SOU professor awarded Fulbright scholarship to study in Ireland

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Eric Levin, a professor and director of theatre arts at Southern Oregon University, has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in Ireland during the 2017-18 academic year. He will use the grant to teach for a semester at the University of Ireland in Galway, and to participate in that university’s international Eugene O’Neill Conference.

Eric Levin

Fulbrights are among the most prestigious scholarships in academia, and Levin’s award is the first for an SOU faculty member in four years.

“I was pleased and surprised to receive this honor,” Levin said. “In addition to learning about Irish university programs and curriculum, I also hope to create ties with the University of Ireland in Galway and other universities as well as professional theatres.”

Levin, who has been an SOU faculty member for 12 years, directs the university’s Master of Theatre Studies Program for theatre teachers. He also teaches theatre literature and foundational courses.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in dramatic arts from the University of California, a master’s degree in theatre from Western Oregon University and a doctorate in theatre arts from the University of Oregon. He previously served as an assistant professor of theatre at Dickinson State University in North Dakota, an adjunct professor at California State University-Fresno, and a part-time instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California. He has also taught secondary school in Oregon and California.

Levin’s work has appeared in publications including the Journal of American Theatre and Drama, The Eugene O’Neill Review and Theatre Research International.

His theatre experience includes set and lighting design, technical direction, acting and directing.

Levin is SOU’s 16th Fulbright Scholar. The most recent previous awardee was English Professor Diana Maltz, who used her 2013-14 scholarship at the University of Liverpool to study lifestyle aestheticism, visual culture and family identity in late Victorian and Edwardian England. SOU’s first Fulbright Scholarship was awarded to Economics Professor Byron Brown for the 1986-87 academic year, which he spent lecturing on economics at Karl Marx University in Budapest, Hungary.

Fulbright scholarships are part of a merit-based, international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It was founded by former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright and has awarded scholarships each year since 1948. It currently offers about 8,000 grants annually for graduate study, research, lecturing and teaching in more than 160 participating countries.

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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.

Distinguished alumni to be recognized at SOU commencement event

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Nearly 40,000 graduates have earned degrees at Southern Oregon University since its founding in 1872, and four of them will be singled out as part of Saturday’s 2017 commencement activities for the merit they have brought to SOU.

This year’s SOU alumni award recipients are Victoria Kelly, for Distinguished Alumni; Ryan Wines, for Distinguished Young Alumni; James Van Delden, M.D., for Distinguished Service; and Kathleen Thomas, for Excellence in Education. The awards will be presented at the Pre-Commencement Alumni Breakfast on Saturday morning.

Kelly, who earned her SOU bachelor’s degree in social science and human services in 2005, experienced a parent’s worst nightmare when her 17-year-old son disappeared in January 1999, and his body was discovered 18 months later. She turned her grief into advocacy and education, cofounding the Tommy Foundation, serving as a member of the Southern Oregon Child Abduction Response Team and acting as a senior consultant for Team Hope/National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Her efforts have helped extend support to more than 14,000 families.

Wines, a 2001 marketing graduate at SOU, is the founder and CEO of Marmoset, a boutique music agency in Portland. He and his team craft original music for film, advertising and television, and curate rare, vintage and emerging artists for music licensing. Wines first recognized his passion for music as a radio DJ at SOU, and has since has pursued creative work while also advising record labels and artists including Beat the World Records, The Dandy Warhols, Dolorean and The Dimes.

Van Delden, who emigrated with his family from the Netherlands to Grants Pass in 1961, became a U.S. citizen while attending SOU and received his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1970. He attended medical school at Creighton University in Nebraska and joined the U.S. Army in 1971. After retiring from active duty in 1971, he joined the Army National Guard and the Indian Health Service as a civilian.

He has delivered babies in war-torn nations, cared for children on Native American reservations of the Great Plains, and served on medical missions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Van Delden retired from the Army in 2001 at the the rank of brigadier general, and he continues to volunteer with veterans’ organizations and the Omaha Nation tribal clinic in Nebraska.

Thomas entered SOU as a non-traditional student – holding off on her higher education until her youngest child entered elementary school – then earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2004 and her master’s degree in teaching in 2008. Her path toward teaching began with an active role in her children’s education, regularly volunteering in programs including German kindergarten; international schools in Belgium, Holland, and Norway; British primary school; parochial school; and public schools in Florida and Oregon.

She discovered a passion for chemistry while at SOU, and has taught at North Medford High School for the past eight years and served as science department head for the past four years.

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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 to observe Indigenous Peoples Day

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(Ashland, Ore.) — The contributions and cultural significance of Native American populations will be celebrated annually at Southern Oregon University when the campus begins observing Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October, beginning this year.

SOU President Linda Schott declared the university’s intention to observe Indigenous Peoples Day after student Lupe Sims and the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee took the proposal to three governing boards on campus. The University Planning Board, Faculty Senate and Associated Students of Southern Oregon University each approved the request, which will result in a celebration similar to that of Veterans Day at SOU. No classes will be canceled, but the occasion will be observed through special programming.

“The indigenous cultures that have evolved in the Americas for millennia are certainly worthy of acknowledgement and have particular relevance to our state, in which nine sovereign tribes are recognized,” President Schott said. “SOU has a vibrant population of Native American students, and this celebration will honor the legacies of their families and ancestors.

“This will provide an excellent opportunity for all of our students to learn more about the non-European history of our region and our country.”

SOU joins several other universities, four states and at least 39 U.S. cities – including Portland, Eugene and Corvallis in Oregon – that observe Indigenous Peoples Day.

It is typically celebrated on the second Monday of October, which the U.S. has observed as the federal Columbus Day holiday since 1937.

At least 17 states – including Oregon – do not recognize Columbus Day as a holiday. Oregon observed it as a “day of commemoration” – but not a legal holiday – until the 1985 Legislature added a holiday for Martin Luther King Day, combined Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays as Presidents’ Day and eliminated all “days of commemoration.”

SOU’s Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee sought President Schott’s endorsement of the new Indigenous Peoples Day after gathering approvals from the three on-campus governing panels. A letter from the committee asked for a declaration of “our commitment to the inclusion of indigenous people’s perspectives and objectives as a central aspect of the university’s mission.”

The president said the day of celebration is consistent with SOU’s values of commitment to its students; intellectual growth; responsibility to the natural and social world; and inclusion, diversity and equity.

SOU offers a Native American Studies Program that seeks to educate all students about the knowledge, experiences and rich cultural heritage of indigenous people. The university also has an active Native American student population, supports SOU’s Native American Student Union and sponsors Konaway Nika Tillicum – an eight-day, on-campus residential camp for Native American youth.

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About Southern Oregon University
As a public liberal arts university, SOU focuses on student learning, accessibility and civic engagement that enriches both the community and bioregion. The university is recognized for fostering intellectual creativity, for quality and innovation in its connected learning programs, and for 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.

More than 1,100 graduates to receive degrees at SOU commencement

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Saturday’s Southern Oregon University commencement ceremony will mark both an end and a beginning for more than 1,100 students – the conclusion of a degree program and the start of whatever adventure their education has prepared them to take on.

The event at Mountain Arena (Raider Stadium) will begin with a processional at 8:45 a.m., and ceremonies at 9 a.m. It is expected to conclude at about 11:30 a.m.

This year’s commencement address will be presented by Winona LaDuke, a prominent Native American environmentalist and activist who twice ran for vice president on a Green Party ticket headed by Ralph Nader. LaDuke, who lives on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, was raised in Ashland and her mother – noted Oregon painter Betty LaDuke – was a member of SOU’s art faculty for 32 years.

Other noted speakers include SOU President Linda Schott, SOU Board of Trustees Chair Bill Thorndike, SOU alumna Kacie Ryan (’07) and graduating student Dante Fumagalli.

In keeping with SOU’s commitment to sustainability, the 24-page commencement booklet will be printed on paper from responsible sources. Graduates’ robes will be biodegradable and made of wood fiber from renewable, managed forests. Students will collect robes following the ceremony from graduates who no longer want them, and they will be reused next year by graduates in need.

Water bottles, provided in part by a donation from Asante, will be filled by a crew from the Aviands dining service at SOU and handed out to the first 5,000 graduates and guests.

SOU’s Class of 2017 includes an expected 866 recipients of bachelor’s degrees, plus another 61 from the Oregon Health & Science University nursing program at SOU. Another 184 students will receive graduate degrees.

The university’s Social Sciences Division will lead the way with a combined 273 bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded; the Business, Communication & Environment Division will account for 247 graduates; the Education, Health & Leadership Division will have 245; the Oregon Center for the Arts will have 143; the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Division will have 94; the Humanities & Culture Division will have 30; and the Undergraduate Studies Division will have 13.

The Dankook Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Students will be presented to new graduates Rebekah Ratcliff, an honors graduate in sociology and anthropology who has been recognized for her work on local and Latin American projects; and William Babishoff, a former radio and television personality who will receive his degree in communication with an emphasis on film, television and convergent media. The award, given to SOU’s outstanding female and male graduates, commemorates more than 30 years of friendship between SOU and Dankook University in Seoul, South Korea.

The Universidad de Guanajuato Award for Outstanding Graduate Student will be presented to Jared Brown, who will receive his master’s degree in music performance with a 4.0 grade point average. Brown served as a graduate teaching assistant in music theory/aural skills and percussion, and worked with students at Crater High School in Central Point.

This year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards will be presented to music Professor Vicki Purslow; Lisa Ciasullo, an associate professor of math; Kylan De Vries, an associate professor of sociology and gender, sexuality and women’s studies; English and writing Professor Bill Gholson; and communication Professor Alena Ruggerio.

Raider Stadium will open at 7 a.m. and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. No tickets will be required. Free parking will be available in all SOU lots throughout the day, and a free shuttle service will run to the stadium from the Mountain Avenue lot about every 15 minutes.

Saturday’s ceremony will be broadcast live on RVTV and archived for later viewing. More information about SOU’s commencement is available at www.sou.edu/commencement.

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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.

Effort underway to recover funds stolen from SOU

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(Ashland, Ore.) — An email scheme was perpetrated against Southern Oregon University earlier this spring by an unknown person or people who fraudulently posed as an official with the contractor for SOU’s McNeal Pavilion and Student Recreation Center construction project.

As a result of this act of criminal fraud, SOU’s April payment to the contractor – about $1.9 million – was transferred to a bank account the company did not control.

Local, state and federal authorities were notified immediately after the fraud was discovered. An investigation was launched and efforts by the university are currently underway on multiple fronts to recover any and all losses.

SOU is fully cooperating with the FBI investigation, with the hope that the criminal or criminals who carried out this fraud can be brought to justice and the stolen money recovered.

“There are lessons here for anyone operating in today’s electronic business environment,” SOU General Counsel Jason Catz said today in a message to campus. “We have learned from law enforcement sources that SOU is not the only victim of this particular scheme, which has targeted other U.S. higher education institutions.

“We are also carefully reviewing our own policies and procedures to determine how we can prevent any similar incidents in the future,” Catz said.

SOU is working to reclaim any funds that remain in the bank account to which they were sent. The university is also determining the extent of its insurance coverage, and how it may help to remedy losses from any unrecovered funds.

​ The incident will not affect any university programs or operations, and will not alter the athletic pavilion construction project, which is scheduled for completion in January.

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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.