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032319-cgt-nws-Ed Ray state of Univ-2012 (copy)

Oregon State University President Ed Ray, shown here in a file photo from 2012, plans to step down next year. A search committee is preparing to interview 12 semifinalists vying to become his successor.

An Oregon State University search committee has narrowed the field of candidates to replace President Ed Ray to 12 applicants and will interview the semifinalists this month, the university announced on Friday.

Ray, who has served as OSU’s president since 2003, plans to retire from that position in June. After he announced his intention to step down, the university hired an executive recruiting firm and formed a 15-person search committee to find a successor.

A total of 160 nominations were received, and the committee evaluated 68 formal applications before arriving at the short list of 12 semifinalists.

After the first round of interviews, the search committee will make a recommendation to Rani Borkar, the chair of the OSU Board of Trustees, who will then select a handful of finalists to come back for a second round of interviews in November.

Those interviews will be conducted by the Board of Trustees and a group of 25 or so OSU “stakeholders.” The board will meet in executive session to rank the finalists according to how well they fit a presidential profile that was developed with input from public listening sessions.

Borkar will then negotiate with the candidates in ranked order and consult with the governor or her designee about a hiring decision.

Once negotiations are complete, the Board of Trustees will vote in public session to appoint the new president and approve a contract with the appointee.

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Borkar has previously announced her intention to have Ray’s successor hired before the end of this year.

“We are pleased with the quality and diversity of the applicants for the position,” search committee chair Darry Callahan said in a statement issued by the university. “Candidates identified for the first round of interviews bring extensive expertise and a broad range of higher education leadership, teaching and research experience.”

However, the names of the candidates have not been made public. And, unlike the search process that resulted in Ray’s hiring, there are no plans to publicly release the names of the finalists for the position this time around.

Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for marketing and university relations, defended the confidential hiring process, saying the Board of Trustees wanted to attract the best possible pool of applicants. Some highly qualified candidates might not apply for fear of jeopardizing their current positions, he said, adding that the approach is in keeping with current recruiting practices for corporate executives.

“There’s upwards of 40 diverse participants who will have a chance to evaluate the candidates,” Clark said.

“We understand there’s interest in the community in having community meetings and meet-and-greets, (but) it’s not being done nationally in most circumstances.”

More information about the search process is available online at https://leadership.oregonstate.edu/presidentialsearch/searchprocess.

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Reporter Bennett Hall can be contacted at bennett.hall@lee.net or 541-812-6111. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.

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Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald