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You Are Now Exiting the Frohn Zone

The Statesman Journal has a sloppy french-kiss of a goodbye to Frohnmayer:

Dave Frohnmayer wanted to be Oregon’s governor back in 1990. That didn’t happen.

But he has no regrets, and neither should Oregonians. Frohnmayer has charted the state’s direction through the thousands of lives he has influenced. For the past 15 years he has been president of the University of Oregon.

He leaves that job today, entering a well-deserved retirement, although he still will teach a bit at the UO.

Frohnmayer is the first native Oregonian to serve as president of one of the state’s large research universities.

He is a man of considerable personal grace and courage, someone for whom leadership and public service have been a lifelong calling.

Oh, brother. But wait, it goes on:

It’s not hyperbole to describe him as the epitome of an Oregonian. That characterization extends far beyond his passions for the environment and for citizen involvement in our democracy.

As a Medford native, he had his roots in the common sense culture of southern, semi-rural Oregon. He traveled the world, including being a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, but he always come home to Oregon. He held some of the most influential offices in Oregon — as state attorney general, UO law school dean and university president — yet he remained accessible to everyday Oregonians, including keeping his home number listed in the telephone book.

Sadly, Frohnmayer may be one of a vanishing breed. As a politician, he was a moderate Republican, a centrist in a state that increasingly seems dominated by ideological extremes and special interests.

The University of Oregon should continue to prosper under its new president. Richard Lariviere has been executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of Kansas and before that was a dean at the University of Texas — two outstanding public universities.

It can be said that Oregon universities are overachievers, certainly in comparison to the meager financial support they receive from the state. That achievement has been evident at the U of O.

It remains the only Oregon institution in the Association of American Universities, which comprises 62 top public and private research universities in the U.S. and Canada.

The UO conducts more than $100 million a year in federally funded research. The UO Honors College is one of the best bargains in American higher education, and Frohnmayer notes that the UO has the nation’s No. 1 public college of education.

During his tenure, the University of Oregon has grown in enrollment, buildings, fund-raising and stature.

Frohnmayer would have been a good governor — possibly a great one — although he would have faced the same Measure 5-created financial challenges that doomed Democratic Gov. Barbara Roberts to serving only one term.

In the end, Oregonians gained Frohnmayer for 15 years at the helm of the University of Oregon. He was an outstanding president: he is a great Oregonian.

As a proud, nay, almost jingoistic Oregonian, I can’t help but like this editorial a little bit, but really? Can someone in this damn country (besides former president George W. Bush) retire or die without getting apotheosized? I expect this kind of thing from television or blogs or Facebook (FROHN U LIVE IN OUR HEARTS 4 EVR!!!1), but you would think one of the top daily papers in the state could step back and muster the tiniest sliver of perspective.

Listen, I dig the Frohn. He’s a smart guy – smarter and more politically savvy than I’ll ever be. And as a person, he’s genuinely friendly and easy-going. For example, he agreed to do the cover picture for our 25th Anniversary Issue, and I’ve seen him getting his picture taken with students on the patio of Taylor’s.

As president of the UO, he’s done a great job, all things considered, of fundraising and keeping the school competitive. In fact, you couldn’t ask for much better. But you (and by you I mean the Statesman Journal) can’t give him a free pass. In the Recession Issue editorial, I wrote about a few things the incoming administration could change – namely transparency.

If there was one glaring flaw in the Frohn Zone, it was the administration’s tendency towards being heavy-handed and opaque. From dragging its feet on public record requests to flat-out refusing to compromise or even talk to its critics, the UO administration made a point of doing what it wanted, when it wanted and woe to those who got in its way.

In fact, Oregonian columnist Steve Duin recently noted the “bizarre, paranoid and problematic culture of secrecy at the University of Oregon.

So why exactly is a crappy student magazine holding the UO administration more accountable than a top daily?

  1. Johnny says:

    Loved it, I just threw up on you Anthony

  2. Anthony says:

    Just threw up in my mouth reading that, gross.

  3. nike urbanism duk says:

    The newspapers will prop up the Frohn legacy now and when the arena revenue projections tank they will beat up on the legislature. Frohnmayer must have given out plenty of free tickets to Autzen in order to activate these journalistic blow-hards. The lesson here is that when we have campus papers like the Emerald to be a starting point you end up with complete morons eventually running papers all over the state. At least we are all well informed about what sunscreen we should buy.

  4. Alex says:

    That’s nothing compared to the “he should have been governor” editorial the Oregonian ran earlier.

  5. Emily says:

    It is not hyperbole, however, to describe the Frohn, as the epitome of everything Oregon. From his historically innovative policy, to his diverse political views, he is as Oregon as Spotted Owls and high unemployment, not to mention sitting on your porch with a beer, and making your own tie-dye. It is also not hyperbole to consider him a demi-god of University presidents. If he could single-handedly rake poor liberal UO bumpkins out of the primordial slime of ideological extremism and radical thought, IMAGINE what he could do if he even stepped on the grounds of MIT to take a shit. Suddenly, MIT would graduate nothing but quantum physicists who could separate matter with their MINDS. Not any bit of hyperbole at all.

  6. CJ Ciaramella says:

    I’m not asking for a hard-hitting critique. I’m simply asking for the barest modicum of critical thought and balance.

    This piece has so much fluff it’s about to float away.

  7. Andrew says:

    Uh, because hard-hitting critiques of retirees don’t make headlines?

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