Ed Ray stepped down from his position as Oregon State University’s president on June 30.
In the wake of his goodbye, three former members of the Associated Students of OSU—the university’s student government— shared memories and anecdotes of their time working alongside Ray. Bridget Burns served as the ASOSU president from 2012-2013. Burn’s shared memories of Ray and his late wife Beth.
“I called them my ‘fake parents’ because my family is out of state, and there were many important life events that Ed and Beth were the ones to show up for me. I remember when I received 40 under 40 in Portland, and seeing that they both made the effort to drive up,” Burns said over email.
Burns said it is important to remember OSU’s past, before Ray’s presidency, and how different it was.
“It was really precarious. He arrived on the heels of a $12 million unexpected shortfall that the former VP of finance could not explain. There was little to no confidence or trust in the administration at that point,” Burns said over email.
Burns said Ray always arrived with a calm, candid attitude, but was direct when he needed to be. If there were inconsistencies within administration that didn’t align with OSU’s values, he would call it out.
“I think that Ed repaired trust and built an entirely different relationship between OSU and all the communities it serves, and he taught OSU to expect honesty, candor and the truth to be told,” Burns said over email.
Burns thanks Ray for all the other amazing things he’s done from the first capital campaign, improving graduation rates and valuing all the cultural centers. Burns said she believes Ray set a standard of trust and unity, and that incoming president F. King Alexander will be up to the task.
Rachel Josephson and Kylie Boenisch served as ASOSU president and vice president during the 2019-2020 academic year. Josephson, former ASOSU president, said working with Ray was always a surprise and full of fun stories and jokes.
“You never really knew what to expect when you met with him. He could tell you a quick story about an astronaut that he met, hand over some OSU pins, or tell you some history of OSU that few people probably knew about, all while having a productive meeting,” Josephson said over email.
When Ray got his puppy named Chucky, Josephson said Ray would always have his dog next to him during Zoom meetings and the laughs would never end. A few months ago Josephson asked Ray what he would do on July 1, his first day after stepping down. Ray replied he would be ‘sleeping in.’ Josephson said she wishes Ray the best and hopes his garden continues to grow strong.
Boenisch, former ASOSU vice president, said similar things about Ray’s charismatic personality that most OSU students never get to know personally.
“From our first conversation, President Ray always had the right story, anecdote and advice for leadership. He was always receptive to mine and Rachel's ideas and goals and provided support for us to enact those goals on behalf of students,” Boenisch said over email.
Boenisch also loved Ray’s dog and has a fond memory of watching Ray’s biggest dog, Charlemagne, play catch with Ray in his office during Zoom meetings. Boenisch said she wishes Ray the best in all his future endeavors and knows he will be missed.