Stephen Thorsett's Leadership

Comments from Colleagues and the Willamette Community

I am confident that Steve Thorsett will be an outstanding and inspiring leader for Willamette University. Steve has a remarkable string of accomplishments during his five-year tenure as dean, and he accomplished this while inspiring strong loyalty within his academic division and real admiration of his work throughout the university. He has been active in faculty governance, and he is a powerful advocate for educational excellence. Steve’s own research on pulsars and gamma ray bursts has been outstanding. He is a fantastic choice for Willamette!

George Blumenthal

Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz

Stephen Thorsett is a superb choice as the next leader of Willamette University. A distinguished scholar with a strong record in academic administration, he has demonstrated a deep commitment to the highest standards of scholarship and teaching.

Joseph H Taylor

Former Dean of the Faculty, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics, Emeritus, Princeton University

Throughout the search process, Steve stood out as the candidate who embodied all that we were looking for: stellar scholarly achievement, an extensive track record of administrative leadership and fundraising, and a deep dedication to the liberal arts. As teacher and scholar, Steve has long understood the critical connection between undergraduate learning and commitment to scholarship. His unique relationship with Willamette — going back to his childhood — enables him to tell our story in a particularly compelling way. The search committee was consistently impressed with his ability to convey an understanding of our institutional past, and to articulate a forward-looking vision that speaks to the challenges we face in the 21st century. He is a humane and thoughtful individual, and I am thrilled that he will be leading Willamette as our new president.

Ellen Eisenberg

Dwight & Margaret Lear Professor of History, College of Liberal Arts, Willamette University, Member of the Presidential Search Committee

Willamette University has attracted a president-elect with impeccable academic credentials from one of the top universities in the world. Equally important, he has the historical perspective to enthusiastically build on our university's strong foundation. This combination of intellect, creativity and understanding of Willamette's values will serve the school extraordinarily well. I look forward to the great strides we will make under Stephen Thorsett's leadership.

Elliot Maltz

Professor of Marketing, Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University, Member of the Presidential Search Committee

A brilliant world-class scientist ... an experienced academic leader ... a proven fundraiser ... Dr. Stephen Thorsett is all this and more. Above all, he is an individual who has loved Willamette University for almost his entire life. I was proud to be part of the search committee that unanimously recommended his selection.

Kerry Tymchuk '81 JD'77

Executive Director, Oregon Historical Society, Willamette University Board of Trustees, Member of the Presidential Search Committee

As a member of both the Willamette and University of California families, I congratulate Willamette University on the selection of Dr. Stephen Thorsett as its 25th president. I first met Dr. Thorsett when he was a chair of Astronomy and Astrophysics and I was a UC Regent. I have since enjoyed working with him in his role as dean of Physical and Biological Sciences, as a member of his Dean’s Council and as president of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation. As a Willamette parent (Rebecca Novack ’03), I think that Dr. Thorsett’s intellect, insight and compassion for giving students a high quality university education will greatly benefit Willamette. While his research looks to the heavens, his support of education is very down to earth. The Banana Slugs’ loss is the Bearcats’ gain.

Gary D. Novack, Ph.D.

President, University of California, Santa Cruz Foundation, President, PharmaLogic Development, Inc.

In addition to all he has accomplished as a scholar and teacher, Steve Thorsett has established himself as an outstanding university administrator who values and models open communication, transparency and consultative leadership. His passion for liberal arts education and his commitment to organizational excellence are evident in every aspect of his career. Considering these impressive attributes with the fact that Steve practically grew up on this campus, I cannot imagine an individual better suited for the Willamette presidency.

Kristen Grainger

Vice President and Executive Assistant to the President, Willamette University, Staff representative to the Presidential Search Committee

Steve is brilliant — you get that in the first 45 seconds with him and very quickly after that you discover someone who celebrates and embraces Willamette, without qualification. He understands the advantage of the Northwest and the rich history of the institution. Steve knows first-hand the power of a liberal arts education and its role in preparing students for lives of entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and leadership. He will provide an inspirational vision for Willamette and possesses the savvy optimism and genuine enthusiasm to move the university in exciting directions. And without a doubt, he will remind us of why we treasure our time in Salem and cherish our affiliation with this exceptional place. We are extremely fortunate he is coming home.

Chris Simmons ‘93

Associate Vice President, Duke University, Member of the Presidential Search Committee

Stephen Thorsett returns to the Willamette family uniquely qualified to be the next president of this university. He has the personal integrity, judgment and management experience to provide the leadership required to advance the mission of Willamette. Stephen, while an outstanding scholar with impeccable academic credentials, also brings a deep appreciation and understanding of our history and a clear vision of academic excellence for our future. He combines a strength of character and humility with a dedication to exceptional liberal arts education; a combination which will challenge every facet of Willamette to re-dedicate itself to providing excellent education for every student at every opportunity.

Dale Sause ‘74

Chief Executive Officer, Sause Bros. Inc., Willamette University Board of Trustees, Member of the Presidential Search Committee

Steve Thorsett demonstrated integrity and stamina throughout the search process, two traits critical to being a successful president.

Joe Bowersox

Dempsey Professor of Environmental Policy, College of Liberal Arts and Director, Center for Sustainable Communities, Willamette University, Member of the Presidential Search Committee

Steve Thorsett is a perfect fit for Willamette at this time to help us build on the significant progress we have made under Lee Pelton's leadership! He is a recognized scholar and an experienced administrator, with impressive fundraising accomplishments. His deep commitment to the value of a liberal arts education and vision for the future will inspire and motivate students, faculty, alumni and trustees, as we live out our motto, "Not unto ourselves alone are we born," into the 21st Century.

Joan McNamara '59

Willamette University Board of Trustees, Life Trustee, Member of the Presidential Search Committee