Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott used her State of the University speech Thursday afternoon to announce her retirement at the end of the calendar year.
Schott assumed the presidency of SOU in August 2016. At her Thursday presentation, Schott said this was a fitting time for her to pass leadership on.
“We have accomplished many of the things that we agreed to pursue as I began my tenure here,” she said. “And we have made our way through this crazy pandemic and brought our institution to a point of financial stability.”
Just a year-and-a-half ago, SOU was facing falling enrollment and reductions in state aid. Even with a 10 percent hike in tuition, the university instituted a hiring freeze and a 4 percent campus-wide reduction in spending.
While the pandemic at least initially made the fiscal picture worse, $6 million saved by staff furloughs and more than $11 million in federal COVID relief money has helped put the university on stable ground, for now.
Schott said she intends to remain fully engaged in running the university and pledged a smooth transition to her successor. She said she learned two important lessons running relay races in high school.
“Running your leg of the race to the very best of your ability. And ensuring that you hand the baton off to the next runner smoothly and without missing a step. I intend to do both.”
The SOU Board of Trustees plans to meet on April 16 to begin the process of searching for a successor. Board President Paul Nicholson said diversity will be a key factor in the selection.