United Academics’ Values

The members of UA are proud to work at a comprehensive RI university that aspires to maintain its history of being a great educational institution in the face of years of declining investment in higher education. As the educators and researchers who are responsible for our core educational mission, we are committed to prioritizing student success and maintaining access and support for all qualified students, including domestic and international students, four-year undergraduates, transfer students, and graduate students. Budgets are an expression of values: we are dismayed that nowhere in his statement of budget reduction values does President Schill mention a commitment to teaching quality as one of his guiding principles. Undergraduate and graduate education must be central to every statement about our institutional values and we ask that all budget decisions prioritize the quality of our education mission to ensure that our students are successful during their time at the UO and after they graduate.

In this spirit, we endorse the following principles to ensure student success:

• Small class size—we must ensure small class and laboratory size for all students enrolled in courses that teach foundational skills in writing, language acquisition (including coding), mathematics, scientific research techniques, and the creative arts.

• A full range of courses—we must ensure that departments are able to offer specialized courses at the undergraduate and graduate level so that all students can make good progress toward their degrees. Many students come to the UO in order to study with leading researchers and to pursue areas of study that are not available at other institutions. In order to receive the specialized training they will need in order to succeed, students must have access to a full range of courses.

• Student research opportunities—as a comprehensive R1 institution, we are committed to training the next generation of intellectuals, researchers and artists and providing them the skills they need to identify research questions in the Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Creative Arts and develop interdisciplinary methodologies and creative responses to expand our shared understanding of our increasingly interconnected world.

• Faculty mentoring and advising—for many undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post docs, who wish to pursue careers closely aligned with their academic majors, a strong relationship with a faculty mentor is the experience that defines student success. Career and tenure-track faculty and career researchers are best positioned to advise students on extra readings or course selections for specialized majors and careers, oversee individual research projects, and write letters of recommendation that will open doors.   

• Graduate student success at an R1 institution is intimately tied to the ability of all research and creative faculty to pursue cutting edge work. A two-tier system in which research resources flow to those having the least contact with graduate and undergraduate students will impoverish the educational experience of all students.

•  Professional training—students coming to the UO to pursue professional degrees in fields as varied as musical performance and architecture require specialized training from professors of practice and instructors who have professional experience and local knowledge. Hiring freezes that limit the ability of departments to hire appropriate pro-tem and career faculty to run studios even as tenure track lines are increasingly dedicated to the hiring of research faculty are undermining the ability of many of the professional schools to train students in the skills they need to be successful.
• Diversity—a commitment to diversity must go beyond efforts to attract a diverse community of students, faculty, researchers, classified staff and OAs as defined by gender, race, ethnicity, country of origin and citizenship status, religion, class, sexual orientation, and personal history. A commitment to diversity must also prioritize efforts to retain those who have been historically excluded from and marginalized by institutions of higher learning. We are committed to creating a campus culture in which diversity—of underrepresented groups; academic, professional and creative fields; and learning and opportunities—is valued as a metric of excellence.

We, the career and tenure-track faculty and researchers at the UO, are professionals committed to the educational success of all students. We are committed to maintaining the UO as a public institution with the mission of serving the people of the state of Oregon. Continued cuts to career faculty, faculty of practice, and Graduate Educators and the increasing of class size are antithetical to the UO’s core educational mission of training future generations of civic, professional, and academic leaders. We ask that the President and Trustees reevaluate the UO budget to prioritize educational quality as the central value defining student success.

Whatever the financial impacts of enrollment decline and disastrous investment by the state, they should not impact the mission of the university:

The University of Oregon is a comprehensive public research university committed to exceptional teaching, discovery, and service. We work at a human scale to generate big ideas. As a community of scholars, we help individuals question critically, think logically, reason effectively, communicate clearly, act creatively, and live ethically.

Cuts to faculty, whether tenure or career instructional, will only serve to weaken the University’s commitment to its stated mission and values.  The academic and personal connections developed between students and career instructional faculty in particular are invaluable to student success and retention.

Administrator salaries, already exponentially higher than instructional faculty, have grown at alarming rates, new positions have been created, while instructor positions are eliminated.  Not only is this questionable when faced with an on-going budget crisis, but in no way does it align with the mission and goals as stated by the University. The service that career faculty provide to the University and the community at large is immense.  We reject the continuous cuts to instructional faculty when faced with budget deficits.

The bullet points listed above should not be viewed in isolation from one another. Rather, we consider them all integral, a nexus of values and priorities necessary to the functioning of this University. The way our administration has faced our current budget crisis, one that will continue past this current biennium, clearly demonstrates that their values are not ours. If they were, our budget crisis could easily transform into budget concerns by simply demanding that Athletics no longer receive subsidies from Academics. If we truly are a University committed to principles of equity, then we must acknowledge that the tremendous wealth generated from the NCAA comes from labor exploitation of student-athletes. UO and its Athletics Department could set a new standard whereby Universities acknowledge the exploitation of student-athletes as well as contribute to the Academic mission of the University by supporting programs, departments, and units committed to the success of first-generation students and students of color.