Respected former provost Roy Arnold passes away

Courtesy of Special Collections and & Archives Research Center
Roy Arnold

Tanveer Sandhu, News Contributor

Former Oregon State University provost Roy Arnold, Ph.D died on Sunday, Sept. 22, after battling pancreatic cancer.

After spending 20 years in various positions at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Arnold joined OSU as the dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences in 1987. Four years later in 1991, he earned the position of provost and executive vice president of OSU.

While at OSU, Arnold played a large role in the launch of the Honors College, the Ethnic Studies Department and the university’s dual admissions and dual enrollment programs with many of Oregon’s community colleges.

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Andy Hashimoto, Ph.D served as vice provost for academic affairs while Arnold was provost. Hashimoto said Arnold did not want to be considered his boss, but his colleague. The former vice provost admired Arnold’s character and integrity, saying it was the kind that inspired respect. 

“The analogy I have is that he was an excellent driver of a team of horses, where he insisted that all the horses pull together in the same direction, but also had a loose hand on the reins and the whip,” Hashimoto said via email.

Gigi Bruce, a longtime colleague in the office of the provost, knew Arnold for 25 years. She said he was one of her most important mentors in her career. 

“The dignity and professionalism he demonstrated was powerful, yet many will say they have never known a more decent person in their life,” Bruce said via email. “He always invested time and provided support and guidance to his junior colleagues, and because of this, his lasting impact on Oregon State cannot be measured.” 

Bruce also said that he was very talented and nationally recognized.

“He was nationally recognized for his expertise in a variety of areas, including academic productivity, extended education and university outreach, cross-disciplinary education and promotion/tenure evaluation systems,” Bruce said in an email. “He served as president of the 20,000-member Institute of Food Technologists, a national organization made up of educators and representatives of government and industry.”

Dan Edge, the associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and colleague of Arnold, said Arnold was his mentor during the national leadership training program LEAD21.

“He had seen just about everything in his years of leadership, so he was always quick to size-up a situation, problem, or opportunity and offer insightful solutions/suggestions,” Edge said via email. “In my experience, his ideas were usually the ones adopted, not because we were deferring to him, but because they were the best solutions presented by the team.” 

Bill Boggess, the executive associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and close friend and colleague of Arnold, called him a people-person and a wonderful mentor. 

“Roy never lost sight that the fundamental expectation of a land-grant university is to ‘stay close to the people.’ It is both our heritage and our future,” Boggess said in an email. “Roy was a willing and accomplished listener. He always stayed in the conversation until you knew you had been heard and understood.”

In the last five years of his life, Arnold played a large role in planning OSU150–the celebration of OSU’s 150th anniversary. He ensured OSU celebrated its past and worked to highlight its contributions as one of the nation’s only two land, space, sea and sun grant universities.

Arnold is survived by his wife, Jane, his daughters, Jana Hoffman and Julie Salvi and two grandchildren.

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