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Excellence is key at university, candidate says.

Byline: Diane Dietz The Register-Guard

Jorge Jos, one of two candidates remaining for the University of Oregon's No. 2 post, said a university has to hire top quality faculty, expect them to progress and be especially judicious about who gets tenure.

"Excellence, excellence and excellence is the name of the game at a research university," Jos told about 50 faculty and administrators at a public presentation Monday.

Jos is a physicist and vice president for research for the eight-campus Indiana University system. In a career spanning five decades, he has worked or trained at five universities belonging to the exclusive, 62-member Association of American Universities.

Only two of the original four candidates are still contending for the post of UO provost. Scott Coltrane, the inside candidate who has been dean of the UO's College of Arts and Sciences, has served as interim provost since July, when then-provost Jim Bean stepped down and joined the faculty at the university's Lundquist School of Business.

Two other candidates dropped out. One withdrew before he or she was identified publicly and a second, Jane Close Conoley, a dean at the University of California, Santa Barbara, instead last week took the president's job at California State University at Long Beach.

Jos said he has "strong interest" in the UO provost's job and that he is excited about the university's prospects.

Although cutting a low profile outside the UO, the provost job can be key to the functioning of the university. The provost has closer oversight over day-to-day operations, for example, than does UO President Michael Gottfredson.

Jos, a native of Mexico City, has worldwide connections, having worked at universities in France, the Netherlands, Mexico and Argentina.

"I have traveled in many countries across the world, speak three languages well and communicate in another two," Jos wrote in his application letter.

Jos claims a long list of research credentials. Besides a career of scholarly work and publishing of his own, he has served as a grant reviewer for seven federal and private funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. He has given expert testimony before Congress on research funding.

Since 2002, he has worked his way up the administrative ranks.

"In the administrative jobs I've had, I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," he told the UO audience.

As chairman of the physics department at Northeastern University, he said, he persuaded the dean and provost to give the department four new positions. The new hires, he said, proved to be productive grant getters.

As vice president for research at the Buffalo campus of the System University of New York, Jos said he led the efforts to boost interdisciplinary research, which allows faculty from differing departments to get together to tackle a research question.

For federal funding, such team research can be the name of the game.

"We were able to form a culture of collaboration of people in different disciplines," Jos said. "It was so good that we increased our federal funding by 30 percent," he said.

At his current post at Indiana University, Jos helped identify, elevate and fund six areas, including "Religion, Ethics and Society" and "Neuroscience."

In choosing to fund some programs instead of others, "of course there is conflict," Jos said. In past jobs, he said, he has been able to increase individual faculty member agreement during one-on-one discussions.

"People are smart," he said. "(They need to be) given a rationale of why it is logical. 'Why are we doing this? Why are we hiring this person? Why are we making this change?' People understand, by and large."

Jos addressed questions about whether the UO should remain in the AAU, given that the UO ranks near the bottom on measures of graduate education and undergraduate retention.

Part of the problem, he said, is the UO has not hired as much faculty as it needs, given earlier growth in the student population, so the student-faculty ratio has suffered.

"It has impact on your rankings," he said, "so it would be nice to have another 100 or 200 more faculty."

Jos said the criteria for continuing membership in the AAU may seem akin to the method of choosing a pope - in other words, secretive and mysterious. But he said the UO should try.

"It's very important to be a member of the AAU," he said. "It's why I came here."
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Title Annotation:Higher Education; Physicist Jorge Jos is one of two candidates remaining under consideration for the UO provost job
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 4, 2014
Words:736
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