SOU Receives a Third Million Dollar Cash Grant From the Osher Foundation

Latest Endowment is for Reentry Students’ Scholarships

(Ashland, ORE) – The Bernard Osher Foundation of San Francisco has awarded the Southern Oregon University Foundation a one-million-dollar cash grant for reentry scholarships. It’s the third million-dollar cash grant the Osher Foundation has made to SOU since 2009.

“The Osher Foundation has been incredibly generous to SOU,” says University President Mary Cullinan. “This scholarship support will transform lives for generations of reentry students. I am thrilled.”

For the past three years, the Osher Foundation has provided SOU with $50,000 annually for reentry scholarships. The proceeds from the one million dollar endowment will allow scholarships of approximately $50,000 to continue to be offered in perpetuity.

The Osher Foundation defines a reentry student as one who has a cumulative gap in their education of five or more years after high school. Most of SOU’s nontraditional aged students fit this category. Osher scholars must be working on their first undergraduate degree and participate in the Osher Mentorship Program.

“The Osher scholars program at SOU has been enormously successful,” says SOU Student Success Initiatives Coordinator Taylor Burke. “We’re projecting a 95 percent graduation rate for the recipients of these scholarships.”

It has also made a dramatic difference in student’s lives.

“As a single mom and a first generation college student, this scholarship has been a major help in attaining my goals and my ability to get a job with a real living wage; one that will help me support myself and my son financially and independently,” says Osher Scholar Annette Dean of Crescent City. “I am incredibly grateful.”

“I believe reentry students bring a unique perspective to the academic environment that is welcomed by both faculty and students,” says Osher Scholar Paula Richter of Jacksonville, who plans to attend graduate school this fall and study sustainable management of coastal marine resources.

“The Osher scholarship has allowed me to balance my responsibilities as a husband and father while completing my undergraduate education,” says Michael Workman of Medford, who will graduate next month with degrees in Chemistry and Applied Physics.

Prior to endowing the Osher reentry scholarships, the Osher Foundation gave SOU two separate, one million dollar grants to sustain the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and its classes offered at both the SOU Ashland campus and at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center in Medford. OLLI offers up to 90 courses per quarter to 1,400 older adults in the Rogue Valley.

About Bernard Osher and the Bernard Osher Foundation

Bernard Osher is known as the “quiet philanthropist.” He is a former founder of World Savings, which merged with Wachovia, and was owner of the auction house Butterfield & Butterfield, later purchased by eBay. He plans to give away his entire fortune.

The Bernard Osher Foundation, formed in 1977, supports a growing national network of 117 campus-based Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes. It also provides postsecondary scholarship funding to colleges and universities across the nation, with special attention to reentry students. In addition, the foundation supports select programs of integrative medicine and provides grants to an array of performing arts organizations, museums and selected educational programs in Northern California and in Osher’s native state of Maine.

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