Beginning our journey with gratitude

Sent June 13, 2024

Dear colleagues,

Graduation is called “commencement” because it marks a beginning, so it is perhaps appropriate that I begin my tenure as provost at the University of Oregon at graduation. As we prepare to celebrate our graduates who are embarking upon a new phase of their life’s journey, I am thrilled to begin our journey together at this hopeful and promising time.  


I arrive in Eugene having dedicated my decades-long career to public higher education. After graduating with my PhD in philosophy from the New School for Social Research, I took my first job at Stockton University in New Jersey, where I began to appreciate the power of public universities to enrich the lives of students, their families, and communities. 

My wife, Val, and I moved to State College, Pennsylvania, just after the birth of the first of our two daughters in 2004, where I found that my commitment to the transformative power of liberal arts teaching and research could have broader scope and impact through service leadership as an administrator. First at Penn State and more recently at Michigan State, where I was dean of the College of Arts & Letters and dean of the Honors College, I have sought to enrich graduate and undergraduate education, recruit, retain, and develop a wide diversity of world-class faculty and staff, and create a culture of care in which each member of the university community is empowered and supported in their pursuit of meaningful work. These commitments will animate my work as your provost. 

Values-Enacted Leadership  

At the heart of my leadership practice is the effort to enact core values in every relationship and decision. This values-enacted approach to leadership is designed to empower each of us to put our values into meaningful practice in ways that support mutual flourishing, and it asks us to hold ourselves accountable as a university to the values we have identified as shared. During my campus visit in February, I asked every group with whom I met to identify the values they thought the provost needed to embody to enable flourishing across campus. The top three values I heard in those conversations were: trust, collaboration, and excellence. To these I would add integrity and equity as values that will shape my leadership as provost.   

A Transformational Year  

This is an important time of transformation and change for the University of Oregon. Thanks to the input, creativity, and diligence of so many of you who participated in the UO Onward strategic planning process over the last year, the university has a compelling road map for the future. I look forward to working with deans, faculty, and everyone on campus to weave the four goals that President Karl Scholz announced recently into the life of the university. Together we will remove barriers to graduation, prepare students for meaningful careers, support flourishing, and focus on scholarship and creative arts that accelerate societal impact, elevate the human experience, and develop innovative models for a changing world.   

This year we appointed two outstanding deans: Carol Stabile at the Clark Honors College and Bruce Blonigen at the Lundquist College of Business. They are vital members of a community of incredible deans with whom I am honored to work. We will begin the search for a new dean of the law school as soon as faculty return in the fall.   

This past Monday, the university celebrated the promotion and tenure of 98 faculty members. I am impressed by the powerful impact of their teaching and research and offer my heartfelt congratulations to them all.   

Over several months, global and national affairs have impacted our university and the lives of many in our community. This has been a challenging time. It has also illustrated how important it is for us as a public university to create the conditions for dialogue, growth, and learning in a complex and fraught interconnected world.  


As outgoing interim provost Karen Ford passes the baton to me, I want to thank her for her thoughtful and dedicated leadership. I am grateful for her support, wisdom, and mentorship these past few months. Everyone at the university has been enormously supportive during this period of transition, and my family and I have felt warmly welcomed by the entire community.   

As we begin our journey together at this vibrant moment of commencement, let us aspire to become an irresistible place of flourishing for research and learning capable of creating a more just and beautiful world.  


Christopher P. Long 
Provost and Senior Vice President