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Richard J. Bailey, Jr., is SOU's next president

Richard J. Bailey, Jr., named president of Southern Oregon University

(Ashland, Ore.) — Richard J. Bailey, Jr., Ph.D., has been appointed as the next president of Southern Oregon University following an extensive national search and a unanimous vote today by the SOU Board of Trustees. Bailey has served as president of Northern New Mexico College (NNMC) in Espanola since October 2016, following a 24-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

His presidency at SOU will begin Jan. 15.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Rick Bailey as the next president of SOU,” said Daniel Santos, chair of the SOU board and of the Presidential Search Committee. “Following our nationwide search, and out of a deep pool of competitive applicants, Dr. Bailey’s interactions with the SOU community as well as his range of leadership, service and accomplishments across sectors is nothing short of remarkable.”

Bailey holds a doctorate in government from Georgetown University, a master’s degree in international affairs from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Under Bailey’s leadership and with a focus on student success, NNMC increased its enrollment by over 20 percent, cut its student loan default rate by more than 50 percent and more than doubled its student graduation rate – all without an increase in tuition rates.

He also brokered an NNMC partnership for the construction of a 1.5 megawatt solar array, which will lower utility costs for the college for the next 30 years. In 2020, Bailey led the creation of the Northern New Mexico College Eagle Corporation (the first of its kind in the history of the college), allowing the institution to partner with business entities for the purpose of diversifying the college’s revenue streams.

“I am honored to have been selected as the next president of Southern Oregon University,” Bailey said. “With a 150-year history, SOU is a vital regional institution and its best days are yet to come. I am honored to be entrusted to lead SOU forward, particularly given the tremendous opportunities available to us.

“Our world has changed over the past two years and I am convinced SOU will be on the leading edge of ushering higher education into its next phase. I look forward to being of service to SOU’s impressive faculty and staff to empower the students and communities we are fortunate to support.”

Prior to his presidency at Northern New Mexico College, Bailey served as associate professor of strategy and security studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He was the school’s first-ever dean of students.

He served as a military liaison and defense trade analyst at the U.S. State Department after completing his doctorate in 2006. He later served as chief air operations officer at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Joint Force Command Brunssum, in The Netherlands, where he oversaw air operations efforts for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan. Bailey retired from the Air Force as a colonel and command pilot.

“It became apparent throughout the search and selection process that Dr. Bailey’s innovative and entrepreneurial accomplishments, leadership style, strategy expertise and optimistic vision for what is possible at SOU, can propel the university’s bright future, ” Santos said.

Santos credited the success of the search to hard work by the diverse, 18-member search committee and the thoughtful participation of hundreds of people from across campus and the surrounding communities. The presidential search committee included students, faculty, staff, community members, another Oregon university president and SOU trustees.

Bailey will succeed Linda Schott, Ph.D., who is retiring in December and has served as president of SOU since August 2016.

“The board is grateful to Dr. Schott for her dedication to SOU and her presidential leadership, which have helped advance the university,” Santos said.


SOU's Presidential Search Committee will conduct interviews in October

SOU presidential search entering interview phase

The Presidential Search Committee of the SOU Board of Trustees will begin first-round interviews by the start of October with candidates to become the university’s next president, and plans to select and interview finalists for the position by the end of October. SOU President Linda Schott announced in April that she will retire by the end of this year.

“We have enjoyed high levels of engagement every step of the way, and I am pleased to report that we received more than 100 applicants expressing their interest in becoming SOU’s next president,” Danny Santos, the search committee chair and Board of Trustees vice chair, said this week in a message to campus.

“This is extraordinary and could not have been accomplished without the help of every person on campus who has engaged in the search process, in ways both big and small,” Santos said.

The search committee already has narrowed the list of applicants to 12 top candidates who will be included in first-round interviews over the coming days. The committee’s tentative schedule calls for three to five finalists to be interviewed on-campus – unless COVID-19 conditions require remote or hybrid options – the weeks of October 11, 18 and 25. Each finalist will be interviewed over two days in a process that will enable participation by various segments of the campus community, including students, faculty and staff.

“We are unable to announce the exact dates for these visits until we know who the finalists will be and can confirm their plans for travel to southern Oregon,” Santos said. “We will notify the entire campus and members of the public of specific details when more information is available.

“I urge members of the campus community to be as flexible as possible with their schedules throughout the period in October when finalists will visit campus,” he said. “Your engagement and feedback will be of tremendous value in the decision-making process, for SOU and the candidates.”

The SOU Board of Trustees selected Parker Executive Search in May to help identify and recruit candidates for the university’s presidency, and appointed a diverse, 18-member Presidential Search Committee composed of five trustees, three students, three faculty members, three staff members, three community members and one Oregon university president. Parker is a firm that specializes in higher education presidential searches.

Santos said the university is committed to making the interview and hiring processes as inclusive and transparent as possible, whether it occurs fully on campus or COVID restrictions require other approaches. The identities of finalists will be made public and opportunities for interactions with them will exist regardless of the interview formats. Santos emphasized that a priority is to ensure the safety of SOU’s campus community and all candidates for the position.

The latest information on the presidential search can be found at sou.edu/presidentialsearch.