Dear faculty, staff, and students:
I am pleased to report to you that the Oregon State Board of Higher Education has asked me to serve as the interim president of the University of Oregon and that I have accepted their invitation. I do so with a mixture of excitement, sadness, determination, and gratitude.
I am excited to return to the UO, where I came as a young faculty member and spent important years of my intellectual growth in the presence of wonderful and stimulating colleagues, some of whom remain on the faculty or engaged in the ongoing life of the University. Although the UO is a much different institution, and a substantially better university than I left twenty-five years ago, I still feel that I am truly coming home.
However, I am saddened by the circumstances that have led to my assuming this position. I believe that the UO has made important progress on all fronts under the leadership of Richard Lariviere and I have made it clear that, whatever its reasons, I believe the Board of Higher Education made a serious and damaging mistake in terminating his presidency at the UO.
I am also moved by a determination to carry forward the important agenda President Lariviere has outlined for the campus: taking important steps toward the development of genuinely independent governing board for the campus, continuing to assure alumni and supporters of the University that investing in this institution will yield substantial dividends for the State of Oregon, and working with Oregon leaders to restructure and improve all levels of education for Oregonians. I have said repeatedly that the quality of the University of Oregon is better recognized outside of Oregon than within it. We must work to persuade Oregonians of the treasure they have in the UO and why it deserves their support.
Clearly, securing a highly qualified permanent president who shares our visions of innovation and academic distinction will be among the top priorities for my term as interim president. The University’s next president will have unprecedented opportunities to work with other higher education leaders and Oregon lawmakers in setting an ambitious course for the future, expanding the UO’s impact throughout the state and the world. I intend to assist in recruiting the next president in whatever way I can.
Finally, I am filled with gratitude to the faculty and staff for the confidence you have expressed in me. It will be difficult to meet the high expectations you have set for me or to provide the quality of leadership provided by President Lariviere, but I commit to you that I will do my best. I look forward to working with you all as we move forward together.
Robert M. Berdahl
Friday, December 9, 2011
This statement was released at 5:30 pm on Friday, December 9: