Wealthy donors, business leaders and timber chiefs top the list of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s nominees to the soon-to-be-formed University of Oregon governing board.
On the list are philanthropist Connie Ballmer, television personality Ann Curry and Roseburg Forest Products CEO Allyn Ford.
Major football boosters and Nike representatives are seemingly absent, although one nominee, former UO track star Rudy Chapa, worked in the 1990s for the Beaverton-based shoe retailer before starting his own business.
Nike co-founder and UO mega-donor Phil Knight pulled his name from consideration last week. Two other prominent officials who withdrew their names were Dave Frohnmayer, the former Oregon attorney general and UO president, and Ann Aiken, a federal district judge based in Eugene.
The emergence of the list on Monday was the first public, concrete step toward seating an independent governing board for the university.
The Oregon Senate is expected to vote on confirmation of the governor’s nominees in mid-September.
The board — authorized by the Legislature in July — will take over governance of the university in July. In the meantime, members will meet and prepare for their complicated oversight task.
Kitzhaber also released his nominees for governing boards at Oregon State University and Portland State University. Formerly, all the universities were governed by a statewide board that generally met in Portland.
“We really are becoming an institution that not only is able to recruit talent,” said UO board nominee Andrew Colas, who’s president of a Portland construction company, “but we’re getting our alumni to want to give back. And that’s important to moving the university forward.”
One alumna, Connie Ballmer, already has a design laboratory in Allen Hall named after her.
Ballmer and her husband Steve, the Microsoft CEO, gave $10 million to create Partners for Our Children, an institute within the University of Washington’s School of Social Work with the mission of improving child welfare.
Another nominee, Chuck Lillis, former chairman and CEO of a Fortune 100 company and several other lucrative ventures, gave $14 million for the construction of the Lundquist College of Business building, which includes the Lillis Business Complex named in his honor.
Kitzhaber exercised his discretion to give all UO board members the authority to vote, except for the university president, Michael Gottfredson, who serves ex officio.
He nominated the UO’s University Senate choice for the faculty seat on the board: Law School professor Susan Gary. The governor chose current student body President Sam Dotters-Katz as the student board member.
“This board will help spur huge new fundraising efforts, including into our endowment,” said Dotters-Katz, a law student. “With the wealth of talent and experience this board brings to the university, it will help with large-scale projects and management and looking at the future of our institution. The University of Oregon’s best days are ahead of us, and this board is a big part of that.”
The governor passed on one Eugene-Springfield area timber executive that the UO had suggested — Dan Giustina — and instead nominated Joseph Gonyea III. Gonyea went to Santa Clara University and is not a UO alumnus.
“He’s really happy to represent our local community on this new board,” said Roger Rutan, vice president for marketing at the Gonyea family-owned Timber Products Co. based in Springfield. “He was born and raised here, as his family has been. He’s got real strong local roots.”
Another local connection: Ginevra Ralph, a Eugene resident and co-founder of the John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in downtown Eugene.
Business is well-represented on Kitzhaber’s proposed UO board, with such nominees as Peter Bragdon, who is general counsel for Columbia Sportswear, and Ross Kari, retiring executive vice president and CFO of Freddie Mac.
Colas, the builder, said he wants to promote entrepreneurship.
“We have a really great business school (at the UO) and I’m proof of that.”
He worked through school at Colas Construction and in the nine years since graduation became the company’s president and chief operating officer. Colas Construction has revenues of between $10 million to $15 million annually and has 20 employees.
Colas also is a member of the Oregon Business Association Board and is a Portland Housing Bureau commissioner. He also serves on the nonprofit New Avenues for Youth Board.
Colas named two goals for the university. The first is to meet its own ambitions: “We want to be one of the premier research institutes in the nation. Dr. Gottfredson, that’s his goal. He came in to really make us an elite research institution.
“Some of the challenges to get that is: recruit the best talent throughout the United States to come to the University of Oregon. We always want to provide the best facilities to be able to recruit that talent base.”
Colas’ second goal: “One of the biggest things I’m committed to is seeing that we increase the level of diversity at the University of Oregon,” he said, while acknowledging recent improvements.
“I look forward to helping increase and achieve even more, and I believe our president is committed to that as well.”
Gottfredson released a statement Monday saying he is pleased with the governor’s nominees:
“I am deeply appreciative of the thoughtfulness and confidence demonstrated in his choices, and of the commitment this distinguished group of individuals is making to the future of our university,” he said in the statement.
“We will all benefit from their talents, insight and expertise as we work together to enhance and improve how we deliver on the promise of our public mission.”