- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - The search for a new president of the University of Oregon will be a marked departure for the school, conducted largely in private and run largely by the chairman of the new board of trustees.

It will be marked by recruiting people who may not be thinking of themselves as the university president, Chairman Chuck Lillis said as the board voted 12-1 on Thursday to approve the plans he drew up.

“There’s a pretty good chance that the person we think is terrific isn’t looking for a job, and we may have to convince them that this is where they should land,” he said.

The plans give Lillis much of the authority for the search. For example, he alone has power to rank and eliminate finalists, the Eugene Register-Guard reported (http://bit.ly/YCXdAW).

In the last two searches, in 2008 and 2011, the state appointed broadly representative search committees of 21 to 25 members, who shared the responsibility of identifying, vetting, interviewing and forwarding candidates.

Lillis said the university needs a new approach because of a host of factors, including the “churn of presidents.”

The last president, Michael Gottfredson, resigned abruptly in August, with a $940,000 settlement raised from private donors. His predecessor, Richard Lariviere, was fired after he upset the state board then running the school and the governor over issues of school independence and salaries.

Each served only two years.

Lillis, who made his money in telecommunications and private equity investing, was among the prominent alumni who pressed for greater independence for the university, which was governed by the State Board of Higher Education until July.

Among their concerns was the state’s unwillingness or inability to provide universities with at least a stable budget.

In the search for a new president, Lillis said, no hiring deadline will be set, and a smaller number of people will recruit in private “until we get the candidate we want.”

The plans call for a 14-member “assist” committee largely of trustees and administrators with a second 12-member committee that includes some students and office workers to provide “relevant perspectives and insights.”

Representatives of organized staff and teacher groups objected.

Carla McNelly, president of the Local 85 of the Service Employees International Union, said being relegated to the “input” committee would “send a signal to the incoming president that our voice is not important enough to have been on the search committee that picked them.”

The only vote against the Lillis plan came from Trustee Kurt Willcox, a labor union advocate and part-time research analyst at the university.

“None of us on the board had actually seen this proposal before this morning,” he said. “That’s a real concern because I know it’s been talked about for a while.”

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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