Closed search for new provost

Dear members of the University of Oregon community,

As many of you may know, the Provost Search Committee has been hard at work for the past five months. The 17-member committee, which includes representatives from virtually all of the UO’s constituencies, has created a position description, built a pool of candidates, and conducted interviews with a wide variety of potential candidates. We are now at the stage of the process where we plan to bring some of them back to Eugene for more intensive interviews and recruitment.

The Provost Search Committee, in conversation with members of the search firm Russell Reynolds Associates and some of our candidates, has concluded that the successful completion of the search requires that we follow what is increasingly becoming the national practice: avoiding the sort of open search that we have previously employed for decanal candidates. If we were to follow past practice, a number of candidates would drop out of the process rather than compromise their leadership positions at their current universities.

We have consulted with University Senate leadership and the Faculty Advisory Council on how to move forward with the next step in the process in a way that carefully balances our need to conduct a competitive search with our desire to receive input from appropriate campus stakeholders. We have agreed that over the next few months, finalists will come to Eugene to be interviewed again by the search committee and by deans, vice presidents, the provost and his chief of staff, the senate president, and the president of United Academics. Following this process, the search committee will present their final recommendations to the president, who will ultimately make the hiring decision. 

We are excited by the pool of candidates; they are an accomplished set of academic leaders capable of leading our university. We are also very grateful for the generous amount of work and dedication of members of the Provost Search Committee who are committed to finding our university the best person to be our next provost. While our process for selecting the next provost will be different than it has been in the past, in light of the inclusive nature of our search committee and our desire to hire the very best provost we can, we are comfortable with the process set forth above. 

We look forward to providing you with more information in late February or early March.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill

President and Professor of Law

Geraldine Richmond, Provost Search Committee Chair

Presidential Chair and Professor of Chemistry

2 thoughts on “Closed search for new provost”

  1. More details on the Provost search process:

    Last quarter, the search committee worked with a recruiting firm to read and discuss ~65 total files. We winnowed the list down to approximately a dozen candidates who we met in “airport” interviews in Portland in December. During these interviews the search committee spent an hour with each candidate, and President Schill had one-on-one meetings with each candidate for approximately half an hour. Individuals on the search committee asked the same questions to each of the candidates. (These questions are posted in the “Reports and Documents” tab of the Provost Search Committee entry above.) The search committee, President Schill and representatives from the search firm huddled over breakfast and lunch to discuss our impressions of the candidates we had met so far. After meeting all of the candidates, we formed a short list for which we were sufficiently interested to ask for references. The candidates provided lists of references, which were divided amongst committee members and contacted via phone during winter break. (The questions we asked each of the references are posted in the “Reports and Documents” tab of the Provost Search Committee entry above.) Last week, the committee together with President Schill met and decided which candidates to invite to campus.

    These candidates are a diverse group, and each is an accomplished scholar with significant administrative experience. I cannot speak for the entire committee, but based on the information I have right now, I would be comfortable with any of these individuals becoming our Provost.

    We’re not done yet. Though the candidates have asked to maintain their anonymity at this point in the process—participating publicly in a job search has implications for candidates at their home institutions—during their visits they will meet with representatives from all major Senate constituencies including students, faculty, staff and officers of administration. The entire Provost Search Committee will meet with them again as will President Schill, Provost Coltrane, other senior administrators and Senate and faculty union presidents. While each of these individuals is, for the moment, sworn to secrecy regarding the identity of the candidates, we do encourage you to share your concerns about the process or questions for the candidates with members of the search committee. As a member of the search committee, I am happy to hear these concerns or to ask questions of the candidates on your behalf.

  2. I worry about the notion of a closed search for provost. We are complicit in creating an expectation that such high-level searches will, as a matter of course, be closed. The greater the expectation, the more likely that they will be closed, here and elsewhere. What’s next? Dean searches? Faculty searches? This is a slippery slope, and we are already sliding.

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