This week I sat down with the most influential person at Southern Oregon University (SOU), SOU president Roy Saigo. The Siskiyou has reached out to Dr. Saigo for months for interviews on various stories, but with the help of Raider News producer Darius Kila, I was given the opportunity discuss face to face with him the issues affecting SOU. Here are the questions and answers followed by a link to watch the interview in its entirety.
Q: As the president of SOU and a member of the Board of Trustees, what is your position on the recent decision to increase tuition 5 percent?
A:Well it seemed like this was done way before, and the students apparently were consulted. They had a choice between 3 and 5 percent and the students requested that we go with five.
Q:So in your opinion that was the right decision to make?
A:Well there’s a lot of unusual circumstances right now Alex. Because we have a lot of union decisions to be made, costs continue to go up, we have to negotiate salaries. So I think the students were wise in recommending 5 percent. Although we want to keep the cost of tuition down, the cost of living, the cost of new contracts, cost of health care continually goes up, so the students had rather than going for 3 percent, recommended the board go with 5.
Q:And you agreed with that recommendation?
A:Yeah because it was brought forward by students and had a lot of study done behind it.
Q:On the issue of creating transparency for these boards, there has not been radio broadcasts or television broadcasts, on these stations. Is there, do you plan on in the future doing anything to make proceedings that happen in the meetings more-
A: That can certainly be done Alex, and we do announce previous to having any meetings that public information goes out before we have the meetings. And people also have an opportunity to sign up to make comments through the board, even the sub committees, so absolutely it’s going to be more transparent, it’s going to be more accessible. I think the local newspapers and the local TV stations will certainly be interested in the decisions that the boards make.
Q:As I understand though, so far most of the meetings have been pretty much in the middle of the workday. Do you plan on doing anything to make it easier for most people to be able to attend?
A:Yeah and again we’re trying to do what we can for the moment but they are not seated and in power until July 1st.
Q:What are you doing currently to help increase student retention and graduation rates for SOU students?
A:Well previously we were evaluated and funded by enrollment, [also known as] headcount, because of the new criteria set forth by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission that we were going to be evaluated on retention and graduation rates, so we have proposals that are being funded now as we speak to support student enhancement, student success, and student graduation.
And we also know that, we met a number of peak students here, that jobs on campus is the number one criteria for retention and graduation.
The second of all things would be athletics, and so these are issues that starting to come up, and we also today even had a report on a 30 person bridge program that we’re evaluating as far as costs and cost benefits for students who are coming in as Freshman. So all along from departments, to first year experience, to support by advisers and counseling service are being activated to enhance the chance for students to be successful. Absolutely.
For a video of the full interview click the link below