Citing demands of Oreskes follow-up, NPR board chair declines third term

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WASHINGTON — The chair of NPR’s board announced Wednesday that he will not seek a third term in the position, citing the time commitment required as the network investigates charges of sexual harassment against former news VP Michael Oreskes.

[UPDATE: The board announced Thursday the election of Vice Chair Paul Haaga, a former interim CEO of NPR, as chair.]

At the opening session of a two-day board meeting at NPR’s Washington headquarters, Roger LaMay, GM of WXPN in Philadelphia, said his responsibilities at the station “are such that I am unable to devote the amount of time that the current situation has recently and for the immediate future demands of the NPR board chair to be truly effective. At the moment, they are both full-time jobs.”

Though the meeting’s agenda said the board chair and vice chair would be elected during the opening session, LaMay said the election would instead be held in closed session after the board’s governance committee meets Wednesday afternoon to discuss nominations.

Opening the meeting, LaMay immediately made reference to NPR’s response to the claims against Oreskes, who resigned Nov. 1 after the Washington Post revealed allegations of sexual harassment against him dating to the 1990s.

LaMay said board members have “a lot on our plate — first and foremost, our consideration and investigation and a whole lot of listening in regards to management’s handling of sexual harassment in the workplace. A number of contributing factors that got us here. We are committed to a thorough and transparent process.”

With more recent accusations surfacing against Oreskes surfacing, including some regarding incidents during his tenure at NPR, network employees have questioned whether management properly handled the complaints. The network is hiring an outside law firm to review the response.

LaMay has chaired NPR’s board since 2015.

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