April 20, 2016
I would like to thank all of the many faculty, staff, and students who came to my Campus Conversation forum last week. For those of you who could not attend, a video of the session and the written remarks are now available on the Office of the President website.
I very much appreciate the interest you have demonstrated in learning about my vision and priorities for the university, our strategies for achieving this vision, as well as the key cultural, financial, and structural issues that will secure our future. I also am delighted that you want to engage both in discussions around these issues and the hard work of making our university the preeminent research university we know it is capable of being.
As I said at the forum, when I accepted this position a year ago, it was with determination, enthusiasm and great hope. I came to the UO because I am committed to public higher education; because I was inspired by the work our faculty do in the classrooms and out; and because I felt I could make a difference. At times, that might mean shaking things up a bit and making hard decisions. I am so grateful that I have your support and engagement.
The last few months of setting priorities and realigning our resources to support these goals, while necessary, has not always been easy. As we reviewed our scarce resources and the deans worked with faculty, ultimately, some dedicated, talented colleagues received contract non-renewals, which not only impacts them directly, but also impacts the entire campus. I thank those colleagues for their service, and I thank all who are working to help them and the university make this transition as smooth as possible.
Again, for many years and for a variety of reasons, we did not watch our budget expenditures as closely as we should have in light of our shrinking state resources. For example, we kept hiring teaching faculty in areas with declining enrollments. We have been digging a hole for many years, and if we had not acted now the hole would have grown much larger next year and the cuts would be more painful. We need to be purposeful so that every dollar possible gets invested in building our research eminence and enhancing student success. The only way to do that is to use the budget as a strategic device. I regret the hardship that some are encountering, but I do not regret the decisions we have made.
Last week’s Campus Conversation allowed our university community to ask tough questions about our financial situation, about the value of our employees, about enhancing diversity, and about college access. Many of these questions mirror some of the toughest issues facing higher education today. As a result of the Campus Conversation, I have decided to continue the conversation in another medium. In the next week or two, I will post regularly on my website short comments and thoughts about our university and also about important issues in higher education. Someone on my staff has dubbed these postings “Open Mike,” which I think is pretty descriptive. I may also email these musings to those of you who wish to receive them (but I don’t want to clutter your inboxes, so opt in or out as you like.)
Again, thank you for your passion and your strong opinions. You make the University of Oregon the great university it is today, and I need you to help me make this institution even better in the years to come.
To receive future Open Mike messages from the president, please email the Office of the President and ask to subscribe to the Open Mike email list.