EUGENE, Ore.-- The Oregon Board of Higher Education voted Monday to terminate the contract of University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere at a meeting on the Portland State University campus.
Despite appeals from many in the crowd, and Lariviere's own statement at the meeting, the board voted unanimously to terminate the UO President's contract in 30 days. Lariviere had previously been told his contract would not be renewed in June 2012 when it expired but on Monday the board voted for a termination date of December 28.
Lariviere addressed the board members before they made their formal decision. When he entered the meeting room Monday, many in the crowd stood and applauded as a show of support. Then, one after another, people went up to a microphone and spoke on behalf of the president.
In a statement released to the media, he said the purpose of the board meeting was to resolve the question of his employment, "but ultimately that matter is of little consequence" and he wanted to instead talk about Oregon’s higher education future.
"Oregonians deserve better than struggling to avoid mediocrity. If we hope to find a way out of this march to mediocrity in public higher education, Oregonians deserve our best thinking about new approaches. They deserve our willingness to engage in
Lariviere was told last week that his contract would not be renewed when it expires at the end of June. Gov. John Kitzhaber said over the weekend that the Board would be justified in ousting Lariviere because the president has set the interests UO ahead of other universities'.
Kitzhaber also said that he and the board lost confidence in Lariviere because he has disregarded their directions by giving raises to some employees and by lobbying for the UO to be governed and funded independently of the other universities.
Lariviere's actions at the University of Oregon have harmed the state's other universities, Kitzhaber said. Lariviere said he was being targeted because of a "difference of opinion about the future of the UO."
Nike founder Phil Knight quickly lashed out at the board for the firing announcement, saying, “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. It’s yet another application of Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law."