State board to decide EOU governance

By Dick Mason, The Observer April 02, 2014 09:47 am

Board also hopes to have interim president named soon

The State Board of Higher Education is set to soon make two decisions that will have major impacts on Eastern Oregon University — one for perhaps the next century, the other for the short term. 

The first decision should be made Friday afternoon when the board is scheduled to vote on whether to support a proposed new institutional board-based governance structure for EOU, Western Oregon University, Southern Oregon University and Oregon Institute of Technology.

The proposed new governance structure is one the State Board of Higher Education, which has 14 members, appears prepared to endorse, said Di Saunders, director of communications for the Oregon University System.

Saunders said at a meeting on Monday State Board of Higher Education members were asked whether they supported the Technical and Regional Universities Governance Model. Ten of the 12 members present said they were “leaning toward supporting it,” Saunders said, following presentations from the presidents of the four schools.

“It went very well,” EOU President Bob Davies said of Monday’s presentation. “We spoke about the strengths and advantages and the various challenges of institutional boards. We had great discussions. It was a long, productive day.”

Under the TRU model, the four schools would each be governed by their own institutional boards. The TRU model also calls for each university to have a president’s council. The council members would work collectively to help the four universities share resources and information and purchase services in a cost-effective manner. 

Should the State Board of Higher Education endorse the TRU model on Friday, it would send a recommendation to a legislative committee on university governance. The Legislature would have to act on this recommendation by June. Should the Legislature approve it, EOU, OIT, WOU and SOU would each be governed by its own institutional boards beginning July 1, 2015.

Following Friday’s vote, the State Board of Higher Education will begin concentrating on its search for an interim EOU president to take over for Davies, who will depart at the end of June. In March, Davies was named the next president of Murray State University in Kentucky, a role he will assume on July 14. 

Saunders said the State Board of Higher Education wants to name an interim president as soon as possible, so the individual chosen will have an opportunity to work with Davies before he leaves.

“It is always good to have an overlap period,” Saunders said.

The interim president would likely serve for a year until a successor to Davies takes the reins at Eastern. Davies said he will work closely with the individual until he leaves and prepare the person for what lies ahead.

“I will work with the individual on all the major decisions he or she will be making,” Davies said. 

The State Board of Higher Education will begin a search for a successor to Davies in the fall, Saunders said.

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