Biologist Patrick Phillips selected as the UO's next provost

Patrick Phillips, a biologist with almost 20 years as a researcher, teacher and leader at the UO, will be the university’s next provost following an internal search.

Phillips joined the UO in 2000 and is 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, head of the Department of Biology and associate vice president for research.

He also served as acting executive director of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact from 2016 to 2018, successfully launching the most important research initiative in UO history. In that role, he 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.

Patrick Phillips “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,” UO President Michael H. Schill wrote in announcing the choice.

Phillips will begin his new duties July 1.

The provost is the university’s chief academic officer, charged with working with the president, deans and faculty members to set academic priorities for campus and for managing the human and capital resources to support those priorities. On Phillips’ long to-do list for the near future are the launch of Willie and Donald Tykeson Hall, the opening of the first building of the Knight Campus, creation of new programs in biomedical science and data science and the search for new deans for the College of Arts and Science, College of Design and UO Libraries.

“The UO is a great university that can and must continue to get even better as we strive to become one the nation’s top public research institutions,” Phillips wrote in a message to campus following the announcement. “It is my firm belief that our best path toward achieving this goal is to fully embrace our mission as a public university, one firmly grounded in the strengths, values, opportunities, and challenges of our very unique state.”

Although his background is in biology and the natural sciences, Schill said Phillips will bring a strong belief in the essential value of the humanities and social sciences, as well as the professions, to his new job.

“Although my research has been centered in the natural sciences, I am committed to being a provost for the entire academic enterprise, including the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professional programs,” Phillips wrote. “The provost position is often described as chief academic officer, and it is the engagement of the academy as a whole that is one of the most exciting aspects of the position.”

Prior to coming to the UO, Phillips 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 doctorate in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago.

Schill thanked University Senate President Elizabeth Skowron, a professor of psychology, and Alec Murphy, a professor of geography, for leading the search, and members of the search committee.

“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,” the president said in his campus message.

An email address has been set up for anyone with thoughts, questions or ideas for the new provost. Messages can be sent to