Oregon State University Board of Trustees Approves ‘Presidential Leadership Profile’
The Oregon State University Board of Trustees on Friday approved the profile it will use to search for the university’s next president. The profile is one of several steps the state’s largest university has taken to respond to the harsh criticism it has received after the public ousting of its last permanent president.
The presidential leadership profile includes the key qualities and qualifications expected of the new leader. It was developed with input from the OSU community through listening sessions and an online survey, though much of it remains similar to the profile used for the school’s latest presidential research.
The profile’s approval marks the next step in the hiring of a new president for Oregon’s largest university.
Along with specific qualifications and expectations for the position, the 41-page document also serves as a recruiting tool with information about the university and its history to attract applicants.
“It provides an opportunity to showcase OSU as an internationally recognized public research university, a university committed to its mission of land-grant and inclusive excellence,” the board chair said Friday. of OSU, Kirk Schueler.
These marketing and recruiting efforts will be key to a more open search process than in years past.
The OSU Board of Trustees selected the university’s final president, F. King Alexander, using a closed and confidential search process. Alexander resigned last spring following reports that he mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct at his former school, Louisiana State University.
At the urging of members of the campus community, the OSU Board of Trustees has embarked on a more open process – in which finalists will tour campus and meet with community members – although a part of the research remains confidential, including interviews with semi-finalists and the selection process.
After Alexander’s resignation, the OSU board repeatedly expressed that it would work to rebuild trust with the campus community.
OSU Faculty Senate Chair Erika McCalpine said Friday that faculty members were concerned about the presidential search, but the board kept them sufficiently informed about the process.
“It really helps rebuild trust and reconnect administration and faculty,” McCalpine said.
While the added transparency has been positive for many community members, this partially open process has drawbacks, according to outside consultants working with the State of Oregon. Candidate visibility most likely means that OSU will not attract a sitting college president, as these leaders may not want to put their current jobs at risk by publicly pursuing a job at another school.
“There’s a public part to this, so that may limit us a bit,” David Bellshaw said at OSU’s last board meeting in December. Bellshaw is a partner of Isaacson, Miller – the company assisting the university with its presidential search.
For the most part, the leadership profile qualifications are broad. The profile lists 15 ideal qualities, including “proven experience” in advancing diversity and equity efforts; leadership and management experience in a research-based institution; and great communication skills, among other expectations.
The majority of these qualifications are essentially identical to those that led to the hiring of former President Alexander.
Several board members noted Friday that when the search gets to the point of producing candidates for president, there must be work to prioritize which of the multitude of qualifications are most crucial.
“You have the same problem we had last time, which is that there are so many things we want in a president, and when it comes time to consider candidates, you’re going to have to decide. which ones are most important,” administrator Darry Callahan said. “What we did last time was we basically categorized them to put more emphasis on some and less emphasis on others.”
Board Chairman Schueler noted that the OSU Presidential Search Advisory Committee will be tasked with creating this candidate qualification prioritization matrix. This committee is made up of certain members of the OSU board of trustees, professors, students, administrators as well as the current president of the University of Oregon, Michael Schill.
Following board approval, the leadership profile is transferred to the Research Advisory Committee. Its members will revise the profile and forward it to the search firm – Isaacson, Miller – to begin educating potential candidates.