Updated: Interim Provost Ed Feser leaving University for Oregon State
Ed Feser, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, is leaving the University for Oregon State University.
Feser will start as Oregon State’s provost and executive vice president Feb. 28, replacing Ron Adams, who has served as interim since July 1. Feser has served as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost since Sept. 2015.
Chancellor Robert Jones offered Feser the permanent position, according to Feser, but he declined and accepted Oregon State’s offer.
Feser insists the state budget crisis did not influence his departure, but the location did. He grew up in Montana, Washington and northern California, and his family lives in Arizona and northern and southern California.
“Lots of states have budget challenges,” Feser said. “In fact, Oregon also has budget challenges. It doesn’t have kind of the extreme issues we have in Illinois at the moment, but eventually our situation in Illinois will be resolved, so that wasn’t really a push factor for me. It was really more the kind of role I would play at Oregon State along with the opportunity to be back in the West where I have family.”
Feser first came to the University in 2004 as a professor of urban and regional planning. He served as department head before leaving for an endowed faculty position at the University of Manchester. He returned to the University in 2012 when he was named dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and took over as provost after the resignation of former provost Adesida Ilesanmi.
As the campus’ budget architect, Feser helped the University navigate the state budget impasse and funding uncertainty, which he said isn’t easy. The University is going into its third fiscal year without a formal budget.
“The problem for universities like ours, which are trying to be on the leading edge of higher education, is if you have no capacity to plan, you really face challenging conditions,” Feser said. “We’ve been living day-to-day, week-to-week for a couple of years now. That is not easy.”
Feser has given Jones suggestions for who his replacement could be but declined to provide names. Jones will meet with the Council of Deans this week to discuss options.
Whoever that person is, Feser hopes he or she will focus on the budget reform process he spearheaded. The project aims to find ways for the University to become less dependent on the state.
And Feser advises his replacement to not get “overly depressed” about the state budget.
“It’s easy to come in and look at the situation in Springfield and get very depressed about it and discouraged,” Feser said. “There’s so much strength at Illinois that we can find a way to navigate through this. We have to stand together as a community of faculty, staff and students if we’re going to do it, but it can be done.”
Feser plans to continue his work at Illinois until he starts at Oregon State.