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UO selects John Karl Scholz as its 19th president (courtesy of the University of Oregon).

On Monday, the University of Oregon Board of Trustees unanimously voted John Karl Scholz as the university’s next president. 

Scholz is currently serving as the University of Wisconsin-Madison provost. While at UW-Madison, he also served as the Dean of the College of Letters, a professor of economics and the director of UW-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty.

His economics expertise is in household savings, low-wage labor markets, financial barriers to higher education and bankruptcy laws, according to an announcement by UO Board of Trustees Board Chair Ginevra Ralph.

Scholz was a senior staff economist at the Council of Economic Advisors from 1990 to 1991. He also served as deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis at the United States Treasury Department from 1997 to 1998, according to Ralph.

Last April, Scholz was named one of five finalists for the role of University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor, but he lost out to UCLA law school dean Jennier Mnookin. In November, UW-Madison announced Scholz planned to step down as provost and return to the faculty at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.

“Karl is deeply committed to the success of students, to the university’s research agenda and liberal arts roots and is focused on creating a societal impact in the future,” Ralph said.

Scholz will start as UO’s president on July 1, 2023.

Current Interim President Patrick Phillips will no longer be UO’s interim president and will instead return to the UO faculty and continue to lead his biology lab, according to Ralph. 

The board is expected to select UO’s Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jamie Moffitt on Tuesday as the interim president until July, according to Ralph.


Scholz makes a speech after being selected as UO's president (Caleb Barber).

At a welcoming event at the Student Welcome Center later Monday, Scholz spoke to members of the university community and the press. 

“I am drawn to the University of Oregon because I believe in the extraordinary role that our public research universities play in improving lives in the world around us,” Scholz said. 

Berwick Dean and professor of dance in the UO school of music Sabrina Madison-Cannon was a member of the presidential search committee.

“We wanted a president who would be approachable, authentic and inspiring, as well as committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, and who cares for every student, faculty and staff member,” Madison-Cannon said. “Karl Scholz exemplifies these qualities and many more.”

ASUO President Luda Isakharov, who was also on the presidential search committee, said she was encouraged by Scholz’s commitment to equity.

“As a student who is one year out from graduation, I was very impressed with provost Scholz’s approach and perspective on student success and career readiness, as we work to leverage the strides we have made as a university in these areas,” Isakharov said.

In his letter to the search committee, Scholz said he had experience in leading collaboration in the arts, humanities and sciences.

Ralph said Scholz was selected after the board conducted 40 different listening sessions.

In contrast to Oregon State University, which selected Jayathi Murthy — its first president to be a woman of color — in September of last year, UO did not announce any finalists for the role of university president.

Throughout its 19 presidents, UO has never had a person of color or a woman serve as university president, although a presidential search profile approved by the board said the next president should have a “record of leadership in promoting racial equity and inclusion enhancing diversity in all forms.”

During his speech at the welcoming event, Scholz said he is “committed to continuing our work to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus, while fostering a greater sense of belonging for all students, staff and faculty.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated with information from Scholz's speech at the Student Welcome Center. Caleb Barber and Alexis Weisend contributed to this report.

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