Retired AAU president to work with UO

EUGENE, Ore. -- (Oct. 6, 2011) - Robert Berdahl, who retired in June after serving five years as president of the Association of American Universities, will work as a special assistant to the president at the University of Oregon during the 2011-12 academic year.

Berdahl was a history professor at the UO from 1967 to 1986, and served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1981 to 1986. He then spent seven years as vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, four years as president of the University of Texas and seven years as chancellor at the University of California-Berkeley.

"We are extremely fortunate to be in a position to tap Bob's considerable talents and expertise," UO President Richard Lariviere said. "I expect him to work with us on a number of fronts, including our organizational structure, strategic planning, the academic plan and aligning the university's proposals for higher education governance with the ongoing restructuring of Oregon's education system.

"As a recent president of the Association of American Universities - an organization of the very best institutions in North America - Bob's advice will be invaluable in helping us maintain excellence where it already exists and achieve it where it ought to exist."

Berdahl will begin his assignment at the UO on Oct. 17. He is expected to work about two days per week, filling out the leadership team that will serve during Provost Jim Bean's one-year sabbatical.

Berdahl said the arrangement dovetails nicely with his retirement plans, as he and his wife, Margaret, had chosen to return to Oregon. Their three daughters - Daphne, who passed away four years ago, along with Jennifer and Barbara - grew up in Eugene. The Berdahls have six grandchildren.

"I've always had deep affection for the University of Oregon," Berdahl said. "It's where I began my career, and I'm delighted to be working with the university as I reach the end of my career.

"I've known Richard Lariviere since my time in Texas, and I am pleased to be working with him and his leadership team."

At the University of Texas, Berdahl initiated a master plan for campus development, introduced data-driven planning as a means of allocating resources to academic colleges and schools, and worked to build a sense of community on the sprawling campus.

While at UC-Berkeley, Berdahl led a major effort to renew campus infrastructure, with more than $800 million spent on renovations and seismic upgrades. He also directed the restoration of library collections and the construction of two new library buildings, and launched interdisciplinary initiatives in health sciences and information technology.

As AAU president, his policy successes included enactment of the America COMPETES Act - a congressional move to encourage research investment and an improvement in U.S. competitiveness - along with increases in federal support for basic research. The AAU worked closely under Berdahl with the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the departments of Energy, Defense and Education. It also worked with Congress to prompt a review of the nation's research universities by the National Academies of Science.

The UO has been an AAU member since 1969 - one of just 61 members in the organization, made up of leading research institutions in the U.S. and Canada. The UO and the University of Washington are the only two AAU members in the Northwest.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT: Joe Mosley, UO media relations, 541-346-3606,

SOURCE: Dave Hubin, UO senior assistant to the president, 541-346-3036,