Oregon university system board votes to fire UO president

Lariviere wanted more autonomy for school

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PORTLAND (AP) — The state’s higher education board fired University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere on Monday, saying the school’s 16th president has fought to advance the UO to the harm of the state’s other universities.

Under the terms of his contract, Lariviere’s last day as president will be Dec. 28. The board’s unanimous vote came despite passionate pleas from faculty, students and other supporters who begged board members to delay a decision during a sometimes testy meeting of the State Board of Higher Education.

Lariviere listened quietly and did not show emotion as board members read statements explaining their decision. Afterward, he said he’ll return to Eugene and teach.

“I have never understood the argument that a strong University of Oregon was bad for the university system,” he said.

Lariviere had hoped to stay on until his contract expires at the end of June, but Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner recommended that he be terminated sooner.

“We cannot allow an important team member to undermine the goals and success of the whole institution,” said board member Allyn Ford.

Lariviere has said he’s being targeted because of a difference of opinion over the future of what he views as Oregon’s flagship university, and he’s butted heads with the board over his fight to give the school more independence. Dozens of Lariviere supporters, some of them wearing yellow and green shirts saying “we love our prez,” packed the board room at Portland State University.

More than a dozen Lariviere supporters told board members that the president has improved the university tremendously in his 2[ ]-year tenure and his ouster would halt progress, resigning the university to mediocrity.

“We’re on fire,” said Jan Monti, a trustee of the University of Oregon Foundation. “He has us motivated. We are a team, and we don’t want a divorce. We have a very happy marriage and we don’t want a divorce.”

Some complained he’s being punished for being innovative.

“Strong leadership needs to be rewarded and not punished,” said Tom Feely, of Gladstone.

Lariviere angered board members by lobbying the Legislature this year to give the University of Oregon more independence from the other universities overseen by the Oregon University System, despite a vote by the board opposing his proposal.

The president also frustrated his superiors by giving pay raises to more than 1,300 University of Oregon employees despite an order from Gov. John Kitzhaber to limit salary increases.