University Boards' Makeup Stalls Talks

Article excerpt

Byline: Saul Hubbard The Register-Guard

SALEM - Should university faculty and other staff have any seats on the independent governing boards proposed for the University of Oregon, Portland State University and potentially Oregon State University?

The University of Oregon Foundation, the UO's nonprofit fundraising arm, has so far resisted proposals that would give designated voting seats to faculty and classified staff, according to lawmakers who are attempting to craft the independent-boards bill.

The issue has become an obstinate sticking point in the drawn-out and detail-driven negotiations over the governing boards.

Two key lawmakers, Sen. Mark Hass, a Beaverton Democrat, and Rep. Michael Dembrow, a Portland Democrat, said they thought they had reached a tentative compromise with university administration representatives on the issue on Friday. Each 11-to-15-member university board of trustees would have to have one designated seat for a faculty member and one for a classified employee, under the deal the lawmakers thought they had reached.

In an important concession to universities in that deal, those two members would be nonvoting members, unless a university board itself decided otherwise.

That formula satisfied Dembrow, a community college professor who has strongly advocated for designated staff positions on the boards, and Hass, who believes that the state should impose only limited mandates on the boards' makeup.

Late Friday, however, the deal was off after running into renewed resistance from university representatives, Hass and Dembrow said. A private meeting on Monday between Dembrow and Ginny Lang, a lobbyist hired by the UO Foundation, yielded no progress, they said.

The deadlock could endanger what law makers and university representatives say has been an other wise conciliatory work process on the boards bill, Senate Bill 270.

Lawmakers and university representatives agreed that one student would have a designated voting seat on the board, for example, and that the board would need legislative approval to raise tuition for in-state students by more than 5 percent annually. …