Southern Oregon University Provost James Klein, given a vote of no confidence by 71 percent of SOU faculty in March, is leaving the school.

Southern Oregon University Provost James Klein, given a vote of no confidence by 71 percent of SOU faculty in March, is leaving the school.

Interim Southern Oregon University President Roy Saigo announced Klein's retirement, effective Aug. 31. Associate Provost Susan Walsh assumed the reins as interim provost and vice president of academic and student affairs Monday. Her interim contract will last two years.

Although Klein is retiring by his own choice, Saigo said he assumed the decision was related to March's faculty vote, in which 76 percent of faculty gave Vice President of Finance and Administration Craig Morris a vote of no confidence, and former president Mary Cullinan received a 63 percent vote of no confidence.

"I'm presuming that's the case, but either way, he's retiring," said Saigo. "I think he's pretty happy. And he's been a gentleman, and he's put in his time into the university."

Klein, who has been provost since 2008, was out of town at a conference Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

Saigo said he talked with faculty about the interim provost position before hiring Walsh.

"I talked to faculty and staff, and they were highly complimentary," said Saigo. "She seemed to be the right fit at the right time."

Walsh graduated from Southern Oregon State College, has been a communications professor with the school since the mid-1980s, including as department chair from 2002 to 2006, and has been the associate provost since 2010.

"It's very new, and I'm very excited to be working with Dr. Saigo," said Walsh.

While it's been only a couple of weeks since Saigo arrived on campus, Walsh said she is looking forward to new initiatives the two have discussed, including expanding SOU's offerings for veterans.

"We're talking with faculty and staff about expanding our programs with veterans, to better serve them, and help them meet their educational goals," said Walsh.

She said another important focus would be increasing enrollment.

"We have some work to do for increasing our numbers of new students, retaining students and bringing in transfer students," she said. "Those are important priorities."

Saigo, who became president July 1 after Cullinan left to take the top position at Eastern Washington University, said he would continue to evaluate the work of all of his employees as he gets to know them.

He said he was unsure whether he would take any actions based on March's no-confidence vote, in which faculty recommended that Klein and Morris be removed from their posts.

"I'm a new leader, so I'll evaluate as I go along," said Saigo. "I'm always going to be evaluating my staff."

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at