Interim president search in early phases

Cara Nixon, News Contributor

Content warning – story contains mention of sexual assault and harassment.

Oregon State University’s former President F. King Alexander’s resignation went into effect on April 1—now, the community is left wondering what the next presidential search will entail.

OSU trustee Patty Bedient said in an email to students, faculty and staff that the board of trustees was collecting nominations for interim president through April 9.

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“As we begin a process to appoint an interim university president, the community’s engagement is very important,” Bedient said. 

In addition to seeking input from the general community, Bedient said she will be reaching out to OSU academic and administrative leaders, Faculty Senate leadership, student leaders and other university stakeholders for their assistance in the process. 

Eventually, a separate webpage will be available for the process of searching for the university’s next permanent president. 

Bedient wrote, “I assure you that the board of trustees has heard the concerns about the 2019 search and will promptly undertake a review of that process and incorporate lessons learned.”

Debbie Colbert, secretary of the board, said the next presidential search process will begin with a review of the search process used to choose and appoint Alexander in 2019.

“The review and development of the process will be the subject of future Board of Trustees meetings and information about the board’s discussion will be shared publicly,” Colbert explained. 

The Board of Trustees held a meeting on April 2, which included discussions on the proposed process for the appointment of an interim president and the work needed to review due diligence of the 2019 presidential search. 

The board discussed input they have already received in regard to appointing an interim president, including the need for the individual to have the ability to build trust and confidence with internal and external stakeholders; a commitment to core university values; existing knowledge of the university and academic experience; the capability to address and maintain the university’s review of sexual violence prevention, support and response; and leadership experience. 

After nominations for interim president closed on April 9, a recommendation for the position will be announced, a university forum will be held and the board will consider the appointment during the week of April 12. 

For review of the 2019 presidential search, OSU is requesting the services of a proposer to provide conclusions on the board’s “due diligence in performing background checks on King Alexander’s viability in accordance with industry standards for confidential searches,” with a focus on but not limited to his handling of sexual assault and misconduct while at Louisiana State University.

OSU is also requesting that a proposer provide conclusions on the search firm used in the hiring of Alexander, WittKieffer, which was temporarily banned by the University of North Carolina System for failing to meet contract expectations. 

The drafted timeline stated that planning and preliminary requirements for this review are set to be completed by April 19. Fieldwork completed in accordance with implementation timelines with interim reports is projected for May 31, and a final report is expected to be issued and delivered on June 15.