President's Report to the UO Board of Trustees

September 8, 2016

President Michael H. Schill delivered the following president's report to the University of Oregon Board of Trustees during the September meeting. These are remarks as drafted and may not be verbatim.

My president’s report today will brief you on our progress on four topics: building leadership at the university, progress on our fundraising campaign, our work on the demands of the Black Student Task Force, and our current state budget situation.


As all of you know, this has been an enormously busy year for the university. We have hired the following outstanding leadership.

  • Vice President and General Counsel—Kevin Reed
  • Vice President of Communications and Marketing—Kyle Henley
  • Vice President for Research and Innovation—David Conover
  • Dean of the School of Journalism—Juan-Carlos Molleda
  • Dean of the School of Allied Arts and Architecture—Christoph Linder
  • Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences—Andrew Marcus
  • President’s Office Chief of Staff Greg Stripp and Provost Office Chief of Staff Melanie Muenzer
  • Vice Provost Lisa Frienkel also become Dean of Undergraduate Studies

This university has undergone a huge amount of change in a very short period of time. Our whole structure is new and most of our leadership is new and more is coming. Certainly it feels very good from where I’m sitting.

This year we will also have a busy year of recruiting.  We will do searches for dean of the School of Law—Michael Moffitt has announced as the end of this school year he is stepping down to rejoin the faculty, dean of the Lundquist School of Business—we are right in the process of that hiring now, and provost and senior vice president—Scott, as you know, has announced he is taking his well-earned retirement.

I would like to thank Michael Moffitt and Scott Coltrane for each doing such a wonderful job for the university.  They have both been in difficult situations. It’s not been an easy time for either of them. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

The business school search is moving ahead most quickly.  We did a first round of searching. We will be interviewing imminently. The committee is screening additional names and interviewing candidates.  Thus far, the pool looks very strong. The goal would be to have a new dean here by January if possible. I thank Bruce Blonigen, who stepped in as the acting dean of the business school and is serving as chair of the search committee.

The law school dean and provost search committees have been selected (chaired by Dan Tichenor (law) and Geri Richmond (provost)), search firms are being contracted, and job descriptions are being written. One of the committees will be charged on Monday so we’ll be off to the races on that. We anticipate naming the new dean and provost in the late winter or early spring. Also we are hiring a new Chief Information Officer, the search committee is assembled, and we hope to have the candidate identified by our December board meeting.

Black Student Task Force

Enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion on the UO campus is a critical priority to achieving our mission of academic excellence. As all of you remember, last fall a group calling itself the Black Student Task Force presented me with a list of 12 demand.  We quickly established 13 separate task forces involving students, faculty, and administrators to get to work analyzing each demand and proposing actions where appropriate. In April, I announced we are moving forward on six demands of the BSTF. Here is an update on those and the remaining demands:

  1. Today, you voted to dename Dunn Hall.  With respect to Deady Hall, I expect that I will make a decision whether to recommend a name change sometime in late October or November.
  1. We have expanded efforts to attract and recruit African American and Black students. Enrollment management is hiring staff and expanding efforts to attract and recruit African American students through a new African American Opportunities Program.
  1. We have invited six Black Greek letter organizations to the UO. 
  1. We have created an African American residential student community. The Umoja Pan-African Scholars Academic Residential Community is launching this fall. It will accommodate 25 students and will be housed in the Living-Learning Center.
  1. We are creating new African American advisory boards for retention and advising, which have been added to the existing multicultural students’ leadership team.
  1. We are launching an African American lecture series. The University of Oregon African American Workshop and Lecture Series will begin this fall with an Implicit Bias workshop on September 23 and continue throughout the year.
  1. We have expanded the amount of diversity data we have published. New information has been available on the Division of Equity and Inclusion website since spring.

That leaves five addition demands, which have resulted in six initiatives that the university continues to work on. Those include:

  1. We are committed to supporting the BSTF work to create an Alumni and Faculty/Staff leadership group for their organization. The UO will host a group of Black alumni later this month to engage with the BSTF and the broader community. Our Division of Equity and Inclusion is creating and will support a Black strategy group for employees (in addition to Latino and Asian strategy groups, and the already established Native strategy group). This fall we’ll discuss with the BSTF how to coordinate these entities into one functioning group.
  1. A committee has researched the opportunity to create a Black cultural center at the UO. They visited OSU’s Black Cultural Center and the committee recommends that the UO fundraise for and construct a brand new building on the corner of East 15th Avenue and Villard for a Black cultural center.  We have reserved the land for this purpose and are examining the feasibility of raising up to $3 million to build the building and then additional money to staff and program it. Assuming that we can raise the money, I am hoping that I will be in the position of approving the project this quarter.
  1. I strongly support efforts to provide more scholarships and grants that can be used to increase diversity at the UO. Currently we are researching the various options for this effort and how we might administer a scholarship program specifically for Black student.  That includes getting a legal opinion on how the Supreme Court decision on Affirmative Action Program at University of Texas may impact our opportunities here related to race based scholarships and fundraising.
  1. Related to African American Faculty hiring: we are moving forward with implementing several of the committee’s recommendations to increase minority recruiting and mentoring programs and are continuing to explore other ways to address these challenges. I am pleased to announce today that we are establishing a new cluster for faculty hiring with expertise in the areas of Black/African American literature, history, and women’s and gender studies. It will be primarily houses in CAS. We will be asking the schools and colleges to develop plans for recruiting and retaining African American faculty and the deans will be evaluated on these efforts. We will establish a pre-doc program, likely through partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other predominantly black institutions to help increase our pipeline of faculty.  We are asking all faculty search committee members to take part in implicit bias training. 
  1. Efforts are currently underway to determine how we can address the students’ concerns that our curriculum doesn’t reflect the history of and challenges faced by African Americans. Changing our curriculum is a campus-wide conversation that requires deep involvement of the faculty. We are working with the University Senate to undertake a review and revision of our current multicultural requirements. However, revamping our multicultural requirement may not be enough to really address the issue as the students are very interested in creating a Black studies program.  As I mentioned, we are moving forward with a cluster hire in areas that could potentially be a part of this type of program. We need to recruit these faculty and work with others on our campus to determine how we might be able to build such a program. I anticipate that this work will be ongoing over the next one to two years.
  1. Finally, related to hiring a retention specialist for African American and Black students, we are continuously working on determining how FTE can be made available to hire advisors and retentions specialist with a deep knowledge of and commitment to ensuring the success of Black students. Undergraduate Studies is current recruiting a professional advisor in the teaching and learning center that will have expertise in addressing the challenges experienced by Black students in STEM fields. That hiring cycle will happen in Winter-Spring (according to national market trends; if we search earlier, the pool will be too small). We also are exploring if a recent vacancy in LCB could be filled with someone with a depth of expertise in advising Black students.  As we work through these hires and faculty recruitment, we are tackling the recommendation to create a better infrastructure and strategies for hiring more diverse faculty and staff. 

I hope to meet with members of the BSTF later this month to discuss our progress on these issues, and after that communicate with the entire university community.

Fundraising Campaign

I have an update on our fundraising campaign which continues to have very strong momentum. I am very pleased to report that our campaign to date is $1.05 billion. Our historic six year totals are $107, $110, $200, $115, $215, and $202 million respectively. Three of our last four years have been over the $200 million mark, and we fully expect to hit that milestone again this year.

We had a record number of major gift solicitations and major gift closes in FY16. We are not resting. Mike Andreasen and his team continue to push to raise the bar even higher. I am working with our deans and directors to drive the development efforts in their units.

As of August 31, we have raised more than $23 million in Q1 of FY17. We typically raise about $26 million in the first quarter, so we are on track to meet or surpass our track record. At the end of FY16, approximately 80 percent of our year to date giving is earmarked for academic use. For historical context, the previous year was 76 percent and the overall campaign percentage was 60 percent to academic purposes.

Almost 35 percent of the gift total in the campaign is earmarked for the endowment and just over 25 percent of the gift total in the campaign are planned or deferred gifts. More than 80,000 donors have given more than 315,000 gifts to this campaign.

Current Budget Situation

This year, there is greater uncertainty around our state budget allocation than usual. The state is currently forecasting a budget deficit of at least $1.2 billion. At the same time Measure 97 is on the ballot this year which could generate over $3 billion in revenue. Added to this, the PERS underfunding problem will drive up our pension costs by $6 million each year for the next biennium.

Obviously, all of this complicates budget planning. We could see very deep budget cuts from the state that could translate into my requesting in March that you approve double digit increases in resident tuition. Or we could end up with tuition increases less than 5 percent and new monies available for faculty growth and scholarships. Your guess is as good as mine about what will happen. We are actively working with the presidents of our sister schools and will work with our students, faculty, and staff to impress upon the legislature the importance of higher education in either a cuts or increase scenario.