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State: Eastern president will do right by the university
Despite departure, Bob Davies will push hard for new governance model
The impending departure of Eastern Oregon University President Bob Davies to Murray State University in Kentucky is raising questions about the direction EOU will take in the future.
New uncertainties now loom, but this much is certain — Eastern is still on track to have the hybrid governance structure Davies is endorsing for the university. The hybrid governance model is one Davies will keep pursuing for Eastern.
The model would involve EOU, Southern Oregon University, Western Oregon University and Oregon Institute of Technology. It is now being referred to as the Technical and Regional Universities Governance Model.
Di Saunders, director of communications for the Oregon University System, said that Davies is in a strong position to lead EOU in its effort to get the state board to support the TRU Governance Model despite his looming departure. She explained that Davies has credibility with the board.
“He is highly trusted and respected by the board,” Saunders said. “He’s also a professional.
He will be going as hard on his last day as he did on Day 1. He loves the campus and he’ll do right by the institution.”
Under the TRU plan, the three directional schools and OIT would each be governed by their own institutional boards. The TRU model also calls for the universities to have a president’s council. The council would be comprised of the presidents of all four universities and their staffs. The council members would work collectively to help the four universities share resources and information and purchase services in a cost effective manner.
Davies remains a strong supporter of the TRU Governance Model because he believes it will best serve EOU.
“For the long-term benefit of the university, it is the best option,” Davies said. “In totality, it is the best.”
A big reason Davies is pushing for the TRU Governance Model is it would help Eastern keep its identify. The president explained that people see EOU as a university that focuses on the individual student and one that has outstanding comprehensive professional programs supported by a strong liberal arts curriculum.
“This is how we are identified throughout the region we serve. We are committed to protecting that,” Davies said.
Davies, completing his fifth year as Eastern’s president, was named the next president of Murray State University last week. He will remain as Eastern’s president through June 30 and take the reins at Murray State on July 14.
Davies and the presidents of OIT, SOU and WOU will present their plan for the TRU plan to the State Board of Higher Education on March 31 in Portland. The board is scheduled to make a decision at its April 4 meeting on whether it will recommend this option to the Legislature.
Governance options are being mulled at the four regional and technical universities following the passage of Senate Bill 270 by the Legislature last July. The bill allowed the state’s three largest universities — Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Portland State University — to break from the Oregon Board of Higher Education and operate independently while being governed by their own institutional boards.
The bill also opened the door to the possibility of EOU, WOU, SOU and OIT having their own institutional boards, being part of a consortium board or being branch campuses of either of the three largest universities.
Davies believes the TRU Governance Model is far better than one that would make EOU a branch campus of one Oregon’s four largest state universities.
“It will allow us to make decisions on the local level in the best manner possible,” he said. “It is about keeping EOU viable and flexible.”