(Ashland, Ore.) —Fall classes at Southern Oregon University will begin Monday, Sept. 28, and the start of a new academic year also brings new programs, services, and initiatives to the University.
“As we prepare to welcome one of the largest first-year classes in school history, there is a lot to look forward to,” said SOU President Roy Saigo. “With the closure of the Oregon University System on July 1, this is the first academic year to begin with a local Board of Trustees overseeing the University, and we are confident that will be a positive change for SOU.”
One new offering at SOU this fall is the pilot “Bridge” program, designed to invest in the strengths of Oregon college students, especially underrepresented populations—first-generation college students, second language learners, students from low-income families, and underserved minority groups—and to support their transition into higher education socially, personally, emotionally, and academically.
The program includes a tuition free, yearlong course that began prior to the academic year. It is constructed to connect Bridge students’ strengths and experiences to learning outcomes, programs, resources, people, and opportunities at SOU. “If we hope to reach the state’s 40-40-20 goals, we need to make strides toward investing in the rich experiences and talents of Oregon students and closing the achievement gap currently experienced by underserved and underrepresented student groups,” said Dr. Amy Belcastro, professor of education and Director of the Bridge program. “The Bridge program is designed to do just that. It is one example of how Southern Oregon University is investing in our future alumni today.”
The pilot program, which is being offered to a cohort of 20 students this year, has plans to extend invitations next year to more state and local high school seniors with strengths that are not always recognized with an S.A.T. score, such as leadership, creativity, and innovation. The Bridge program also provides leadership opportunities, career connections and on-campus job opportunities, enhanced academic advising, peer mentoring, and tutoring support.
Also new this year is a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree offering that was approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission over the summer. A creative writing minor and concentration had previously been available within the Department of English and Writing, but a recent academic restructuring at SOU placed creative writing as part of a newly created creative arts program under the purview of the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University.
“This restructuring provided the perfect opportunity to expand the role of creative writing within the University and offer students a vibrant, interdisciplinary experience that explores contemporary creative writing practice and theory,” according to Dr. Susan Walsh, SOU’s provost and vice president of academic and student affairs. “We feel strongly that this program will contribute to our region’s identity as an arts-based, culturally inclusive location.”
Classes begin Monday on both SOU’s main campus in Ashland and the Higher Ed Center in downtown Medford.
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.