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Trustees OK pavilion project expansion

The Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees of OK’d a $3 million increase in the massive McNeal Pavilion rehabilitation project at a special meeting Tuesday, and decided to look into extending the contract of university President Roy Saigo. 

The adjustment in the pavilion project budget goes to cover relocation of the SOU fitness center from under Raider Stadium to the new Student Recreation Center to be built next to McNeal Pavilion. That center is to be paid for by future student fees. 

The unanimous vote of the board enables SOU Vice President for Finance & Administration Craig Morris to move forward with contractors and architects on plans to increase the scope of the project, said Ryan Brown, SOU spokesman.

Under the previous design, the athletic complex lacked sufficient locker room and office space for academic and athletic staff. The project will take 1.5 years and will happen along with the $21.8 million upgrade of McNeal, which will improve seismic safety, disabled access and general issues related to aging of the facility. That funding was approved by the Legislature in 2014.

The board also voted unanimously to move forward on looking into a one-year extension of Saigo's two-year contract, which currently expires June 30, 2016. 

Board members discussed the length of time it takes to do a nationwide search for a new president due to its complexity, and how that time window is now limited. Tuesday's vote, said Brown, supports exploration of the extension among constituent groups, including faculty, staff, students and the governor’s office.

The vote was not a vote to extend the contract but only a go-ahead to gather information for a vote of the Board of Trustees, whose sole purview it is, says Brown. Comments expressed about Saigo were all positive, he adds.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.