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Lebanon Express: Approval of Oregon university board nominees delayed
Author: Associated Press
Posted: September 23, 2013

Read the original article in the Lebanon Express here.

Governing boards for Oregon's three largest universities won't be confirmed until November because Republicans don't believe faculty members should have voting rights on the new panels.

State lawmakers voted this year to give Oregon, Oregon State and Portland State more independence from the State Board of Higher Education. The independent boards will have authority to hire and fire presidents, set tuition and fees, and oversee the university's operations.

Gov. John Kitzhaber submitted 14 names for each board, and confirmation was expected this week. But Republican senators vowed to vote against nominees who work for the universities, saying nobody on the board should have voting authority over their own pay.

Democrats are in the majority, but not enough were present to outvote the Republicans, so confirmation of all nominees was delayed.

Campus officials from the three universities were disappointed with the holdup.

"The full Legislature passed the bill that included a faculty and staff representative on the new governing boards at PSU, UO and OSU, and the governor determined that those members should have a vote," a Portland State University spokesman said in a statement Friday. "Reasonable people can disagree about whether employees should have a vote on the board, but we feel it is time to confirm the governing board members so the universities can move forward."

The delay is not expected to have a significant impact on the boards' work because they don't get full power until July 1. Before then, the board members will establish bylaws and pick chairs and vice-chairs.

Many of the nominees have backgrounds in fields outside higher education. For example, former "Today" show co-host Ann Curry is on the list for the University of Oregon board of trustees.

For such nominees, getting up to speed on the issues will likely be the most important task before July, said Jim Francesconi, a Portland State University board nominee who is on the State Board of Higher Education.

"But I think that can happen whether the people are confirmed or not," he said.