EUGENE, Ore. — Michael Schill, dean of the law school at University of Chicago, was named president of the University of Oregon on Tuesday, becoming the school’s fifth leader in six years.
The new president takes the helm amid significant transition at the institution, which was freed last year from the statewide university system and is now led by an independent governing board.
Schill’s appointment was approved unanimously. He replaces Interim President Scott Coltrane, who took over when Michael Gottfredson resigned abruptly last summer after just two years on the job.
Schill will have to contend with diminished state funding for higher education and a need to raise money from private donors.
“I think Mike Schill can be a truly transformational leader for the university,” said Chuck Lillis, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “This is not a person who’s interested in us being average in anything.”
Schill begins July 1.
Before becoming the law school dean at Chicago in 2010, he was the law dean at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was previously on the faculty at New York University and the University of Pennsylvania.
The University of Oregon has faced turmoil in its senior leadership since longtime President Dave Frohnmayer stepped down in 2009. Richard Lariviere was fired in 2011 after lobbying for the university’s independence from the State Board of Higher Education, which governed all seven public universities. After an uproar, his replacement, Gottfredson, convinced lawmakers to create independent governing boards for the universities. But once the board got the power to fire him, it promptly did so.
At the time, board chairman Lillis said he’d like the new president to be an administrator with strong academic credentials who also can also build relationships with donors and state lawmakers.
“I think it has to be somebody that handles external constituencies of the university, more than internal constituencies,” Lillis said. “We are a public research university. But from a financial standpoint, we are funding ourselves much more like private university.”
For years, state funding has made up a diminishing share of the budget for Oregon’s public universities.