‘The student is the heart of our operation’ says Murthy


Jason May

Jayathi Murthy pictured in the Student Experience Center Plaza on June 7 during a reception for her being selected to be Oregon State University’s 16th president. Murthy was unanimously elected by the OSU Board of Trustees on June 7, and began the position as president on Sept. 9, 2022.

Hayden Lohr, Campus Editor

The Oregon State University president reaffirmed the focus on the student and OSU as a land grant institution at a press conference on Monday Sept. 12.

Murthy assumed office on Friday Sept. 9, before which the university had been led by interim president Becky Johnson. Johnson replaced F. King Alexander, who was removed from office after his lax enforcement of sexual misconduct at Lousiana State University after a vote of no confidence by OSU.

Murthy completed her Ph.D. in engineering in 1984 from the University of Minnesota. Before this, she received a master’s degree from Washington State University after graduating from the Indian institute of technology Kanpur in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.

As the first female dean at the University of California Los Angeles, Murthy started a women’s engineering program in order to improve the representation of women in engineering and to build an environment in which women were supported in all areas of education and life.

Murthy has many research interests including nanoscale heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics. More recently, her work focused on sub-micron thermal transport and multiscale multi-physics simulations of micro- and nano-electromechanical systems. 

There are a number of works in these and other related fields in which Murthy was named for her contributions.

As for her aims at OSU, Murthy has said that she intends to honor the mission of OSU as a land grant institution, to increase graduation rates and to “build climate resilience.”

Murthy also promised that she is deeply concerned about the cost of tuition for OSU students, and will continue to seek more money from the state in order to offset rising costs. This statement comes after a decision by the OSU board of trustees to increase tuition by 4.5% for incoming freshmen and 3.5% for returning students.

“I think public higher education is an extraordinary set of institutions, in particular public land grant institutions, it is focused so broadly on Oregon’s population,” Murthy said. “We are in every county in the state.”

As a land grant institution, OSU was established during the civil war to bring opportunities to people living in the country, at a time when most universities were located in eastern cities, OSU became a center of learning less than 20 years after the establishment of Portland, the largest city in the state.

The Morrill Act in 1862 allowed for universities to support people throughout the country, rather than just in eastern cities, and promoted opportunities for liberal arts and science education. OSU was one of the nation’s first land grant universities.

According to Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations and Marketing, enjoyed immense stability under the 17 years of presidency led by Edward Ray, who retired during the pandemic in June of 2020.

“A transition for any university, public institution or even private institution provides new ideas for new thinking and the opportunity to continue to build on the strengths of that institution,” Clark said. “In OSU’s case, we are 154 years old and in that period there have been 15 other permanent presidents…that is not a lot of transition but what transition provides for is for OSU to build on its incredible strengths.”

OSU is one of the few universities in the country that was able to maintain and even increase enrollment during the pandemic, and that has been attributed to the ecampus program as well as OSU fostering an environment in which students seek to study and learn.

“OSU offers some of the strongest academic programs in the nation in numerous areas that are essential in today’s society and global economy,” Clark said. “This is a place where students want to be, it isn’t by chance, it is by the efforts of our faculty… We have worked very hard to be a welcoming place for all students and we will continue to work real hard to provide services for students to be successful.”

Was this article helpful?