Dr. Roy Saigo, Interim President of Southern Oregon University will not be seeking a third year extension of his contract despite earlier intentions to do so. Saigo was appointed as interim president last year under a two contract. He was expected to ask for a third year at last Friday’s board meeting but did not.
This development appeared to be a surprise to most of the attendees on hand, especially the many different students who showed up in an effort to support him in his bid to have his employment contract extended.
One faculty organization, the SOU Faculty Senate, represented at the meeting by Prof. Larry Shrewsbury, read the Faculty Senate letter on the record in opposition of an extension of Dr. Saigo’s contract. A copy of the letter read shows that while the Faculty Senate are pleased overall with Dr. Saigo’s work thus far, the members feel that it is now time to initiate a Long Term Strategic Plan for the future of the institution. Their letter states “The Faculty has requested that long- term strategic planning be initiated to meet the goals demanded by our accreditation process and retrenchment requirements. Such planning has not begun and is dangerously overdue”. Other faculty groups also complained of the lack of new hired instructors, and the fact that no full time positions have been offered to faculty since Saigo’s elevation to the post. While in opposition of an extension, the letter stops short of a vote of no confidence- in fact it could easily be construed as the opposite, as it highlights the need to continue Saigo’s mission, while building upon it. Dr. Saigo, who prior to coming to SOU had a reputation as a “turnaround expert for institutions in trouble”, came to Southern Oregon University in 2014. Saigo was tapped to bring the institution back up to par by the State Board of Education. Everyone in attendance seemed to agree that he had done so.
One of those students who spoke in support of Saigo, Jamani Crockett, a 19 year old Freshman who was clearly distraught over the announcement, cited the problem as one of institutional apathy., “There are faculty and administration who are complaining about the things that he hasn’t done, and they are right on board in helping contribute to finding a new University President- but, are they willing to jump on board and contribute to fixing the problems that they are complaining about? I don’t think so”.
That seemed to be the main point of all of the student speakers. They were unified in telling stories of watching Dr. Saigo build relationships and forge a path for the future and the consensus from students was that he should be hailed for his gains in student morale, registration, and program completions under his tenure.
The faculty, for their part, seemed to see it more as a question of infrastructure. While happy with Saigo’s work so far, they expressed that it is now time to move forward with the strategic planning in order to shore up a still unstable infrastructure, building overall long term strength to the University. The faculty who spoke in opposition to the extension did seem to share the students feelings that a long-term strategic plan which highlights to work of Dr. Saigo should be sustained. The faculty were clear, however, that they wanted to have a long term, full time president in place sooner than later and an extension might block that progress.
However students and faculty see the issue, Southern Oregon University is once again looking for a leader. The Siskiyou will keep you up to date with that process.