Gottfredson to take the helm at UO
Michael Gottfredson will be on the job Aug. 1 as the University of Oregon’s next president – the 17th overall since the UO was founded in 1876.
Gottfredson’s hiring was approved June 15 in a unanimous vote by the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. Board member Allyn Ford, who chaired the presidential search committee, described the panel as “very, very proud of the product we are submitting.” And Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner said Gottfredson is “without question one of the premier public higher education leaders of our generation.”
The new president-to-be – who currently serves as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California-Irvine – was accompanied by his wife, Karol, at the special state board meeting in the UO’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Karol Gottfredson, who serves as coordinator of the Intern Teacher Credential Programat UC-Irvine, attended 6th grade at Eugene’s Condon School – which is now the UO’s Agate Hall.
The couple have an adult son and daughter, and two grandchildren.
“Karol and I are looking forward to joining the UO community later this summer and helping to move forward the mission and goals of this prestigious institution,” Gottfredson said in a statement following his hiring.
“This is a unique time for higher education in Oregon with lots of possibilities for helping more students succeed across the state…,” he said. “UO has and will continue to play a leadership role in ensuring that Oregonians have access to one of the best universities in the country, and that our graduates will continue to make important contributions to the economy of Oregon.”
Pernsteiner pointed out during the meeting on the UO campus that Gottfredson was hired 12 years ago to lead UC-Irvine into the top ranks of public research universities, and he has succeeded.
“He has increased the number of faculty and increased student success,” Pernsteiner said, noting the obvious economic obstacles of recent years.
“He has an unfailing sense of what it takes to be successful. He has an unfailing sense of what it means to be a public university. To focus on the needs of the state – the whole state. To focus on the needs of students – all students.”
Gottfredson was hired to begin a three-year term as president Aug. 1, but is expected to be on campus in July to begin the transition with Interim President Bob Berdahl.
Berdahl pointed out at the state board meeting that “this is Commencement Week, and we are commencing.”
Gottfredson has served since 2000 as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California-Irvine, where he is also a professor of criminology, law and society. He previously served for 15 years at the University of Arizona, in positions including interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, vice provost and vice president of Undergraduate Education.
"I'm happy for Mike (and) this next step in his career," UC-Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake was quoted as saying in the Orange County Register. "I'm confident he will be an outstanding president. He'll be terrific at Oregon."
Gottfredson has helped to increase enrollment, add new faculty and degree programs, and facilitate the growth of facilities, schools and departments during his 12 years on the Irvine campus. He is credited with overseeing construction of at least 40 facilities, including UC Irvine Douglas Hospital and the California Institute for Telecommunications and Technology. He has shepherded the start-up of Irvine’s law school and programs in statistics, public policy, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing science, as well as public health and business majors.
"He's very good at dealing with complex situations and making people feel relaxed,” UC-Irvine criminology professor Ronald Huff said in nominating Gottfredson for an award that he eventually won, according to the Orange County newspaper.
“It doesn't matter how challenging the situation; he stays on an even keel,” Huff said. “He seems unflappable."
Gottfredson received his doctorate and master’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Davis.
He will take over the UO reins from Berdahl, who was appointed in December of 2011 – a month after former President Richard Lariviere was dismissed by the state board.
A 22-person presidential search committee started with 20 applicants for the UO position, narrowed the field to nine semi-finalists and then recommended three candidates to potentially be presented to the state board. Gottfredson was chosen as the sole finalist a week before the full board voted to make his appointment official.
During that week, Gottfredson told the Oregonian he met with leaders of the university community and state government, including Gov. John Kitzhaber, and he also had a “friendly introductory meeting” with Nike founder and UO donor Phil Knight.
“Michael (Gottfredson) is an education leader of national renown, befitting the UO’s position on the national stage, and its importance here at home,” said Matt Donegan, president of the State Board of Higher Education. ”He will contribute immediately to the transformation of Oregon’s education system that is already underway.”
Gottfredson told the Oregonian that his first order of business will be to learn more about the UO and the state of Oregon.
“I’m just excited to do that first, and meet with my colleagues at the other universities and learn how we can collaborate with them to ensure access and quality for the citizens of Oregon,” he said.
He told the Register-Guard that he hopes to convince Oregon residents “by telling the truth,” that it is essential for the state to invest more in higher education.
“There are very few state investments as important as higher education,” he said. “Education provides economic and social mobility. It’s vitally important to individual people in this state, and collectively Oregon’s future is determined in no small measure by its higher education system.
“I just need to tell that story,” Gottfredson told the newspaper. “And, since it’s true, people will believe it.”