SOU Receives STARS Silver Rating for Sustainability Achievements

February 28, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For further information, contact:

D Roxane Beigel-Coryell, Sustainability & Recycling Coordinator, Southern Oregon University

beigelcod@sou.edu

541-552-8139

SOU Receives STARS Silver Rating for Sustainability Achievements

Ashland, OR – Southern Oregon University has received a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of their sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, is a program that measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

Since achieving a STARS Bronze Rating in 2011, SOU continues to expand and diversify campus sustainability initiatives. The university is highlighted annually by the Princeton Review and Sierra Magazine as one of the nation’s top green schools. In 2012, SOU was featured in the Department of Energy’s “Clean Energy in our Community” video series for its commitment to clean, renewable energy.

“SOU is honored to be recognized with a STARS Silver rating for our work to advance sustainability on campus and throughout our community,” says Southern Oregon University President, Mary Cullinan. “As one of SOU’s core values, sustainability is embraced by the entire campus. We pride ourselves on the collaborative partnerships and innovative solutions that have made SOU a leader in sustainability.”

AASHE’s STARS program is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in three overall areas: 1) education & research, 2) operations, and 3) planning, administration & engagement.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Stephanie Herrera. “SOU has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education in the U.S. and Canada, and the criteria that determine a STARS Rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

“From installing solar panels to establishing sustainable learning communities to fostering a diverse and inclusive campus culture, sustainability is embedded in everything we do at SOU. We are proud to have students, staff, faculty and administration working together to shape a bright and sustainable future,” says Roxane Beigel-Coryell, Sustainability & Recycling Coordinator. “We are thrilled to have achieved a STARS Silver Rating for our sustainability accomplishments and look forward to watching our sustainability efforts grow and improve through the STARS program.”

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. Visit sou.edu.

About AASHE

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation.  It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.

For more information about the STARS program, visit stars.aashe.org.

 

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SOU Releases Draft Plan for Academic Program Cuts

 

SOU LOGO HZ 186 POS

NEWS RELEASE

For further information contact:

Liz Shelby shelby@sou.edu 541.552.6111

Faculty, campus community will review plan during a 20 University-day comment period

Ashland, OR – February 6, 2014: Southern Oregon University has released a provisional (draft) plan that would eliminate a number of low-enrolled academic programs in order to cut costs. The provisional plan was preceded by three years of campus-wide work to keep costs as low as possible for students in the face of significant disinvestment by the state of Oregon.

Late last year the campus announced plans for “retrenchment,” a word used in the SOU faculty union contract when academic programs are eliminated or restructured.

The plan lays out three scenarios, from best to worst case, with a reduction range from between $3.3 million and $5 million depending on variables such as level of state funding and enrollment that are unknown at this time. The plan also includes a fourth scenario with programs that could be considered for elimination only if a very worst situation emerged, requiring $7 million in reductions. The State Board of Higher Education required that such an extreme scenario be included in the plan. “However, if the very worst scenario occurred,” says SOU President Mary Cullinan, “we would not compromise the mission of SOU with such draconian cuts only in academic areas. We would have broad conversations across campus before we would cut that deeply into academics.”

Funding for Oregon’s public universities remains far behind the levels seen in the past. In 1999, for example, SOU received a state allocation $13 million higher than in 2013 despite an increase of nearly a thousand students since then. Extensive planning initiatives used to determine cost reductions have included sophisticated data gathering, analysis of national models, implementation of best practices in the curriculum, data-driven decision-making, and reorganization of key areas and offices. Faculty, staff, students, and members of the external community have provided feedback on these initiatives.

In order to have the least impact on students as possible, proposed cuts focus on programs with low enrollment and low numbers of graduates.

Cullinan stressed that “All students who are in declared majors by March 15, 2014, will be able to complete their SOU degrees.”

From the day the provisional retrenchment plan is released, according to the faculty union contract, the campus has a 20 University-day period in which to comment on the cuts. The provisional plan will be discussed widely by constituencies on and off campus. Then the final plan will be published. Implementation will occur over three years.

“Just as we’ve seen with many organizations, long-term successful enterprises recalibrate when they need to,” said Cullinan. “We have a great institution here that means a lot to our region and to the state. We’re meeting our challenges head on, for our students now and in the future.”

“I’m grateful for the collaborative campus process that enabled us to develop a strong financial plan for SOU,” said Cullinan. “While this is a necessary action, it is not an easy one. We will lose some of our valued faculty colleagues, each of whom has been an important part of SOU.”

To read SOU’s provisional plan, go to http://stateoftheuniversity.sou.edu/

 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. Visit sou.edu.