UO Faculty Condemns Higher Ed Board

Dec 1, 2011

EUGENE, Ore. - At a special meeting of the University of Oregon faculty Wednesday, the State Board of Higher Education and Chancellor George Pernstiener were blasted for firing U of O president Richard Lariviere. Lariviere got a standing ovation from about one thousand faculty and students when he walked into Mac Court.

Sounding choked up, Lariviere spoke very briefly before the statutory faculty assembly, transferring his authority to Professor Robert Kyr, head of the U of O Senate.

Lariviere: "And to say thank you, I love you, thank you."

Larivere left Mac Court, to more cheers and applause.
Then, Chancellor George Pernsteiner and board member Lynda Ciuffetti got an earful from professors and students.

Robert Melnick: "Good afternoon, I'm Robert Melnick, Professor of Landscape Architecture and in my 30th year at the University of Oregon. Like others throughout the U of O Community, and I mean the international community, I have been sickened and stabbed in the back by your actions. You have sent the message that innovation, creativity and excellence in higher education are really not welcome in the state of Oregon."

Michael Fakhri "My name is Michael Fakhri, I'm an Assistant Professor at the School of Law and Resident Scholar at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics. Today, I'm worried that dialogue will be smoke and mirrors. WE'll have our say, we'll go back, you'll go back and the decisions that have been made will just play out. You need to earn our trust at this point. We have no reason to trust you, the way decisions have been made."

Caitlin Lang: "My name is Caitlin Lang and I am a proud University of Oregon senior. In the past two weeks, I have been nothing but saddened, angered and confused in what I have seen from people who are supposed to be my role models. You are the epitome of what I'm supposed to grow up and be, and I don't want to be that."

Chancellor George Pernstiener was asked what he had learned from the events of the last two weeks.
Pernsteiner: "I have learned that I need to communicate better (laughter). I have learned that I needed to work harder with each of the presidents in order to ensure that they were working together effectively."

The faculty voted to establish an independent board of trustees at the U of O. They also condemned the board of higher education for firing President Richard Lariviere. After the meeting, Senate President Robert Kyr explained:

Kyr: "The motion about the condemnation of the Board and the Chancellor actually dates back to 1987 when our University President Paul Olum was fired. And, we literally took the motion from that faculty assembly in 1987, and substituted the name of Richard Lariviere. Nothing has changed between 1987 and 2011. And, for us, that was the height of irony."

Olum, like Lariviere, had pushed for more independence for the U of O.

Chancellor Pernstiener says he hopes to hire an interim president by the end of next week. He says he will involve the u of o community in the hiring of a permanent replacement for President Lariviere. Lariviere's last day is December 28th.

Copyright 2011 KLCC.