Pres Schill closes closed search, appoints Patrick Phillips as provost

6/13/2019 letter to campus from Provost Phillips:

Dear Colleagues,

Although I don’t start in my role as provost until July, with the term winding down I wanted to connect now before many of you turn your attention away from campus for the summer.

First, let me tell you what an incredible honor it is to be asked to serve as provost. I thank everyone who contributed to the search process. While I am very excited to get started, I do so with a strong sense of humility born both by the scope of the task at hand and, more importantly, by a recognition of how much I have to learn about the entire breadth of the university from this point forward. The success of our university is not about any one position or person, but about the strength, knowledge, experiences, and ideas of the people who make such important contributions across all of our academic and administrative units.

I am eager to roll up my sleeves and will begin diving into key issues and initiatives immediately. Over the course of the summer and well into fall, I will host various orientation and onboarding sessions with a wide variety of campus stakeholders. Listening will be the first order of the day, and I know that each of the colleges and schools have existing plans and dreams that I am eager to hear about. One of my primary goals as provost is to make sure that we weave together previously unconnected strengths and ideas in a way that advances the institution as a whole.
The UO is a great university that can and must continue to get even better as we strive to become one the nation’s top public research institutions. It is my firm belief that our best path toward achieving this goal is to fully embrace our mission as a public university, one firmly grounded in the strengths, values, opportunities, and challenges of our very unique state.

You, the faculty and staff, are the bedrock of these aspirations, and my nearly 20 years at the UO have proven to me time and again just how dedicated everyone at the university is to the success of our research, educational, and service missions. It is only by working together, in the spirit of camaraderie and trust, that we can and will make great strides toward these goals. It is in this spirit that I will serve you and the entire academic community as the UO’s provost—always working to build trust and confidence, always seeking collaboration and innovation, while also being willing and prepared to make tough decisions.

I believe deeply in the UO’s foundation and mission as a liberal arts university and have experienced firsthand the profound benefits of the UO’s unique interdisciplinary faculty culture, and I have interacted broadly across many colleges and schools during my time here. My own educational history is grounded in the liberal arts in every dimension. Although my research has been centered in the natural sciences, I am committed to being a provost for the entire academic enterprise, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professional programs. The provost position is often described as chief academic officer, and it is the engagement of the academy as a whole that is one of the most exciting aspects of the position.

A top challenge for this—and every—university is the increasing cost of education and the rising question of whether what we do is worth it to the student. One of my top goals is to ensure that the provost’s office never loses sight of the UO’s broader mission and the fact that, in all that we do, we must serve students first through outstanding teaching, research, and service. And we do that by making sure that we are helping all students reach their full potential in terms of intellectual and professional growth. The changing landscape of higher education is an incredible challenge, but one that I think the University of Oregon is uniquely positioned to help determine.

You may have ideas, thoughts, or questions. I hope you will share them with me, and ask that you please do so via email to provosttransition@uoregon.edu.

Again, it is an honor to be UO’s next provost. I look forward to working with you, my colleagues, in this new capacity.

Patrick Phillips

6/12/2019 update: I’m sure the administration’s well paid flacks at Around the O will post the party line soon – meanwhile The Daily Emerald’s Zach Demars has a real news report, here:

After a closed-door internal search, Patrick Phillips, a professor of biology and former acting executive director of the Knight Campus, has been selected to replace Jayanth Banavar as University of Oregon provost and senior vice president. ….

“Although the UO clearly faces a number of challenges today, I believe that the only way to address these challenges in a sustainable way is to build a long-term vision of what University of Oregon can be–and should be–based on what and where we are,” Phillips wrote in his application for the position. “Specifically, we need to make sure that we capitalize on being a University in Oregon as much as we are the University of Oregon.” …

That last is a pretty good line. I wonder who wrote it.

6/12/2019: Former Interim Knight Campus Director and Biology Prof. Most of the faculty didn’t even know he was a candidate. Google scholar citations here, lab page here.

Dear University of Oregon colleagues and students,

The University of Oregon’s academic enterprise has grown and strengthened over the last few years as we have, together, worked to cement the institution’s position as Oregon’s top research university and make progress toward our aspirations to become one of the nation’s preeminent public universities. What we have achieved in this shared endeavor is quite remarkable, but our ambitions are even greater. To help realize those ambitions, the UO’s next provost needs a deep appreciation of our existing academic strengths, a clear vision for what we can become in the future, and the administrative acumen to get us there. The search for those unique-to-Oregon traits, combined with our need to act quickly and maintain momentum, were a driving force behind my decision to conduct an accelerated internal search for provost. I could not be happier with the results.

I am pleased to announce that Biology Professor Patrick Phillips will be the UO’s next provost and senior vice president. From a pool of tremendously strong internal candidates, Patrick emerged as the next provost due to his nearly two decades of distinguished service as one of the UO’s most respected faculty members, a track record of success as an administrative leader, and clear vision for what it will take for this institution to achieve new levels of academic excellence and distinction. Patrick will begin his term July 1.

Patrick, who joined the UO in 2000, is one of the UO’s most productive and prolific scientists—an expert in ecology and evolution, the biology of aging, molecular biology, and the genetics of complex traits. He has served as the director of the UO’s Institute for Ecology and Evolution, the head of the Department of Biology, and associate vice president for research. He also served as the acting executive director of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact from 2016-2018, successfully launching the most important research initiative in UO history. In that role, Patrick was responsible for leading the design and construction process for new facilities, establishing governance and educational policies, and initiating and supporting innovative graduate internship and entrepreneurship programs.

Prior to coming to the UO, Patrick was a professor of biology at the University of Texas at Arlington. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Reed College and his PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago.

Patrick has also demonstrated that he greatly values and appreciates the UO’s liberal arts foundation and long-standing history of interdisciplinary collaboration. While he is often associated with our efforts to enhance the UO’s basic and translational science capabilities, Patrick fiercely believes that achieving our academic ambitions and serving the next generation of students will require a holistic approach that requires world-class offerings from the arts, humanities, and professional programs. Patrick is committed to nourishing and fortifying the entire institution. He believes that the UO can be an unmatched catalyst for both economic development and societal good throughout our state, the nation, and the world. It is a compelling vision that I share.

The provost is the institution’s chief academic officer, charged with working with me, the deans, and the faculty to set the academic priorities for campus and for managing the human and capital resources to support those priorities. I look forward to helping Patrick hit the ground running. During the next year, we will welcome dozens of new faculty; oversee the launch of an innovative approach to student success at Tykeson Hall; open the Knight Campus; create new academic offerings in biomedical engineering and data science; plan an interdisciplinary research and teaching initiative in resilience and climate change bringing together the humanities, arts, social and natural sciences, and professional schools; and begin searches for new academic leaders in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Design, and UO Libraries. We do not have the luxury of slowing down, and I am confident that Patrick will smoothly step into the role of provost to advance those priorities and much more.

I want to thank Senate President and Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Skowron and Professor of Geography Alec Murphy, who both took time from their busy schedules to lead the search process. I also want to express my appreciation to the other members of the search committee, which was primarily comprised of members who hold a tenure-related or career-faculty appointment (TTF or NTTF) at the UO. This search was truly led by our faculty, and I believe that was a significant factor in the strength of the candidate pool and ultimately in my selection of Patrick for the role.

To help ensure a seamless and effective transition for Patrick, and allow him a brief window to wrap up and manage his current work, an e-mail account has been created for his transition. Please send any notes, questions, ideas, etc., to him at provosttransition@uoregon.edu.

Please join me in welcoming Patrick to this new role with the UO.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law