Oregon State University Board selects search firm for next president

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Dec. 10, 2021 11 p.m.

Isaacson, Miller will aid OSU in finding its new leader

Oregon’s largest university has taken its latest step toward finding a permanent leader to replace the president who left amid controversy earlier this year.

A committee of Oregon State University’s Board of Trustees has selected the firm Isaacson, Miller to lead the search for the university’s next president.


The hiring of Isaacson, Miller comes after the university’s former president, F. King Alexander, resigned earlier this year after he faced criticism over how sexual misconduct allegations were handled at his last institution, Louisiana State University.

A sign on a brick wall reads "Oregon State University," and is surrounded by trees in the background and a lawn and sidewalk in the foreground.

A file photo of Oregon State University.

Oregon State University

The OSU’s board talked with representatives from the firm about the search process at its meeting Friday.

“Isaacson, Miller has a long history of working with OSU on executive searches,” Trustee Julie Manning said in the meeting.

Manning said the firm most recently worked with the university on searches to fill a provost and two vice provost positions.

OSU’s former president, Alexander, was chosen through a completely closed and confidential search process. The OSU board has said it is committed to a more open process this time. But, some of the presidential search will still remain confidential — including selection and interviews of semi-finalists.

“In order to attract the broadest and most diverse pool of candidates, the board had decided at its retreat to allow for a measure of confidentiality,” Manning said Friday. “However, the transparency of the process, of the search, is also important.”


OSU community members will have chances to give input as the presidential search begins in earnest.

The OSU board along with Isaacson, Miller and the search committee — made up of trustees, faculty, students, UO President Michael Schill and others — will hold community listening sessions sometime early next year.

Those sessions will be scheduled once the search committee has a chance to meet in January, Manning said.

From the sessions, the search committee, firm and the board will create a “leadership profile” to begin the recruitment process.

David Bellshaw, a partner with Isaacson, Miller, said other universities around the country are also either currently conducting presidential searches or in the process of starting, such as the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Bellshaw said a small part of the process will be taking in applications, but much of Isaacson, Miller’s work will be actively reaching out to potential candidates.

“We will organize an effort to make sure people understand what is the unique value proposition, what’s the thing that they can do on this platform that you can’t do anywhere else in the country,” Bellshaw said.

Bellshaw acknowledged OSU will likely have trouble recruiting current university presidents, as finalists will be required to come to OSU and meet with the campus community publicly.

“There’s a public part to this, so that may limit us a bit, but there are provosts; there are deans,” he said.

Julie Filizetti, another partner with Isaacson, Miller, said a commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion work will be a crucial part of finding valuable candidates.

“All the way through the process, in our conversations with them, we’re asking them to describe philosophically why they believe diversity, equity and inclusion are important to them as a leader and to an organization,” Filizetti said. “And then, on a very practical level, what have they done to increase the diversity of an organization?”