Michael Gottfredson chosen as University president

“It’s a happy day,” said Allyn Ford, member of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, to Michael Gottfredson early Friday morning. It was indeed a happy day for Gottfredson, who was unanimously chosen by the board to serve as the next University president.

Gottfredson, who wore a stripped green tie for the occasion, accepted the appointment with “tremendous enthusiasm” and said he looks forward to learning more about the University and Eugene. He also pledged to the University community to “work every day to do what this great institution has done for so long — enhance the life of its citizens.”

The former provost at the University of California, Irvine and criminology expert will become the 17th University president on Aug. 1, replacing interim University President Robert Berdahl. Berdahl has served as interim president since the board fired then-University president Richard Lariviere last December. Lariviere was ousted by the board for seeking greater independence for the University and giving pay raises to some faculty and administrators.

Gottfredson will serve for three years as president, earning $540,000 per year, not including benefits.@@[email protected]@ He will negotiate a final contract in the next few weeks with Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner.

Gottfredson, 61, is a well-known figure in academia. He previously served as vice chancellor, provost and a criminology, law and sociology professor for 12 years at UC Irvine. He was responsible for a $1.8 billion annual operating budget, 1,500 faculty members and 27,000 students — slightly larger than the University.

Prior to his time at UC Irvine, he was vice president of undergraduate education at the University of Arizona, as well as a professor of management and policy, law, sociology and psychology.

Gottfredson received his Ph.D. in criminology in 1976 at the State University of New York at Albany. He has written several books about crime theories and has advised state, county and federal government officials about criminal justice policy.

Several dozen people attended the 30-mintue conference call meeting Friday morning at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, including Mayor Kitty Piercy and state Rep. Nancy Nathansen.@@names [email protected]@ During the opening remarks, board member Ford, who also chaired the 22-member presidential search committee, said many committee members were worried about finding a qualified candidate. The committee had five months to select the next University president — a task that would usually take six to nine months, Ford said.@@wasn’t this different from what was said earlier, when it was 12-18 [email protected]@

More than 100 people applied for the position. The search committee — made up of University students, faculty and staff — narrowed down the search to 20 candidates by April. From there, the committee chose nine candidates and interviewed them individually last month. Ford said Gottfredson stood “head and shoulders” above the rest, impressing the committee with his experience in academia and leadership skills. Ford also said the committee liked that he had experience working for a Pac-12 school, namely the University of Arizona.

Chancellor Pernsteiner said Gottfredson was easily the most qualified candidate. In addition to being a “renowned scholar,” Pernsteiner said he increased the number of faculty and research facilities at UC Irvine.

“That’s a pretty remarkable track record,” Pernsteiner said. “He’s been able to increase faculty despite the budget blows California schools have endured.”

Berdahl, who also attended Friday’s meeting, said he will spend a few days with Gottfredson in August to help him adjust to his presidential role. He said the University will likely form a transition team as well to help him.

During his three-year term, Berdahl hopes Gottfredson will create an institutional board for the University, so it can become more independent. He also wants Gottfredson to raise more money for the University and recruit more faculty and staff.

Gottfredson has spent the last week touring the campus and meeting student leaders and administrators. During the next few months before he takes office, he will spend more time in Eugene to learn about the community.

“I’ve got a lot of homework to do,” he said.


Related stories: Read more about Michael Gottfredson’s selection as University president.

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