CORVALLIS - Rich Holdren, who has spent the past six months as interim vice provost for research at Oregon State University, was appointed this week to lead the most comprehensive and successful campus research program among Oregon's public universities.
As vice provost for research at OSU, Holdren will oversee an operation that attracts approximately $150 million in grants and contracts annually - roughly one-third of the university's operating budget. He replaces Wilson "Toby" Hayes, who resigned from the position early last year. Holdren has a Ph.D. in geochemistry from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., and served as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. He was on the faculty of the University of Rochester in New York prior to entering the private sector.
"I'm really excited about this opportunity, Holdren said. "I believe that the appointment is a statement of trust that we have been working toward the right goals for OSU research. We have some challenging times ahead, but I'm optimistic. We have wonderful faculty, staff and students, and we are developing an increasingly diverse funding base, In fact, this fiscal year has been very successful in terms of attracting research dollars to the university."
The Office of Vice Provost for Research oversees activities spanning OSU's 11 academic colleges and more than 20 multidisciplinary programs, centers and institutes.
Holdren came to the university in early 2000 from the Battelle - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., as the first director of research initiatives at OSU. In that position he helped strengthen the university's connections with the private sector and increase the university's leadership role in the regional and national stewardship of natural resources.
Holdren and other OSU leaders are working to develop a research park on campus, where emerging companies can work with the university's faculty to create new ideas and products. Also in the works is an expanded role for the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Holdren said the HMSC is unique and the university wants to build on this to create additional educational and research opportunities.
"Our research is expanding in the areas of engineering and biosciences," Holdren said. "Oregonians will see that this institution is actively conducting research that will impact their daily lives."
OSU Provost Tim White said Holdren's knowledge of the university's research efforts and his leadership and administrative skills made him the perfect candidate for the job.
"He has a clear vision for the future of the research and creative scholarly enterprise at OSU," White said. "Rich has served in this role for the past six months and has developed solid support across campus, and within the Research Office and central administration." Holdren said he would like to see the university continue its efforts to engage every student at OSU - undergraduate and graduate - in research and scholarship.
"It's important to understand that there is incredible scholarship that occurs at OSU that does not necessarily attract grant funding," Holdren said. "Even during tight financial times, we must continue to foster that type of activity. Nothing enhances the learning environment in a more positive way than for students to work with faculty on cutting edge research and scholarship in their own field of interest and create new knowledge that benefits the community and the state in both direct and indirect ways."