Image: detail from bronze grille, Knight Library North entrance. Photo by flickr user andrewb823, Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial.
The Governor’s news release supporting the Board states that:
…Any private sector CEO, faced with a division manager who was totally dedicated to his or her specific department but willfully and repeatedly undermined the needs and goals of the overall company would, I expect, fire the manager ….
This analogy is flawed. The president of a research university is nothing like a division manager or department head in any organization, public or private. All university presidents are CEOs themselves, leading complex institutions with distinct histories, missions, and identities. The OUS System’s equivalent in the corporate world is a holding company with all production and value residing in its wholly owned subsidiaries. With this in mind, let’s ask the question another way:
“…What would Warren Buffet do with the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway’s best-performing subsidiary — someone who kept the corporation running in the black through the worst part of the recession, who grew demand from new customers, increased loyalty from existing customers, opened new global markets, contributed to the local community, built staff morale to an all time high?”
Also from the Governor’s statement:
The Board of Higher Education is a group of thoughtful and dedicated Oregonians – many of whom have executive management experience themselves…
Due to multifaceted missions and a wide array of internal and external constituencies, executive management and leadership positions in a research university are arguably far more complex than their private sector equivalents. But if private sector experience is needed for street cred, take a look at Richard Lariviere’s curriculum vitae for examples of his significant and successful experience in private industry, and the ways he has used this background to advance university-industry partnerships and economic development.
Richard Lariviere is President of the University of Oregon and a visible leader in the transformation of higher education in the 21st century. He has an unwavering commitment to public research universities as global knowledge engines that change lives and benefit society. His vision for academic excellence includes everyone, including undergraduates.
Earlier this week, President Lariviere was given notice that his contract won’t be renewed. This is a travesty and the campus, alumni, and donor communities are rallying in protest. Within hours, blogs were published, twitter feeds and hashtags launched, and a branding campaign designed by the School of Journalism and Communication. The UO Senate started a petition that garnered over 4,000 signatures in its first two days. Teach-ins and marches are booked for next week.
Subject: Lariviere decision
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2011 17:10:09 -0800
Dear Governor Kitzhaber, Chancellor Pernsteiner, and members of the OUS
I am writing to express my deep disappointment and concern with your
decision to end Richard Lariviere’s contract as President of the
University of Oregon.
Higher education is in a period of profound and disruptive change.
During the next decade, public institutions like ours face further state
disinvestment, societal expectations for higher quality and lower cost,
demands for accountability, and competitive threats from for-profit and
Richard Lariviere is exactly the kind of president we need to survive
and thrive through this period. He has the essential leadership
qualities of vision, creativity, passion, inspiration, and courage in
full measure. He is a powerful advocate for the life-changing impact of
higher education, research, and scholarship on individuals, communities,
and society. What some of you may not know is that he also has an
exceptional understanding of the strategic importance of networked
information and communication technologies in the 21st century research
and education environment.
Richard Lariviere is a role model for higher education leaders
everywhere. Instead of letting him go, the Board should recognize his
transformational leadership and celebrate his success. For the sake of
the UO, the OUS system, the people of the state, and the larger
enterprise of public higher education, please reconsider this decision.
As the next installment from the plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose department, here is an interesting excerpt from an article in Old Oregon, Vol. V, No. 3 (December, 1922). The author, Colin V. Dyment, was professor of journalism, Dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, a member of the inaugural University Library Committee (1921), and coach of the men’s soccer team.
How does this compare to current conversations about selectivity in admissions, state expectations of public universities, elitism (real or perceived), and academic standards?
Rebooting the Past… FIG readers take note — this issue of Old Oregon also includes an essay by Lucile Saunders, “Glimpses of the Southern Continent.”
Apologies for the screenshot (jpeg image) — please let me know if you need the text transcribed.