Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Financial cycles: nothing new under the sun

News outlets began reporting yesterday afternoon on a financial assessment issued by OHSU Monday morning--negative impacts of the economic downturn on major employers still passing as news. The details of the current belt-tightening plans can be seen in stories from the Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, and the Portland Tribune. But historical perspective on the crisis can be found in the archives, where we learn that financial ups and downs are as predictable as the Oregon seasons of rain and sun.

In July of 1980, then University President Leonard Laster wrote a memo to the (then) UOHSC community about the hard times that were just coming upon them. He begins his memo strongly: "Despite indications to the contrary, I am absolutely confident that the Health Sciences Center will continue to exist and prosper for decades to come, serving the people of Oregon as a unique, invaluable, outstanding, and cherished university. The rumors of our institutional demise are grossly exaggerated."

Rising to the rhetorical moment, he builds over four paragraphs to the stirring conclusion:
Since the announcement of our situation, I have received countless calls from supporters in all types of professional pursuits in which they voiced their vigorous commitment to the future of the Health Sciences Center. We are not alone. We are not undervalued. We shall continue our upward thrust toward greater achievement in the service of humanity. From today's adversity we shall pluck tomorrow's triumph. Let us evidence no despair but rather renewed confidence in our mutual destiny.
And so it goes. And so go leaders.

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