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Senate confirms WOU faculty member and EOU student as new members of State Board of Higher Education

Contact: Di Saunders, 503-725-5714; Cell: 971-219-6869

Current member Paul Kelly is reappointed to another 4-year term

PORTLAND, November 18, 2011 – Dr. Emily J. Plec, a faculty member at Western Oregon University, and Brianna R. Coulombe, a student at Eastern Oregon University, were confirmed by the Oregon Senate today as new members to serve on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”). Paul J. Kelly, Jr., a current Board member, was reappointed and also was confirmed today. Governor Kitzhaber announced these Board appointments on October 31. Plec replaces Dr. Rosemary Powers, an EOU faculty member who has been on the Board since 2008; and Coulombe replaces Hannah Fisher, a student board member from Portland State University who has served on the Board since 2007.

Dr. Plec, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies at WOU, and Ms. Coulombe, a sophomore at EOU, will begin their terms on the Board on December 1 and will serve as directors through June 2013. Mr. Kelly’s reappointment will continue through June 2015. The 12-member volunteer Board includes representation from two Oregon University System students, two OUS faculty members, and eight members of the public. 

Matt Donegan, president of the Board of Higher Education, said, “The Board is pleased to welcome Dr. Plec and Ms. Coulombe to the Board, and to have Mr. Kelly reappointed for another term. We’re excited about having the benefit of their experience and skills to help guide the Board over the next few years. All of our priorities are related to increasing access and student success in the OUS, and both Emily as a faculty member and Brianna as a student have a daily perspective on the challenges faced by students in their on-campus roles.” Donegan added, “We also extend our thanks to Dr. Powers and Ms. Fisher as they leave the Board, for all of their years of diligent work and wise guidance that have advanced higher education in Oregon.”

Dr. Plec has been a faculty member and professor at WOU since 2002 in the Department of Speech Communication and the Department of Communication Studies, and is a faculty member in Film Studies and Environmental Studies as well. While at Western, she has held leadership positions with the Western Oregon University Federation of Teachers, including president; is a member of the Program for Undergraduate Research Experiences; and has been an advisory board member of the Center for Teaching and Learning, among many other roles. Prior to joining WOU, Dr. Plec was a graduate fellow and adjunct instructor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah from 1998 to 2002; was an adjunct instructor in the Division of Communication, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the Albuquerque Technical & Vocational Institute in 1998; and was a graduate teaching assistant and adjunct instructor in the Department of Communications and Journalism at the University of New Mexico from 1996-1998. She earned a B.A. in Religious Studies and Peace Studies and an M.A. in Communication and Journalism from the University of New Mexico; and a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Utah.

Brianna Coulombe is a sophomore at EOU who is majoring in American History, she is in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and is an ROTC scholarship recipient. Besides the leadership development, problem-solving and strategic planning activities she is involved in with the ROTC, Brianna is active in many clubs and events at Eastern, including being a junior counselor in Oregon Girls State, which she was also involved with as a high school student; being a member of the EOU dance team; and being captain of the EOU cheer team. Brianna grew up in Hermiston, Oregon and is a 2010 graduate of Hermiston High School.

Paul Kelly, Jr. has worked as an attorney in law practice and in the corporate sector, and has been an active advocate through many education and community organizations and causes in Oregon. Now retired from the private practice of law, Kelly serves as an arbitrator and mediator, and consults on legislative matters. From 1987 to 2005, Kelly served in several positions at Nike, Inc., including general counsel and global director of public affairs. Prior to his 17 years at Nike, Kelly had a private law practice in Portland from 1977 to 1987, and served as executive director of the Multnomah County Legal Aid Service from 1973 to 1977. Other Boards and entities on which Kelly serves include Legal Aid Services of Oregon and Oregon Law Center Board; the American Arbitration Association's National Roster of Commercial Arbitrators Panel, Concordia University Foundation Board; and The Campaign for Equal Justice Advisory Committee. Kelly received an A.B. in English from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Georgetown University. 

The Oregon University System comprises seven distinguished public universities and one branch campus, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of twelve members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, go to www.ous.edu