Biologist Patrick Phillips selected as the UO's next provost

Patrick Phillips

UO President Michael H. Schill sent the following message to the campus community June 12:

Dear University of Oregon colleagues and students,

The University of Oregon’s academic enterprise has grown and strengthened over the last few years as we have, together, worked to cement the institution’s position as Oregon’s top research university and make progress toward our aspirations to become one of the nation’s preeminent public universities. What we have achieved in this shared endeavor is quite remarkable, but our ambitions are even greater. To help realize those ambitions, the UO’s next provost needs a deep appreciation of our existing academic strengths, a clear vision for what we can become in the future, and the administrative acumen to get us there. The search for those unique-to-Oregon traits, combined with our need to act quickly and maintain momentum, were a driving force behind my decision to conduct an accelerated internal search for provost. I could not be happier with the results.

Patrick PhillipsI am pleased to announce that Biology Professor Patrick Phillips will be the UO’s next provost and senior vice president. From a pool of tremendously strong internal candidates, Patrick emerged as the next provost due to his nearly two decades of distinguished service as one of the UO’s most respected faculty members, a track record of success as an administrative leader, and clear vision for what it will take for this institution to achieve new levels of academic excellence and distinction. Patrick will begin his term July 1.

Patrick, who joined the UO in 2000, is one of the UO’s most productive and prolific scientists—an expert in ecology and evolution, the biology of aging, molecular biology, and the genetics of complex traits. He has served as the director of the UO’s Institute for Ecology and Evolution, the head of the Department of Biology, and associate vice president for research. He also served as the acting executive director of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact from 2016-2018, successfully launching the most important research initiative in UO history. In that role, Patrick was responsible for leading the design and construction process for new facilities, establishing governance and educational policies, and initiating and supporting innovative graduate internship and entrepreneurship programs.

Prior to coming to the UO, Patrick was a professor of biology at the University of Texas at Arlington. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Reed College and his PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago.

Patrick has also demonstrated that he greatly values and appreciates the UO’s liberal arts foundation and long-standing history of interdisciplinary collaboration. While he is often associated with our efforts to enhance the UO’s basic and translational science capabilities, Patrick fiercely believes that achieving our academic ambitions and serving the next generation of students will require a holistic approach that requires world-class offerings from the arts, humanities, and professional programs. Patrick is committed to nourishing and fortifying the entire institution. He believes that the UO can be an unmatched catalyst for both economic development and societal good throughout our state, the nation, and the world. It is a compelling vision that I share.

The provost is the institution’s chief academic officer, charged with working with me, the deans, and the faculty to set the academic priorities for campus and for managing the human and capital resources to support those priorities. I look forward to helping Patrick hit the ground running. During the next year, we will welcome dozens of new faculty; oversee the launch of an innovative approach to student success at Tykeson Hall; open the Knight Campus; create new academic offerings in biomedical engineering and data science; plan an interdisciplinary research and teaching initiative in resilience and climate change bringing together the humanities, arts, social and natural sciences, and professional schools; and begin searches for new academic leaders in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Design, and UO Libraries. We do not have the luxury of slowing down, and I am confident that Patrick will smoothly step into the role of provost to advance those priorities and much more.

I want to thank Senate President and Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Skowron and Professor of Geography Alec Murphy, who both took time from their busy schedules to lead the search process. I also want to express my appreciation to the other members of the search committee, which was primarily comprised of members who hold a tenure-related or career-faculty appointment (TTF or NTTF) at the UO. This search was truly led by our faculty, and I believe that was a significant factor in the strength of the candidate pool and ultimately in my selection of Patrick for the role.

To help ensure a seamless and effective transition for Patrick, and allow him a brief window to wrap up and manage his current work, an e-mail account has been created for his transition. Please send any notes, questions, ideas, etc., to him at provosttransition@uoregon.edu.

Please join me in welcoming Patrick to this new role with the UO.

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law