Lariviere must learn from history

This week Richard Lariviere will begin his new job as the University’s 22nd president. It’s a prestigious occupation in this state, with attendant monuments all over campus to prove it: former Presidents Johnson, Carson, Campbell, Erb and Straub all have buildings named after them.

Another president, Robert D. Clark, has an honors college bearing his name, as well as a document that outlines the relationship between the University administration and the student government, allowing for student control over the incidental fee: The Clark Document.

Clark was at the helm of the University during a very different time. From 1969 to 1975, this was an activist campus in the throes of cultural revolution. But his steady and often inclusive leadership can hold many lessons for President Lariviere.

In his first address to the faculty’s senate (then called the Academic Senate, in which all faculty members could show up and vote), Clark addressed issues of shared responsibility between the administration, the faculty and the students.

“We may be on the point of losing something extraordinarily precious in the life of this University – governance by a concerned faculty,” Clark said on Oct. 1, 1969. The same concerns have been voiced in recent months, not by the University president but by faculty members themselves.

“I am hopeful that the role of the Academic Senate can be enlarged … in functions of studying and proposing or acting upon policy change,” Clark continued. One can only hope Lariviere has similar desires.

At the moment Clark spoke, the ASUO was preparing to sue the University administration over control of the incidental fee. The previous spring the state university system had taken the ASUO’s over-realized fund and used it to pay for a computer center at Oregon State University. Clark returned $27,000 to ASUO programs and another $40,000 in reserve funds.

“The solution to this thorny problem, I believe, is to extend, not retrench (student) involvement,” Clark said. “Let us encourage the students to make their government more representative and more responsible to student views, and let us enlarge student control of their own budgets.”

In order to “achieve the delicate balance between personal involvement and delegation of authority,” Clark continued, it would be necessary to “encourage a free flow of information so that prospective decisions will be influenced by those persons most immediately affected and so that decisions already made may be subjected to scrutiny and review.”

It is this last idea with which any student, faculty member or concerned citizen seeking public information from the University can most surely agree.

Good luck, Mr. President.

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