The Office of the President Emeritus: University of Oregon

Speeches and Writings

"State of the University 2004"

State of the University
University of Oregon Senate
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
3:00 p.m.
207 Chapman

Dave Frohnmayer, President
University of Oregon

President Marcus, ladies and gentlemen of the Senate and guests.

Welcome on this bucolic autumn day. Thank you for your allegiance to faculty governance demonstrated by your attendance here today under these circumstances of distraction!


There are specific areas I have been asked to address at this gathering of the University Senate, which I would like to do at this time.

  1. Budget
    1. Financial Picture
      • State appropriations are approximately the same in absolute dollars now as ten years ago-a striking comment on public disinvestments.
      • More than 2/3 of the UO's instructional budget is now provided by tuition and fees.
      • Overall, the UO will have an education and general operating budget that is close to being balanced for the FY 2003-2005 biennium. Student numbers are expected to be slightly higher than last year.
      • Expectations from the governor for proposals in the upcoming legislative session are positive and hopeful.
      • We are comfortable with the direction of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and the energy and intelligence of its new members.
      • We extend our appreciation for the level of commitment to higher education from the governor - as recently as last Friday when he gave his valedictory comments as temporary chairman of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.
    2. Salary Increases for next biennium
      • The governor is on record as supporting a salary increase in the next biennial budget. This will cover all employees although there is no detailed information available at this time, and the results of the collective bargaining process will determine the amount for employees covered by these agreements.
      • The governor has requested that all state agencies cover the increased costs of health insurance benefits through calendar year 2005. The State Board has agreed to cover this per the governor's request and there will be no additional cost to the employees for health insurance coverage through calendar year 2005.
  2. Enrollment
    • Enrollment is a crucial issue for us given our financial dependence on tuition dollars. Our immediate prospects here are positive.
    • Enrollment at the University of Oregon is expected to increase to more than 20,200 this fall, according to preliminary projections. This is nearly 200 more than last year and includes a robust number of transfers. Both resident and non-resident numbers are up, demonstrating that we increasingly are a magnet for quality students. The final student profile will be available in early November.
    • SAT scores for newly enrolled freshmen are predicted to be the highest in UO history.
    • Enrollment will show a slight increase compared to last fall's 20,033 students.
    • Careful planning and strategic course management are allowing the university to provide access to classes and to services for students at the anticipated level of enrollment despite funding limitations. I thank all faculty and staff for their efforts in making last minute adjustments to meet the academic and service needs of our students.
  3. The Campaign
    • Ten years ago we completed the largest capital campaign in the history of the University of Oregon at $255 million.
    • We are now in the silent phase of Campaign Oregon: Transforming Lives with a goal of $600 million.
    • We are opening the public phase of the campaign with a gala event on January 29, 2005.
    • The cornerstones - and categories for which funds are being raised - are: (1) inspiration (teaching and learning), (2) discovery (research and scholarship), (3) connections (to our various communities), and (4) opportunity (financial support for students).
    • The need for the campaign should be self-evident, but a few raw facts underscore its importance:
    • In 1990 the state provided 32% of the UO's total budget, and tuition accounted for 23%.
    • In the current year the state portion was 13 percent, and tuition accounted for 33%.
    • The remainder is made up of grants and contracts, as well as auxiliary funds, which have both increased significantly.
    • When we compare 1994-1995 to 2004-2005 (a ten year span): overall full-time undergraduate tuition and fees have increased more than 160%.
    • This makes it all the more vital that, as part of our capital campaign, we intend to raise $100 million for scholarships.
  4. Ten Years Ago

    I have been president of the University of Oregon for just more than 10 years now, my appointment effective July 1, 1994. At my official investiture two years later, I made remarks that I believe are appropriate to repeat today.

    I said:

    "Some may think that on occasions such as today's, the president-to-be should appear unshaven and unkempt, descending from a high mountain peak bearing freshly inscribed tablets, or emerging red-eyed from a vast desert in flowing robes ... proclaiming in the gravelly cry of the prophet that we have lost our path, and must be guided by an exalted new vision.

    "This might seem," I said, "especially important now, when critics of higher education have sharpened their knives, thrusting and cutting at the efficiency, relevancy and values of our academy.

    "But today," I added, "I offer no Utopian vision of a vastly different university. I do not think we need one. Ours is an ancient enterprise, refined and proven through the tests of two millennia. The worth of our great modern research universities like this is reckoned over and again in the currency of great teaching, invaluable research, and outstanding public service.

    "We do not need," I stated then, "a different university. But we must constantly dedicate ourselves to the development of a better one."

    I say the same thing today.

    We do not need a different university. But we must constantly dedicate ourselves to the development of a better one.

    I believe, in the past ten years we have done that.

    It has not been easy. It has not been simple. It has not been everything we wanted.

    But I believe, in that time, we have brought about some incredible transformations - transformations that have changed us - and that reach out to change the world.

    And when I say we, I mean we ...

  5. A Lot Can Happen

    A lot can happen - and a lot has happened - in this past 10 years. Let me recite some benchmarks.

    And, lest there be any confusion, I want to make clear that I do not intend these remarks as my tombstone epitaph - rather, they serve as more of a mileage check to see just how far we have come - and also how far we have to go.

    Ten years ago we lived in a different world.

    • The word "Monica" had not entered our vocabulary.
    • "e-Bay" was just a place to dock your boat.
    • No one had ever been asked "is that your final answer?"

    More seriously:

    • We had just ended a war with Iraq.
    • The economy was taking off.
    • With the recent fall of the Soviet Union, it was declared by some that "history was at an end."
    • The Twin Towers stood in New York City.

    In many ways it truly was a different world.

    Ten years ago on this campus:

    • Different faces - many somewhat younger-looking than today - greeted me as I walked our tree-lined walks and paths or met some of you for the first time.
    • Our Museum of Art was small, overcrowded and lacked environmental controls that would allow major works to be shown here. Attendance was sparse and hopes for improvement seemed bleak.
    • Our Law School was facing accreditation challenges, mostly based on lack of space.
    • Federal grant figures were not that impressive.
    • Our Business School was crammed in unsightly and unfriendly Gilbert Hall, along with more than 20 percent of the other classes taught on campus.
    • Freshman Interest Groups (FIGs), while established, had not reached the vitality they now exhibit.
    • In the wake of Measure 5, we had just cut one-and-one-half colleges.
    • The College of Education was a shadow of its former self - some even thought it was dead.
    • We were deciding - amid controversy and hostile city counselors - to tear down the "temporary" Amazon housing that had been in place for nearly half a century.
    • Our relationship with our sister university Oregon State was to become shaky - and to get worse.
    • Our efforts at becoming a truly multicultural campus were just beginning to take shape, but had far to go.
    • We had not yet published one of the truly landmark books of the decade, the Second Edition of the Atlas of Oregon.
    • And - lest I give short shrift to athletics - we had not gone to a Rose Bowl game for nearly half a century - and we had not yet been able to turn Autzen Stadium into the venue that today enables us to gain a large part of the external visibility we now enjoy.

    In the last 10 years the world we know has changed dramatically. I don't have to spell out to any thinking person the changes and the challenges.

    But in the face of these changes and challenges we - and I emphasize WE - have accomplished much.

  6. Ten Years of Accomplishment

    To return to the points I just mentioned ...

    • In the past 10 years, 396 new tenure-track faculty members have been hired.
    • The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art will open soon as one of the best designed and most eagerly anticipated museums of art on the West Coast.
    • Our Law School has moved far beyond any accreditation questions to become a leader in the nation, one of the country's most technologically advanced law centers, and one that is recognized world-wide for academic excellence and extensive public service.
    • Our federal grant figures are becoming impressive, having doubled in the past decade, with researchers earning a record $90.2 million in contracts, grants and other competitive funding in 2003-04, a 16 percent increase over the previous year and a 56% jump in just three years.
    • The Business School, now the Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, is housed in the spectacular Lillis Business Complex and offers nationally recognized programs in all its departments, as well as such innovative programs as the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship and the James H. Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.
    • For our freshmen, we now offer First Year Interest Groups and Freshman Seminars, providing small class settings to our first year students that focus on specific majors or career interests, or introduce them to new areas of interest. In addition, Pathways links students with faculty in innovative and creative ways of pursuing their general education courses. Unlike many sister universities, our undergraduate lower division program has intellectual coherence, a product of the "Process for Change" led several years ago by Provost John Moseley.
    • Our colleges are growing. The College of Education has brought itself back from what seemed to many to be the precipice - and it continues to garner external support at an extraordinary level. It is the nation's leader in education research, both per capita and often in absolute dollars.
    • We have replaced what was substandard, unsafe and unattractive housing with comfortable and affordable family housing.
    • The relationship we now have with Oregon State University is a robust partnership that strengthens both institutions and gives increasing opportunity to Oregonians.
    • For the first time in 50 years the University of Oregon last year hosted the annual meeting of the Association of American Universities, the most prestigious university organization in the world.
    • In our efforts to create a truly more multicultural university - one that reflects our world and its peoples and cultures, we have worked diligently to come to where we are.
  7. A Magnet

    Quality is a magnet ... and probably our lifeline ... there is no success without our belief in that quality ... and this faculty is the heart and soul of that quality ...

    It was my pleasure to meet so many of the new faculty at the McMorran House at the beginning of the new academic year. They bring new vitality to a warm and accepting faculty culture.

  8. What is to be done?
    • Now our job is to get the legislature to heed the governor's call to reinvest in higher education ...
    • We must continue and conclude our Campaign - everyone has a responsibility.
    • We must work with new Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity, Dr. Gregory Vincent, as he works this year to develop a diversity plan for campus.

    At the time of my investiture, I closed with the following remarks:

    " ... this university has been an enduring source of inspiration and renewal in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones. I love not only the beauty of these emerald acres, not merely the stones and bricks of its architecture, but the memories, dreams and hopes that give life to our vibrant and eternal spirit. I pledge that this great university and those people who give it sustenance and meaning will continue to have my most profound and continuing affection.

    "Having so pledged, it remains only for me to ask you all now to join me in continuing to build, in continuing to nurture, and in continuing to celebrate this great enterprise, this heritage, and this promise, our University of Oregon."

    I do the same today ... this is our University of Oregon.