Western Oregon University Board of Trustees Appoints Interim President, Approves Standing Diversity Committee

The Western Oregon University Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved the appointment of Jay Kenton as interim president for 2021-22. It also  approved the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, the first standing committee of its kind at an Oregon public university.


Kenton’s nomination for interim president had been reviewed June 1 during the regular Executive, Governance and Trusteeship Committee (EGTC) meeting and then shared with the campus community. The appointment was several months in the making and involved an advisory committee comprising nine members from across campus.


Kenton earned his doctorate in public administration from Portland State University and has served in multiple senior administrative roles at various Oregon universities, including interim president at both Oregon Institute of Technology and Eastern Oregon University. He briefly worked as interim vice president of Finance & Administration at WOU in 2018.


“Dr. Kenton comes to WOU with a deep wealth of experience that should serve the university well as we search for the regular successor,” said Board of Trustees Chair Betty Komp. The search for a regular president will start in fall 2021.


Also Wednesday, the board approved a recommendation from the EGTC for the creation of a standing committee on diversity, equity and inclusions, bringing the number of board committees to four. The standing committee is the first of its kind among Oregon public universities, and its first work will be creating a charter.


“The creation of this important committee reflects WOU’s commitment to keeping this priority at the forefront of our actions,” said Chair Komp. “Diversity and inclusion are core values at Western, as specified in the strategic plan. The students have called for this commitment. The campus community has called for this commitment. We’ve responded and are excited to move forward.”


Also during the meeting the board:

  • Heard an update from President Rex Fuller about recommendations from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, which was created earlier this spring.
  • Heard presentations from the University Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, the University Cultural Competency Advisory Committee and the department of Multicultural Student Services and Programs.
  • Approved the FY22 Preliminary Budget as presented in the docket.
  • Elected Trustee Doug Morse to a two-year term as vice chair of the board, effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2023.
  • Approved the recommendation made by the Finance & Administration Committee to invest additional money into quasi-endowment to support initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion moving forward.

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