OSU Board of Trustees announces potential board members, discusses high enrollment


Tarsa Weikert, Photographer

Board of Trustees members listen to community member concerns during a board meeting on Friday inside the Memorial Union. Many of the community members spoke about environmental concerns and a lack of communication with the board.

Tarsa Weikert, News Contributor

An Oregon State University faculty member, a student and a staff member are among five candidates who have been nominated to serve on the Board of Trustees. 

In a meeting on Friday, Rani Borkar, chair of the Board of Trustees, introduced these candidates for the first time and said they were in attendance at the meeting.

Steve Clark, vice president of university relations and marketing, said the five potential candidates were nominated by Governor Kate Brown and now only need to be confirmed by the Oregon State Senate.

“They are Inara Scott, a faculty member in the College of Business; student Jax Richards; staff member Susan Clark; at-large candidates Maria Chavez-Haroldson of Corvallis; and Roman Hernandez of Portland,” Clark said.

The board expects the decision to be made in November. 

Additionally, Clark said a national search for the permanent OSU president will also begin in November and that the new president is expected to start in July 2022.

Some of the other issues raised by the community ranged from concerns about the university’s environmental impact to a desire to interact with the Board of Trustees more. 

Chris Beatty, a chemist and OSU community member expressed environmental concerns over OSU land grants.

“We have seen the cutting of 16-acres of old-growth forest and more,” Beatty said.

One OSU graduate employee and student asked if the board had even read the report he’d sent them. He said he’d gotten an email saying they’d received it, but nothing else.

Many of the public commenters expressed frustration with the board’s lack of communication.

“The Board of Trustees provides an opportunity for members of the public to provide public testimony at board meetings and [in] written and e-mail communications to the board, individual trustees and the board office,” Clark said.

The board engages with stakeholder groups, faculty, students, staff and shared governance partners as part of its regular meetings.

“There are no plans for the board to create unique meeting arrangements with representatives of employee unions engaged with the university in collective bargaining negotiations,” Clark said. “Employee unions have an important role within the university, and engagement with groups that the university has collective bargaining agreements with falls within the scope of activities delegated by the board to the president.”

OSU Interim President Becky Johnson also announced that the university had 7,391 students graduate last year, even during the height of the pandemic.

Johnson applauded the record fundraising year the OSU Foundation has had. She also commended the OSU teachers and the athletics department which is currently leading the football Pac-12 in the north division.

“We have faculty and staff who are working on the most complex issues we have today,” said Johnson. “Overall, I’m really proud of the work of everyone across the institution.”

In addition, OSU student enrollment is up 3% while enrollment for students of color is up 5%.

The board also heard updates from OSU COVID-19 coordinators.

Edward Feser, provost and executive vice president, spoke to the board with Dan Larson, vice provost for student affairs and OSU’s coronavirus response coordinator.

“99.6% of students are in compliance with the university’s vaccine program which requires students to provide proof of vaccination or seek an exemption allowed by the state,” Feser said.

As of Friday, out of 6,336 OSU employees, 100 are not in compliance. Less than 2,000 students have requested exemptions and according to Larson, 40 students attending OSU at the Corvallis and Bend campuses are not in compliance.

“I think it valuable to know that the Board of Trustees is committed to advancing student success; supporting research and faculty scholarship; and advancing the work of the university within OSU Extension and Outreach Programs,” Clark said.

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