EUGENE, Ore. -- A group of eight to 10 people protesting the imminent ouster of the president of the University of Oregon fired eggs at the home of the chancellor of the state university system and spray-painted the words "The Hat" on the driveway.
That was a reference to the fedora that University President Richard Lariviere sports. The hat has become the symbol of anger at the apparent plans of the Board of Higher Education to act against Lariviere Monday afternoon.
Chancellor George Pernsteiner and his family were at the official residence known as Treetops during the egging at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, The Register-Guard reported. The family dog awoke Pernsteiner, but he wasn't aware of the egging until later, the chancellor told the newspaper. He said he found an envelope outside and gave it to the university's Department of Public Safety, unopened.
"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, vandals lobbed eggs at the back of the house and two parked cars. They also spray-painted the driveway.
In an email to faculty, staff and students Sunday night, Lariviere said he was humbled by their support but their cause should not be his employment status.
"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," he wrote. "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 nighttime attack was documented by a reporter and a photographer from the Oregon Daily Emerald student newspaper, who were tipped in advance.
"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 sweat shirt hoods, came running toward them and then past them into the night. He said they didn't get a good look at anybody.
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Lariviere was told last week that his contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of the year. The Board of Higher Education is scheduled to take a formal vote on Monday afternoon in Portland.
Lariviere has said he's being targeted because of a "difference of opinion about the future of the UO." Gov. John Kitzhaber said 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 UO have harmed the state's other universities, he said.
The UO Alumni Association has chartered two buses to take Lariviere supporters to Monday's meeting.
Phil Weiler, a UO spokesman, said the university would pursue the vandals "aggressively." The 8,111-square-foot house was donated to the state in 1938 and is the official residence of the chancellor. Pernsteiner and his family maintain a home in Portland and stay in Eugene only during occasional visits.