The Oregonian's top editor, Peter Bhatia, is a finalist to become dean of the University of Nebraska's journalism school.

Bhatia, 60, will visit the campus in Lincoln on Dec. 16 and 17. He's one of five finalists vying for the dean's seat at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

In June, he got the new title of vice president of content for Oregonian Media Group, a new company overseeing The Oregonian's move to web-based reporting.

He and publisher N. Christian Anderson III oversaw the reduction of home delivery to four days a week, and laid off as many as 49 reporters, editors, designers and photographers—nearly a quarter of the paper's remaining news staff. 

Bhatia told WW the decisions were painful to make. "Our newsroom is a family of outstanding journalists and people,” he said. “I agonized over every decision.”

The Oregonian has replaced many of these reporters with new hires in recent months. Bhatia has become more visible in the paper's pages, answering questions about the digital shift from upset readers.

Bhatia was the longtime deputy to Oregonian editor Sandra Mims Rowe, before succeeding her in 2009. His full biography is recited on the University of Nebraska's website. 

UPDATE, 1:30 pm: Bhatia has sent a memo to Oregonian staffers. It reads:

You may know that it was announced yesterday that I am one of five finalists for the dean’s job at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I will visit there in mid-December. We are embarked here on a strategic process that gives us an opportunity to define what good journalism can be in the digital age. I count myself fortunate every day to work with such dedicated and talented colleagues. The transition hasn’t been easy for any of us, but we are on a course that is encouraging, as marked by the quality of our work digitally and in print, and the audience growth we are seeing. This place and our work here mean so much to me.  We have much more to do.  I am interested in Nebraska because it would offer a different and exciting way to help shape the future of journalism both through its students and the research capability that a school of its caliber offers.