Our Rivers, Our Selves
Oregon writer John Daniel observes that we all live in watersheds, and in this excerpt from his new book, The Far Corner: Northwestern Views on Land, Life, and Literature (Counterpoint, 2009), he meditates on the implications of that relationship. Author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and memoir, Daniel has won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, two Oregon Book Awards in Literary Nonfiction, a Pushcart Prize, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and James Thurber Writer-in-Residence at Ohio State University, Daniel lives in the Coast Range foothills west of Eugene. He read from The Far Corner on campus in April.
We engage a river at particular places—bends, holes, rapids, bars, falls. The nouns get vaguer when we try to identify longer parts—reaches, stretches—and become geometrically abstract when we divide a river according to political and economic concerns: sections, segments. Rivers will not hold still for sectioning or segmentation. They are creatures of length, of continuity. To address the health of rivers we must address them in their wholeness, and that means we must deal with ourselves. All of us live in watersheds.
Stream ecologists are working out an idea they call the river continuum concept, which suggests that all rivers, or most at least, share a common ecological gradient along their lengths. From the rills and streamlets of origin to the broad river near its mouth, there is evidence that predictable changes in life communities occur. Shaded headwaters regions, structured by stones and fallen wood, host a guild of invertebrates known as shredders, who begin to break down the crucial leaf- and needle-fall that fuels the stream’s organic economy. Small particles of that matter are filtered from the current far downstream, in the river’s middle reaches, by a guild of collectors. The wider channel receives more sunlight in these reaches, producing more organic matter from within. Periphyton grows more abundantly, supporting a guild of grazers, and various plants take root in sediments the milder-sloped river deposits. Lower still, where the accomplished river travels its floodplain, its ecology grades into further changes only poorly understood, that zone of the continuum having been less studied and usually more disturbed by human activity.
The science of stream ecology is still young, and the river continuum concept is one of its newest hypotheses. It needs testing, refinement, elaboration, but its essential premise makes sense: Rivers have something like a common genotype, a graded biological form associated with their graded fluvial form from source to mouth. The lives and systems of lives you find at a particular river place are not arbitrary; they are flourishing where they belong in the organism that is the river.
And where do we humans belong? How do we belong, and how should we belong? It is not arbitrary that we live as closely associated with rivers as we do. As far back as ancient Egypt and Babylonia, and farther still, our cultures have been built on the floodplains of rivers, on the ruins of continents slowly on their way to the sea. In the modern world our relationship with rivers extends from the high dendritic branchings of their drainages down along each meander and valley to the rich mixed waters of their estuaries.
For better or worse, we are members of the river continuum. So far, it has been better for us, worse for the rivers and their other members. For that, there is plenty of blame to go around. All of us have taken rivers for granted. All of us have participated in their exploitation. The light I’m writing by, the paper I’m writing on, the studs and rafters in the house around me, the food on my table—these and much more have come to me at some cost to rivers, including, no doubt, rivers I regularly notice and admire without thinking about how my way of life might burden them.
None of us, though, not one of us, ever set out deliberately to harm a river, and neither did those who came before. We set out only to live our lives and make our livings, and, despite all we have done to them, we love our rivers. In the Northwest we are never far from the lilt and swirl of living water. Whether to fish or swim or paddle, or only to stand and gaze, to glance as we cross a bridge, all of us are drawn to rivers, all of us happily submit to their spell. We need their familiar mystery. We need their fluent lives intermingling with our own.
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and other protective mantles, are expressions of our love. They constitute a first, halting recognition of the vulnerability of rivers and our thoughtless excesses that do them harm. In those unwieldy categories of law—wild, scenic, recreational—we are groping toward right relationship, a way of being that acknowledges our legitimate uses and sets careful limits on them. We are groping toward responsible membership in the river continuum, and we must find our way further. We have learned to cherish wild rivers; those fountains of natural joy must always run free. We fail those rivers, though, if we continue to fail their lower reaches, the valleys where we work and live, the rivers of home. The river above and the river below are nothing different. The river is always one, and we fail it if we fail to rejoin its segments, to expand its corridor, to appreciate the entirety of its length and breadth and complexity. We will save our rivers only if we follow flowing water’s mysterious way of fingering into land and learn the nature of its belonging, so that the continuum might flow on with us as part of it.
President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus plan includes more than $80 billion to start the construction of a new, national clean energy infrastructure. Sounds like a lot of money. But what does $80 billion really mean in the context of a twenty-first century American energy system? UO physics professor Gregory Bothun recently addressed the subject in a piece—condensed below—cowritten with Jesse Jenkins titled “Economic Stimulus, Clean Energy, and the Scale of Our Challenge: Grading the Stimulus Energy Investments,” which appeared in The Huffington Post and on the website WattHead: Energy News and Commentary.
Welcome to Energy Literacy 101.
Let’s begin by considering four big numbers: 100 million, 1 trillion, 400 million, and 1 billion.
• 100 million. That’s about how many households there are in the United States, each consuming an average of over one thousand watts (one kilowatt) of electricity to run our plasma TVs, charge our iPods, and keep our fridges humming away. Put another way, the total energy-related spending in this stimulus bill amounts to just about $800 per household.
• 1 trillion watts, or 1 terawatt (TW), is the total maximum electrical output of the more than 17,000 power plants operating in the United States. About half of that, or roughly 450 billion watts (450 gigawatts) of electrical power is continuously produced by these power plants. That’s roughly 1.5 thousand watts (1.5 kilowatts) of electrical power for every person in the country, enough to constantly power fifteen standard light bulbs for every American. However, plenty of the electricity we generate is lost as we transport and distribute it across our aging electrical transmission infrastructure—in fact, our grid wastes 60 million kilowatts of power, equivalent to the output of thirty giant dams the size of the Columbia River’s Bonneville Dam. That’s enough wasted electricity to meet the combined electrical needs of California, Oregon, and Washington state.
• 400 million gallons of gasoline are consumed daily in the United States. Daily! That’s more than a gallon for every American man, women, and child.
• And here’s where we get to 1 billion: at $2.50 per gallon, Americans are spending $1 billion every single day on gasoline. $80 billion is only enough to buy less than a three month’s supply of gasoline for American consumers.
It’s easy to see that the $80 billion, two-year investment in the stimulus package is only a first step. A critical first step, no doubt, but a relatively small step all the same. A significantly larger and sustained effort is required to transition the nation’s massive energy system to a new, clean energy economy—a fact President Obama and the American public cannot afford to forget.
With this sense of scale as our backdrop, we can now turn our eye to some of the individual components of the $80-plus-billion in energy sector stimulus investments and assign grades to each investment.
We begin with the good grades:
A+: The stimulus provides a much-needed, long-term extension of the critical production tax credit that has spurred the booming wind industry, and extends tax credits for wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources for two years. In the past, these incentives have been implemented one year at a time and allowed to lapse for as much as a year or more at the end of each period, throwing these industries into crippling boom-bust cycles.
A: Approximately $5 billion has been set aside for energy-efficiency retrofits for low-income housing, sufficient to retrofit 1 million low-income homes each year for the next two years. Still, with 20 million to 30 million households in America eligible for weatherization assistance, this is just the beginning of this smart investment.
A: Approximately $11 billion has been set aside to improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings and to provide local governments with block grants for efficiency retrofits. Relatively simple upgrades such as changing out lighting, installing proper insulation and windows, and putting in programmable thermostats can generally achieve significant energy savings. If the money is spent wisely, we estimate that approximately 250,000 buildings could reduce their energy footprint by about 20 percent—saving energy and taxpayer money.
A-: Another $4.5 billion is dedicated to modernizing the electrical grid with up to $11 billion more devoted to implementing “smart grid” demonstrations throughout the U.S. Upgrading and expanding our transmission system and installing new smart-grid technologies, including “smart appliances” in homes and businesses, would increase the efficiency of the grid and enable grid operators to make smart, real-time decisions about how to generate, store, and consume electricity—an essential step if we are to modernize our failing electrical grid and incorporate the widespread generation of renewable energy into the grid (wind, solar, wave, and more).
Unfortunately, we have now handed out all the A grades that we can, and the remaining investments begin to fall progressively shorter of the A mark.
B: $2 billion for the advanced battery manufacturing grant program to support the manufacture of advanced batteries for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles. Electrifying transportation is a lofty but critical objective, perhaps our highest collective energy and climate policy priority. It’s worth—and will require—far more than $2 billion.
B-: About $8.5 billion has been committed for further research and development in both renewable energy and fossil energy (predominantly carbon capture and storage techniques for coal and gas plants). While this is a substantial increase from today’s anemic federal energy research and development budget, energy innovation will take a sustained investment over the coming decades, and this is merely a critical first step.
C+: About $16 billion has been set aside for new mass transit systems, with about half going to intercity rail lines, including new high-speed rail lines, and half going to urban areas for better public transit systems. Expanding access to efficient and reliable mass transit will give people more transportation freedom and cut both oil consumption and global warming pollution, making it a critical investment. The ultimate price tag for the construction of new large-scale mass transit systems is enormous. For perspective, simply extending the existing D.C. metro system to Dulles Airport (and it’s about damn time) is projected to cost around $2.5 billion to $3 billion . . . for just eleven new miles of track!
All right, we’re now out of the middling but passable grades and right on to the outright failures.
F: Just $0.3 billion for the Energy Star appliance rebate program. That’s a nice gesture, but remember those 100 million households referred to above? This amounts to $3.00 per household, unlikely to do much to move the needle of national energy consumption, and a failing grade in our book.
F: Another $0.3 billion has been allocated for the purchase of more alternative-fuel and hybrid vehicles for the federal fleet (including plug-in hybrids if they are available soon). This is symbolic only, enough to convert just ten percent of the federal fleet (or less if more expensive plug-in hybrids are purchased). Why not allocate $3 billion and completely convert the federal fleet to efficient, advanced vehicles?
We applaud President Obama for prioritizing clean-energy investments in the stimulus and Congress for having the good sense to begin laying the foundation for a new-energy economy. The bill focuses on all the right areas—clean-energy innovation and deployment, a more efficient built environment, a smarter, more robust electrical grid, the electrification of transportation, and new mass transit options.
But the scale of our energy transition is simply enormous, and the $80 billion invested in clean energy by the stimulus takes us only the first steps toward an ultimate goal of energy independence and a zero-carbon energy system. Luckily though, history teaches us that incremental progress, when sustained, can produce great achievements; but only if we respond, with sustained dedication and commitment to our energy challenges.
The Oregon Companion, subtitled An Historical Gazetteer of the Useful, the Curious, and the Arcane (Timber Press, 2009) by Richard Engeman, M.L.S. ’71, historian, archivist, and former public historian for the Oregon Historical Society, includes more than 1,000 alphabetically arranged entries covering the people, places, and oddball details that make Oregon, well, Oregon. Below is a sampling from the book.
Beeswax Large chunks of beeswax have been found at various points along the Oregon Coast, particularly on the sands at the mouth of the Nehalem River below Neahkahnie Mountain. The wax is believed to have been the principal cargo of a Spanish sailing ship en route from the Philippines to Mexico; either the vessel Santo Christo de Burgos (1693) or the San Francisco Xavier (1705) are the likely prospects. Bees native to Mexico did not produce wax suitable for making candles, which were heavily used by the Spanish emigrants there. The wax has given rise to legends of a treasure ship; examples can be viewed at the Tillamook Pioneer Museum in Tillamook.
Bobbie the Wonder Dog Bobbie, a handsome mix of Scotch collie and English shepherd, became separated from his owners, the G. F. and Leona Brazier family of Silverton, while they were driving across Indiana in 1923. The distraught family searched and searched for Bobbie, but did not find him. Six months later, Bobbie appeared in the streets of Silverton, footsore and weary. Bobbie’s miraculous journey made him an instant media celebrity, the subject of books, newspaper and magazine articles, and motion picture newsreels. Bobbie died in 1927 and was buried with great ceremony at the pet cemetery of the Oregon Humane Society. Rin Tin Tin (one of them; there were several over the years) laid a wreath on his grave a week later. Bobbie became a Silverton icon, memorialized in an annual parade honoring pets, in a town mural, and in a replica of his doghouse; many Silvertonians, however, remained skeptical of the incident.
Lawrence, Ellis Fuller (1879–1946) Ellis Lawrence was born in Massachusetts and educated at Phillips Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his master’s degree in architecture in 1902. He worked for a Boston firm that sent him to a project in San Francisco, but he stopped over in Portland; the 1906 San Francisco earthquake persuaded him to remain there rather than continue south. In Portland, he was associated with several firms but was also deeply immersed in architectural education through his involvement with the University of Oregon in Eugene. In 1914, he helped to found the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, and served as its dean until his death. He served as campus architect and designed many major buildings, including the library and art museum and, in part, the Architecture and Art Building. He also did a tremendous amount of commercial work, including some 200 residences, the phantasmagoric Elsinore Theatre in Salem (1926), and the Art Deco public market building in Portland (1933). In an odd burst of irony, much of his Architecture and Art Building was demolished and replaced in 1957 with an un-Lawrence-like structure that was graciously named Lawrence Hall.
Opossum The Virginia opossum, Didelphis virginiana, is found throughout western Oregon and in the irrigated areas of northeastern Oregon as well. Southern men who came to Oregon in the Civilian Conservation Corps are reputed to have brought opossums with them as pets and then released them into the wild, and this quite likely did happen. However, the opossum was introduced earlier, about 1910–12, and has thrived ever since. The CCC boys probably helped the transplantation succeed.
Portland Penny When Asa L. Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove platted the future city of Portland in 1844, each proposed a name for the future metropolis. Lovejoy proposed the name of his Massachusetts hometown, Boston; Pettygrove opted for the capital and major seaport of his home state of Maine, Portland. The very penny that was [flipped to decide the name] is in the collections of the Oregon Historical Society, a gift of the Pettygrove family.
Villard, Henry (1835–1900) Born in Germany, Henry Villard came to the United States in 1853. He studied law, but began working as a reporter in the late 1850s; during the Civil War, he wrote for the New York Herald as well as the New York Tribune. Villard married the daughter of famed abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in 1866. On a trip to Germany in 1870, Villard agreed to act as the agent for a group of Germans who held bonds of American railroads, which brought him into the arena of high finance. He was involved in the reorganization of the Oregon and California Railroad in the mid-1870s, and in 1879 purchased the Oregon Steam Navigation Company. He also formed the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company and, in 1881, took control of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which completed a transcontinental link to Portland in 1883. Villard made generous contributions to the University of Oregon in those flush times, and Villard Hall is named for him. Villard spent a great deal of effort in attracting settlers to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest in the early 1880s, including emigrants from Germany. His financial edifice crumbled at the end of 1884 and he left the western scene, although he served as head of the Northern Pacific’s board of directors from 1888 to 1893. Villard formed the Edison General Electric Company in 1889 and was president until 1893, when it became General Electric. University of Oregon geology professor E. T. Hodge named Villard Glacier on Mount Hood for Henry Villard.
Selected new books written by UO faculty members and alumni and received at the Oregon Quarterly office. Quoted remarks are from publishers’ notes or reviews.
The Islands of Divine Music (Unbridled Books, 2008) by John Addiego ’75, M.F.A. ’77, is a novel—told in twelve linked stories—of five generations of an Italian American family finding its place in the New World against “a backdrop of immigration, Prohibition, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the new millennium.”An American Gladiator in Rome: Finding the Eternal Truth in the Infernal City (Ladder Press, 2008) by John Henderson ’78. “From the maddening and hilarious language lessons to living next to the Vatican to, yes, playing gladiator, this book is about changing your life, your pace, and your passion.” Between the Covers: The Book Babes’ Guide to a Woman’s Reading Pleasures (Da Capo Press, 2008 ) by Ellen Heltzel ’70 and Margo Hammond. “Two veteran book critics who believe books are better than Botox recommend more than 500 books based on what women care about most.” Corporate Culture and Environmental Practice: Making Change at a High-Technology Manufacturer (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007) by Jennifer Howard-Grenville, UO assistant professor of business management. “Based on nine months of close observation at a major semiconductor manufacturer, [the book] provides important insights into the processes of change that can advance environmental issues within an organization.” Contact: Mountain Climbing and Environmental Thinking (University of Nevada Press, 2008), edited by Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy, Ph.D. ’97. “Illuminate[s] the spectrum of human attitudes toward mountains and the natural world, and the growing symbiosis between climbing and environmental awareness.” Cézanne’s Quarry (Pegasus Books, 2008) by Barbara Corrado Pope, professor emerita, women’s and gender studies. “A highly accomplished, compelling novel. Beneath an exquisite veneer of historical detail lurks a thoughtful exploration of science and religion, of old values and new, and of a woman’s place in the world.” Getting Ready to Win (Vantage Press, 2008) by Don Read, head Oregon football coach, 1974–76. “Will help the reader—athlete, coach, or fan—attain a keener grasp on what motivation is, and how it works for success in the athletic arena.” Henry’s Sisters (Kensington Publishing Group, 2009) by Cathy Lamb ’89. “Poignant, funny, and as irresistible as one of the Bommarito sisters’ delicious giant cupcakes, Henry’s Sisters is a novel about forgiveness, about mothers and daughters, and about gaining the wisdom to look ahead while still holding tight to everything that matters most.” The Local News (Spiegel and Grau, 2009) by Miriam Gershow, M.F.A. ’02, a writing instuctor at the University of Oregon. The novel is narrated “by an adolescent girl, Lydia Pasternak, and describes the way her friends, parents, and town are affected by the disappearance of a young person: Lydia’s brother.” Nature’s Justice: Writings of William O. Douglas (Oregon State University Press, 2009) edited by James M. O’Fallon, Frank Nash Professor of Law at University of Oregon School of Law. “As the longest-serving justice in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, Douglas was known for writing a host of dissenting opinions. He was also a prolific writer off the bench, a man whose work was as much concerned with nature as with law.” Second Nature: Poems (University of Washington Press, 2008) by John Witte, M.F.A. ’77, senior instructor of English and longtime editor of Northwest Review. “Teems with expertly realized lyrics, monologues, and narratives, as well as poems based on historical figures from Ovid to Janis Joplin.” Pebble in the Water (AO Creative, 2008) by Bob Welch ’76. “Pebble in the Water is not a story about making it to the top of the ladder but about what it takes to decide to climb at all—and how doing so can touch the lives of others, and your own. This is truly an inspiring book.” Positive Sports Parenting (Balance Sports Publishing, 2008) by Jim Thompson, M.S. ’78. “When youth sports is done right, it can be a virtual classroom for building character and teaching life lessons. Positive Sports Parenting is a roadmap for the tumultuous trip that parents embark on when their children take up sports. Don’t head for the game without it!” Retirement Rx: The Retirement Docs’ Proven Prescription for Living a Happy, Fulfilling Rest of Your Life (Avery, 2008) by Dr. Frederick T. Fraunfelder ’57 and Dr. James H. Gilbaugh, Jr. ’59. “Retirement Rx is the first scientifically backed formula guaranteed to help you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you’ve always wanted.” Strategic Public Relations: 10 Principles to Harness the Power of PR (Xlibris Corporation, 2009) by Jennifer Gehrt, ’90 and Colleen Moffitt. “Strategic Public Relations is the first PR book written for a broad audience from PR and marketing professors to company CEOs and PR practitioners. The book includes industry insight and best practices from Jennifer and Colleen as well as the latest in business and marketing data, and profound perceptions gathered from interviews with well-known corporate leaders.” Voracious (Penguin Group, 2009) by Alice Henderson ’00. “In Glacier National Park, a lone hiker soon realizes that something is following her, a shapeshifting and terrifyingly intelligent creature pursuing her over treacherous mountain passes.” The Witches of Dredmoore Hollow (Marshal Cavendish Children, 2008) by Riford McKenzie, aka Michael Waite, M.F.A. ’93. “No small feat of magic, the story charms readers from beginning to end, casting a wickedly satisfying spell.” The Woodsmen (Dog Ear Publishing, 2008) by Chris Glode ’01. “A multigenerational logging family strives to maintain their way of life and their livelihood in the midst of multistate conglomerates and a changing industry, all the while dealing with the daily risks facing those who earn their living in the woods.”
News, Notables, Innovations
Greece abounds with ancient temples to the gods: from Athens’ towering Parthenon to weathered fragments of stone that whisper of the golden age when sacrifices, oracles, and temples were the core of religious practice. Scattered across cities and far-flung rural areas, these relics today pay homage to the heroes and deities of Greek mythology. And University of Oregon geology professor Greg Retallack has an innovative idea that a surprising pattern might have dictated the sites where ancient people chose to construct their temples.
After a long run of troubling economic news, the University of Oregon found reasons to be guardedly optimistic in recent forecasts that showed state revenues are expected to be down $3.6 billion for the 2009–11 biennium—a figure that would likely result in 15 to 20 percent cuts in state appropriations for the UO. Some previous forecasts had projected the revenue shortfall to be as much as $5 billion, which would have necessitated cuts of 30 percent to all state agencies.
“The shocking thing is that this [forecast] is considered good news,” UO Senior Vice President and Provost Jim Bean wrote in an e-mail to UO staff and faculty members. “While this is challenging, it a far cry better than the 30 percent scenario.”
But, as Oregon Quarterly went to press, the state legislature was still in session and additional cuts to UO funding are possible. “We won't be able to fully assess tuition increases or the need for personnel actions until things are more settled,” Bean says.
The University has already had to deal with a cut of $8.6 million in state funds for the 2008–9 fiscal year that ends June 30. That loss in funding has been addressed by $3.7 million in cuts to central administration, $2.1 million gained in spring term tuition increases ($150 for Oregon residents, $350 for nonresidents), and $2.8 million in cuts to academic units.
University administrative, faculty, and athletic leaders were asked to contribute a small portion of their salary toward the current deficit. A program was also instituted to allow other faculty members and administrative personnel to contribute through voluntary work-hour reductions or monetary gifts.
By mid-May, 435 faculty and staff members—17 percent of those eligible—had contributed nearly $462,000 through these programs. More than 60 percent of those participants chose to reduce their work hours, saving the UO $327,000, while the rest made outright donations totaling $135,000. Contributions from academic personnel went directly toward reducing the cuts to their departments.
Brave New M.B.A.s
Today’s business students are getting unprecedented training in extraordinary times to help them create tomorrow’s healthier global financial system.
During his years in finance, Ben Salm ’84 could see the framework holding up our economy growing shakier with one risky deal built on top of the next.
“For some of us, the last fifteen or twenty years was kind of a mirage,” says Salm, who founded his own investment consulting firm after working in the industry. “At the end of the day, it wasn’t real to me.”
So much for Wall Street. Salm relocated to a different street—East 13th—as managing director of the new Securities Analysis Center (SAC) at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. And he did so at just the time when the financial structure was toppling last year, leaving rubble strewn across the world’s economies.
“We have been as consumers, and businesses, and in some cases as governments, borrowing too much. Basically, we’ve been living—all of us, collectively—beyond our means. And now that debt is coming due,” Salm says. “Risk was priced far too cheaply, and too much of it was taken.”
Beyond a loosely regulated system that ignored—even rewarded—financial recklessness were the Bernie Madoff types who not only took ill-advised risks with their clients’ money but outright took clients’ money.
Everyone who has seen a headline in the past year knows how the resulting recession has ravaged consumer confidence and retirement accounts, and forced layoffs and home foreclosures. It also has dramatically changed the career horizons for business students, particularly those earning master’s degrees with an emphasis in finance and accounting at the SAC, which is finishing its first full academic year just when the market for its students is at a temporary ebb.
“In general, it’s been a bull market for M.B.A.s for twenty years,” says Salm, who earned bachelor’s degrees in business and computer science at the UO and an M.B.A. in applied economics and finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In light of this, why does Salm start sounding as if the current economic storm just may have a silver—or even a golden—lining?
Today’s economic woes actually offer a rare bonus to students. “Right now, we’ve got what I call the world’s greatest learning laboratory,” Salm says. “We’re all students right now, because this really is unprecedented.” He adds that with the greater scrutiny currently being focused on Wall Street, we have an unparalleled chance to clean up the system. “That’s the best news of all,” Salm says. “But it won’t be easy.” Today’s business students will be among those who help restore sanity to the nation’s—and world’s—financial systems. “We’re in the early days of fundamental changes. It has taken us many years to get into this place, and it won’t change overnight,” Salm says. “I think this generation has a crucial role to play.”
The UO and other universities always have built lessons about financial risk and fiduciary responsibility into curricula. “Events these days put an exclamation mark” on these efforts, he explains.
Graduate students in finance and accounting track today may not have as many employers competing to hire them as in past years. Still, Salm is confident UO graduates are better prepared than most to land jobs. The SAC combines the academic and research elements of many M.B.A. programs with exceptionally strong partnerships and practical experience with private finance and accounting firms from Portland to the East Coast, he says. Ironically, the timing couldn’t be better. “There’s never been greater need for people who are soundly trained in what the art and science of finance is all about. You can’t get very far in the business world without it,” Salm says. “Wall Street gets the headlines, but the vast majority of jobs are elsewhere.”
Elsewhere might be at the regional headquarters of Wells Fargo Wealth Management Group in Portland, where Jeff Savage is senior director of investments. “The University of Oregon is putting together the programs that we like to see people go through,” because it attracts passionate finance students who learn to analyze stocks and other investments at a level rarely found in academia, Savage says. “What they’re doing [as students at the SAC] is exactly what we do for our clients.”
Elsewhere also might be where Andrew Stearns lands. When interviewed shortly after spring break, he was working to finish his M.B.A. by June while looking for opportunities at midsized investment-banking, venture-capital, and private-equity firms.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for networking [in the UO’s M.B.A. programs], and networking is what’s going to get you a job in times like this,” says Stearns, a twenty-seven-year-old who has a graduate teaching fellowship with the Securities Analysis Center. “I’m really glad that I’m a young student with my whole career in front of me so I can build on this.”
The nature of the current recession might chase some students out of finance and into the other M.B.A. tracks at the business school, which are seeing increasing numbers of applicants as the recession grinds on.
“There have been so few positive role models here of late. Everybody’s got a black eye,” Salm says. Yet, students who chose finance for the right reasons still are applying to the program and will have jobs awaiting them, he adds.
Salm believes a new generation of finance and accounting professionals is being trained at the SAC—graduates with the academic credentials to soar high but also grounded in reality by the harsher lessons from the real world.
By early spring, the recession had put the stock market on sale for half price and knocked perhaps a third off the cost of a house in some markets. The words dismal and glum often get tossed around in writings about this period, the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. Characteristically, Salm recognizes the challenges, but is also quick to assess the opportunities presented in such an environment: it’s a terrible time for those who’ve suffered losses, but “good news if you’re a buyer.”
Sound like old-school economics?
“The recipe, I think, is the same. You work, you save, and you try to keep your wits about you,” Salm says. “Working and saving over a long period of time is the only sure way to get ahead. Things usually work out. Maybe that sounds trite and old-fashioned, but that’s what I believe.”
—Eric Apalategui ’89
On This Episode . . . MTV Comes to Eugene
Casting call attracts hundreds of Real World hopefuls
This is the true story of 300 strangers who gathered on campus one rainy Saturday, hoping to be one of seven people picked to live in a house filled with cameras, where every moment of their lives—every argument and triumph, every sulk and sexual indiscretion and drunken rant—will be taped for broadcast on national television.
If chosen, they would become instant minor celebrities, get a shot at launching their careers, and have their every action scrutinized by a vast audience, all in the name of finding out, as the show’s motto goes, “what happens next when people stop being polite and start getting real.”
OPEN ON INTERIOR OF ERB MEMORIAL UNION, DAY.
A team from The Real World, MTV’s iconic reality show, arrives in Eugene to interview potential cast members for the twenty-third incarnation of their unscripted brainchild. Scheduled to air sometime in early 2010, the program will feature seven members of MTV’s target demographic, living together in a yet-to-be-named city. Past shows have taken place in such urban playgrounds as London, Las Vegas, and Boston; New York has been featured three times, but to date, Portland hasn’t made the list.
For the applicants, the process is simple. Show up with a photo ID (proving you’re between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four) and a recent picture of yourself. Fill out a one-page application, which asks (among other things) about the qualities you look for in a mate, your relationship with your parents, your most embarrassing moment, and “the most unusual thing about you.”
After you submit your application, you’ll be called into a conference room with a group of nine others for a ten-minute “group conversation.” What goes on inside that room, exactly, is a carefully guarded secret. The students from the UO’s Cultural Forum handing out applications squirm and use the words “million-dollar lawsuit” and “nondisclosure contract” if you press them for details. “Even if we knew anything, we couldn’t tell you,” they say.
The two MTV folks stay out of sight, except to slip out a side door for occasional cigarette breaks.
If you spark the casting directors’ interest, you’ll be pulled aside for further questions and more paperwork. The whole process resembles an immense job interview, rife with nervous optimism and requiring a lot of sitting around.
Jonathan Floyd, a soft-spoken sophomore human physiology major, leans against a wall as he waits for his casting interview. Asked how he would describe the show to someone who has never seen it before, he pauses for a long moment. “Absurd,” he says.
When the first Real World aired in 1992, it bore little resemblance to anything else on TV at the time. Since then, reality shows featuring an endless array of forced situations, plot twists, and ever-more-innovative (or preposterous) premises have become standard TV fare. For the potential cast members of Real World 23, many of whom were little more than toddlers when the show began, reality TV has seemingly always existed. And thanks to YouTube, blogs, Twitter, and other Internet applications that make broadcasting one’s life as easy as clicking the submit button, the idea of living onscreen is a rather different (and perhaps less daunting) prospect than it was seventeen years ago.
“As a little kid I used to watch it,” says sophomore Amanda Toma. She’s one of the dozens draped over the EMU’s armchairs, carefully filling out the application. She likes the show for its drama-filled entertainment value, but also, she says, because “they actually have jobs. If they have career goals, they try to pursue them. That’s why I want to try out. I’m an art major, and I feel like in a larger city there would be more opportunities.”
The likelihood that Toma will get that chance is, statistically speaking, highly improbable. Casting calls take place in roughly forty cities, each attracting hundreds of applicants. The process of finding the perfect seven people, with an incendiary mix of experiences, hometowns, and worldviews, takes upward of two months.
Whitney Waterbury, a freshman clad in jeans and a sweatshirt, sits on the floor reading a novel while she waits. The most interesting thing about the show, she says, is how it allows new relationships to unfold among cast members. “You’re supposed to be friends with these people who have backgrounds different than anything you’ve ever experienced before. And you’re put into new positions, new situations, and have to handle yourself.”
It’s a strange prospect, auditioning for reality. Each piece of clothing and carefully coiffed hairstyle on display here today feels calculated, extraordinarily self-conscious. Is this how to look like what MTV wants? Will this make the best possible impression?
But then again, being young, with its parade of interviewing for jobs you’re not quite qualified for, fumbling through first dates, and trying to sound intelligent in college entrance essays, often seems like a long process of trying out for the round-the-clock show that is your very own Very Real World.
— Mindy Moreland, M.S. ’08
Lariviere Selected as New UO President
Richard W. Lariviere will become the sixteenth president of the University of Oregon on July 1. The State Board of Higher Education voted unanimously in March to offer the position to Lariviere (pronounced Luh-riv-yair), then serving as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of Kansas.
“I am honored by the trust the State Board of Higher Education has placed in me to lead Oregon’s flagship university,” says Lariviere. “The University of Oregon is an international leader because of the faculty’s outstanding teaching and research. This institution plays a vital role in the educational, civic, social, and economic health of the state of Oregon due to the strong leadership from President Frohnmayer. I am confident that the UO is poised for even greater success, despite current economic challenges.”
As the chief academic officer at the University of Kansas, where he served since 2006, Lariviere has overseen the reorganization of the KU graduate school and the School of Fine Arts, as well as expansion of the School of Pharmacy. He also created the Latino Vision Council to guide the university’s outreach to the Latino community, bolstered student recruitment efforts, and completely restructured the tech transfer program.
Before arriving in Kansas, Lariviere worked as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin (1999 to 2006). During his tenure heading the nation’s largest college of liberal arts, UTA’s rate of external research funding doubled. The school also completed a $120 million capital campaign and hired more than 230 faculty members.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in the history of religions from the University of Iowa in 1972, he and his wife, Janis Worcester Lariviere, traveled to India for the first time. He eventually built an academic career around the country’s languages, histories, religions, and culture. In 1978, he earned his doctorate in Sanskrit from the University of Pennsylvania. He has published articles and several books on Indian legal history, and has also tackled subjects ranging from religion in India to matrimonial remedies for women in classical Hindu law. He reads eight languages and speaks French and Hindi.
Lariviere is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Oriental Society, a fellow of both the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and the IC2 Institute, and a founding member of the Society for Design and Process Science.
Other academic positions Lariviere has held include director of the Center for Asian Studies at the UTA from 1986 to 1994 and ranks of assistant professor to professor of Sanskrit in the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures at the same institution from 1982 to 1990. He was visiting assistant professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature and School of Religion (joint appointment) at the University of Iowa from 1980 to 1982, and was visiting lecturer in the South Asia Regional Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1979.
Janis Lariviere is a longtime advocate for science education and has worked in the field at the University of Kansas and the University of Texas at Austin. The couple has a daughter, Anne Elizabeth, who graduated from Barnard College and lives in New York City.
“Jan and I are excited to begin working with the faculty, staff, students, and the extended UO community. Our goal is to support the great talent of this community so that it can accelerate the University to successes worthy of the people of Oregon.”
Professor of Latin American Literature
Students compete to enroll in Spanish 331, Introduction to Spanish Theater, a course usually taught just once a year, a course unlike any other at the University. Juan Epple, a Chilean expatriate and lifelong theater aficionado, guides literature students through plays from Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Cuba. But reading, discussing, and learning about each of the works is simply groundwork for the final project: Each student must perform a scene from one of the plays in front of an audience.
The fear of being on stage is enough to cause butterflies in many of the students (it’s a literature class after all—these students aren’t drama majors), but Epple has a strategy to coax them past their initial fears. He teaches them Spanish songs then leads them to busy places on campus for impromptu performances. “The goal is to have the experience of being in front of a live audience,” he says. The students bravely give it their best, taking turns swaying and singing to the soft sounds of a live guitar while passersby stop, watch, and listen. After the first few lines of the song, the singers’ quivering voices grow stronger, steadier, and more confident.
While the students sing, Epple focuses his keen ear on their pronunciation. Different regions of the Spanish-speaking world have distinctive dialects, he explains, and successfully imitating regional accents is extremely difficult. He coaches the students to hear and accurately reproduce the subtle variations.
Crunch time comes at the end of the term. Students take the stage and transport their audience from a performance space on campus to an exotic locale, where locals speak the regional dialect and dress in colorful garb. Epple watches with a quiet satisfaction as his once-shy literature students deliver their lines with confidence. He reflects often on his days in Chile studying to become a teacher—his school’s motto, No se aprende para la Escuela, sino para la vida, translates, “You don’t learn for your school, but for your life.”
Name: Juan Epple
Education: Licenciate ’71, Universidad Austral de Chile; M.A. ’77, Ph.D. ’80, Harvard University.
Teaching Experience: Member of the UO Romance Languages department since 1980. Assistant Professor of Spanish American literature at the Universidad Austral de Chile from 1972 to 1974 (interrupted by the 1973 coup, and his political imprisonment in both 1973 and 1974).
Awards: Numerous literary awards, including Santiago’s Letras de Chile award in 2008. He has published more than fourteen books, which include two books on Fernando Alegría, a famed Chilean poet, and three anthologies of Chilean literature.
Off campus: A vegetable gardener, Epple can often be found among his plants. He also enjoys creative writing, with a special interest in “short, short fiction.”
Last word: “I always tell my students that they should not work merely for a grade, but for the positive response their performance should get from a real, live audience.”
— Melissa Hoffman
The UO College of Education ranks number one among public institutions and fourth overall in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2010 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools. The special education program ranked third, a position it has held for the past four years. The college ranked sixth in total funded research with $29.5 million. The UO School of Law also received top-ten honors for three of its programs: Conflict and Dispute Resolution (seventh), Environmental and Natural Resources Law (tenth), and Legal Research and Writing (sixth, up from tenth last year).
Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski has appointed Robert Young, UO assistant professor of planning, public policy and management, to the twelve-member Oregon Way Advisory Group formed to help Oregon compete for $37 billion in federal stimulus funds, to be used primarily for sustainable (“green”) projects and job creation.
Emeritus chemistry professor Peter Hans von Hippel, at the UO since 1967, is among seventy-two newly elected fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology, an honor that recognizes scientists for their outstanding contributions to microbiology and their expertise in the service of science and the public.
The UO debate and speech program won first place at the National Parliamentary Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament held in Stockton, California. Ducks also recently took the men’s track-and-field team title at the NCAA indoor championships.
Twenty specially outfitted elliptical exercise machines in the Student Recreation Center are now feeding energy into the University’s power grid. The machines will be used by students six to eight hours each day, generating approximately 6,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually—nearly enough to supply a small energy-efficient house.