VPRI search postponed, interim announced

April 28, 2020

Dear University of Oregon community members,

I am writing today to fill you in on my decision to suspend the search for the Vice President for Research and Innovation, and appoint Cassandra Moseley as the interim leader in this important position. Cass, an esteemed researcher and talented administrator, will officially assume these duties in July.

Postponing this search was not an easy choice, but it is necessary. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have already had to postpone the searches for the dean of the College of Design and university librarian. The OVPRI search committee, led by Darren Johnson, director of the UO Materials Science Institute, has made good initial headway on the search, and I greatly appreciate the committee’s efforts.

However, a number of factors need to be taken into account at this time, including challenges related to domestic travel, our campus policies on social distancing in the workplace, and concerns from some candidates about staying in the search during such challenging times at their current institutions. Of course, we are also operating under a hiring freeze, and I want to be cognizant of the financial impacts of hiring a senior administrator at a time when there is significant financial uncertainty at the UO. So, after consulting with President Schill, I have decided to postpone the search.

I am very pleased that Cass has agreed to step in to lead the VPRI office in the interim. She will take over from David Conover, who announced in November his plans to retire. Cass joined the UO more than 18 years ago and has had a distinguished career as a respected scientist and academic, and she is a highly capable research administrator. She joined the OVPRI in 2014, and has served in a number of roles in the office, including chief of staff. She is a research professor at UO and former director of the Institute for a Sustainable Environment. She is past chair of the US Department of Agriculture Forestry Research Advisory Council and currently the liaison between Councils on Research and Government Relations for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. Cass leads the Ecosystem Workforce Program, a joint program between University of Oregon and Oregon State University, where she has conducted applied research on federal forest management, wildfire, resilience, community-based forestry, and sustainable rural development.

She also serves as deputy incident commander of our Incident Management Team and has been critical in ensuring that our research operations—and the entire university—are in a strong position to respond to the current pandemic crisis. We are very fortunate to have such an experienced and capable leader to help us during this transition.

I will re-evaluate the situation this fall. If possible, I’d like to resume the search, develop a plan to interview candidates, and select finalists for on-campus interviews. This position is a critical piece of the University of Oregon academic leadership team, and I want to ensure that our process generates a strong candidate pool.

Please take care of yourselves, and I hope everyone is staying safe during this unprecedented time. If you have any questions about any of the searches, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at provost@uoregon.edu.


Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President