skip page navigationOregon State University
OSU Home.|Calendar.|Find Someone.|Maps.|Site Index.

Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate » February 23 - March 1, 2003

Faculty Senate President's Message



Faculty Senators

Bruce Sorte

Faculty Senate Summary
February 23rd - March 1st, 2003

Hopefully, you noticed a good deal of emphasis on scholarship and student athletes in the press releases on hiring Mike Riley as the new OSU football coach. It was clear in my conversations with Tim White and Bob DeCarolis during the search process, that your comments and emphasis on scholarship, advising and diversity were reinforcing criteria to which Tim and Bob were already strongly committed. The faculty senate president is a member of the Athletics Advisory Board and I attended the Board Meeting on Saturday. Again, Bob DeCarolis spent a significant portion of the time working with the Board on student scholarship issues. At times the discussions were intense, yet, they were productively intense and the meeting was well worth the time spent.

The subgroup of the Undergraduate Admissions Criteria Issue Group revised the proposed changes to the admissions criteria, in response to your February 6th deliberations and individual comments from faculty to remove a GPA level that would guarantee admission and require all students to submit an "insight resume" (previously the behavioral assessment tool. ****** would then evaluate the applicants resume, classes, completed, GPA, SAT, etc. and decide whether or not they would be *** admitted, **** admitted or not admitted. The EC expressed concerns as to whether, in fact, we had the capacity to carefully evaluate each packet for thousands of applicants or if there would be some GPA cutoff that might be used anyway, effectively raising the GPA without doing so explicitly. Members of the EC were also concerned about how Oregon parents and students would react to no guaranteed GPA level for admissions when the other OUS universities have a guaranteed level. We are now back to the drawing boards. The Undergraduate Admissions Criteria Issue Group has done a good job of reviewing and applying the data to propose what could be a very individualized and useful procedure. The question is whether we can afford to apply the procedure to all the applicants and whether Oregonians, and you, will accept a process with few fixed criteria. Please try to attend the Admission Policy Symposium session on March 10 and11. We hope to deliberate the proposed changes again in April.

I spent last week in Eastern Oregon working with business owners, county commissioners, OSU Agricultural Experiment Station and Extension faculty, non-profit folks, and concerned citizens to develop six county level economic models. These models will be used to assess the economic impacts of forest restoration, bull trout critical habitat designations, and economic development efforts. As I mentioned at the last Faculty Senate meeting, the 26 nonmetropolitan counties have not experienced any increase in real average earnings per job for 31 years, while metropolitan counties have seen slow increases totaling 27.2% over that same period. Nonmetro businesses and governments are then ahead of the metro governments, including universities, and many metro businesses in dealing with declining resources. Measure 5 and the 1990's may not have been as good as you thought they should be, yet, OSU's budgets continued to grow and most unclassified salaries exceeded inflation.

Applying last week's experience to recent projections of another $244 million revenue decline, the most important step I believe we need to take is to move from a "duck and cover" approach to viewing the current situation as our future. There may be temporary relief, however, I think all of Oregon will be happy to have nonmetro Oregon's real average earnings "no change" curve from the last 31 years for the next 31 years. In the last major recession of the early 1980's, I was working in a manufacturing firm and we did not start improving or working our way back to profitability until we agreed that the business environment had fundamentally shifted. We needed to stop whining and hoping, and get on with restructuring.

If OSU continues to follow past procedures, we will spend the next 30 months reducing our costs more than we already have by not refilling positions as they come open and/or laying off faculty and staff who are critical to this institution. We will stridently try to hold the line on PEBB and PERS and continue to see stories like those in The Oregonian on Sunday, March 2nd. Regular across-the-board cuts will continue to be routine. OSU 2007 may be partially implemented in a pessimistic and under-resourced environment. A new president may arrive to make difficult and unpopular decisions. Adversarial relationships may be common between the new OSU administration and faculty, staff and students. Our quality may be seriously jeopardized at the same time we raise tuitions and become less competitive in relation to the private institutions and other states' public institutions.

On the other hand, we could follow some of those more fiscally sound nonmetro counties and businesses pragmatic approaches by agreeing that we are all in this together. We may need to, for limited periods of time, reduce FTE. That may be much better than freezing or even reducing salary levels. We might want to become serious participants in the PERS discussions. Adjusting actuarial tables and capping returns at 8% were changes that should have been made years ago and are not perceived by many Oregonians as getting down to business on reforming PERS. I have followed your instructions and stayed out of the discussions, yet, I am afraid that the decisions may be made too quickly in an adversarial environment and structured more for public relations impact than to assure OSU can recruit and retain the quality of employees who can succeed for the next 31 years. We could carefully prioritize our health care needs, protect the core of those needs and be willing to pick-up more of the routine costs. That will happen anyway, it is just a matter of whether we are drug into it or participate in leading the way.

When I work with counties, there are differences in their approaches and levels of success. Some of them are willing to cut loose from the past, be less protective, and trust each other. They take the time to be involved so they will know the details of how well their initiatives are working and they do not need to rely on the media or hearsay for their information. They know if their ideas need to be refined and if their trust is justified. If they are not being told the whole story or someone is being lazy, they have serious uncomfortable discussions with their colleagues or neighbors. Yet, they come out of those discussions more resilient. We have many more frank discussions ahead if OSU is to avoid managing for decline and continue being a significant contributor.