Lillis reiterates new Pres will be an academic, appoints faculty to “advise” search

9/23/2014 update:  Alex Cremer has the Chuck Lillis interview in the ODE, along with an excellent Dominic Allen photo, here.

Q: What are you looking for in terms of the new president?

A: When I think about what the most important attributes are of the president, having once been a faculty member, I think faculty work best if they are confident that the president of the university understands what it’s about to be a faculty member. That’s not true at Stanford, I’d say Stanford could go hire Jeff Immelt who’s the CEO of GE and probably everyone would say that’s a brilliant move, but I think for Oregon it should probably be somebody who has strong experience in the university administration system, who holds a Ph.D or something similar in terms of degree and someone who has superior communication skills.

And the Board has just announced an emergency telephone meeting of the audit committee, to add some faculty to the search committee. The junior search committee or PSAG, that is. Is this an effort to actually get faculty input, or an effort to pretend that they’ve gotten faculty input? We’ll know in a year or two. Meanwhile Coltrane says he is not applying for the permanent job – but then he would say that, wouldn’t he?

9/15/2014: Lillis disputes RG report that he is the decider for presidential hire

Ry Rivard of Inside Higher Ed has an interview (link fixed) in which new UO Board Chair Chuck Lillis disputes the RG report that he now has the sole secret power to decide who will be UO’s next president. The story has just been updated with this:

Inside Higher Ed last week requested all documents that outlined the search plan but was not provided with the actual plan, which has was brought to the site’s attention on Monday by UO Matters, a blog that carefully follows the university. The plan clearly contradicts the chairman’s characterization of his powers in the Friday interview. A spokeswoman for the university, Julie Brown, said Monday the omission was “not intentional.”

Decide for yourself. According to the motion that the board passed after no public review (Board Secretary Angela Wilhelm left if out of the public docket materials) and apparently without even much notice to the board, UO’s next president will be appointed according to these rules:

The Committee will ultimately recommend qualified finalists to the Board Chair. The recommendations should be accompanied by a detailed report of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, especially in terms of the desired qualifications for the position. The Board Chair will interview the Committee’s finalists and forward finalists to the full Board. The Chair is authorized to narrow the field of candidates after consultation with the Committee, and is also authorized to rank the candidates. The Board will interview the finalists forwarded by the Chair in executive session. Any final decision by the Board will be made in a public meeting, and all of the Board’s deliberations and discussions leading to that decision will be in accordance with Oregon’s public meeting laws.

Which sounds to me like Lillis can pick the finalists and if he wants to, that could be one finalist. He’d have to consult with the committee, but he could ignore their advice, and they would be sworn to secrecy about what had happened.

This procedure, and the unusual two search committees with only token student and faculty representation (all of them also picked by Lillis) that were reported by Diane Dietz in the RG are odd enough to have already attracted a highly critical editorial in the Salem Statesman Journal.

I’d say it’s an open question as to whether these unusual search and hiring procedures are really going to help accomplish Lillis’s stated goal from the Gottfredson firing meeting:

Q: What kind of qualities in new Pres? Lillis: Great academic credentials will be #1. Experience with how universities operate, has been in trenches. Someone who is not easily misled, with communications skills, can handle external constituencies.

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26 Responses to Lillis reiterates new Pres will be an academic, appoints faculty to “advise” search

  1. observer says:

    The Statesmen Journal editorial lays it out pretty plainly. (The link to the Inside Higher Ed article is also the SJ link, btw.)

    While gaining praise on other issues, Lillis has narrowed and fine tuned the scope of Board function and focused his own power on the biggest issue the Board faces making himself not just a chairman, but CEO. He demonstrates a fine capacity to split hairs, and it appears he has no interest in “buy-in” by any UO constituency.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Coincidentally, right this very moment Florida State Sen. John Thrasher, candidate for the presidency at FSU selected through a tainted search process, is getting reamed in a forum with the faculty. According to Twitter he has dodged questions about his position on climate change and evolution and has threatened to walk out.

    I hope our own board is paying attention.

  3. Anon says:

    One issue here is that Lillis now will act knowing that the success of the next president is a reflection of him. Will this conflict of interest lead to a greater willingness to hide problems? The chair of the board/CEO relationship is rife with problems in the corporate world and not the best model.

    • observer says:

      IF they find a new president.

      Someone a while back mentioned the possibility of having a failed search and Lillis taking the job himself. It sounded outlandish then, but now–not so much.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This secret hiring process and the secretive way it was developed and sold to the Board and public will chase off credible applicants and make it still more difficult for UO to hire a good new President. So it’s a big win for Coltrane.

  5. eugenenative says:

    “Can handle external constituencies”

    Should probably be number 1 on the list of requirements.

  6. Lillis for UO Dictator says:

    Looks like Lillis is the unofficial dictator of the UO. He secretly got rid of the last president and will secretly select the next president who will be beholding to him only. The rest is just a sham. Why not make it honest and official and just declare Lillis the official “UO Dictator” and save on the president salary.

  7. Lillis Kilkenny says:

    This is sort of what happened with Kilkenny taking over the Athletic Director job.

    • charlie says:

      Excellent analogy. The arena was the sine qua non of the Kilkenny tenure. Gotta wonder what’s Lillis’ raison d’etre….

      • anon says:

        While athletics does give esprit de corps to the hoi polloi, Lillis is a tabula rasa, although apparently a bit of a prima donna. We wanted independence, but now it is caveat emptor! Should he get carte blanche? The status quo is to get the same faux pas du jour ad nauseam, so it is a bit of deja vu and makes me want to say hasta la vista!

  8. Gleason is fuming, or jealous says:

    Congrats on the mention in Inside Higher Ed, bill. I hear that that’s also a legitimate or established news organization, or something like that anyway. Not bad for just a rag blog, I’d say. It’s kind of like you’re doing real journalism… you know, the kind Around the O just says they do without really earning it? (Imagine if UOM had its own marketing division and could just pronounce stuff, and not worry about constraints, like logic, or internal consistency. That works be so awesome, I know.)
    Pittens should also love this mention of UOM. (Remember his face when he was trying to be dismissive of UOM during the rape press conferences? So sweet.)

    • uomatters says:

      Thanks, I’ve referred your defamatory statement about the UOM marketing division to legal.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What would be “something similar” to a PhD?

  10. Anon says:

    Maybe there should be a faculty trustee on the board, to keep them from making rookie mistakes like this and then having to backtrack? Embarrassing.

  11. mousey says:

    So … comments on the new “input panel” faculty additions?

  12. Anonymous says:

    We hired Leslie Leve last year. Suddenly she’s one of 2 faculty on the presidential search? Does anyone know the real story?

    • anon says:

      They wanted to make sure to get a wide range of faculty perspectives, so they picked Cresko and Leve, who are both part of the obesity cluster hire. Sounds like that one might be on the short list for funding!

  13. Anonymous says:

    She’s part of Espy’s Prevention Science gang.