Trustees elect Willamette’s first female board chair

by University Communications,

Willamette University’s Board of Trustees recently elected trustee Lynne Saxton ’76 as its new chair. 

Saxton, who succeeds Dale Sause ’74, is the first woman to lead the board in university history. 

Lynne Saxton

“We have had women on the Board of Trustees since 1883 and in committee chair positions since 1918,” she said. “It is an honor to be the first of what will undoubtedly be many women chairs of the board.” 

Since the start of her term June 1, Saxton has been meeting with the board to fine-tune the board’s work plan for 2019–20, which will focus on continuing to grow the university, expand course offerings to meet the evolving needs of students and the traditional board responsibility of strong governance, she said. 

Saxton has a history of leadership roles. She’s been a Willamette trustee since 2011 and previously served as director of the Oregon Health Authority, leader of ChristieCare/Youth Villages of Oregon and president of Lynne’s Talking Books in Portland, an audio book retailer she co-owned with Michael Powell of Powell’s Books. Saxton has also held board membership or similar leadership positions at organizations such as Metropolitan Family Services and Oregon’s Early Learning Council. 

Saxton said Willamette has already made great progress becoming the outstanding private university in the Pacific Northwest, noting intercollegiate programs including the 3-2 MBA and the JD/MBA, as well as the university’s affiliation with Claremont School of Theology. 

“We’re one of the best kept secrets on the West Coast and we’re going to change that,” she said. “We’re going to share Willamette’s strengths with all of our audiences and markets. At a time when an educated population is more critical than ever, we’re going to deliver that service to our students at all levels.” 

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