Roy Saigo—A True Leader
by Silence Dogood

Roy Saigo was President at SCSU from 2000-2007. During his Presidency, enrollment at SCSU grew, minority enrollment grew, international student enrollment grew and the university had a balanced budget. In essence, President Saigo left SCSU a much better place than he found it.

Fast forward to 2014—enter the eternal optimist! Roy Saigo is appointed interim President at Southern Oregon University (SOU) on July 1, 2014. SOU is in a financial tailspin with dwindling state support. Faculty have been retrenched, there have been staff layoffs, program cuts, and declining enrollment.

In the four months after he arrived in Ashland, he has increased enrollment a bit over 1 percent. An increase of 63 students might not seem like a lot but considering that they were expecting a decline of 2.6%, it is a big turnaround. Eastern Oregon was down 12%, Oregon Tech was down 3.2%, Western Oregon was down 2.1% and Portland State was down 1.9%. Even the mighty Oregon Ducks’ lost 1%! SOU was one of only two schools (Oregon State was the other) to post an increase in fall enrollment.

According to the Mail Tribune article:

Compare this with SCSU, which in the last five years has declined in enrollment over 22% and is facing a $9,542,000 budget deficit for this academic year. The results of the Great Place to Work Survey show that the employees at SCSU do not have confidence in President Potter’s administration. For all of the data, the red bar represents the average value for the “100 Best Companies.” All of blue bars represent the derived values from those who completed the survey at SCSU. Where there are no red bars, the question was generated locally so the number must be interpreted without a comparison.

There is no question that SCSU is not anywhere close to the place where it was when Dr. Saigo left. It is also true that you can’t turn around years of problems overnight. According to the Mail Tribune article:

I’m betting that President Saigo will succeed in turning around the fortunes of SOU. I’m also hopeful that the next interim President at SCSU will be as successful.

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