OHSU Names Three Presidential Finalists

Doctors Jay Hess, Laura Roberts and Danny Jacobs will each visit the university at public forums between now and the end of April.

Oregon Health & Science University has named the three finalists to replace President Joe Robertson, who last fall announced he would retire at the end of this academic year. All three are physicians, and all will visit campus over the next two weeks to meet with OHSU administrators, faculty, employees and students – as well as members of the broader community.

The finalists and the invitation-only forums they will participate in are:

  • Dr. Jay Hess, vice president for university clinical affairs and dean of the school of medicine at Indiana University, who be at the OHSU Auditorium from noon to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 18.

  • Dr. Laura Roberts, professor and chairwoman of the Stanford University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and chief of Psychiatry for Stanford Health Care, who will be at the OHSU Auditorium from noon to 1:15 pm. Tuesday, April 24.

  • Dr. Danny Jacobs, executive vice president, provost and dean of the school of medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch, who will be at the OHSU Auditorium from noon to 1:15 pm. Thursday, April 26.

The search for a new president began late last year, shortly after Robertson announced that a recent multiple sclerosis was prompting him to retire sooner than he had anticipated. Robertson is not taking a salary from OHSU this year, instead opting to begin collecting his state Public Employees Retirement Benefit of over $913,000 per year.

A large presidential search committee has been meeting since December, led by former OHSU board member David Yaden and comprised of OHSU directors, chairs, deans and other high-level leaders; the presidents of Portland State University and the University of Oregon; Sky Lakes Medical Center CEO Paul Stewart; leaders of unions with representation at OHSU; and several OHSU board members.

From more than 25 initial candidates, the search committee winnowed its pool to 11 people interviewed via video and seven interviewed in greater depth in person.

“We have an enormously talented pool of candidates,” Yaden told the OHSU board at a recent meeting. Recruiting efforts focused heavily on OHSU’s stature as a statewide leader in healthcare, and an internationally recognized center for education and research.

Under Robertson’s tenure, which became in 2006, the university expanded along Portland’s south waterfront, added an aerial tram between the waterfront and its Marquam Hill campus, raised $1.2 billion under its Knight Cancer Challenge, and established numerous partnerships with educators and healthcare institutions across the state. Though employment is up by 4,500 since Robertson’s hiring, OHSU has also weathered tight budgets at times, and has seen faculty express disgruntlement during his tenure.

The university’s search committee has been looking for a leader to shepherd OHSU through continued growth and construction, and to build on Robertson’s legacy of increasing the institution’s stature.

Its finalists may also reflect a renewed commitment to diversity following faculty surveys and other data revealing frustrations among OHSU staff and faculty of color, as well as lower retention rates among these employees. Jacobs is African American, while Hess and Roberts are both white.

Stay tuned for updates from the Lund Report at all three upcoming presidential forums.

Reach Courtney Sherwood at sherwood@thelundreport.org.

Correction: The presidential candidate forums are by invitation only. We initially reported that they will be open to the public. The Lund Report regrets the error.