University of Oregon president resigns

SALEM, Ore. — University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson stepped down Wednesday effective almost immediately after just two years on the job.

In a letter to Board of Trustees Chairman Chuck Lillis, Gottfredson said cited a desire to spend more time with family. He did not give a reason for the suddenness of his departure. His resignation is effective Thursday.

“My scholarly interests beckon and Karol and I would like more time to spend with our family, so I believe now is the right time to transition the leadership to a new president who can continue the legacy of this great university,” Gottfredson wrote.

The board has scheduled a meeting for Thursday in Eugene to discuss its next steps.

Previously a senior administrator at the University of California at Irvine, Gottfredson took the helm at the University of Oregon in summer 2012. His tenure followed the rocky departure of Richard Lariviere, who was fired in 2011 after he refused to step down. Lariviere was accused of not being a team player within the statewide university system.

Gottfredson was an aggressive backer of a plan to break governance of the university away from the state Board of Higher Education. After state lawmakers signed off, Gottfredson got a new panel of bosses last month as oversight of the university president shifted from the statewide board that hired him to the university’s new Board of Trustees.

“President Gottfredson entered into the role as president of the University of Oregon at a critical time in our university’s history and led the institution from a state of uncertainty to a path of stability,” Lillis, the board chairman, said in a statement.

Lillis praised Gottfredson for leading the university through an NCAA investigation of its football program, a statewide debate about higher education governance and labor negotiations with a new faculty union.

But the university was widely criticized this year over its handling of allegations of sexual assault against three basketball players.

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