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OUS Proposes Larivere’s Immediate Termination, and the President Gets White Knighted

According to an official statement by the OUS released earlier today, the board will be “[voting] in a public meeting on Monday, November 28, 2011 regarding the status of the employment agreement of Dr. Richard Lariviere as president of the University of Oregon.” In layman’s terms? They’re going to be voting on whether to fire him that day or not.

The blog We Love Our Pres, created yesterday in support of President Lariviere’s reinstatement, has posted the letter in full, which can be read here. Obviously, they’re not happy about it.

They’re not the only ones, either. In the twenty hours since Lariviere sent out the catalytic email announcing that his contract would not be renewed, support for the President has come flooding in the way only Eugene knows how to flood.

From the Register-Guard:

Thirty-six department and program heads of the UO College of Arts and Sciences signed a letter to the board and other state leaders to “express their unequivocal support” of Lariviere and to urge “he be retained.”

[…]

Leaders of the University Senate, which includes faculty, students and staff, met in an emergency session Wednesday.afternoon [sic] to plan action over the next week or two They [sic] immediately started a petition for Lariviere’s reinstatement — collecting 1,600 signatures in the first two hours — and shared information on Facebook and Twitter.

“The very people who obviously are directly connected with the president have had no voice, no voice in this matter,” said Robert Kyr, University Senate president.

[…]

“This is a terrible decision for the university and the State of Oregon that promotes mediocrity rather than rewarding visionary leadership,” said Julia Mee, the [Alumni Association’s] board president. “We urge the board and governor to immediately reverse their decision and reinstate him.

Portland Business Journal highlighted supporters even higher up the chain, with State Senator Floyd Prozanski (or, apparently “Senator Duck” as he likes to be called) coming to Lariviere’s defense:

“I didn’t fully agree with all of the perspective that he brought as president but I honored the man for being able to stand up and say what he believes in,” Prozanski said. “If he’s being canned because he showed some independence, that is wrong. We should be able to have this dialogue between reasonable people, especially in higher education.”

Even the esteemed academics Chip Kelly and Phil Knight provided their individual takes on the matter; Kelly told The Oregonian that he was “really surprised” to hear the news, while Daddy Knight got a bit more creative:

It deeply saddens me that some people in power in our state continue to drive Oregon into a death spiral with their embrace of mediocrity. [This is an] astonishingly bad decision…It’s yet another application of Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law. For the Chancellor and the State Board of Higher Education, a “team player” is someone who falls in line with their acceptance of mediocrity, and the one who strives for excellence does not fit in.

Lariviere is even getting support from people who arguably see him as The Enemy. The United Academics of the University of Oregon, the chief organization behind attempts at faculty unionization at the UO and no friend to Lariviere, said even they would prefer Lariviere over the devil they don’t know:

No one in United Academics expected that President Lariviere would be an ally in the move toward collective bargaining at the University of Oregon. On the contrary, we expected a tough and vigorous negotiation with him. But we would much rather negotiate with a president who understands our priorities and goals for the university’s future than with one who does not.

They went on to note that, “President Lariviere’s termination serves as a reminder that in the absence of a binding contract, faculty, researchers, and teaching staff will remain confined to a limited and ineffectual role in shaping the university’s future.”

Lastly, The Register Guard reports that UO students have taken their own special brand of action: “Students started a Facebook page, Lariviere for UO president, that had more than 800 likes by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, and was drawing messages of support from business people and UO employees.”

So there you have it. Faculty, the University Senate, the Alumni Association, senators, football coaches, billionaires, the AAUP, and a smattering of the student body want to keep Lariviere around, and are gnashing their teeth at the equally gnash-y OUS. It may all come to a head next week with the board’s vote and, shockingly enough, this shit might end up getting crazier.

As for the man himself?

“[After this] There is a very good likelihood I’ll be teaching Sanskrit,” Lariviere told The Oregonian. “That is a prospect that has a lot of appeal.”

The University Senate’s petition to reinstate Lariviere can be found here. The Lariviere for President facebook page, if you’re really that interested, can be found here.

Update: UO Matters has an interesting roadmap of reactions and motivations here.