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  • Writer's picturePatricia Salkin

Lawyer Robert N. Funk Made a Career of Serving as an Interim President at Four Institutions

Colleges and Universities turn to interim president appointments when there is an unexpected departure of the president creating an urgent need to identify someone quickly who can lead and manage the institution. Sometimes, while the campus then engages in a national search to find a new leader, the community may develop a comfort with the interim leader they know, and it is not uncommon for that person to be appointed to the post permanently (when they are candidate for the position).

Lawyer Robert N. Funk served as interim president of four different schools following a successful nine-year presidency at Cornish College of the Arts (1985-1994). When he was retiring from Cornish College, Funk placed his name on a registry of former higher education officials interested in working as interim presidents or deans.

Funk was subsequently named interim president at Sierra Nevada Collee in 1995, St. Edwards University in 1998, Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University) in 1999 and Hood College in 2000. Funk stayed at Hood College upon the appointment of a new president in 2001, serving as dean of the faculty and later as provost. In 2010 he left for an interim vice president of academic affairs position at Gwynedd-Mercy College.

In total, 74 known lawyers served as interim presidents of a college or university. Twenty-seven of these interim lawyer presidents were subsequently appointed as presidents at the campus where they served as interim. Eight of the interim lawyer presidents left those campuses to become president somewhere else.

Prior to his run as president and successive interim presidencies, Robert Funk was an academic vice president and dean at Stephens College and held both faculty and administrative positions at Stanford University. In addition to a JD degree from the University at Oregon, Funk earned a PhD in higher education administration from Stanford University. Before embarking on a career in higher education, Funk served in the military in both the counterintelligence corps and the Judge Advocates General Corps of the U.S. Army. He also worked in private practice as an attorney in Pendleton, OR.

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