University of Oregon President Fired

Last night, members of the UO community received a letter from President Lariviere, in which he informed us that “I received news on Monday in a meeting with the chair of the State Board of Higher Education that my contract as president of the University of Oregon will not be renewed. I was told I could resign or accept the termination of my contract, which runs through July 1, 2012, and I am weighing those options at this time.”

I haven’t met Lariviere and having arrived here just a year before he did, I can’t speak about him in any comparative and meaningful sense. And I’ve been uncomfortable about his pursuit of what amounts to a form of privatization.

However, I don’t know what you do with a state institution that receives so very little from the state any more and I think that Lariviere was genuinely trying to figure out a way to serve our students in a state that really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about public education. Seriously.

Moreover, the swiftness with which Lariviere was dispatched and the secrecy that veils the decisions of the State Board of Higher Education should make us all concerned about how these Old Boys’ Networks continue to function. If the unfolding tragedy at Penn State has taught us anything it should be that decision making in institutions needs to be transparent and accountable to constituents (especially faculty, staff, and students who will be living with these decisions in ways that the State Board will not).  It should also send a powerful message to all university workers that dissent will not be tolerated, that thinking outside the box is not part of the “Oregon way,” and that this is a profoundly authoritarian system. Who would want to be president, given those circumstances? It’s also a reminder of how vulnerable we all are (tenured faculty included) and, for me, at least, further confirmation of the need for a union.

If you read this, please consider sending a message of protest to Chancellor George Pernsteiner and members of the State Board of Education:

George Pernsteiner <>,,,,,,,,,,,,


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