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Board of Higher Education appoints Dr. Robert Berdahl as University of Oregon Interim President

Contact: Di Saunders, Cell: 971-219-6869; Office: 503-725-5714

PORTLAND, December 9, 2011 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) met today in a special meeting and voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Robert Berdahl as the institution’s interim president.  Berdahl, who has broad support among UO faculty, agreed to step in and provide leadership to the University after Richard Lariviere’s contract was terminated without cause by the Board on November 28. Dr. Berdahl, currently an advisor at the UO and a highly respected leader in higher education, will assume his duties as interim president on December 29, and will serve until approximately mid-September 2012 when the completion of a national search for the next UO president is anticipated.

Board president Matthew Donegan said, “We are very pleased that Dr. Berdahl will be providing leadership to the University of Oregon during the coming months as the search for the next president is underway. His long tenure in leadership positions in higher education and support of the broad University community make him a natural fit. We welcome Dr. Berdahl, and look forward to working with him to continue the UO’s trajectory of success and innovation.”

Before joining the UO earlier this year in an advisory role, Dr. Berdahl was president of the Association of American Universities beginning in 2006. Prior to that, he served as chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley from 1997 to 2004; and served as president of The University of Texas at Austin from 1993 to 1997. From 1986 to 1993, Berdahl was vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 1967 to 1986, Berdahl was on the history faculty at the University of Oregon, where he also served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1981 to 1986. He began his academic career at the University of Massachusetts, Boston in the history department in 1965.

Along with his many honors and awards, Dr. Berdahl has been the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship, an NEH Independent Study and Research Fellowship, has been a research associate at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and at the Max Planck Institute for History in Goettingen, Germany; and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001. Dr. Berdahl received his B.A. from Augustana College, which also awarded him an honorary degree in 2000; received his M.A. from the University of Illinois; and received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, which also awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Science in 1997.  Dr. Bedahl also received an Honorary Doctorate from New York University in 2010. 

The Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities and one branch campus, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of twelve members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu.