UO has “bad reputation” for faculty-admin relations, Lillis says

Board of Trustees chair Chuck Lillis thinks that the University of Oregon is good, but not great. How can the university make that transition? Everyone needs to play nice, Lillis said to the University of Oregon Senate on Nov. 19.

Lillis mentioned how the four independent search firms the university hired to find applicants for a new president all found a similar issue in the presidential search: Potential applicants perceived a dysfunctional relationship between the faculty and administration.

“The University of Oregon has a bad national reputation,” Lillis said. “Where the faculty and the administration don’t get along.”

Lillis listed the top structural issues facing the university. Those issues include:

1. The university is financially weak, especially compared with other schools in the AAU. Lillis said that UO is outspent two to one by other schools in the AAU, meaning that other universities spend significantly less than other schools do to “deliver its educational message.”

2. Tenure track faculty is under-sized. The capital campaign plans to grow tenure track faculty by 130 to 150 positions.

3. Student quality has increased, but not as much as AAU peers. Lillis wants to increase the discount rate offered to students, also known as the average rate discounted from tuition, to recruit the best students.

4. Oregonians don’t know much about the university.

5. A lengthy process associated with approving new programs. “My estimate is that for every one person who proposes change, about 100 people feel the need to review it.”

6. The university’s endowment should reach $2 billion in order to be competitive with other schools. The capital campaign is a start, but won’t bring the endowment up to $2 billion, according to Lillis.

7. “We’ve had a disastrous churn at the presidential level.” Lillis said.

8. The university needs more science labs.

9. The university needs to improve IT and improve infrastructure for big data.

Lillis’ address was 45 minutes long and took the place of many other items on the agenda.

Andrew Bonamici introduced Canvas, a new replacement for Blackboard.

The Senate also passed a motion opposing the university’s plans for handling a potential GTFF strike. Scott Greenstone has the story here.

The other eight items on the agenda were pushed to the Dec. 3 meeting. The normal speaking time allotted was extended for Lillis’ address.

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Alexandra Wallachy

Alexandra Wallachy

Alex is a head correspondent at the Emerald focusing on higher education and student government. She is also a producer for the Emerald Podcast Network and a huge fan of the Daily Show.