President Richard Bailey roamed the Hawk Dining Commons on Wednesday evening. He smiled, fist-bumped, and attentively asked the students about themselves. President Bailey is eager to get to know the student body, and only has good things to say about SOU.
“Each person here is in tune with what the school does well, and what it can do better,” said the president, gesturing to the sea of students sitting in the red chairs of the Hawk. He has been amazed at how active and vocal the student body is in making SOU a safe, ideal learning environment for all who attend. Coming from a man who has had notable experience in the administration of higher education, his compliment is high praise. Dr. Bailey spent five and a half years as the president of Northern New Mexico College, though he has not been pursuing higher education administration for his entire career. While serving the Air Force for 24 years, he developed strong leadership skills that promises SOU a dedicated advocate.
President Bailey is aware of how stressful college life can be. College has been especially difficult for students these past two years, as the Covid-19 pandemic has brought change to the way school systems operate. It has brought much stress and anxiety to students since classes were not being conducted as usual; however, there is also fear that classes will be held remotely again, which, for many students, is not an ideal or effective way to learn. The President is aware of this “incredible fatigue” after two long, hard years. However, President Bailey has noticed how dedicated to campus safety the student body has been and continues to be.
“No institution has done better,” Bailey comments on the diligence students and faculty have exhibited with masking, vaccines, and social distancing. He argues that it is because of this diligence that SOU has been able to remain in-person, but the president has more plans for the school in regards to Covid-19. He strongly believes that booster shots need to be “a part of the equation” in order for the university to move forward. However, he is aware of a common and important issue among many students: the pandemic’s harsh impact on mental health. President Bailey understands that the mental health of students needs to be a priority alongside physical health and safety.
College is an important time in one’s life. Though it may come with a great deal of stress and anxiety, President Bailey wants the students to know that he has their back.
“[President Bailey] wants every student to know that he works for you,” said Greg Perkinson, Vice President of Finance and Administration. The new President has the interest of the student body at heart. His plans for SOU are meant to serve the student body, including but not limited to special attention to the mental health of the students, especially after the turmoil Covid-19 has caused.
Bailey had one last closing statement to the students of SOU: “Every single person at the university shares one common goal: to see students thrive.”