Interim president appointed at Westfield State University

Hampden County

Dr. Roy H. Saigo (Westfield State University)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WSU) – Westfield State University Board of Trustees Chair Kevin Queenin ’70 announced that the Board has selected distinguished educator Roy H. Saigo*, Ph.D., to serve as the University’s interim president for the 2020–21 academic year. Saigo will begin in his position in late July.

Saigo most recently served as president of Southern Oregon University (SOU), his third presidential position. During more than 50 years in higher education, he has also served in the roles of professor, dean, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, and chancellor.

“Given his vast experience in public higher education and proven leadership style with all levels of faculty, staff, and students at a wide variety of campuses, Dr. Saigo was the ideal choice for Westfield State University’s interim president,” said Queenin, who also commended retiring Westfield State President Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D., who announced in January his plans to retire in August.

“President Torrecilha has set our University on a path to preeminence among regional public universities. His leadership with student engagement, early college programs, success in fundraising, the University’s move to a college structure, and increased collaboration with our community partners have sharpened Westfield State’s relevance in the area, across the state, and at the national level,” said Queenin, who ensured a smooth presidential transition between Torrecilha and Saigo.

Saigo earned his Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Pathology from Oregon State University and a B.A. degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California at Davis. Prior to leading Southern Oregon University, he spent seven years as president of St. Cloud State University (Minn). There, he increased enrollment, earned accreditation for all programs, increased diversity, and gained national recognition for addressing the issue of racism in the use of nicknames, logos, and mascots for NCAA athletics. He also affirmed or initiated agreements with universities in Chile, China, Japan, Korea, and South Africa. At SOU, he reversed declining enrollments and brought the university out of retrenchment. He improved communication on campus, with other universities and community colleges, and with the community.

Saigo taught in the Biology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for 17 years, which included nine years as either Assistant to the Dean or Assistant Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences. He later served as Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Northern Iowa, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Southeastern Louisiana University, and Chancellor at Auburn University Montgomery (Alabama), prior to his appointment at St. Cloud State University.

In response to his appointment, Saigo said, “I would like to thank Chair Queenin and the members of the WSU Board for their trust and the support they have given me. Prior to my appointment as Interim President, I studied the history of WSU and the guiding philosophy of founder Horace Mann. I studied information on every faculty member, noting that most are in the prime of their careers, a very positive factor. The campus, community, and region are beautiful. I am enthusiastic about this appointment and am looking forward to working collaboratively with the leadership team, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees to respond to the challenges facing the institution.”  

Westfield State will soon announce plans regarding the search for the next permanent president of the University.

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