The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Ed Ray Oral History Interviews

Four life history interviews conducted by Chris Petersen.

June - August 2015


“From a Queens Childhood to 'Stanford Junior University'”  June 29, 2015  Location: Kerr Administration Building, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In interview 1, Ray discusses his family background and provides a detailed description of his youth and upbringing in New York City, including recollections of a few important early influences during his childhood. From there he describes his educational experiences as an undergraduate at Queen's College, his involvement in multiple theatre productions during this time, and his decision to move across the country to pursue graduate studies in economics at Stanford University.

Amidst reflections on his research and teaching during the Stanford years, Ray also describes meeting his wife, Beth, and shares details of her background. He then recalls their move to Ohio State University, where he soon became chair of the Economics faculty. The session winds up with Ray's memories of Beth's activities during their three decades in Columbus, and concludes with a few thoughts on his love of long distance running.

“Welcome to Corvallis”  August 5, 2015  Location: Kerr Administration Building, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In interview 2, Ray reflects in greater depth on his Ohio State years, discussing his scholarly research in economics, his move into central administration, his development as an upper administrator, individuals who helped him to grow as he advanced in his career, and the administrative response at Ohio State to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Ray then describes his move to Oregon State University in 2003, beginning with his job interview and his acceptance of the OSU presidency. He recounts the process of transition that occurred upon moving to Corvallis, his assessment of the status of the university at the time of his arrival, and the movement toward growing the university as a tactic to achieve excellence. The session concludes with Ray's recollections of his initial idea for the OSU capital campaign and a brief overview of its impact.

“A Campus Transformed”  August 17, 2015  Location: Kerr Administration Building, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

Ray begins interview 3 by recounting, in greater detail, the launch and forward progress of The Campaign for OSU, and in the process notes his own personal approach to fundraising. He then provides his thoughts on the funding, construction and importance of four buildings raised during his presidency: the Linus Pauling Science Center, Austin Hall, the Student Experience Center, and the Learning Innovation Center.

From there, the session shifts gears to a discussion of reorganization across the university, with particular focus paid to the creation of schools within academic units, and the creation of business centers across campus.

The interview concludes with a lengthy conversation on athletics. Ray shares his memories of the state of the Athletic Department at the time of his arrival, and his sense of the department's shifting fortunes over time. He also describes his close involvement with the creation of the Pac-12 Conference and the Pac-12 television network, and the impact that both have made in the years since. The session closes with Ray lending his perspective on OSU's athletics rivalry with the University of Oregon.

“The Best is Yet to Come”  August 28, 2015  Location: Kerr Administration Building, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In interview 4, Ray provides insight into the development of OSU's two branch campuses during his presidency. Ray discusses the means by which a vision was crafted for both OSU-Cascades in Bend and the Marine Studies Initiative in Newport, and shares his thoughts on the paths that both efforts have traveled in recent time.

The session then moves on to an examination of several disparate topics that have been hallmarks of Ray's years in office. In this, he describes the university's efforts to further internationalize its student body, and the partnership with INTO that has helped to propel this ambition. He likewise reflects on the work of OSU Statewide and the continuing vibrancy of the land grant mission at OSU. He then discusses the contributions that Sabah Randhawa has made to the university during his tenure as Provost, and shares his memories of the creation and organization of the OSU Board of Trustees.

As it nears its end, the interview shifts focus to the personal side of being a university president, with Ray providing a glimpse into his very busy schedule and reflecting on the sources of renewal that help him to manage the stress and fatigue of his job. The session concludes with Ray's thoughts on what the future of OSU might look like and the strong emphasis that he will be placing on the narrowing of achievement gaps within the student body.