Dailyemerald.com: Sounding off in a different way

The following were originally posted to dailyemerald.com as responses to “Hiring program under fire” by Allie Grasgreen.

In a series of e-mails to administrators, Economics professor Bill Harbaugh questioned the legality of the University’s Underrepresented Minority Recruitment Program, intended to persuade minority faculty members to accept jobs at the University. According to Harbaugh, the program is a tremendous waste of money and is a violation of the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act.

Doctor Harbaugh’s observations concerning the UO Minority Recruitment Program should receive a serious and objective hearing from persons opposed and persons in favor of the program. The issues are socially important, from multiple perspectives, and the amount of money involved is important from an economic point of view.

I am disappointed in the quality of initial responses to professor Harbaugh’s statements. Perhaps the passage of time will allow the persons quoted in Allie Grasgreen’s superb report to provide a more objective and coherent response. Similarly, I would like to read more of the specific conflicts that are claimed to exist between the minority recruitment program and the Civil Rights Act and the 14th Amendment. I believe that personal calumny on either side is unproductive. It will be better to focus on the logic and flaws of both positions. I presume that more than two viewpoints are possible. If so, readers might like to hear additional perspectives.

Marvin McConoughey

June 6, 2007

There are many absurdities about President Frohnmayer’s Diversity Plan.

The most significant is that he has now spent well over $2 million on salary for administrators who haven’t even completed drafting a plan yet. At the same time, UO is cutting back on its Spanish language instructors. The five laid-off instructors earn less, in total, than does Diversity Vice Provost Charles Martinez, who also has an extensive consulting thing on the side. Sweet gig.

I would love to have someone try explain how this misallocation of funds is good for diversity at UO. President Frohnmayer should be embarrassed by it. I don’t know what to think of the fact that he regards it as a success. Strange guy.

Just for the record, I’m not a racist. Actually, I’m in favor of AA (affirmative action). It’s easy for faculty, or UO administrators, to just hire people who look like them, or who think like them. AA opens up the process. I want AA to be effective and legal. UO is a long way from either.

Bill Harbaugh

June 7, 2007

As a UO alumnus and a former campus administrator, I am very familiar with the University’s diversity efforts and I strongly applaud these recent efforts. This plan is not about political correctness or hiring unqualified people; it is about strengthening the educational experience for all community members. It is about moving the UO from good to great.

With all due respect to professor Harbaugh, his assertion that this program is illegal is simply wrong. This plan was reviewed and approved by UO counsel and let’s not forget that President Frohnmayer is also a lawyer and formerly served as the state’s attorney general. While Harbaugh and the Center for Equal Opportunity may have problems with the program, it is legal.

Rather than attacking this initiative, I would ask what Professor Harbaugh or others have done to address this issue? Have they personally mentored students of color to pursue graduate school or reached out to emerging faculty to ensure that they achieve tenure? It is easy for us to criticize ideas that we don’t like, but it is much harder to do something personally to address the problem.

Marshall Sauceda

June 8, 2007

Dear Mr. Sauceda,

I appreciate your comment. I want to make clear that I’m a strong supporter of legal and effective affirmative action efforts and diversity at UO. However, UO’s faculty is already nearly representative of the small pool of available minority PhDs. The 2006 UO AA plan documents this.

So, I started and now volunteer approximately two weeks a year for a program to prepare and encourage children (all of them from low SES backgrounds, many of them minorities) to go to college. I hope that some of these kids – or even just one – will end up as a professor, and inspire others. If it does, the program will have added to diversity – rather than just shifting the current population of minority professors from one university to another, as the UMRP attempts to do.

My opposition to UO’s diversity efforts is that there is huge amount of bureaucratic waste and pointless paper pushing to them. In the case of the UMRP, it’s probably well-intentioned, but it’s just not legal to pay people differently based on race. President Frohnmayer is simply in denial about how the program works.

I’d think this money would be more effective if spent on “fill-the-pipeline” activities. This seems to be very threatening to those who currently control the AA and diversity budgets at UO, and so rather than engage in a debate about effective policies they just accuse me of nasty motives, as in this article.

If your current University has successful fill-the-pipeline efforts, I would appreciate it if you could pass the info on to any people you still might have contact with, here at UO.

Bill Harbaugh

June 10, 2007

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