Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Oregon's public university presidents hire key state staffer to run new 'council of presidents'

The Oregonian
By Andrew Theen
July 13, 2016

The presidents of Oregon's seven public universities hired an executive director this week for a new organization that will lobby for their interests at the Legislature and respond to public-policy issues.

Dana Richardson, deputy director of the state's Higher Education Coordinating Commission and a former legislative director for Senate President Peter Courtney, will start reporting to the presidents in September. Richardson will be the executive director of the Oregon Public Universities Council of Presidents.

According to a statement, Richardson "will work with the presidents and their leadership teams to advance their collective goals of serving the students and the citizens of the state of Oregon as high quality public universities."

Ben Cannon, Richardson's boss at the state coordinating commission, said losing his deputy is a big loss but a gain for the presidents' organization.

"We expect to work very closely with the presidents' council and with Dana," Cannon said.

Richardson was one of the chief architects of legislation that created the new structure of independent governing boards in Oregon. "She's been there every step of the way and involved at the core level of every change we have made," Courtney said in a 2014 press release.

The university presidents formed their own advocacy organization after the state's higher education board disbanded in 2015, eventually replaced by the coordinating commission and independent boards of trustees at each school. The presidents have been meeting for months, and penning advisory notices and feedback to the commission on policy ideas.