PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon State University interim president Rebecca “Becky” Johnson is retiring after working for the university for 37 years, first as an assistant professor and rising to lead the university as the institution’s first woman president. 

Johnson initially joined the university as an assistant professor in the College of Forestry in 1984, before becoming a full professor. She accepted the position as interim president in May 2021

In June 2022, the university announced that Jayathi Murthy would be replacing Johnson as president. Murthy starts Sept. 9.

“I am very grateful for the honor to serve as OSU’s interim president and confident that the university will continue to advance its impactful mission of teaching, research and service throughout Oregon, the nation and the world,” Johnson said.

OSU, the state’s largest university, broke records in research funding and enrollment during Johnson’s time as president. More than 7,000 students graduated in Corvallis this past June, with 293 students from the Cascades campus graduating as well. Additionally, over 50,000 people contributed to OSU Foundation and alumni association activities. Over $216 million were donated to the university.

“These are impacts that I am fully confident will grow with the leadership of incoming President Jayathi Murthy and the OSU Board of Trustees; with the support of the OSU Foundation and OSU Alumni Association; and with your continued engagement,” Johnson said. OSU’s future will continue to be guided by an unwavering commitment to inclusive excellence and success for all.”

Johnson also served as vice provost for academic affairs and international programs in 2009. She became vice president of OSU-Cascades that same year. While Johnson worked for the Cascades campus, the university gained funding that helped its transition from a degree transfer program, starting in 2001, to a four-year campus in 2016. They have plans to expand to a 128-acre campus.

Johnson studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she got a bachelor’s degree in economics and played on the varsity basketball and golf teams. She went on to Michigan State University to receive a master’s and a doctoral degree in agricultural economics.

Johnson will retire to Bend alongside her wife, Lori Elkins.