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Rose well-suited to role.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Melody Rose has a solid background in academia and higher education administration, but her best qualification to serve as interim chancellor of the Oregon University System may be that she knows what she's getting into. It could be a short-term appointment - Rose is on a month-to-month contract, and by the end of the legislative session the chancellor's office could be transformed or even cease to exist. In the meantime, the OUS needs leadership.

Rose became one of two OUS vice-chancellors only last August after 17 years at Portland State University. At PSU she was a political scientist, founder of the Center for Women, Politics and Policy, and ultimately vice provost.

When Rose takes office on Saturday she will be the first woman to serve as chancellor since the state System of Higher Education, now the OUS, was created in 1931. The chancellor is the executive officer for the state Board of Higher Education, which has extensive authority over the seven universities in the system. The system's purpose is to avoid duplication of academic programs, maintain standards, ensure accountability and speak with a single voice to the Legislature. Those will always be important functions, but responsibility for them may be shifted elsewhere.

When the OUS advertised the vice-chancellor's position that Rose filled last year, the job didn't sound like a tweedy sinecure. The position announcement said the OUS was looking for someone to work with the state's new Oregon Education Investment Board to streamline education at all levels, implement achievement compacts that link funding to educational results, and work toward a goal of having 40 percent of Oregonians earning bachelor's degrees by 2025.

Much about these reforms remains hazy, including the chancellor's role. The office seems destined to be eclipsed by new power centers. Among these are yet-to-be-approved independent governing boards for the University of Oregon and PSU, and a yet-to-be-created Department of Post-Secondary Education.

At the end of all this the chancellor's office may be redundant - in which case, Rose should not be so deeply rooted in the OUS culture that she becomes an obstacle to necessary change. Rose could be just what the OUS needs at this moment: Someone well-prepared to act as chancellor, but also ready to leave the job as it exists today behind.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 27, 2013
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