The Oregon State University Board of Trustees today approved preliminary plans for an open search process to begin in this month for the selection of the university’s next president.
The national search will include a search committee made up of a diverse representation of faculty, staff, students, Oregonians and OSU stakeholders engaged in the university’s teaching, research and outreach mission. A committee to select a search firm to support the presidential search also will be formed. Trustees plan to provide for community engagement opportunities as finalists visit the university for final interviews. The board also plans extensive due diligence review of finalists’ backgrounds.
The board anticipates recruitment for candidates to begin in late December, the selection of a new president to occur in May and the new president to begin their service in July or thereafter. The board will meet in public session later this fall to approve final plans for the search.
“The board looks forward to a thorough and open search process that attracts top candidates committed to serving the diverse mission of Oregon State University,” said Board Chair Rani Borkar
Trustees also approved annual goals for Interim President Becky Johnson, whose priorities include returning successfully to on-site learning, research and university activities; building on Oregon State’s momentum; advancing diversity, equity and inclusion; elevating the impact of OSU research; advancing Extension and engagement programs offered statewide; broadening the university’s carbon reduction efforts; furthering efforts to address interpersonal violence; and assuring OSU’s financial stability.
“These goals are the right mix of short term and long term and are very ambitious and comprehensive,” said Borkar. “They will build on efforts supporting the transition to the university’s next president.”
Johnson said she has sought input on the goals from other university leaders and colleagues throughout OSU. “Many of the goals are already in progress and I am confident that they are achievable,” she said.
Johnson’s goals also include strengthening internal and external communications; supporting the success of Oregon State athletics and the university’s association with the Pacific 12 Conference; and supporting the philanthropic and engagement work of the OSU Foundation and OSU Alumni Association.
The search process for the new president will begin with the formation of a search committee and selection of a search firm. The committee, the firm and the board plan to conduct statewide listening sessions in November and December, then create a leadership profile and develop selection criteria.
Recruitment and candidate screening are planned from late December through mid-March, and following candidate review and background checks, finalists are expected to be announced in early May prior to public visits to the university.
“The search process set out by the Board reflects the extensive feedback provided by community members last spring and an OSU Faculty Senate ad hoc committee,” Borkar said. This search process builds in opportunity throughout the search for engagement by faculty, students, staff and others.
The board heard an update on the university’s response to COVID-19 and return to on-site activities from Ed Feser, provost and executive vice president, and Dan Larson, vice provost for student affairs and OSU’s coronavirus response coordinator.
Larson said 99.6% of OSU students in Corvallis and Bend are compliant with the university’s vaccination program, and of those, more than 93% are fully vaccinated. Among employees, 95.6% are compliant with the OSU vaccination program and of those, 95% are vaccinated.
“We have something to be proud of as it regards the university’s work to address COVID-19,” Larson said. “We continue to take measures to advance our services and response. We also continue to work collaboratively with health authorities in Benton, Deschutes and Lincoln counties to contribute to wellness in the community and on our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, and at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.”
The board received the university’s annual report on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts from Scott Vignos, interim vice president and chief diversity officer, and Charlene Alexander, OSU vice president and chief diversity officer since the summer of 2017, who recently returned to Ball State University to guide that university’s strategic initiatives.
Vignos and Alexander heralded that Oregon State was one of two institutions in Oregon, three in the Pacific Northwest and 101 nationally to receive the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
Alexander said that of the 53 action items in OSU’s strategic plan for diversity, 34 have been completed and 19 are in progress; at the same time a year ago, 17 had been completed, 35 were in progress and one had not been initiated.
A panel discussion on diversity, equity and social justice efforts in a number of OSU divisions was held and included Vignos; Vrushali Bokil, associate dean for research in the College of Science and professor of mathematics; Erika McCalpine, executive director of strategic diversity initiatives at OSU-Cascades; Teresita Alvarez-Cortez, director of diversity initiatives and programs within University Housing and Dining Services; and Charissa Jones, outreach and inclusion coordinator for Outdoor School within the division of Extension and Engagement.
Among other initiatives in progress within OSU to advance equity is Moving Forward Together, which comprises 45 actions and strategies focused on antiracist outcomes. Recent progress within this initiative include the creation of the President’s Commission on the Status of Black Faculty and Staff Affairs, the launch of Racism and Antiracism Curriculum Task Force; the hiring of two coordinators of Black and African-American student mental health and wellness; and the launch of a national search for a coordinator of Indigenous student mental health and wellness.
In other action, trustees approved the board’s 2022 work plan, emphasizing a priority to advance engagement, collaboration and relationships with faculty and other members of the OSU community, and foster expanded communications among board members and board communications with members of the university community.
The board adopted resolutions of appreciation for departing trustees OSU professor Mike Bailey, OSU staff member Stephanie Smith, OSU student Khawater Hussein, and at-large members Mike Thorne and Paul Kelly for their service to the board and university. The Oregon Legislature is anticipated to consider in November confirming five candidates for the board put forward by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. If approved, their terms would begin after their confirmation by the Legislature.
The board also adopted a resolution of appreciation recognizing the contributions of Board Secretary Debbie Colbert, who has served the board since January 2015. Colbert is leaving the university to return to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to serve as the department’s deputy director for fish and wildlife programs.
Trustees voted to approve a $6.75 million Valley Library roof renovation project to the construction phase from the design development phase. The library’s 56,000-square-foot roof is 25 years old and has moved past its expected lifespan.
The new roof, which will include solar power cells and additional insulation, is expected to reduce Oregon State’s carbon footprint by 225 tons per year. The project, part of the university’s 10-year capital forecast, is scheduled to be completed in summer 2022.
Trustees also approved amendments to the board’s policy on debt and liquidity management and to its policy governing which powers, rights and duties the board delegates to the university president and/or others.
On Thursday, the trustees’ Finance & Administration Committee received an update from Mike Green, OSU vice president for finance and administration, indicating that education and general budget has improved from earlier forecasts due to an increase in state legislative funding.
Also on Thursday, the board’s Academic Strategies Committee heard a report from Scott Barnes, vice president and director of athletics, and Becca Gose, the university’s general counsel, regarding how the university is navigating the new era of student-athletes being allowed to earn revenue from their name, image and likeness (NIL).
Oregon State has created the ExpOSUre Program, which includes student-athlete educational materials on branding and digital resources as well as a disclosure monitoring system for tracking student-athlete earnings and also ensuring compliance with university rules and Oregon law.
The board heard reports from student leaders on the Corvallis and Bend campuses; Selina Heppell, faculty senate president; the OSU Foundation by John Stirek, foundation past chair; and Ben Cannon, executive director of the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
The board heard public testimony from a faculty member; graduate student and community member.