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Roundtable: Observations on a Duck bill double standard

November 30, 2011

I have no strong view one way or another about the ouster of Dr. Richard Lariviere as president of the University of Oregon, but has anyone else noticed a basic double standard at play in Duckville?

The president stuck his neck out, worked to expand the university, apparently at a different pace than the other higher educational institutions in the state.

For this, the State Board of Higher Education has declined to renew his contract, painting him as a loose cannon who won't keep lockstep with the Board's bidding.

At press time, word is students and other supporters are taking to the streets in Lariviere's support. "Stand by the Hat," read the t-shirts honoring the "maverick" president's familiar fedora.

Apparently, Uncle Phil Knight, billionaire benefactor of the hot-tub laden resort known as the University of Oregon athletic complex, is among those throwing support behind Lariviere.

Give credit to Knight for knowing hypocrisy when he sees it.

Because apparently is it fine and dandy with the State Board that U of O allows a private benefactor to pour millions into the athletic side of the university, creating a more-than-state-of-the-art facility to attract the best and beefiest of athletic recruits.

These ornate facilities (ESPN's cameras practically drool over all that marble and chrome) put OSU and PSU to shame, but it's not okay for the university president to take innovative steps to expand the school's resources on behalf of classrooms and instructional programs?

Fittingly, Lariviere has announced he will return to the classroom to teach Sanskrit. The guy never did speak the same language as his panel of bosses.

And meanwhile, "Little Brother" OSU might make the case that if self-actualizers like Lariviere are being told to toe the line and not to show up the rest of the family, wouldn't it follow that the same board might instruct the Ducks to share some of Phil Knight's largesse with their scholastic siblings?

That would be too much to ask - rather like a certain $42,000 monthly PERS payment to another Phil Knight best buddy, Mike Bellotti. But that's another inequity for another column …

Kirby Neumann-Rea attended Linfield College but some of his best friends are Ducks and Beavers.

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