April 13, 2021

Dear Oregon State University Community Members,

Following extensive community engagement to gather nominations for the appointment of an interim president, I am very pleased to share my recommendation to the Board of Trustees of Dr. Rebecca “Becky” Johnson to lead the university until a permanent president is selected.

Dr. Johnson, currently serving as OSU-Cascades Vice President, is most qualified to guide and help advance the priorities and momentum of the university. Her career in higher education spans more than three decades. Prior to being named in 2008 to lead OSU-Cascades, Dr. Johnson served the university for 25 years, rising from an assistant professor in the College of Forestry to vice provost for academic affairs and international programs.

Under her leadership, OSU-Cascades is known as one of the most innovative, new residential university campuses in the nation and is on its way to serve up to 5,000 students. Dr. Johnson is committed to advancing a culture of care for students, faculty and staff; providing access to higher education for all students; promoting excellence in faculty scholarship, teaching and research; and serving the university’s engagement mission. She is actively engaged in philanthropic fundraising for OSU and has promoted valued university partnerships and engagement with Central Oregonians, local community organizations and business leaders.

Dr. Johnson received a B.A. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Michigan State University. In 2015, she was named the Bend Chamber Woman of the Year; in 2014, the Bend Source newspaper’s Woman of the Year; and in 2009, she received the Bend 2030 Vision Builder Award.

In late March, I shared that the most important responsibility of the OSU Board of Trustees is to select the right leader for our great university and the entire OSU community. I am confident that Dr. Johnson is the right leader to guide the university as we undertake a process to consider the appointment of OSU’s next permanent president.

On Wednesday, April 14 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., we will host a university open forum where community members will hear from me about the process that led to my interim president recommendation and participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and hear directly from Dr. Johnson. For details about the forum and to provide input on the nomination, visit the university forum webpage here. Written input on Dr. Johnson’s appointment can be provided until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 15, to the Board of Trustees on this webpage. The Board of Trustees will hold a public meeting on Friday, April 16, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. to take further public input and consider Dr. Johnson’s appointment.

Naming an interim president is the second phase of a three-phase process to select a permanent president over the next several months. On March 23, the first phase was completed when the Board of Trustees named Provost and Executive Vice President Edward Feser as Acting President. Dr. Feser will continue to serve as acting president until an interim president takes office. The third stage is the full presidential search process. The Board will share the approach and timeline for the permanent presidential search after the appointment of the interim president and further consultation with the OSU community.

I asked Trustee Patty Bedient to serve as my delegate to conduct the nomination and community engagement process for the appointment of an interim president, and she did so diligently and inclusively. These efforts began with the March 29 launch of a new Board of Trustees webpage summarizing the process. We are grateful that many of you provided your feedback on the necessary areas of focus for the interim president, as well as nominations of those you wanted to be considered. Your engagement and advice helped the committee of trustees and OSU community members I convened in their review of the nominations received.

Under Trustee Bedient’s leadership, more than 50 one-on-one conversations were held with OSU academic leaders, Faculty Senate leaders, staff, student leaders, administrators, university partners and other stakeholders to gather nominations and input on the focus and experience needed in the interim president. Trustee Bedient also reviewed the many comments submitted through the Board webpage. I am thankful for the time, energy and effort that Trustee Bedient and many of you invested in leading us to the nomination. This engagement and your contributions served the nomination process very well.

This past weekend, I conducted my own review of the feedback from the nominee review committee. As well, I reviewed all comments submitted in writing and considered the relevant experience and overall leadership capabilities needed in a nominee to guide the university, and I am confident in my recommendation of Dr. Johnson to the full Board of Trustees.

During the upcoming university forum on Wednesday and the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, I anticipate robust and thoughtful community and board discussions and the opportunity to affirm our mutual commitment to the values of the university and the OSU community. Our goals include rebuilding trust and learning from recent experiences.

Thank you for all that you do to advance excellence in teaching, student success, research discovery, and service engagement throughout Oregon’s statewide university.

Rani Borkar
OSU Board of Trustees