Western Oregon University is losing its outstanding president. John Minahan is stepping down this summer, citing health and personal reasons.
The loss is not just WOU's; it is Oregon's. Minahan exemplifies the best in educational leadership. A philosopher by training, he transformed into a highly respected educational CEO with a down-to-earth manner that belies his rigorous mind.
He arrived at WOU as a dean in 1986. Unlike some top administrators who haven't made successful transitions from other states, Minahan understands Oregon and relishes its quality of life.
He dearly loves the university and has been absolutely devoted to it. Indeed, he already retired once from the university, as provost, before returning as interim president in 2005 and then being coaxed into accepting the permanent position.
WOU is the oldest institution in the Oregon University System, founded in 1856. But it struggled under some previous presidents who were a poor fit with Oregon. At one point, the university's financial situation was so precarious that people feared the institution might be converted to a state prison.