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UCI exec named University of Oregon president

The State Board of Higher Education voted to appoint Michael Gottfredson this morning

by steve churm
Published: June 15, 2012 03:30 PM

Michael Gottfredson, executive vice-chancellor and provost at UC Irvine, has been officially named the new president of the University of Oregon, according to a report in the Oregon Register-Guard.

Second in command to Chancellor Michael Drake on the UCI campus, Gottfredson and his wife Karol are in Oregon this week. Oregon’s State Board of Higher Education voted unanimously in Gottfredson’s favor this morning during a meeting at the University of Oregon campus.

The Portland Business Journal reported on Monday that the head of the search committee praised Gottfredson’s “leadership, experience, background in higher education and his proven record of helping students and universities” as reasons for supporting his hire. 

Gottfredson will begin his new post on Aug. 1, succeeding Robert Berdahl, interim president. Both Matthew Donegan, president of Oregon’s Board of Higher Education, and Gov. John Kitzhaber praised Gottfredson’s appointment.

“The appointment of Dr. Gottfredson is great news for the University of Oregon, at a time when the UO is counted on more than ever as an economic and cultural engine for our state,” Donegan said. “Michael is an education leader of national renown, befitting the UO’s position on the national stage and its importance here at home. He will contribute immediately to the transformation of Oregon’s education system that is already underway.”

Over the course of the past week, Gottfredson visited the Oregon campus in Eugene to meet faculty, students and staff. The search for a new president came at a critical time for the university, which is the key force behind an effort to get more independence for the state’s seven public universities. Oregon lawmakers and officials at the state’s universities have been at odds about funding and control of their growth and future direction.

Gov. Kitzhaber offered Gottfredson his congratulations on the new post.

“Oregon welcomes Dr. Gottfredson and his family to the state and to the University of Oregon community,” Kitzhaber said. “This is an exciting time for education in Oregon, and the addition of Dr. Gottfredson to public higher education continues the positive momentum. He’s the right person for the job, and the type of leader who can balance UO’s needs and plans with those of the entire state.”

The Eugene Register Guard reported on its website earlier this week that Gottfredson was expected to attend today’s meeting at the University of Oregon on Friday with members of the state’s board of higher education and Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner, who has recommended Gottfredson for the job.

Chancellor Michael Drake had already offered his congratulations to Gottfredson when his favored candidacy was made public, saying that he was “… happy for Mike as he considers this next step in his career,” and that he was “… confident that [Gottfredson] will be an outstanding president.” Representatives at UCI said that a statement from the university on Gottfredson’s official appointment would be forthcoming.

Gottfredson’s departure from UC Irvine is a significant loss to the campus because of his wide influence and role in helping the university grow over the past 12 years, at which time he served as provost, a position akin to chief operating officer in a private company. The university has grown dramatically during his tenure in terms of its size, infrastructure and enrollment. In the past dozen years, some have joked that UCI really stands for “under construction indefinitely.” But Gottfredson has been praised for his deft handling of the campus expansion while building a world-class academic reputation.

At UCI, Gottfredson has been responsible for overseeing strategic planning and the university’s $1.8 billion budget. Besides his administrative role, he has also served as a professor of criminology, law and society.

UCI has an enrollment of 27,000 students, while the University of Oregon has 24,500 students.

Caitlin Adams contributed to this report.