“This is our charge, to find the perfect person for the next many years,” states board member, Lyn (Carolyn) Hennion, at a recent Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees meeting where the job of finding the next SOU president begins. This in the wake of current interim President Roy Saigo’s recent announcement that he will not be seeking an extension of his current contract.
Gathered in the DeBoer Boardroom, located on the 3rd floor of the Hannon Library, the Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees prepared to discuss the process. Guest attendees included student body president, Torri Uyehara, and associate managing principle and senior consultant of the Association of University Governing Boards, Tom Courtice. Vice president for finance and administration at SOU, Craig Morris, was also present that evening.
Members planned to go over possible search criteria for the future president and discuss recruiting qualified firms to provide executive search services to fill the position of President of SOU. It was agreed upon that involving the stakeholders in the establishment of the search criteria would be beneficial in the overall presidential search. The stakeholders being the students, staff and faculty members, administrators, alumni, parents, and the community.
The board then went over ways to involve these groups and gather their input on what qualities they see SOU’s president having. One way they would do this is to distribute surveys via email, at public events, and possibly other social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Uyehara will be offering her insight and social connection with the student body to aid in the board’s efforts, “I’m very excited about helping the board with this process of finding SOU it’s perfect president,” shares Torri. “I think we have two options; listening sessions where students can give their input and focus groups.”
While surveys were agreed to be a useful way to get feedback from stakeholders, some of the attendees including Torri, expressed concerns regarding the electronic approach. Torri will likely be collaborating with the university’s board secretary, Sabrina Prud’homme, in coming up with means to better communicate with the students and gain interest in taking surveys, “There aren’t many students willing to take surveys and those that do sometimes find the survey difficult to understand. I think that’s because there’s a gap in language and I want to help bridge that gap,” says the student president.
Another concern that was shared by the board was that while making the process open and inclusive, it could likely stall the overall search of finding someone to fill the position as SOU’s president,“I believe there are more important things to do than to brainstorm criteria.” comments one trustee.
In the end, the board acknowledges that they may not be able to please everyone, but they know they want someone who is “visionary, inclusive, a good community communicator”.
Students may see a survey spreading around campus, either through their emails or by other means, around winter break and are encouraged to participate and offer their opinions and beliefs to help further the search for SOU’s future president. The Board of Trustees are thinking about returning for another meeting come December 4th, but an official timeline has not been decided on as of yet.