long term future.  The motion proposes having a faculty and student inclusive development process that includes the entire university community so they can consider the first increment of the development north of the tracks within the floodplain.

Vice President for Research Rich Linton provided a response in opposition to the motion.  He highlighted a number of key points regarding the Riverfront Research Park planning and, specifically, the proposed ORI building project (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen090/Linton-8Jan2010.pdf).  First, he explained that the Riverfront Research Park is important to the UO, and increasingly so.  He noted that the issue is not whether ORI is an appropriate tenant – all are in agreement that it is an ideal fit for the research park as a credible research enterprise, one that has leased space for a number of years and employs a large number of people.  ORI’s project to expand with a new building site was started quite a while ago, and planning proceeded along the guidelines that were set out in the master plan use permit for the research park.  Vice President Linton noted that the university has a formal lease agreement with the developer of the project to use the site; at this point, having followed all protocols for design with the review committee, and receiving approval from the state board, he said it is fair to say the UO will be proceeding with the project. 

The vice president said that the reason the issue has been raised in recent months is partly due to a legal mixed opinion about when the existing conditional use permit actually expires.  As a precautionary measure, in the fall 2009 the university submitted a request to extend the building permit for a period of 3 years.  This was in recognition that the university wanted to accomplish two things during that 3 year period.  One was the ORI project that has been in development over a number of years, and the other is to have a multi-tenet building developed by the UO.  He added that over the course of several meetings, some design changes were made to the ORI plan utilizing input from faculty and students on how to configure the ORI site to improve the setback from the river, to reduce the parking footprints, and other particulars that have been raised about a sustainable vision for the design of the building. The vice president concluded saying that it is critical that the university moves ahead with this project, in good faith with ORI and the developer. 

During the discussion period, a number of questions were asked, primarily to clarify information.  Senator Kassia Dellabough, AAA, ask about the financial impact to the university if the project were abandoned.  Mr. Linton replied that the university is committed to implementing what already is in place, that is, development and design costs associated with the site which is probably in the neighborhood of $1 million.  Senator Ted Toadvine, environmental studies and philosophy, asked to what extent to the community and campus have been involved in the planning.  Mr. Linton replied that the planning process was a long term exercise and the university followed the established protocols under the master plan for the Riverfront Research Park.  There has been strong discourse of stakeholders which has included advisory committee, the State Board of Higher Education, EWEB, and consultation with the campus community.  Senator Bonine asked if there was any memorandum legally binding the university’s commitment to ORI if the project was cancelled.  Mr. Linton said that the university has a legal agreement with the higher education state board and that the lease agreement is in the hands of the developer, so there is liability for the university.  It was clarified, too, that the city did approve extending the conditional use permit, which is the decision that is currently under appeal.  There was some disagreement about the date when the original permit expired which prompted the university to make the permit extension request.  The city did not resolve the original expiration date issue, but did approve a three year permit extension.  Mr. Linton added that the research park group worked with the student group and AAA faculty leaders around the site plan and proposals for other site alternatives that might have been viable in the research park domain.  Some adjustments were made in the setback distance and reduction in the parking lot size.  The conclusion from the university and ORI point of view is that the proposed site most suits ORI’s needs. 

Mr. Brehm raised a point concerning a University Senate resolution from 11 years ago that urged President Frohnmayer not to develop the area north of the railroad tracks.  When he and others met with ORI and Riverfront Research Park staff, they looked at three alternative sites which they believed were viable alternatives.  In addition, Mr. Brehm said the students do not believe that all that can be done to design a better project has been done to make the site a sustainable site.  Mr. Linton pointed out that ORI has a tight timeline for the project because it has federal stimulus money involved, and thus cannot afford to delay construction very long or they will lose the funding.  He reiterated that the university only wanted an extension long enough to do projects that have been on the drawing board for some time and that are consistent with current planning guidelines and protocols.  Then, he suggested, the university will take a break and look at the master plan again.

Senate Vice President Nathan Tublitz stated that he was in favor of the motion for three reasons: first, the precedence of the earlier senate resolutions (see US98/99-4 and US 99/00-15A) recommending that President Frohnmayer not build north of the railroad tracks (and instead designate the area as open space for recreational use; second, the notion of shared governance was not followed in that people were not consulted; and third, the university has a responsibility to do the best for the entire community, not just for one tenant.  Ms. Elisabeth Chan landscape architecture, also spoke in favor of the motion saying that it is a pinch point, a hinge that links the university to downtown Eugene.  She said that over the past 20 years more has been learned in the development of sites such as the proposed area, and that this is a critical time to make a good choice, which is our responsibility. 

Ms. Barbara Altmann, chair of the Faculty Advisory Council (FAC), spoke to correct information that had appeared in two recent (January 3 and January 10) Op Ed articles in the Register Guard newspaper.  She said there were incorrect statements in both articles referring to actions taken by the FAC.  The correct information is that the FAC did not vote on the Riverfront Research Park building issue nor did it take a public position on the issue. 

Ms. Diane Wiley, director of the Riverfront Research Park, provided visuals of the current site plan, the landscaping around the building (which has been moved 100 feet back from the river), and the bike paths along the riverfront, which will be widened and lighted with safety railings installed.  She also noted that the advisory committee for this project, which was recommended by the Campus Planning Committee, included 5 faculty members and 2 students.  Senator Huaxin Lin, mathematics, spoke against the motion, saying that he did not see what was wrong with the proposed plan.  Mr. Gower, ASUO, spoke in favor of the motion on the grounds that plans to build north of the railroad tracks were made in opposition to previous senate legislation and that there was not appropriate consultation to make the building area change.  Lastly, Mr. Ron Lovinger, landscape architecture, spoke in support of the motion, saying that the building site is on one of the most precious landscapes that the university has, and the university should preserve the site and not build there, not only for the sake of the current generation, but for future generations. 

There was a motion to call the question (30 in favor and 5 opposed).  With the question called, Motion US09/10- 11 was put to a vote and passed (29 in favor and 8 opposed). 

Motion US09/10-12A – regarding the Provost sharing decision letters with the chair of the Faculty Personnel Committee (FPC).  Mr. Frank Stahl, emeritus biology, introduced the motion saying that it arose from a change in practice in which the provost failed to communicate to the FPC his decisions with respect to their recommendations on promotion and tenure cases because he believes he is not allowed legally to do that for conditions of personnel privacy.  Since putting forth the original motion, Mr. Stahl said that he and others have been in contact with the provost and, as a result, Mr. Stahl has crafted an improved version of the motion which he would like to offer as a substitute for the original motion (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen090/US090-12.html for background information on this motion).  With no objection from senators, the following substitute version of Motion US09/10-12A was put on the floor for discussion:

Moved that,

Prior to notifying a candidate, the Provost shall consult with the FPC, or an appropriate subcommittee thereof, when the Provost anticipates that the final decision could differ from the recommendation of the FPC.  During his consultation, the Provost shall explain his/her reasons for entertaining a decision contrary to the recommendation of the FPC. At the time a decision does go forth to a candidate, the Provost shall notify the FPC Chair of the decision.

During the discussion period, Mr. Stahl explained that the substitute motion added the need for the provost to consult with the FPC in instances when his decision is likely to disagree with the FPC recommendation.  Mr. Gordon Sayre, chair of the FPC, indicated that he has been in communication with past FPC chairs and there is agreement that the motion is acceptable.  Senator Priscilla Southwell, political science, asked for more clarification in instances when the FPC vote is not unanimous.  Mr. Stahl replied that the FPC sends recommendations to the provost on all cases, not just a report of the votes, so he receives information on all cases. 

Senator Chris Phillips, mathematics, moved to remove the word “Chair” from the motion so that the provost would notify the committee and not just the committee chair.  This amendment was accepted and the word chair was removed from the motion.  Similarly, a motion was made to add the words “his or her” after the word “that” in place of the word “the”.  This amendment also met with no opposition and was accepted.  

Senator Bonine said that although he was unhappy with the assumption of a legal impediment to sharing the decision with the FPC – he could find no support for this assumption in Senior Vice Provost Russ Tomlin’s memo on the topic – he was in support of the amended motion.  Mr. Sayre commented that the thinking behind Mr. Tomlin’s memo was that once the decision (on tenure and/or promotion) was made and the decision letter went out, the file was complete and confidential.  However, with the proposed motion, the consultation occurs before the letter goes out so the decision is still “in process”.  Mr. Stahl added that the FPC already has made its recommendations on the cases and they would not be changed – it is the provost who has the ultimate decision to make. 

One more clarifying amendment was made to replace “During his consultation” with “During this period of consultation”.  This amendment was accepted.  Thus the amended version of US09/10-12A reads as follows: 

Move that,

Prior to notifying a candidate, the Provost shall consult with the Faculty Personnel Committee (FPC) or an appropriate subcommittee thereof, when the Provost anticipates that his or her final decision could differ from the recommendation of the FPC. During this period of consultation, the Provost shall explain his or her reasons for entertaining a decision contrary to the recommendation of the FPC. At the time a decision does go forth to a candidate, the Provost shall notify the FPC of the decision.

With discussion winding down, there was a motion to call the question, which passed.  President Gilkey put motion US09/10-12A, as amended, to a vote which passed unanimously. 

President Gilkey then recognized Mr. Stahl regarding Motion US09/10-12B which also was on the agenda.  Mr. Stahl said he withdraws the motion. 


President Gilkey noted the lateness of the hour and recognized Senator Phillips who moved to adjourn the meeting.  The meeting was adjourned at 4:57 p.m. 

Gwen Steigelman
Secretary of the Faculty

Last update on 15 February 2010 by ms