During Saigo's six years at SCSU, the school faced complaints of racism, sexism and anti-semitism on campus from faculty and students. Saigo says he inherited those problems, and has developed programs to fix those issues.
Saigo announced his retirement to a group of faculty and students in the student center on the St. Cloud State University campus
He says the reasons are simple enough. He and his wife want to spend more time with their grandchildren.
Saigo also says he's accomplished what he set out to do when he came to SCSU six years ago.
"It's just a good time to say, 'Alright let's hand it on to somebody else.' We've accomplished the many issues that were a challenge to this campus," he said.
The 66-year-old Saigo is Japanese-American and spent three years of his young life with his family in a World War II internment camp in Arizona. Over the years Saigo has said that experience driven him to shape a multi-cultural role for the university.
But when Saigo took over as president of St. Cloud State in the year 2000, the school was facing 39 lawsuits. They dealt with issues of racism, sexism, ageism and anti-semitism among faculty and staff. Saigo says he inherited those problems when he came to campus, but helped the university get through tough times.
"I was able to push those issues forward and solve them. And then to put in place procedures so that we don't repeat them again," he said.
Saigo has overseen the implementation of several programs to deal with discrimination. All students and staff are required to complete diversity training when they come to campus. Saigo also points to extensive work with the NCAA to deal with the issue of Native American mascots for college sports teams.
SCSU student Nirdosh Dhakal from Nepal, says he's heard of the issues of discrimination on campus, but he says that's an issue everywhere. For the most part he finds SCSU a welcoming place.
"Obviously there is racism. Just a little bit but that's not a big deal. The racism is almost everywhere," said Dhakal.
Discrimination or the perception of discrimination on the St. Cloud State Campus is something the school's next president will likely deal with.
Luke Tripp, chair of the Department of community studies at St. Cloud State, has some advice for the next president of SCSU when it comes to dealing with discrimination on campus.
"Keep the books open, keep the process open and maximize involvement," Tripp said.
Tripp, who's worked at St. Cloud State since 1989, says he's seen plenty of racial tension on campus over the years. He says some things have improved under Saigo's administration. There are more international students and students of color on campus. But Tripp also thinks there's still reluctance among some faculty members to appoint people of color to leadership positions. Tripp hopes a diverse faculty is something the next president pushes.
"Given the changing demographics in this state and also in this nation, and the things that have to be addressed, put it out there, we're going to move this institution in this direction, whether you like it or not, but we'll discuss it and see how best to do it," Tripp said.
The search to replace Roy Saigo as president of St. Cloud State University begins immediately. Saigo will work until the end of June next year; although he says he's considering an invitation to help MnSCU with a projects dealing with international education.