Presidential search committee members announced, search for presidential candidates to begin soon


Tarsa Weikert, Photograhper

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Rani Borkar (left), takes notes at a Board of Trustees meeting in the Horizon room of the Memorial Union on Oct. 8. The Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 8 was the one during which the search for OSU’s next president was said to begin in November.

Sukhjot Sal, News Reporter

The members of Oregon State University’s presidential search committee have been named and the search for candidates will begin in December with an opportunity for community members to meet finalist candidates. 

The search committee, which was announced in an email sent to students on Nov. 18, will help OSU’s Board of Trustees select the university’s next president.

Appointed by Rani Borkar, chair of OSU’s Board of Trustees, the committee consists of OSU trustees, faculty, students, administrators, staff, alumni and representatives from higher education and the larger community.

“The search committee, with support from an executive search firm, will seek feedback from the public and university community on presidential qualifications and nominations. Later in the process, open community forums with finalists will be held. These listening sessions and public forums will be announced as they are scheduled,” the email stated.

The email states a separate presidential search firm selection committee was created to recommend an executive search firm to help the board recruit and review presidential candidates. The committee unanimously recommended the use of the firm Isaacson, Miller, in mid-November and Borkar approved this recommendation.

Vice President of University Relations and Marketing Steve Clark said search firms such as Isaacson, Miller have national experience in helping universities like OSU promote openings for executives.

“They provide a trusted source of relationships between current sitting presidents and provosts, deans that they know are accomplished, and they often are in contact with those individuals to share the news that Oregon State, in this case, is looking for a president,” Clark said.

The last two searches were in 2003, when former President Ed Ray was selected and remained in position until June 2020, and then in 2019, when former President F. King Alexander was selected to begin in July 2020. Alexander resigned in March of this year.

“The search process for our next president is similar in respects to the search process that occurred in 2003, and similar in some respects to the search process that occurred with Alexander,” Clark said. “The difference is that in 2019… there was no opportunity for members of the broader Oregon State community to meet those finalist candidates.”

Clark said OSU did have an open forum for community members to meet finalist presidential candidates in 2003, and that there will be another opportunity for this again in the upcoming search process.

According to Clark, community members will have the opportunity, as they did in 2019, to share with the search committee, Board of Trustees, and the search firm what qualities the next OSU president should have to serve the mission of teaching and research and outreach and engagement.

“That occurred in 2019; it will occur again, where community members will be able to advise the Board of Trustees and search committee on priorities for the university and priority qualities for the most qualified candidates to fill,” Clark said.

Scott Vignos, a member of the presidential search committee, will serve in his capacity as interim vice president and chief diversity officer as well as search advocate for the committee.

“In my role as the search advocate, I’m charged with ensuring that we’re using best practices and to minimize bias in the search process and to ensure that we are conducting the search through an equity lens,” Vignos said. “I think another really exciting part about this role is that everyone on the search committee is already really dedicated to making sure we live out the university values as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Vignos said this search process is going to look different than previous ones.

“We’re going to be engaging the OSU community when we have a chance to invite finalists to campus, so we’re doing an open search,” Vignos said.”

Another aspect of the presidential search process that Vignos said will feel a little different is the degree of communication between the Board of Trustees and the OSU community.

“One thing I’ve been really impressed with is how closely the Board of Trustees listened after this last summer as we thought about how we can conduct a search that really reflects our community and reflects the diversity of our employees and our students and our stakeholders and our partners,” Vignos said. 

The email stated staff will begin working with the search committee and Isaacson, Miller “to refine further the presidential search process and timeline, which will be a topic of discussion at a virtual meeting of the Board of Trustees on Friday, Dec. 10.” 

“I would definitely encourage students and all OSU community members to stay informed,” Vignos said. “In the beginning of the search, when we’re just looking for candidates, that’ll be when the search committee is doing its work. But when we bring finalists to campus, I would really, really encourage everyone to get involved in that process, so learn as much as you can about the candidates, come out and come to the public events… I think the search committee very much understands the degree of engagement that the community wants.”

Clark encouraged students to read university emails, use social media and consume other media like The Daily Barometer for more updates on the presidential search process. Community members can stay up to date on the presidential search with OSU’s presidential search website.

“We hope students will contribute their thoughts, their priorities, and indicate their preferences during the search process, which again, will begin in December and continue into the spring,” Clark said.

Members of the presidential search committee include:

  • Julia Manning, member of the Board of Trustees, committee chair
  • Patty Bedient, member of the Board of Trustees
  • Julia Brim-Edwards, member of the Board of Trustees
  • Maria Chávez-Haroldson, member of the Board of Trustees
  • Bob Cowen, director of the Hatfield Marine Science Center; professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Marissa Cuno, accountant in the Health Sciences Business Center, classified staff representative
  • Taha Elwefati, student of social sciences; president of the Associated Students of the Cascades Campus
  • Lauren Gwin, associate professor in the Department of Crop & Soil Science; associate director of OSU’s Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems; community food systems specialist for OSU Extension
  • Kim Kirkland, executive director for the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access
  • Kate MacTavish, associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences
  • Erika McCalpine, Faculty Senate president-elect; OSU-Cascades executive director of strategic diversity initiatives; director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Laboratory; instructor, business administration
  • Maija Pham, student of radiation health physics
  • Alan Sams, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences; director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Michael Schill, president of the University of Oregon
  • Eric Schoenstein, board chair of the Oregon State University Foundation
  • Scott Vignos, interim vice president and chief diversity officer
  • Virginia Weis, university distinguished professor of integrative biology
  • Member from the broader community, to be announced
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