August first marked the beginning of a new era for Southern Oregon University with the welcoming of its new president, Linda Schott. For now Schott is ignoring the initial push for progress that may come with any new presidency, taking time to learn the ropes of the institution before opting for change.
“There are things that you can do wrong when you take over a position like this and in my mind one of those things is to think you know what a campus needs before you get to know the place,” she said on her second day in office. “I want to make sure I‘ve tilled the fields properly before I start planting the crops.” Schott hopes to work more with the Board of Trustees helping the group to “gel and become more effective,” pointing out that the members are fairly new to their positions. “We’re getting ready to start a year of a planning process where we’re really going to clarify who we are, who we are going to serve, and what we want to focus on,” she said.
The former president of the University of Maine at Presque Isle was voted in unanimously by SOU’s Board of Trustees following a rigorous search by the Presidential Search Committee which included trustee members, faculty, and students.
“There was an extensive search to find the perfect president for SOU and I really believe that she does exemplify all the things that Southern Oregon University wants to be,” said Colin Davis, President of the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University. Though Davis was not part of the search committee he partook in the interviewing process when Schott first came to campus. “I believe it’s going to be learning curve for both of us being that we’re both new presidents, but it gives us an amazing opportunity to really set a new path,” he said. “Not that we’re on the wrong one right now, but I believe we can be even better.”
Schott stood out among 75 other candidates who had originally been considered for the position. Prior to her role at the University of Maine she served as dean of the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Fort Lewis College in Colorado and associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti. In addition to her extensive background in higher education, she has obtained a doctorate in history and humanities and a master’s in history from Stanford University as well as a bachelor’s in history and German from Baylor University.
The selection process which took over five months was aimed to make the decision as inclusive as possible to all members of the university. “The search process was a great opportunity to work with colleagues, students, and board and community members to help identify SOU’s next leader,” said Dr. Edwin Battistella an SOU faculty representative on the Presidential Search Committee.
“I’m really proud to be apart of the group that did the work to bring you to SOU,” said Board of Trustees member Paul Nicholson to Schott during her introduction speech on her first day in office. “It was a really competitive search,” he said. “And we nailed it.”