UO's 19th president emerges from deep and diverse pool of candidates

The 19th president of the University of Oregon was selected from a highly competitive and diverse pool of higher education leaders following a six-month international search process. 

The search officially got underway Sept. 16, 2022, when the UO Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a Presidential Search Committee to begin the process of finding the university’s next top administrator. It came after President Michael Schill announced Aug. 11, 2022, that after a seven-year tenure leading the UO, he would be leaving to become president at Northwestern University.  

On Oct. 3, 2022, Board Chair Ginevra Ralph announced the assemblage of the Presidential Search Committee, chaired by Board Trustee Connie Seeley and vice-chaired by Board Trustee Renée Evans Jackman. The 22-member committee included members of the UO Board of Trustees, students, faculty, staff, academic and administrative leadership, as well as representatives from higher education and the university’s engaged external community. 

The committee also included a search advocate — a university employee who is an external member of the committee and who provides impartial guidance to the hiring manager, search committee chair and members throughout the search process.

The advocate asks questions of search committee members to test their thinking, identify and promote practices that advance diversity and social justice, and minimize the impacts of cognitive and structural biases.

Throughout the fall, committee members held dozens of meetings, both in person and remotely, to encourage input from the greatest number of individuals. These meetings were held with a diverse representation of groups and individuals, including faculty, staff, students, volunteers, donors, state and local elected officials, and other members of the university community locally, statewide, and beyond. In addition, the committee opened an online survey to solicit feedback from the campus community on what they wanted to see in the university’s next president. Based on that information, the committee crafted a presidential profile and position description to serve as a guide in the search for the university’s next president. 

“Meeting with so many diverse and varied groups from across campus was an incredible honor and very insightful,” said Connie Seeley, the chair of the search committee. “Everyone we met with expressed a passion for this university and their hopes for its future.” 

The Board of Trustees received and unanimously approved the profile during its Dec. 6 meeting, allowing recruitment efforts to begin in earnest.  

The profile called for the university’s next leader to show an incredible commitment to the relentless pursuit of excellence and a vision to lead the university’s next ambitious era and to personify the institution’s care for and commitment to its purpose of enhancing the social, cultural, physical, and economic well-being of the university’s students.

In February, the search committee reviewed every application and nomination submitted during the search, for a total of 59 applicants. From this pool, the committee selected 11 people for first-round interviews. In this diverse semi-finalist pool, approximately 30 percent of the applicants were from underrepresented communities and 30 percent were women.  

“We met with an outstanding pool of applicants. It was very exciting to see their depth of experience, interest in the UO, and commitment to public education. They represented some of the best in higher education,” said Seeley.   

The search committee unanimously selected four finalists for consideration by the Board of Trustees. 

The trustees conducted extensive interviews of the four finalists in early March and met in executive session on Wednesday, March 7, to deliberate and unanimously select the top finalist to take to the board for a public vote on March 13, 2023.

Both the search chair and vice chair expressed their deep gratitude to the search committee for their service to the university.

“The search committee members were thoughtful, discerning, and incredibly committed to this process,” said Renée Evans Jackman. “They listened intently to the university community. Each committee member brought a unique perspective and representation to the search while demonstrating a strong commitment to selecting the next visionary leader of the University of Oregon.”

Parker Executive Search assisted the committee throughout the process.