This story has been updated to reflect the most recent reporting.

Correction appended.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees named David Descutner the interim president of the university Friday.

Descutner, a special adviser of Faculty & Academic Planning in OU’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, will become OU’s interim president effective Feb. 18, a position he will hold until June 30.

Beginning Feb. 1, he will serve as special assistant to the president. Following his term as interim president, he will serve as special assistant again until July 31 to help assist in the transition for OU’s new president.

"This university matters deeply to me,” Descutner said.

Descutner has served as dean of University College and executive vice provost for undergraduate education. He started working at OU in 1979, and he also served as interim director of the School of Communication Studies. Descutner earns an annual salary of $154,158.

He said stability is important to him when it comes to transitioning from interim president to the next university president.

"I want to make sure that the new president has every chance of being successful right from the get-go,” Descutner said.

He said he is an “absolute sponge for learning.” He received his bachelor's degree from Slippery Rock State University in Pennsylvania and his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois.

"What I've discovered is if you are able to have a song-like approach to the world, you're never stale,” Descutner said. “You're always fresh to new insights, new ways of thinking.”

OU President Roderick McDavis said he plans to help Descutner, a friend and colleague, as much as possible after McDavis leaves Feb. 17.

“I'm going to stand ready to help the new permanent president once he or she is appointed," McDavis said.

McDavis cited Descutner’s academic background as a key qualification for interim position.

"Anytime you look for a president — interim or permanent — there are certain qualities, certainly communication skills, and Dean Descutner is right at the top of that list in terms of his ability to effectively communicate,” McDavis said.

Board Chair David Wolfort said Descutner was recommended by McDavis, faculty and Faculty Senate among others.

"Provost (Pam Benoit) was also on that list, but the provost is running (as) our finalist as president, and she agreed with us that that might not be appropriate,” Wolfort said.

Benoit said she has worked with Descutner previously, as well.

“We actually have known each other for a really long time,” Benoit said. “I can't think of anyone else to step into this role to make sure that we have a good transition."

The university is expected to appoint a new president in March. The four finalists for OU’s president are Benoit, Dean Bresciani, Robert Frank and Duane Nellis.



Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the day the interim president will begin his position. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information. 

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