Dr Jarvis has been Chancellor of the University and Community College System of Nevada since 1994. Previously he served for 20 years in the USA's largest system, the State University of New York (SUNY), spending 13 years as a faculty member in Geography and Geosciences.
OU Vice-Chancellor Sir John Daniel is ex-officio President of the USOU.
He said: "It is a tribute to the global reputation of the Open University that we have attracted such an outstanding academic leader as Richard Jarvis to develop the United States Open University. His appointment will give a tremendous momentum to this new University."