University of Oregon President Michael Schill named 17 UO constituents to a provost search committee on Aug. 19, effectively launching the search for the new Senior Vice President and chief academic officer.
The committee’s formation follows a June announcement that current provost Scott Coltrane plans to retire next summer, after eight years at UO.
In his announcement, Schill wrote that the position serves as “guardian of our most important functions— education and scholarship.” The provost oversees all academic units, including research and degree programs.
Some of the provost’s key duties include working with deans to hire and promote faculty, setting budgetary priorities and coordinating admissions tactics. The provost would act as president of the university in his or her absence.
The search committee will be headed by Chemistry Professor Geraldine “Geri” Richmond. Its additional 16 members include two non-academic vice presidents, one undergraduate and one graduate teaching fellow. Eleven of the committee members are professors or hold academic roles.
Andrew Dunn, the committee’s undergraduate member and external director of staff for ASUO, said he is determined to ensure there’s a strong student voice on the committee.
“That’s my concern,” he said, “being drowned out by the professionals and faculty.”
According to an email from Richmond, the committee’s size and composition are standard for this type of university search.
Richmond said that during the committee’s first meeting, which is slated for late September, it will set approximate dates for announcing candidates and making the final decision on the new provost.
While the committee has not yet discussed the areas of expertise and characteristics they will seek in candidates, Richmond said she does not anticipate any special challenges with the search process.
Dunn said that he plans to keep in mind what he sees as the most important academic aspect of the university: how students and faculty interact in the classroom.
“I want to find a provost that’s not just renowned for research but is also a respected educator and can help develop the faculty as educators that directly serve students,” he said.
Current provost Coltrane first stepped into the position in July 2013, after five years at UO as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He also served as the university’s interim president for a year, beginning in Sept. 2014.
During his time as provost, Coltrane hired three new deans, a new vice president of research and innovation and a number of academic and research faculty members. He also worked on student issues like Title IX policies and increasing diversity and inclusion.
“It’s an amazing time at the University,” Dunn said, “I’m really interested to see if we can bring in someone to help the school as we move forward.”