Oregon State University’s Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to confirm Jayathi Murthy as the university’s next president.
Murthy is currently dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of California Los Angeles, where she’s the first woman to hold that position. She’s also a professor in UCLA’s mechanical and aerospace department.
She’ll be the first-ever woman of color to lead Oregon’s largest public university.
“This is the right place and right time,” Murthy said in a statement Tuesday. “I am very impressed by Oregon State University. OSU is well-positioned to address the many challenges in how higher education will be best provided in the years ahead thanks to the university’s excellent faculty, staff and leaders, and its commitment to student success, inclusive excellence and its long experience and leadership in online education.”
Murthy was running against Charles Martinez for the leadership position at OSU. Martinez is dean of the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. He previously worked in Oregon for more than two decades, holding various positions at the University of Oregon.
Murthy and Martinez both visited OSU’s main campus in Corvallis late last month to interact with the campus community, in an attempt from the board of trustees to lead a more open and transparent search process.
That’s a pivot from the last presidential search in which candidates were kept confidential. That closed process resulted in the hiring of OSU’s previous president, F. King Alexander, who ended up resigning amid criticism about mishandled sexual misconduct allegations at his last university.
The OSU board voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Murthy.
“Dr. Murthy is the right person and leader to guide this remarkable university that is enjoying tremendous momentum,” OSU board chair Kirk Schueler said in a statement. “Under Dr. Murthy’s leadership, OSU’s incredible impact in Oregon, nationally and globally, and the university’s commitment and progress in advancing diversity, equity and inclusive excellence will grow.”
Murthy said she’s confident that Oregon State can be a national leader coming out of the pandemic. And she said that under her leadership the university will invest more in research infrastructure.
At UCLA’s engineering school, one of Murthy’s top priorities was expanding access to underrepresented groups. That’s something she’ll be taking with her to OSU, she said.
“Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion is a deeply held conviction of mind and is central to my work as an educator and administrator,” Murthy said. “As an engineer, I have often been the only woman in the room since I was 16.”
Murthy said she will ensure all OSU students have “strong student support services,” such as advising and financial aid.
Murthy will step into her new position at OSU in September. She will replace the university’s interim president, Becky Johnson, who has been in the position since May 2021.
According to the university, Johnson will be retiring in Bend. She had previously served as vice president of OSU-Cascades before taking on the interim position.