From Register Guard. Bob Keefer. Nov 28.
Chancellor’s house hit:
Apparent supporters of UO President Richard Lariviere vandalize the Eugene residence on Sunday
As forces for and against last week’s state Board of Higher Education decision not to retain University of Oregon president Richard Lariviere prepared to converge on the board’s meeting today in Portland, vandals struck the official Eugene residence of Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner early Sunday morning with a storm of eggs and the spray-painted message: “The Hat.”
The message refers to Lariviere’s habit of wearing a fedora around campus, which has become festooned with posters and banners — some prominently displayed in Autzen Stadium during the Civil War football game on Saturday — saying “I Stand With The Hat.”
Aside from the spray-painted graffiti, no damage was reported in Sunday’s 1:30 a.m. attack at Treetops, the state chancellor’s elegant residence south of the UO campus, near where Fairmount and Spring boulevards meet in Eugene’s southeast hills.
Pernsteiner and his family were home during the early morning attack. He was awakened by the family dog but didn’t realize what had happened until later in the morning, when he saw cars spattered by eggs in the driveway and found an envelope that may contain a message.
“We were all there,” Pernsteiner said Sunday. “The dog woke me up. I had no idea why. I thought he needed to go out.”
He let the dog out the front door while, apparently at the same time, a group of people was pelting the back of the house and two cars parked there with eggs and spray painting the driveway. Pernsteiner said he found an egg-spattered envelope outside the house and turned it over, unopened, to the UO Department of Public Safety. DPS is investigating the case with help from Oregon State Police, a UO spokesman said.
The nighttime attack was documented by a reporter and a photographer — tipped in advance — from the Oregon Daily Emerald student newspaper. “I was just told something was going to happen at Treetops at around this time,” said photographer Aaron Marineau, who captured a shot of the perpetrators running away down Spring Boulevard that was posted on the Emerald’s website Sunday. “I felt sort of bad when I saw what happened.”
Marineau said he and Emerald reporter Sam Stites arrived at Treetops about 1:30 a.m. and heard “banging and loud smashing noises.” A group of eight to 10 people, their faces obscured by masks or sweatshirt hoods, came running toward them and then past them into the night.
“We didn’t get a great look at anybody,” he said.
The news that Lariviere’s one-year contract with the state system of higher education would not be renewed has caused a storm of protest from supporters on campus and off, from Nike chairman and co-founder Phil Knight to faculty members and administrators, students and alumni.
The popular president has frequently been at odds with the higher education board and Gov. John Kitzhaber for his efforts to privatize the publicly owned university, as well as for giving top UO administrators pay raises at a time when campus employees are facing furloughs.
Laviviere sent a message by e-mail Sunday night to faculty, staff and students saying he has been humbled by their support, “but your cause should not be my employment status,” the statement said in part. “Your cause must be how Oregonians will be educated. Your cause must be how institutions like the University of Oregon can be strong in a state with weak public resources.
“I urge those of you who plan to rally or attend the state board meeting to focus your time, energy and efforts, not on questioning the wisdom or process of the decision. Instead focus yourselves on the larger cause of meaningful policy reforms that will benefit the UO, the system of higher education, and the state of Oregon.
“The conflicts that resulted in my termination are a symptom of the broken system of governance and funding in Oregon higher education that desperately needs changing if the state … is going to achieve the greatness we all aspire to. You know that. This is why there has been the outcry — the genuinely amazing outcry — from so many of you.”
At midday Sunday, eggshells and dried yolk still spattered the driveway at the chancellor’s formal residence. Ron Lattion, a maintenance coordinator at the UO, was working on his day off with a pressure washer to remove the spray-painted words from the driveway.
Phil Weiler, a spokesman for the university, said that even though there was no serious damage to property, the university would pursue the vandals “aggressively.”
The 8,111-square-foot house, donated to the OUS in 1938, is the official residence of the chancellor, but Pernsteiner and his family maintain a home in Portland and stay here only during occasional visits.
Meanwhile, the UO Alumni Association has chartered two buses to take Lariviere supporters to today’s meeting.
Pernsteiner, who plans to attend today’s meeting, declined to speculate on what action the board will take today.
The higher-ed board has yet to take any official, on-the-record action supporting Pernsteiner’s decision not to renew Lariviere’s contract.
“I expect the board will take a vote,” Pernsteiner said. “But what will happen? We’ll see what their vote will be when we get there.”