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Oregon State University has chosen presidential finalists

Melorie Begay

Oregon State University’s Board of Trustees announced the candidates for the university’s next president at a meeting on Friday — the latest step in a search process that the university made more open than in past hiring efforts.

The presidential finalists — Jayathi Murthy and Charles Martinez — are both deans from large universities outside of Oregon.

They plan to visit OSU’s main Corvallis campus next week to take part in public forums with the university community.

Murthy has been dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of California Los Angeles since 2016. She’s the first woman to hold that position. Murthy is also a professor in UCLA’s mechanical and aerospace department, according to her biography on the university’s website.

Before that, she was chair of the University of Texas at Austin’s department of mechanical engineering. She’s also worked at other large universities including Purdue University and Arizona State University.

Martinez is the dean of the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. He began his tenure in that position in 2019. He’s also a professor there in the department of educational psychology, according to UT’s website.

Prior to his work in Texas, Martinez spent more than a decade in Oregon. He was a professor in the University of Oregon’s department of educational methodology, policy and leadership. During his time in Eugene, Martinez served as UO’s founding director of the Center for Equity Promotion and as the university’s vice president for institutional equity and diversity. He also served on the Eugene School Board and as a member of the Oregon State Board of Education.

“I think the campus is going to be excited to hear from them and hear about them — what their experiences are and what their visions are for the future of Oregon State,” OSU Board Chair Kirk Schueler said during the meeting on Friday.

The stress of a more open and transparent presidential search has been a key part of the process for both the board and the OSU campus community.

OSU’s previous president, F. King Alexander, was hired using a closed process in which candidates were kept confidential and did not interact with the wider campus community. Alexander resigned after about nine months at OSU, as he faced criticism for mishandling sexual misconduct allegations at his previous institution, Louisiana State University.

Many campus community members signaled a loss of trust in OSU’s board at that time.

The board in turn committed to an open search process this time around, to find Alexander’s permanent replacement. The chance for the candidates to visit campus in person is a key part of that.

The Board of Trustees interviewed six candidates and considered four semi-finalists before announcing Murthy and Martinez as the two finalists, according to the university.

According to a schedule shared during the board meeting on Friday, Martinez will visit OSU on Monday and Murthy on Tuesday. The two candidates will be part of multiple facilitated conversations and will have the chance to give a presentation on campus. All of those events will be open to the public and streamed virtually.

OSU officials said the schedule will be made available on the presidential search website Friday afternoon.

The candidates are also undergoing extensive background checks by an independent contractor, according to the university. OSU’s human resources office and the university’s search firm, Isaacson, Miller, are also reviewing the backgrounds of the candidates.

OSU’s Board of Trustees expects to select the new president by June 7, according to the university.

Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Meerah Powell