New WOU chief is no stranger to campus

MONMOUTH -- Western Oregon University's faculty and students will hear their new leader's visions and priorities when he delivers an address next month.

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education named John Minahan interim president at Western last week. Minahan, 62, served the college as provost from 1998 until retiring in June 2004.

He will take over the university's leadership mantle from current president Philip Conn, who announced his retirement this past spring. Conn left the university this month after three years on the job.

"It is a privilege for the board to entrust Western's interim presidency to me," Minahan said. "It is time for the Western community to come together and prepare to welcome students, faculty, and staff back to campus for the new academic year."

Minahan is expected to serve as president for one to two years. During the next several months, the state board will determine the next steps in the search process to permanently fill the position, said Henry Lorenzen, president of the board of education.

Western "is vested in sustaining the momentum in excellent programs and teaching research ... " said George Pernsteiner, acting chancellor of the Oregon University System.

"Dr. Minahan can provide the leadership needed to do this, and ensure a stable, fully working campus until permanent leadership is in place."

Minahan received his B.A. in philosophy from Canisius College and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University. He held leadership positions at Xavier University, the University of North Florida, and the State University of New York in Buffalo.

In 1986, he became WOU's dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences (LAS) and taught philosophy before assuming his duties as provost in 1998.

Minahan added several degree programs, such as Spanish, anthropology and chemistry, during his tenure and was at the forefront in helping build Western's reputation as a liberal arts and sciences college, said Bob Turner, current LAS dean.

"For the natural sciences department, he was instrumental in the type of faculty he hired and in examining the quality and standards of those people to conduct research," Turner said, adding that the college has attracted more than $1 million in national grants as a result of those decisions.

Minahan named enrollment as a priority. Turner said he thinks Minahan will keep Western competitive with Portland State University and Oregon State University in attracting students from the Willamette Valley.

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