SOU President Rick Bailey Jr. – March 2022 Update

Posted in

This is an Transcription of Southern Oregon University President Rick Bailey March YouTube video.

Hi everybody, this is Rick Bailey, President at Southern Oregon University. Thank you as always for tuning in to our latest video update for our university and our community. Let’s start today with a celebration. As you know earlier this week we celebrated International Women’s Day and throughout the month of March, we take the time to pay tribute to women who have made incredible contributions in every aspect of the human experience. It was Oprah Winfrey who once said, “step out of the history that is holding you back and step into the new story you are willing to create .”Throughout the month of March and really throughout the year. We take the time to pay tribute to these women trailblazers. But let us also take some time to honor the women in our own lives, who continue to lead and inspire us. They are worthy of our celebration.

Speaking of celebration, let’s take a moment to talk about commencement. We are very very excited to announce that this year we will be hosting an in person commencement ceremony at Southern Oregon University for the first time in three years. Now we will be celebrating the class of 2022 and mark your calendars by the way, Saturday, June the 11th is our date for that we have an entire team planning it already. But I also want to offer an invitation to graduates from the class of 2020 and 2021. If you would like to be a part of this year’s ceremony, we would like to celebrate you too. But there is an RSVP deadline of Friday, April 29. So if you are a graduate from the class of 2020 or 2021 and want to be included in this ceremony then please go to our website Up in the search bar, just type commencement that will be the very first link. Click on that link that takes you to the commencement homepage and then scroll down you’ll see an RSVP link for 2020 and 2021. We would love to celebrate all of you this coming June.

Let’s take another moment to talk about the issues going on in Ukraine and the crisis in Ukraine. We’ve received a lot of phone messages and emails from concerned community members about this issue. Understand that I take that very, very seriously as a military veteran myself and as a military veteran who served in a NATO organization. It’s very important to me and I understand the gravity of this situation. So let me be very, very clear. SOU strongly condemns the atrocities that are taking place in Ukraine. But let me say a few other things. First of all, we have neighbors, friends, community members who have ethnic or even familial ties to people in that region. And we’re talking about Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and the greater area. They need our support now more than ever. So let’s make sure that we are sensitive to that. Secondly, let us also recognize that the crisis in Ukraine isn’t the only crisis happening geopolitically around the world right now. There is political violence, there are skirmishes, there are challenges in places like Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Tunisia, the list goes on. All of them deserve our attention and they deserve our support as well. So let us be mindful of that big picture as well.

Shifting gears again after my last video message. There was a really really good comment someone had asked me “Rick,in your next video, could you share what makes you most optimistic about Southern Oregon University” and I have to confess my answer to that question has changed over time. It’s easy when you look from the outside, things that could make you optimistic. Let me just give you one. This university sits in one of the most beautiful valleys on the planet. That’s not an embellishment. I think everyone would agree with that. But if I am asked today, especially now that I have had a chance to meet a lot of our team, if I’m asked today, “Rick, what makes you most optimistic about the university?” It’s the team.

And I know it sounds like a cop out right? That’s something that presidents probably say a lot. But this is not a cop out. It is my honest answer. The thing I am most excited about is the team with whom I get to serve. They’re incredible. Incredible. Now, do we have challenges? Absolutely. We have challenges. And do we come up short? Sometimes? Yes. We come up short sometimes. You probably saw earlier this week I sent a message out, really calling on all of us to be the architects of an environment where hate and prejudice have absolutely no place. Right? We have to do that, all of us have to do that. And when one of us falls short of that, all of us fall short of that. So we do have work to do. But I know that this team can do that. And I have the utmost confidence that this team can do that. And when we do that, I know we can move mountains. I’m sure of it. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said and I know you’ve heard this quote before. He said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that”.

Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. That’s the North Star for us. And actually that leads us to my final point.

If there is a recipe ingredient that we need moving forward as a university, if I had to pick one, it’s kindness. And I know this is gonna sound simple, but bear with me.

I think that kindness is like a currency. I think it’s like a currency in the sense that we have a choice. We choose when and how we give that out. And we choose to who we give. Now there are going to be some faculty members especially BCE faculty members who are going to who are going to challenge this analogy and they should because there’s some flaws in the analogy, for example.

I know that unlike a normal currency, kindness is something that is that is not limited in its supply.

We can choose to give out as much as we want. It’s like printing it, we can print as much of this currency as we want.

The second flaw in this analogy is that and again, I’m speaking at it from a place of ignorance here but my guess is it’s likely the only currency that the more we spend it, the more valuable each note becomes, which probably violates every rule of economic standards.

So the moral of the story for us is spend it, spend the heck out of it. The more we do that, the better we will be as a team. I’m convinced that thinking about kindness and giving that out, the more we do that, the better. Let me give you an example.

Next time you see someone from our custodial staff, or someone fixing an IT problem or someone from facilities or an officer in campus public safety or someone who is serving you a meal, anyone on the team, take a moment to not not just to pay lip service. Take a moment to really tell them how much you appreciate what they do for us and by the way, not just for our students but for you personally.  Imagine if we did that with everyone on this team. Imagine if we exhibited that to everyone in our community.

Then we can move mountains.

We can move mountains.

It will help us to overcome the years of crisis that we’ve all entered together, because of this pandemic.

It will exhibit the self care that we talked about, by the way, not just for others, but the benefits that we will experience personally.

And lastly it will be that ingredient that helps us to move forward as a university. Be kind.

Okay, that’s it from the Rogue Valley. On behalf of all of us at Southern Oregon University, our students, our faculty, our staff, our board of trustees, our foundation, donors, alumni, business and government leaders and community partners we say thank you for everything you do for our students. Thank you for everything you do for our university and our community. Have a great rest of your week, everyone. Thanks very much and we’ll talk to you soon.

Posted in

Leave a Comment