SOU program for under-represented and disadvantaged scholars receives funding

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/9eegW6)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s McNair Scholars Program, which has prepared under-represented students for post-graduate education since 2003, has been selected for another five years of funding despite talk at the national level of reducing support for the McNair program.

“The decision to continue to fund the nation’s McNair Scholars programs at this point in time illustrates a continuing commitment from our elected federal officials and the U.S. Department of Education to support undergraduate students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds and who have demonstrated strong academic potential,” said Dee Southard, an associate professor and director of SOU’s McNair program.

A letter of notification from the U.S. Department of Education indicated that SOU’s funding proposal received 108 out of 110 possible points from evaluators. The SOU program was approved for a grant of $243,878 per year for the five-year grant cycle – a total of just over $1.2 million.

Ongoing support for the nationwide program – which is offered on more than 200 college and university campuses – has been in doubt because of the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Education. The funding notification guarantees the status of SOU’s McNair program through 2022.

“The vast majority of the student scholars who participate in the SOU McNair program graduate with their bachelor’s degrees from SOU and then continue directly on, entering into and successfully completing highly competitive graduate level programs of study,” Southard said.

The McNair program was initiated in 1989 by the U.S. Department of Education to increase doctoral studies by students from underrepresented and disadvantaged segments of society. It honors physicist and astronaut Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African-American to fly in space. He died in 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after launch.

SOU’s McNair program – formally known as the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program – serves 28 undergraduate scholars each year. The application period for the 2018 cohort is Oct. 2 through Nov. 1 of this year.

The SOU program – which offers one-to-one guidance from faculty mentors – is intended to help promising scholars complete their undergraduate degrees, enroll in graduate school and prepare for doctoral studies. Six SOU McNair alumni have completed their doctoral programs since the program began 14 years ago.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

Southern Oregon University among U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges

NEWS BRIEF (available online at https://goo.gl/e2TVHy)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is tied at the No. 25 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges rankings for the best public, regional schools in 15 Western states, which was published today. SOU is also ranked No. 76 among all regional universities in the West.

On its overview page for SOU, U.S. News pointed out that the university’s student-faculty ratio is 21-to-1, and that 46.3 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students. It also highlights student services such as nonremedial tutoring, the Women’s Resource Center and the Student Health and Wellness Center.

SOU ranks second among Oregon schools on the public, regional universities list. Western Oregon University tied with two other universities for 22nd on the ranking, while SOU tied with four other universities for the next spot on the list, No. 25.

U.S. News & World Report came out with its first college rankings in 1983, and has published an increasingly more popular – and varied – list since 1985. The 2014 rankings drew 18.9 million page views in a single day to usnews.com, according to Wikipedia. The 2018 version includes almost 50 types of numerical rankings, in categories ranging from “A-Plus Schools for B Students” to “High School Counselor Rankings.”

The publication says it ranks schools based on hundreds of data points, including as many as 15 measures of academic quality. The most weight is given to student outcomes such as graduation and freshman retention rates.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.

A message from President Schott about DACA

Greetings to all members of the SOU community

I am writing to you from Guanajuato, Mexico, where SOU has enjoyed a sister-university partnership for 50 years with the Universidad de Guanajuato. I have been reminded in meetings with my counterparts at our sister university, and with officials from the City of Guanajuato, of what a warm and lasting collaboration we enjoy.

The U.S. began a relationship just over five years ago with a group of young immigrants who entered our country as minors. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy now protects almost 800,000 students and others who grew up in the U.S. and are determined to build their lives there, but lack the legal documentation to remain.

You have likely heard by now that President Trump will end DACA’s protections in six months, unless Congress acts to shield this group of young people from deportation.

I want to assure you that SOU’s commitment to all of its students – including those who have been protected by DACA – supersedes politics. We are obliged as an institute of higher learning to safeguard the ability of each student on our campus – regardless of immigration status, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, religious affiliation or political persuasion – to pursue his or her educational dreams.

SOU will continue to protect the privacy of all students, respect the value that their differences bring to our campus and accommodate the needs of those who face obstacles in their academic paths. We will resist immigration enforcement at SOU without legal compulsion or evidence of imminent risk to public safety.

Oregon law prevents SOU or any state agency from assisting with the investigation or apprehension of those whose only offense is their lack of immigration documentation. U.S. education privacy laws require that we maintain the confidentiality of students’ information, including their immigration status.

SOU is among the hundreds of colleges, universities and higher education organizations around the country that support the continuation of DACA protections. While we await Congressional action on this issue, students who feel they may be directly impacted by the changing DACA policy may contact Unete, a Medford-based advocacy center for farm workers and immigrants, at (541) 245-1625.

The bonds of friendship between SOU and Universidad de Guanajuato can be felt in every greeting and every hug I have received here. Faculty and administrators told me repeatedly today that it is those bonds that will ultimately prevail. Goodness, kindness and a spirit of determined cooperation will help us overcome our obstacles, regardless of scope or scale. Let us remain strong in our support of each other and in our commitment to education for all who seek it.

With optimism,

 

Linda Schott
President, Southern Oregon University

 

SOU receives silver “STARS” rating for sustainability achievements

NEWS BRIEF (available online at https://goo.gl/xDT5yL)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has earned a silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education for the university’s campus-wide sustainability achievements.

SOU reported its accomplishments through the AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), which rates the efforts of colleges and universities in five categories: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership. Participating institutions can be recognized simply for reporting their sustainability achievements, or for rating at the organization’s bronze, silver, gold or platinum levels.

SOU’s silver STARS rating is valid for three years. It is the latest of several recent recognitions of the university’s sustainability efforts. SOU received an honorable mention earlier this year at the Presidential Climate Leadership Summit, was the nation’s first certified Bee Campus USA, has been named a Tree Campus USA for three straight years, was named a Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists and offers LEED Gold campus housing at its Raider Village complex.

AASHE is a nonprofit organization that helps colleges and universities work together to create and lead the way to a sustainable future. More than 400 institutions have participated in the STARS ratings.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University

Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

SOU earns top LGBTQ-friendly ranking for fifth year in a row

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/NnggdH)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been recognized for the fifth year in a row as one of the nation’s Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities by Campus Pride, a nonprofit that supports and improves campus life for LGBTQ people on more than 1,400 U.S. campuses.

SOU earned five out of five stars overall on the Campus Pride Index, which ranks universities in each of eight categories: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts. SOU drew five-star rankings in six of the categories and four-and-a-half stars in the other two.

Thomas Arce, coordinator of SOU’s Queer Resource Center, said this week’s Campus Pride recognition is meaningful for prospective and current LGBTQ students, particularly during a period of political polarization on the national level.

“Knowing that the campus they attend or plan to attend pays close attention to these efforts of inclusion and identity are key for their academic and social success in college,” Arce said.

SOU was also ranked 21st among the 50 best colleges for LGBTQ students by the online publication College Choice, which released its 2017 rankings in July.

The Campus Pride list of the top 25 LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities included three Oregon institutions: SOU, the University of Oregon and Portland State University. It also included two universities in Washington and two in California; New Jersey is the only other state with three colleges or universities on the list.

Arce said that some of the activities and services that make SOU stand out as welcoming to LGBTQ students are the presence of sexual orientation and gender identity in the university’s non-discrimination policy; gender-inclusive housing options; the stand-alone Queer Resource Center; and LGBTQ-related academic offerings through the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program. SOU also participates in LGBTQ-specific college fairs and its counseling and health staff provide queer- and trans-friendly services.

“These are just some of avenues that we’re evaluated on, and (that) provide a culture of care specifically for our LGBTQ students to thrive and persist at SOU,” Arce said.

The Campus Pride list is considered the most trusted and reliable list of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities, said Shane Windmeyer, the organization’s executive director and creator of the Campus Pride Index. “These are the campuses leading the way for LGBTQ inclusion and who have come out to support LGBTQ students from the first day of classes through graduation day,” Windmeyer said.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon – and one of the first in the nation – to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

SOU football game moved due to health concerns

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/bLZfAU)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Concerns for the health of participants and fans have resulted in the postponement and relocation of Southern Oregon University’s season-opening football game with Eastern Oregon University, which had been scheduled for Thursday evening in Ashland. The game will instead be played Saturday at a neutral site: Sherwood High School, just southwest of Portland.

Air Quality Index (AQI) readings earlier this week in Ashland consistently registered near the high end of the “unhealthy” level, at which everyone is advised to reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. For example, the AQI on Wednesday afternoon was 193 – just seven points below the “very unhealthy” level, at which people from all age groups are susceptible to serious health effects.

Ashland’s air quality had improved on Thursday morning, but SOU Athletic Director Matt Sayre pointed out that conditions could change rapidly.

“What we know at this point is the fire in Brookings is still raging and there is still a better-than-average chance any game we schedule here could be smoked out,” Sayre said. “We had to make a decision at least two days in advance because of travel for both teams and the immense amount of effort that goes into producing a college football game, and we aren’t in a position to play chicken with the smoke and the health of our student-athletes.”

SOU considered various rescheduling scenarios before settling on the offer to play at 6 p.m. Saturday in Sherwood’s Aaron J. Contreras Memorial Stadium. All previously purchased SOU-EOU tickets will be valid, and tickets will also be sold prior to the game at Sherwood High.

Refunds are available for those who previously purchased single-game tickets online for the SOU home game but cannot attend the contest in Portland. Those wishing to be refunded should contact the SOU athletic office from 8 to 11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, at (541) 552-6772.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

SOU’s Palmer named a “disruptive” journalism fellow

NEWS BRIEF (available online at https://goo.gl/pCd2cL)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Erik Palmer, an associate professor and chair of the SOU Communication Program, has been named one of 17 “disruptive” journalism fellows from around the country by the City University of New York’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism.

The recipients will be awarded fellowships to attend the Online News Association 2017 Conference, Oct. 5-7, in Washington, D.C. Each will be asked to champion a specific aspect of journalism education at the conference, and to engage other educators “in any way that proves effective,” including through the Disruptive Educators Facebook group. The closed Facebook group describes itself as a learning organization “for journalism educators disrupting media, through entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Palmer was recognized in the fellowship announcement for his research on how social photography impacts professional media photography, and for his interest in the emerging connection between strategy and journalism.

The Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism was founded in 2010 through grants from The Tow Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with support from the City University of New York. It is intended to train journalists in media entrepreneurship, explore new business models for news and provide events for both professional journalists and students.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

SOU athletic pavilion, to be completed in January, receives new name Thursday

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/jJhP8S)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott, members of the local DeBoer family and others will gather outside the university’s new athletic pavilion Thursday morning to acknowledge the role of philanthropy in the project and unveil the facility’s new name.

The DeBoers and their signature company, Lithia Motors, will be recognized during the 10 a.m. event for the generosity that has made completion of the athletic pavilion possible. Lithia and the DeBoer family have pledged $1 million to the pavilion project and another $1 million to fund scholarships for many of the student-athletes who will compete in the new facility. Several other donors have pledged an additional $600,000 in gifts for the ongoing construction project, which includes renovations to the Raider grandstand.

“The willing support of all these donors has transformed this project, and will have a lasting effect on our university,” President Schott said. “The fund-raising did more than allow us to make ends meet; it enabled us to add dimension and texture to the project.”

Three generations of the DeBoer family have been among the most generous supporters of SOU. Lithia Motors – which was founded in 1946 by Walt DeBoer and incorporated in 1968 by his son, Sid – is one of Oregon’s three current Fortune 500 companies.

“We enthusiastically support the students, academic programs and athletics of Southern Oregon University,” said Bryan DeBoer, Lithia’s president and CEO.

“Much like SOU, Lithia Motors promotes an environment of excellence and continuous improvement for our people,” DeBoer said. “We join with all members of this community in recognizing Southern Oregon University as the educational provider of choice for learners throughout our region and celebrate this significant development to the Ashland campus.”

The new athletic pavilion received $22 million in bond funding from the state, but the need to demolish rather than salvage some portions of the previous athletic facility added $2 million to the project cost. The adjacent Student Recreation Center is separately funded by fees that SOU students levied upon themselves.

The new pavilion’s competition gym will seat more than 1,400 fans for men’s and women’s basketball games and wrestling matches, and women’s volleyball games. The building will also have locker rooms, three classrooms, academic offices, an academic conference room, SOU’s athletic offices, an athletic conference room, a ticket booth, an athletic training and sports medicine room, wrestling practice room, equipment room and storage areas. The Student Recreation Center will include a recreational gym, indoor running track, fitness center, climbing wall, multipurpose rooms, an outdoor programs area, staff offices, locker rooms and storage areas.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.

“Chief Science Officers” from regional schools to visit SOU

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/dw21Px)

(Ashland, Ore.) — A group of 22 “Chief Science Officers” from 11 middle and high schools throughout Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties will converge at Southern Oregon University on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 15-16, to gain leadership skills and learn to be ambassadors for STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The Chief Science Officer Leadership Institute is organized by the Southern Oregon STEM Hub, one of 11 regional STEM Hubs that operate under Oregon’s Chief Education Office to tap local resources and promote STEM educational opportunities. This week’s institute is co-sponsored by SOU, the Southern Oregon Education Service District, Talent Maker City, Rogue Workforce Partnership, Rogue Valley Microdevices, Pacific Power, the Ausland Group, MV Pro Audio, Valley Immediate Care and ScienceWorks.

The event is intended to help the participating students become effective STEM ambassadors in their schools. They will explore STEM activities and potential careers, and receive professionalism and leadership training.

Activities will take place primarily in SOU’s Cox Hall classrooms. A “STEM-Onstration” showcase will also be held at SOU’s Stevenson Union.

The Chief Science Officer program, which is being offered through various STEM Hubs around the state, is a unique approach for aligning education with industry. It is intended to give students a voice in community conversations about outreach and economic development, and introduce them to some of the potential pathways to STEM careers.

The Southern Oregon STEM Hub is part of Southern Oregon Success, a grant-funded program that weaves together community talent, expertise and resources to promote the health, academics and life successes of the region’s youths and families.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

Healthcare Administration Program approved for SOU

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/cK7eFH)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission approved a new bachelor’s degree program on Thursday that will prepare students at Southern Oregon University for a variety of careers in health care – the region’s largest and fastest-growing job sector.

SOU’s new Healthcare Administration Program will be offered to students beginning in winter term of the coming academic year. Program coordinator Craig Switzler said he expects an initial cohort of about 10 students, and for the program to eventually grow to between 30 and 50 students.

“I’ve already been approached by about a half-dozen students,” he said.

The program will prepare students for management, rather than patient-care positions, in the health care industry. The Oregon Employment Department projects that over the next five years, there will be nearly 1,500 openings in southern Oregon for health care management positions that require bachelor’s or advanced degrees.

The SOU program will be available to incoming freshmen, current undergraduates who haven’t settled on a major and working professionals looking for additional skillsets.

Those who enter the program may focus on any of three health care-related concentrations. A personnel management track will emphasize human resources in the health care industry; a community health concentration will explore how group or community health care is provided, maintained and improved; and a data analytics path will prepare students to analyze and interpret data for improving health care systems.

The overall program will provide students a foundation in health care, including knowledge of the industry’s terminology, ethics and safety, data management standards and communication skills.

The interdisciplinary program will include courses from SOU’s Health and Physical Education, Business, Communications, Psychology, Sociology and Biology departments. A new philosophy course will be part of the curriculum, and each student will also complete a capstone project and practicum class prior to graduation.

“The classes are already here on campus,” said Switzler, who developed a proposal for the program after he was hired at SOU three years ago as an athletic trainer.

The proposal has gained traction over the past year, and has been endorsed by various SOU committees, the university’s Board of Trustees and the state universities’ Provosts Council. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission approved the program unanimously on Thursday.

There is a handful of similar undergraduate and graduate programs in health care administration or management at other public and private universities in Oregon.

More information about the SOU program is available on its website, at sou.edu/hca.

-SOU-

About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.