(Ashland, Ore.) — Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek has appointed Jason Mendoza, an area coordinator for Southern Oregon University’s Housing Department, to serve on SOU’s Board of Trustees, and reappointed current board chair Daniel Santos to his second full, four-year term. Both were confirmed on Friday by the Oregon Senate and their service to the board begins immediately.
Mendoza will serve a two-year term as the new non-faculty staff member of SOU’s governing board. He is an SOU alumnus, receiving his bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice seven years ago, and he held criminal justice positions in Jackson and Klamath counties before taking his current position with SOU’s University Housing.
“SOU holds a very special place in my heart, as it is where I met my wife and we started our family prior to graduating,” Mendoza said. “This opportunity brings me full-circle at SOU, where as a student worker in University Housing, my wife and I received the support we needed to graduate. I will be pleased to join the board in advocating for and supporting first-generation students like myself.”
Santos is also an alumnus, receiving his bachelor’s degree in criminology at SOU in 1975, before earning his law degree at Willamette University College of Law. He has remained involved in education throughout his career, serving as a founding member of Scholarships for Oregon Latinos, and in guiding roles with Willamette University’s Willamette Academy for students from underserved communities and the Leadership Council for Oregon Mentors. He has served on the SOU Board of Trustees since 2016 and currently is the board’s chairperson.
“I am excited to continue my service to SOU, and I am looking forward to working with Jason and all of our fellow board members,” Santos said. “Our role is to keep the institution on a solid, sustainable path and ensure access to future generations of students. SOU is headed in the right direction, both academically and fiscally, thanks to the innovative, responsible guidance of our board and university leaders.”
Santos is a retired associate dean for the Willamette University College of Law, where he oversaw student affairs and administration. He has served in various capacities for Oregon governors Neil Goldschmidt, Barbara Roberts, John Kitzhaber, Ted Kulongoski, Kate Brown and Tina Kotek. His roles included service as Roberts’ legal counsel and Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision chair, and as a senior policy advisor for Kulongoski.
He currently serves on the boards of directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Mid-Valley Literacy Council, among others.
Mendoza is a member of the city of Ashland’s Housing and Human Services Advisory Committee, which assesses and makes recommendations to the City Council on housing and human service needs. He is an advisor for both the SOU Ho`opa`a Hawai`i Club and Samoan Club, and is passionate about helping underrepresented populations – especially the Polynesian community.
He has worked with the SOU Admissions Department in the recruiting and retention of Pacific Islander students, including traveling to American Samoa, and has helped Phoenix High School students learn about Samoan culture during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Mendoza also helped to organize the United Pacific Islanders of Southern Oregon (UPSIO) Pacific Islander Summer Celebration in August – an event that was hosted by the Samoa Pacific Islander Coalition (SPDC).
SOU was granted authority by the state to form its own independent Board of Trustees beginning July 1, 2015, following the legislature’s dissolution of the Oregon University System and State Board of Higher Education. SOU’s board is responsible for governance and oversight of the university.
Eleven at-large trustees serve four-year terms, and one voting position each is reserved for an SOU undergraduate student, an SOU graduate student, a faculty and a non-faculty staff member – each of whom serve two-year terms. One non-voting undergraduate student member also serves on the board for a two-year term.