UO enters new era governed by its own board of trustees

Dads' Gate
Dads' Gate

Most people think of the Fourth of July as Independence Day. But the University of Oregon is celebrating its own independence a few days earlier, on July 1. That is the day that the university officially gained its own institutional governing board, the UO Board of Trustees.

While most people on campus won’t immediately feel the effects of the governance switchover, the university’s new autonomy will allow the new board to focus on UO-specific programs and financial needs. That’s expected to benefit students, faculty and the surrounding community. The move away from a state board system was many years in the making, and while the UO led the way, all seven institutions have now adopted this model of governance.

President Michael Gottfredson and Board of Trustees Chair Chuck Lillis marked the historic event by sending the following message to campus and friends of the university:

Dear friends and colleagues,

The University of Oregon is entering a bold and exciting new era. Today — July 1, 2014 — signals the completion of the university’s transition of governance authority from the Oregon State Board of Higher Education to the University of Oregon Board of Trustees. This inaugural group of Trustees, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate, brings broad knowledge, diverse skills and experience, and a dedication to affirming the UO’s position among the best universities in the nation and world. The significant statutory changes passed by the 2013 Legislative Assembly give the Board of Trustees broad powers enabling the university to move more nimbly to meet the 21st century needs of students, faculty, and all of Oregon’s citizens for the creation, exchange, and dissemination of knowledge.

With this new authority comes incredible opportunity and responsibility. The UO is at a crossroads. We are poised to dramatically expand our academic and research enterprises. Students need affordable access more than ever to succeed in the global economy, and the university is facing serious funding challenges. But the new institutional board allows us to act; to build on the UO’s academic strengths, refinance the institution, and secure the UO’s place as a premier public residential research university.

Achieving this historic day took many years, incredible energy, and tenacious advocacy. We are deeply thankful to the many friends of the university, legislators, prior UO administrations, and the current faculty and staff for their incredibly hard work to get us to this day. And we are deeply grateful for all our supporters who will help us going forward.

The door to greater success, achievement, and access is wide open. Today we will walk through it, together.

The trustees next meet on campus in early September. You can learn more about the trustees happenings here.

--By Jennifer Winters, Public Affairs Communications