(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University economics professor Dan Rubenson never expected to wear an NAIA Football National Championship ring. Though he followed the team’s run of success through the regular and post seasons, he wasn’t directly involved in team activities in any way. That’s why it came as somewhat of a shock when he was informed that he’d be receiving a championship ring.
It turned out that, while he may not have had a direct impact on the football team, Dr. Rubenson did have a direct impact on someone else: 1997 SOU graduate Rick Young. Young, now senior vice president for State Street Bank and Trust in Kansas City, Mo., heard about his alma mater’s national championship and the effort that was underway to raise money for rings. He took action, donating $10,000 toward the effort. Young’s employer matched his donation and the combined $20,000 helped SOU go beyond its goal of $37,000 needed for rings for the team.
“It takes a lot of work and a lot of effort, and when we saw that they needed money for those rings to reward them as champions, we thought it was an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is,” Young told The Oregonian’s Mike Tokito in April.
During the more than 25 years that had passed since he graduated from SOU, Young had kept in contact with Dr. Rubenson, who has taught economics at SOU for nearly 30 years. “I’m not sure I could ever express what Dr. Rubenson’s mentorship did for me as a student,” he said. “What SOU did for me—what it’s done for thousands of students over the years—goes far beyond simply teaching facts and information. That’s where I learned to think critically and to really understand the world around me and my place in it. SOU instilled in me the power of thought and this was a way for me to give a little something back.”
For his part, Dr. Rubenson was surprised when he heard the news that he’d be receiving a ring. “It was definitely not something I expected,” he said. Dr. Rubenson had been in contact with Young over the years and recalled him as a strong student. “I’m really touched by this. He was always a good student and I think the reasons he gave for wanting to give back to the University are shared by most of our alumni.”
The fact that Young stipulated that Dr. Rubenson receive a ring illustrates the importance of faculty/student relationships and the impact that SOU faculty have on those who they teach. “I’m far from the only faculty member at SOU who has had such an influence on a student,” Dr. Rubenson said. “I’m certain all of my colleagues in every department on campus have. Many of us are still in touch with students who sat in our classrooms decades ago. That one-on-one relationship between students and faculty is one of the things that makes SOU so special.”
SOU defeated Marian University (Ind.) 55-31 in the NAIA Football National Championship last December, capping a 13-2 season and earning the University’s first-ever national championship in football.
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, and it is the first university in the nation to balance 100% of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.