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BOT posts description of their ideal UO president – no higher ed experience required

The full document is here. My take on it is very positive guarded. It emphasizes the need to stay in AAU, gets specific, emphasizes scholarship and even mentions transparency. On the other hand, as a commenter notes, it opens the door to hiring a president with no academic qualifications or experience:

… The questions and challenges facing the next president are similar to those facing other public
flagship institutions across the nation. How does the UO continue to fulfill its public mission with
low levels of state support? How does it preserve and enhance quality while at the same time
maintaining affordability? And some questions and challenges are important for the UO to address
in the context of its place as a nationally-recognized research university. How does it address
disparities between the UO and its AAU peers in faculty salaries, ratio of tenure- to non-tenure
related faculty, student/faculty ratio, and other areas critical to continued excellence and academic
competitiveness? …

The following leadership characteristics are essential for the UO’s president:

• A passion for public higher education.
• A demonstrated record of substantive leadership and accomplishment within higher
education, government, research, philanthropic, business or service environments with
multilayered constituencies.
• An exemplary record of scholarly, professional, and/or individual achievement.
• An understanding and appreciation for the research culture of an AAU institution, the
importance of graduate education, and the importance of working at the frontiers of
knowledge creation and dissemination. …

• Demonstrated success in attracting financial resources—public and private—to support the
University’s strategic direction and ambitious goals in an era of declining public support;
and a proven record of forming productive relationships with donors, alumni, and other
external constituents.
• A collegial leadership style marked by a commitment to upholding academic values and
principles of shared governance, a collaborative approach to problem-solving, and a highly
communicative and respectful relationship with faculty, students, administrative staff,
classified employees, alumni, and other stakeholders.

• A fair, firm, and compassionate leader with a reputation for transparency, integrity and high
ethical standards who will vigorously promote excellence within the institution. …
• Must demonstrate a lack of pretension, a good sense of humor, and a passion for conveying
that this is a great moment for the University of Oregon and its future.

Sounds like Scott Coltrane.



  1. that effing Dog again 01/15/2015

    one perhaps important modification of bullet 4:

    …and a facile recognition such frontiers.

    I believe this is the essential problem for many Research Universities – its trivial to appreciate “the importance of working at the frontiers of knowledge creation and dissemination. …

    the skill is to recognize where those frontier’s are and to invest in faculty/infrastructure that makes your Research University respond swiftly to the emergence of these frontiers.

    Agility is key. If I were to write a bullet it would simply be this:

    • The ability to transform the inertial course of the University into one that is agile.

    Fortunately, I have not been allowed to have any bullets for quite some time now …

  2. Clueless 01/15/2015

    Some good stuff here but Lillis has departed, in this description, from his assertion that the next President have a strong academic background.

    ” A demonstrated record of substantive leadership and accomplishment within higher
    education, government, research, philanthropic, business or service environments with
    multilayered constituencies.
    • An exemplary record of scholarly, professional, and/or individual achievement.”

    That may not be bad but the door is open for a corporate CEO type.

    • uomatters Post author | 01/15/2015

      Good catch. That language is broad enough to include Uncle Phil.

      • notanotable alum 01/15/2015

        So how many Ballmer Bucks will it take to buy the Ducks?

    • Chase 01/16/2015

      Steve Ballmer, anyone? His wife is on BOT and they recently gave a big donation. He could maybe establish a full school of engineering with his connections.

  3. New Year Cat 01/15/2015

    They seem to have inadvertently left out “walk on water”…. ;)

  4. Sun Tzu 01/15/2015

    What we need, desperately and immediately, is not someone with “An understanding of the complexities of overseeing an intercollegiate athletic program within a major research university” (final bullet point) but someone who 1) realizes that Oregon is going downhill academically and is on the verge of being bounced from the AAU; 2) has the vision, leadership and willingness to take on the challenge of staying in the AAU and improving our national academic standing; 3) acknowledges that we will never be a strong university unless the administration respects and works closely with faculty and staff; and 4) is no longer willing to allow the university’s academic side to be the dog wagged by the athletic tail and uberathletic donors. This is a very tall order, one that has eluded the previous 5 presidents including the current holder. It can however be achieved if and only if the BoT realizes that the faculty hold all the keys to any future success at this university and to not include us in the search process is a fatal mistake.

    Unless the BoT has the humility and self-awareness to realize that they are not “the chosen people”, that they know little if anything about how academia functions, and that they need faculty to help them achieve the goals they state in their presidential position description document, I fear Oregon will continue to attract second-rate, visionless presidents who care little about the long term future of our university and instead are more interested in their perks, golden parachutes and kowtowing to our sports-crazed donors.

    • Huh. 01/15/2015

      Just to be clear, the BoT doesn’t kowtow to the sports-crazed donors, they are the sports-crazed donors. Chuck has been very open and public in saying that the academic side should model itself after the athletic side. He believes that success on the football field will directly impact enrollment. I guess that’s true, since freshman applications are down several thousand right now compared to last year.

      • uomatters Post author | 01/15/2015

        Tell us more about those applications.

        • Huh, 01/15/2015

          Like what? Applications are down severely from the same time last year. UO already started pushing the priority admissions deadlines further out to compensate. Were you expecting more freshmen to want to go to school here just because the football team did well? I’ve heard parents openly warn their daughters not to apply to UO.

      • Sam Dotters-Katz 01/18/2015

        Actually, there is not a single ‘sports crazed donor’ on the Board of Trustees. If you care to name one I would be interested to hear you back up your conjecture.

        • Andy Stahl 01/18/2015

          Sports-crazed? A picture is worth a thousand words:

          [Editor: Sorry Andy, I’ve deleted your links and commentary on the grounds that they are just too goddamn depressing.]

        • Sun Tzu 01/18/2015

          Let’s not get off track. Whether or not BoT members are “sports crazed donors” misses the point, which is that the BoT and Chuck Lillis in particular, have decided they know more about academics after 6 months on the job than the entire faculty who have spent their careers in academia. Academia is not a business, students are not clients, and a research university is not a vocational school. By providing a quality education and generating knowledge through research, we faculty are the foundation of this university. The University can survive without administrators. It cannot survive without faculty yet the administration and BoT believe faculty are a nameless, faceless, interchangeable labor force. The sooner the BoT realizes that engaging the faculty and bringing us into the decision-making process are the only means to reversing our current downward spiral, the sooner we will see improvements in our academic quality and our national rankings. There is no other way forward. I desperately hope the BoT is listening.

          • Moon2Sun 01/18/2015

            But what if you are wrong?
            What if Education has become nothing more than one of the most lucrative federal welfare programs after the previous president opened the flood gates to privatize and profitize academia one of the final vestiges of the common wealth and public trust. Is it not that the BOT is here to take the UO private? With private capital and billionaires watching the outcome, leering in, hands in their pants, salivating at the real prizes like UC , UT , SUNY, CUNY, Florida. student debt higher than credit card debt and somewhere around $1.2 trillion. Perhaps our BOT is to prototype the synergies and efficiencies that can be maximized when leveraging a formerly public institution for personal gain. They are not here to compete with Harvard, Stanford, Yale, or Princeton they are here to improve on Phoenix and Corinthian.

          • Moon2Sun 01/18/2015

            And did you not have a hand in your own demise by minting all those graduates over recent decades, many phd’s who were probably not deserving of that gilded piece of paper and most who were surely not needed?

            It is said with the glut of phd’s, $1200 will get you a professor to teach a single class to thousands of online students each paying double in tuition and fees what the professor takes home. But even that may not be enough for private equity. Many professors sold out and gave everything to “The University” as their condition for employment for one more year. Who needs a professor when you have all the online courses taped and ready to go. Ka-Ching!

        • Huh... 01/20/2015

          Sure, next time just re-read the posts you reply to. “Chuck has been very open and public in saying that the academic side should model itself after the athletic side.”

  5. Sun Tzu 01/18/2015

    It is quite possible that you are correct Moon and that the BoT’s goal is to privatize the UO in order to extract as much profit as possible for personal gain. That would certainly be one plausible explanation for their current attempt to squelch the faculty voice and eliminate faculty governance. I however choose to believe another explanation, namely that the BoT is populated by a bunch of self-inflated egoists who believe their success in business automatically endows them with god-like omniscience about everything including higher education. Their only saving grace is that I believe the BoT in general are decent people who actually want to improve UO (there appears to be several board members whom are exempt from this assessment). It is my hope that there is a way we faculty can get through to the open-minded BoT members and convince them that they and we must work together as equals to improve our university. I am not quite ready to toss in the white flag and accept the alternative you have described. Another 6 months of arrogant BoT edicts may change my mind however.

  6. Sun Tzu 01/18/2015

    P.S. Dear Moon: I respect your views however I could not work at UO if I actually believed any of your negative and cynical statements. I for one choose to believe there still is hope, and as long as there is hope, I will work for positive change. I hope others will do the same. There is still time to save UO.

  7. Licensed in Oregon 01/19/2015

    The job description does say

    “The president will possess experiences and a record of achievement that merit a tenured appointment as a senior faculty member.”

    Which would seem to exclude some of the more obvious nightmare candidates, such as sports boosters, and some politicians.

    • Anonymous 01/19/2015

      True, it does say that. Is there anyone on the search committee that could make such a judgment though?

  8. Widget 01/21/2015

    Sun Tzu 01/18/2015 at 9:39 pm
    …”without faculty yet the administration and BoT believe faculty are a nameless, faceless, interchangeable labor force. “…

    Just as the administration AND faculty view classified staff.

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