Special Committee releases draft legislation for institutional boards; Frohnmayer and Thompson testify

During a July 19 meeting of the Oregon Legislature’s Special Legislative Committee on University Governance, co-chairs State Senator Mark Hass (D-Beaverton) and State Representatives Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) and Mark Johnson (R-Hood River) released draft legislation and a concept paper outlining recommendations for university institutional boards. The draft legislation outlined the co-chairs’ initial thoughts about institutional board membership, appointment, and powers.  Co-chair Dembrow led committee members through a discussion of the draft. Legislative counsel Gina Zejdlik answered technical questions for committee members.The full audioof the committee hearing is available on the Oregon Legislature’s website.

In a subsequent committee meeting on July 26, committee members received public testimony on the draft legislation from a variety of stakeholder groups and individuals, including public employee unions and faculty unions, the Oregon Student Association, and university officials. UO President Emeritus Dave Frohnmayer and UO Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Roger Thompson offered comments on behalf of the university. At the request of Interim President Bob Berdahl, who was unable to attend the hearing, Frohnmayer presented a brief history of the policy debate about institutional university board governance and his work in drafting a white paper in 2009 for OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner that outlined the benefits of institutional boards. His comments reiterated the university’s position that an institutional board must have authority to hire and fire a president, issue revenue bonds, and set tuition within certain legislatively-set parameters. Thompson answered committee members’ questions about access for Oregon students and admissions standards. UO Associate Professor Emerita Katherine “Kappy” Eaton also testified in favor of institutional boards. Eaton is a 1997 recipient of the UO Distinguished Service Award. The full audio of the committee hearing is available on the Oregon Legislature’s website.

On August 9 the committee will meet to discuss and finalize a draft before the legislatively-mandated August 15 deadline to complete a first draft of its recommendations and report to the Oregon Legislature.  The agenda for the hearing is on the special committee's website. After submitting the recommendations, the committee will hold a public comment period from August 15 to September 15.