A second candidate vying for the PSU presidency withdrew from the running Thursday afternoon, making Wim Wiewel, the current provost and vice president of the University of Baltimore, the only candidate left. Kathie Olsen, the deputy director and chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation, told the chancellor of the Oregon University System in a letter she sent Thursday that it is not the right time for her to leave the National Science Foundation.
A second candidate vying for the PSU presidency withdrew from the running Thursday afternoon, making Wim Wiewel, the current provost and vice president of the University of Baltimore, the only candidate left.
Kathie Olsen, the deputy director and chief operating officer of the National Science Foundation, told the chancellor of the Oregon University System in a letter she sent Thursday that it is not the right time for her to leave the National Science Foundation.
“Given my current work at the NSF, I made a difficult decision that this is just not the right time for me to keep my candidacy going for this important leadership position at Portland State,” Olsen told George Pernsteiner, the chancellor of OUS.
Jon Whitmore, the current president of Texas Tech University, also withdrew his name from the race last week, stating that he thought PSU would not be a good fit for him.
Pernstiner interviewed Wiewel yesterday and the entire State Board of Higher Education will interview the candidate today. After the final interview, the board will discuss whether they want to hire Wiewel as the next president or start a new search. It is likely that they will announce their decision at the board’s May 2 meeting at PSU.
With two of the original three candidates having dropped from the race, the Oregon University System could call this a failed search if the state board thinks Wiewel is not the man for the job. Pernsteiner said what matters is whether or not Wiewel should be the next president, not that two candidates have dropped from the running.
“I think that as long as the candidate is the right candidate, it does not matter that Wiewel is the only candidate left in the running,” Pernsteiner said.
Student body President Rudy Soto, who was on the search committee that picked Whitmore, Olsen and Wiewel, said it would make sense for people to think of this as a failed search because the two other candidates withdrew.
“I don’t think that this looks good from an outsider’s perspective,” Soto said. He said he thinks Wiewel, however, stood out as a good candidate from the beginning.
“Of all the candidates, I think that Wim Wiewel stood out as the right fit for what PSU wants in a leader and needs in a president,” he said.
Soto said he thinks the committee selected the three best candidates.
“But serving on the search committee, we did the best we could with what we had,” Soto said.
Jim Francesconi, chair of the PSU presidential search committee and OUS board member, said if Wiewel does not fit what the committee wants for PSU–taking into consideration PSU student and faculty input–they will reopen the search.
The search for the next PSU president was never a “horse race,” he said and the board will take the time it needs to hire the right person, whether that is Wiewel or not. He said it is more important to find the best fit for Portland State than to put someone in by default.
Wiewel’s experience stems from his work in urban planning as well as serving as the dean of two different colleges within the University of Illinois at Chicago. Weiwel said during interviews when he visited campus earlier this month that he has sensed that there are not enough resources at Portland State to match the growth the university has seen.
“Now, it’s about flattening out growth and letting resources catch up,” Wiewel said.
-Additional reporting by Melinda Bardon