MONMOUTH — Western Oregon University has yet to find an interim president to take over after President Rex Fuller retires in September.

However, a committee for the board of trustees drafted guidelines Jan. 14 for how they plan to look for one. The draft still has to be OK’d by the entire board.

Oregon University System officials used to manage the search for interim presidents for all seven of the state’s public universities. When the universities became independent five years ago, it fell to each of them to oversee the process.

Members of the governance and trusteeship committee started the process last week by formally affirming that, yes, they want to find a interim president for the university. The next step was setting search policy.

Lisa Catto, the assistant director of marketing and communications at Western, offered no specifics about the policy in a formal press release. However, she said it outlines criteria specific to the Monmouth campus.

Fuller came to Western in 2015 just as the university was unmoored from the Oregon University System. He was previously dean, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Eastern Washington University.

He announced his retirement Oct. 8 and will be leaving his position in September.

Fuller’s tenure at Western proved controversial when he recommended deep cuts in personnel and programs, including eliminating majors in philosophy, anthropology and geography and discontinuing master’s degrees in music.

Trustees approved those cuts when Western’s enrollment dropped sharply. They initially passed a budget for next year in June, based on an expected 2.5% decrease in Western’s enrollment. That projection spiked to 7.9% in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting Fuller to recommend deeper cuts.

Trustees said searching for an interim director makes more sense at the moment than hiring a full-time successor.

“We want to ensure all constituents are involved in the search for the next long-term WOU president, and we will begin that process in fall 2021,” board of trustees Chair Betty Komp said in the press release.

“The proposed policy will go to the full board at its regular meeting on Feb. 17 with the recommendation of completing an interim hiring process in the next five months,” she said.

Ryan Hagemann, the board’s attorney, said in the same press release that the search for an interim president will be transparent with input from faculty, students and staff.

Trustees don’t intend to hire a consultant when looking for an interim president, Hagemann said. No candidates have been identified yet, he added.

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