It’s not often I agree with Phil Knight on the subject of higher education funding. But his indictment of University of Oregon president Richard Larivier’s firing today is almost spot on:
“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,” said Knight, who was quoted in the Oregonian.
The O article also quoted Knight as saying the state board and Chancellor George Pernsteiner made an “astonishingly bad decision” against renewing Lariviere’s contract after it expires July 1.
And while I don’t necessarily agree with all of Larivier’s proposals to make the state’s flagship university more independent, the UO president was an unabashed academic and a bona fide leader, willing to buck a system that has turned the state into a post-secondary backwater. As I noted last week, Larivier’s decision to hand out millions of dollars in faculty raises, an effort to bring professor salaries in line with national norms, was unbelievably risky–and admirable.
It was also the final nail in the coffin for the UO’s erstwhile head of state.