The Oregon State University community may know who its next president is by May 2022. At least, that’s the preliminary plan, which the Board of Trustees staff outlined in a meeting Friday.

OSU Board Secretary Debbie Colbert laid out for the trustees the proposed timeline for the upcoming presidential search process, to see “if we’re headed in the right direction.”

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The board is hoping to manage a process and presidential hire that can build trust after scandal and distrust forced out the previous president of Oregon’s largest university.

The search for a new president comes after OSU’s previous president, F. King Alexander, resigned in March of this year following criticism of the way he handled sexual misconduct allegations at his last institution — Louisiana State University. The current head of OSU is interim president Becky Johnson who was elevated from her vice president role at OSU-Cascades in April, a month after Alexander stepped down.

In the lead-up to Alexander’s resignation, many members of the OSU community expressed a lack of trust in the Board of Trustees — the governing body responsible for choosing the university’s president — and in the hiring process itself.

Earlier this year, the board affirmed that it would hold an open search process, after multiple requests from the community to do so. That process includes announcing finalists for the position and providing an opportunity for OSU community members to meet with finalists and submit feedback.

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The last process, which resulted in Alexander’s hiring, was closed — meaning that finalists were not publicly announced and did not interact with the campus community.

The process for Alexander’s permanent replacement is slated to start later this month when Board Chair Rani Borkar will put together a committee to help recommend the search firm that will find presidential candidates. At the same time, Borkar will lead a process to select a presidential search committee. That committee will be in charge of selecting and interviewing semi-finalist candidates and summarizing community feedback.

Both the search firm selection committee and the presidential search committee will include various members of the campus community.

From late November to late December, the board, search committee and search firm plan to hold statewide listening sessions. From those sessions, the board will create a leadership profile and selection criteria for the next president.

That’s followed by recruitment for the position, slated to happen between late December and mid-February of next year. From there, the search committee will review candidates, those candidates will undergo background checks and once finalists are determined and announced, they will visit the university to meet with the campus community.

By late May, the board hopes a new president will have been selected. The new president will most likely begin their service at OSU no later than July, according to the plan.

“There is a lot of work in front of us,” Board Chair Borkar said. “It will take a full village to do it.”

Board secretary Colbert stressed that this timeline is preliminary, and board staff will bring the trustees a final plan and timeline later this fall.

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