In Short

New Southern Oregon University president announced

By: - November 10, 2021 2:21 pm

Southern Oregon University in Ashland is facing a $5 million budget shortfall. (Al Case/Flickr)

Oregon’s fourth largest university and the state’s southern flagship has announced its next president. 

Richard Bailey, Jr., 51, will oversee Southern Oregon University in Ashland starting in January. He’ll be the university’s 14th president since its founding in 1872.

He takes over from Linda Schott, who announced in April that she would retire by the end of the year after nearly five years in the role. The most recent count of full-time students at the university is 4,200, during the spring of 2021. The school typically averages about 6,000 students.

Bailey comes to the job after serving as president of Northern New Mexico College in Española, a city about 30 miles north of Santa Fe, for five years. The school had just over 750 students by most recent count in spring of 2020. Bailey was celebrated at the school for increasing enrollment despite the setbacks of the pandemic, and introduced a popular online program to train people to work in New Mexico’s medical cannabis industry. 

Richard Bailey, Jr. was previously president at Northern New Mexico College.

Prior to Northern New Mexico, Bailey served for 24 years in the U.S. Air Force, where he was a colonel and command pilot. He also served as dean of students and professor of strategy and security studies at a university on the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

Bailey is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He went on to earn a master’s degree in international affairs from Washington University in St. Louis and a doctorate in government from Georgetown University. Beyond his work in higher education, he worked in military and weapons commodities for the U.S. Department of State and was chief air operations officer for NATO in The Netherlands. 

At a Tuesday press conference, Bailey said his time in the Air Force taught him the importance of mentorship and teamwork when it came to his leadership style, but he spoke to how his role as leader of Southern Oregon University would be different and less hierarchical.

“I think it needs to be much more compassionate, it needs to be very caring, it needs to be incredibly focused on mutual respect,” he said. 

He said that the university will need to rely on more funding streams outside of tuition and state appropriations, and create partnerships with businesses and private funders to create more programs that attract new and diverse students. 

Bailey said when he applied for the Oregon job, there were 130 openings for chief executive officers at universities around the country. He said he applied only to Southern Oregon University.

He was selected from among 100 applicants reviewed by an 18-member search committee. The final five candidates included the former dean of Willamette University’s College of Law, the chief academic, research, and student affairs officer for the Montana University System, the current president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg and the former interim president of the University of North Carolina System. The final five did not include any women, drawing criticism.

Bailey’s contract provides a salary of $290,000 a year, up to $30,000 in moving expenses, a car allowance and  the president’s house, a residence in Ashland set aside for the university president. His first day on the job is Jan. 15.

Schott received similar allowances for car, moving and home. Her contract started with a $240,000 salary and was capped at $272,000. She will officially retire on Dec. 31.

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Alex Baumhardt
Alex Baumhardt

Alex Baumhardt is a reporter for Oregon Capital Chronicle. She has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post.