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Oregon State University’s search for a new president is down to four finalists, but the university is not saying who they are.

“That’s not the way the process is working,” said Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for marketing and university relations. “The candidates have been promised and expect confidentiality through this process, and that will be adhered to by the university.”

The university is seeking a successor to Ed Ray, who plans to step down on June 30 after 17 years as president.

Last month, after sifting through 68 applications, a presidential search committee settled on a short list of 12 semifinalists, conducted a first round of interviews and made its recommendations to Rani Borkar, chair of the OSU Board of Trustees.

Based on the committee’s recommendations, Borkar has narrowed the field to four finalists, the university announced on Wednesday.

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This month, the finalists will be interviewed by a 26-member stakeholder group appointed by Borkar before being interviewed by the full Board of Trustees.

“Feedback from the stakeholder group that we will receive is central to the second round of interviews and the Board of Trustees’ deliberation phase of the presidential search,” Borkar said in a statement released by the university.

The board will meet in executive session to rank the finalists according to how well they fit a presidential profile that was developed with input from public listening sessions. Borkar will then negotiate with the candidates in ranked order and consult with the governor or her designee about the hiring decision.

Once negotiations are complete, the OSU Board of Trustees will vote in open session to appoint a new president and approve a contract with the appointee. The board hopes to have Ray’s successor hired sometime this winter.

The trustees decided to follow a confidential hiring process due to concerns that some highly qualified candidates might not apply if their names were made public.

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Reporter Bennett Hall can be contacted at bennett.hall@lee.net or 541-812-6111. Follow him on Twitter at @bennetthallgt.