The Search for a New Presidential Era

Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, the fifth applicant for SOU’s new president has been interviewed, and the SOU Board of Trustees are met the afternoon of 11/2 to “begin the final phase of a months-long, open and inclusive process to identify and hire the university’s next president.”

Linda Schott officially retires at the end of 2021. Her retirement ends the era of her five year debut as President. Schott is the 13th President of SOU, bringing her life experience as a leader and her past as the first college graduate of her family to help her grow SOU as an educational institution and as a community. 

Over 100 candidate applications were submitted for the position of President of Southern Oregon University. The university is now considering five main candidates. A committee of 18 members from the SOU campus community and residents of Ashland have been in charge of the search. The search continues for the 14th President as the five candidates are invited for in-person interviews and lectures.

On Oct. 14-15, Chris Gilmer was the first candidate to arrive on campus. He currently serves as president of West Virginia University in Parkersburg. He holds a doctorate in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, a master’s degree in English from Mississippi College, a bachelors degree in English and journalism from University of Southern Mississippi, and an associate degree in liberal arts from East Central Community College. 

He has a long history of leadership positions in an educational setting. He’s taken on jobs of teaching and administration such as: executive director/chief operating officer of Alcorn State University’s Vicksburg campus, vice president for academic and sponsored programs at a nonprofit agency, and vice president for academic affairs at Adams State University. 

On Oct. 18-19, Brock Tessman arrived as candidate number two. Tessman is currently the deputy commissioner of higher education for the 16 campuses that comprise the Montana University System. He has a bachelors degree in International Relations from Brown University, and received both his master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Prior to his current position, Tessman has held various positions in higher education both in teaching and administration, including a position as a professor of political science and dean of the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana in Missoula, as well as a tenured professor at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.

On Oct. 21-22 Curtis Bridgeman arrived as the third candidate. Bridgeman is a professor of business law at the Willamette University College of Law, where he has taught since 2013. He earned his bachelors degree from the University of Alabama at Huntsville and received his masters degree and doctorate in philosophy, as well as his law degree, from Vanderbilt University.

His past work includes higher education teaching and administration, including acting as dean of Willamette’s College of Law from 2013 to 2020, associate dean for academic affairs from 2011 to 2013 at the Florida State University College of Law, and as a professor of law at Florida State from 2004 to 2014.

On Oct. 25-26 Junius Gonzales arrives as candidate number four. Gonzales is provost and vice president for academic affairs and is a tenured professor in the Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences at New York Institute of Technology. He earned his bachelors degree from Brown University, his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and his masters degree in business administration from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

He has held various positions in higher education in both teaching and administration. He served at the University of North Carolina as senior vice president for academic affairs and interim president; at the University of Texas at El Paso, he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs. He is also a tenured professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, and has served at the University of South Florida as founding dean and tenured professor in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences.

The final candidate is to be announced, and is expected to arrive Oct. 27-28. The great anticipation is overwhelming as we see each candidate with their long lists of experience and qualifications to see who will be president. The excitement is ecstatic as the date draws closer and the year comes to an end.

Emails have been sent out to students detailing these candidates, and the in-person meetings with these applicants are available for public viewing. The videos only last two days after the applicant has left, so haste is required if students would like to be involved in the process. There is also a survey where anyone can state their feelings on the candidates strengths and weaknesses, which will be taken into consideration by the committee.

These candidates have shown passion not only for the position of which they have applied, but a love for the education of all students. As the weeks pass The Siskiyou hopes to see everyone participate as we meet each applicant.

Leave a Reply