Rodolfo (Rudy) Chapa came to the University of Oregon on a running scholarship.
The Indiana native graduated from UO in 1981, then he earned a law degree and worked for the International Management Group and Nike before starting his own investment firm.
As a sports fan and the father of several UO students, Chapa visited campus frequently before joining UO’s independent governing board.
What do you remember most from your college experience?
It’s a tough thing to say especially when you call out one period as the greatest time of your life, but it really was. It was because I was fortunate enough that my running went very well, so that was a big part of my life. Secondly, I came to the UO as someone who was somewhat suspect. I hadn’t been the best high school student, such that when I first got here, I was put in some rather remedial type courses. I think the only reason I got in was that I was a pretty good athlete, but I was very much someone who was at risk.
Coming here and experiencing the UO from an academic perspective was just as fulfilling an experience for me as having been this runner. I finished with a degree in business and graduated with honors. It’s where I developed my closest friendships; my best friend today was my freshman roommate.
Why did you agree to join the board?
I love this place, I really do. Like I said, my time here as a student was the greatest time I’ve ever had. I love the idea of somehow contributing towards the future of this state and of the region by doing whatever we can to both support the university’s research objectives, but also more important to me is doing whatever I can to invest time and energy and resources to help the future Oregonians that are going to help make this state that much better.
Whatever I can do to give back and participate in that, it means a lot to me. The ability to join the board at this particular time, the changes that have taken place with the development of the new institutional governing board I think gives us a chance for people who really care to really make a difference. So I hope I can have a positive impact.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the University of Oregon right now?
First and foremost, and I’m on the presidential search committee, is making sure who we hire be a great one. That person is going to have a real challenge and real opportunity to really set the course for where we are five and ten years from now. So finding the right person to lead the university is clearly the number one challenge.
Two, I would say affordability. Making sure that the people who want to come here, that are worthy of coming here can come here and get an education in the most affordable manner possible.
The third, I would say is making sure — this is a research institution — making sure that we have the resources available to not only provide for the folks that are here trying to do great research, but also for the folks we want to bring in that will enhance what it is that we’re trying to do as a research institution.
I would say the fourth thing is a huge challenge, but I think also a huge opportunity, and that is how we accept the challenge of a world that’s changing rapidly with technology and use that to our advantage by thinking differently and by thinking in terms of how we can take advantage of how things are changing to enhance the experience of students, faculty and everything we’re trying to accomplish here in satisfying our mission.
With the presidential search, I know you can’t give away any names or details, but can you give us an update on how that search is going?
I can tell you that we’re on track. The idea was to have a very aggressive effort at finding the best person we could find and do it within a timely manner and do as thorough a search as we could possibly conduct.
But if at the end of this timeline that we set for ourselves we didn’t feel comfortable that we had the right person, we’re not going to make a call. We’ll wait and we’ll get going again. But the progress that’s been made on a fairly aggressive timeline has been timely ,and I feel comfortable that within a fairly short period of time we’ll know who it is that we’re taking a good hard look at.
What do you think is the most important thing on tomorrow ‘s (Thursday) agenda?
I’m always interested in the, and this is going to sound kind of odd, in the public comment portion. That allows us to hear from people who are living the experience here. And in truth. most of it is people who have concerns, so depending on how that goes and what it is that we hear that is of most concern I think that will elevate what I think we should be thinking about and talking about and focused on…