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Harbaugh Questions Diversity Effort, Officially Becomes Frohnmayer Nemesis

Bill Harbaugh is at it again. Having already filed ethics complaints against President Frohnmayer, to protest Johnson Hall’s unwillingness to release (public) Affirmative Action plan documents, the maverick economics professor is now questioning the legality of the UO’s “Underrepresented Minority Recruitment Program,” according to this story in the ODE today.

At question this time around is a recruitment program, which is described by the ODE as follows:

The UMRP is a $500,000-a-year program University administrators implemented in hopes of recruiting top-tier minority faculty to campus. It encourages departments to hire underrepresented minority faculty in tenure-related faculty positions by reimbursing the department for recruitment expenses. These perks, meant to draw potential faculty members, can amount to as much as $90,000 during a minimum of three years.

Harbaugh’s claim is that this compensation is a violation of the 14th Ammendment, and the Civil Rights Act, because it compensates faculty recruits solely based on their self identification as one of the federally listed, underrepresented classes. Frohnmayer is defending the programs legality, on the basis that it gives the money to departments, who then give it to the recruits, effectively bypassing Administration agency, and because the money becomes available only after the candidate is hired.

To further defend the program, the ODE trots out a few quotes from MCC advisor Steve Morozumi, to the effect that Harbaugh is an inveterate racist who is afraid of a diverse campus. Claiming that Harbaugh “holds a grudge about last year’s passage of the Diversity Plan,” Morozumi continued,

“I don’t think he has any understanding of history and the actual conditions that exist for people in the real world. There’s more of a good faith effort developing as a result of persistent efforts to get the University to recognize that we are behind the times in keeping pace with the rest of the world. Now we’re just beginning to move and so there’s some reason for hope, and that’s what’s alarming him.”

I don’t know Harbaugh that well, but I did interview him about his issues with the diversity building process on campus in this years Don’t Drink The Kool Aid Issue, available here, and Morozumi’s analysis seems waaay off. Then again, Morozumi is of the “not being a racist costs money” school of thought, while Harbaughs approach to diversity is considerably more nuanced. Harbaugh has real, credible critiques of the diversity-building process on this campus, as well as an alternative diversity plan, which can be accessed at What makes Harbaugh take on the sacred cow of diversity, when everyone else is happy to just give or receive money and pretend like it solves the problem? I honestly have no idea, but this is certainly one of the most important debates we can have, and I’m glad that someone is asking questions.

  1. Sean Jin says:

    Ooooh schweet.

  2. Niedermeyer says:

    Bill: Das Frohn sure seems to be beating around the bush in describing his feelings about you. Then again, at least he’s shooting straighter than Morozumi… Oh, and at least you didn’t get the Papa Bear O’Reilly treatment. Hang in there, and remember, if nothing else you have encouraged this student to send more bourbon-inspired emails to Johnson Hall. Give me a second to wikipedia John W. Davis first…

    Sean: Fire away. You are listed as an author, so you should be able to publish.

  3. Sean says:

    Oh yeah, Ted…what does a man have to do around here to get his blog posts published these days?

  4. Sean says:

    Wait, is that real?

  5. Andy says:

    Yes! The first Econ prof to publicly admit they read the Commentator!

  6. Bill H says:

    I’m just tring to do my job, making sure that the MRS = the MRT. It’s true, however, that I did email President Frohnmayer late one night, after a bourbon or two, and compare him unfavorably with former Solicitor General John W. Davis. So I guess he feels justified saying the following about me:

    “It’s a claim,” said Frohnmayer. “It’s an allegation. It’s a smear and it’s not true.”

    “He has no legal basis,” Frohnmayer said. “This has had a complete legal review and people can issue wild allegations all they want, but they have no authority for them. The program has been carefully considered and it is lawful and of issue.”

    “Harbaugh’s wild allegations have been a complete waste of time and public money. He should be embarrassed,” Frohnmayer said.

    Frohnmayer called the allegations “foolish.”

    “Members of the bar that are looking at this are incredulous that (Harbaugh) would even take himself seriously,” he said. “He put a public entity at a lot of expense for nothing.”

    Frohnmayer called Harbaugh’s hypothesis “preposterous.”

    “It’s a frivolous complaint,” he said. “There’s no connection whatsoever.”

    “The accusations were professionally very careless and I think the commission obviously saw right through them and dismissed them in the entirety in both cases,” Frohnmayer said.

    I’ll keep you posted when he gets farther into the thesaurus.

    Bill H.

  7. michael grey says:


  8. Sean says:

    The argument of Morozumi and the MCC crowd is that the university needs more faculty of color to show the ‘white masses’ that people of color are able to achieve high positions in society.

    However, the fallacy of this is that it will only insinuate the people of color are able to achieve high positions in society ONLY if given special treatment and treated as exceptions.

    Personally, I’d rather be recognized for my intellect and credentials rather than my skin color.

  9. Timothy says:

    Having spent a lot of time in the Economics department as an undergrad, although not too much with Prof. Harbaugh, I think it’s patently ridiculous to imply that Harbaugh is a racist. Frankly, that sort of implication says a lot more about Morozumi than it does about Harbaugh.

    If I had to speculate about his motivations, I’d say that he is interested in getting things right, and having a solid plan for the university that will actually help the students and faculty who fall under the “diversity” banner. Morozumi and his ilk think that just hiring more people of a certain skin color or background will mean that students who learn from them and share those characteristics are more successful. That’s ridiculous, and they believe it because it is easy: thinking that way does not require any amount of introspection nor anything like effort or planning. “Hire more minority instructors, then we’ll get more/better minority students!” is amazingly simple, the alternative plan touted by Harbaugh and company requires much more work on the part of the University. It’s no wonder that the Administration resists it.

  10. Sean says:

    Well, Ted, can’t you see the obviousness of the situation? Hiring faculty based on quality, credentials, and qualifications alone is racist. Not being a racist costs money, but money isn’t the only cost. We should all be willing to take a hit when it comes to quality of education, too, if it means a more diverse and tolerant campus.

    Steve Morozumi hates me, by the way.

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