LA GRANDE — Eastern Oregon University selected Richard Chaves as the new chairman of the board of trustees through November 2021. Chaves brings experience as a member of the board for five years and as a business owner for 36 years.
“My career and how I got to where I am started at EOU,” Chaves said.
Chaves graduated from Eastern Oregon University in 1973 with a degree in business economics and management.
He said he knew he wanted to stay in Northeast Oregon after college but wasn’t sure how until he saw a post at the university’s career services.
“Back then it was just a bulletin board with papers and Post-it notes,” Chaves said. “At the time there was only one post. It was for writing grants for law enforcement. I didn’t have any experience with law enforcement or grant writing but EOU gave me the confidence to apply for that job and I got it.”
Chaves went on to start his own company in 1984, Chaves Consulting Inc., where he specialized in creating computer software for government agencies.
The company focuses more on the customer service end now, but Chaves said the skills he has learned and the culture he has created will translate to his new role as the chairman of the board of trustees.
“Owning my own business has prepared me from a financial perspective for sure,” Chaves said. “While EOU is not a for-profit business, in a lot of ways it is run like a business. Our job is to give the best deal to our clients — the students — and take care of our employees — the faculty and staff.”
Chaves said the mission of his business aligns directly with his plans and hopes as chairman. Having his own business also taught him about building relationships with people, something he plans to bring on as chairman of the board.
“University campuses are a place for free thinking and thoughtful consideration, which is different from a private business where you can just make your own decision,” Chaves said. “Part of my job is to see we stay at the right level of governance, are always listening and representing the university. The job of the chair and the board is to help make major decisions with recommendations.”
While he has come prepared with years of experience, Chaves said he still has more to learn to understand the inner workings of EOU, something he is excited to do.