SOU president leads in protection of immigrant and international students

NEWS RELEASE (available online at

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott continues to take a leadership role in support of immigrant and international students, serving as an early member of the new Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

The alliance – which was formed earlier this month and has quickly grown to more than 150 members – is a collective effort by college and university leaders across the U.S. to address immigration issues that may affect their students. Members will work together to support federal and state policies that create welcoming environments for immigrant, undocumented and international students.

Higher education presidents and chancellors formed the organization as members of Congress began their lead-up to a likely vote on extending some form of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The White House decreed in September that Congress must act within six months to prevent the program’s cancellation and the deportation of its participants, and several members of Congress have suggested that a proposal is likely in January.

President Schott has been vocal in her support for the program, which offers immigrants who grew up in the U.S. without legal documentation an opportunity to remain as they pursue school or work goals.

“We do not have a large number of DACA students at SOU, but our institution recognizes that it is critically important for all people to have the opportunity to learn and grow,” President Schott said. “We value the rights of all students – regardless of their immigration status, nationality, gender, race, sexual orientation, physical ability, religious affiliation or political persuasion – and are unconditionally committed to preserving them.”

While DACA is the most urgent priority of the new alliance of higher education leaders, the organization will also seek to modernize other portions of U.S. immigration law that was originally drafted in the 1950s. Alliance members will urge lawmakers to recognize today’s global interconnectedness and the importance of maintaining U.S. universities and colleges as premier academic destinations for students worldwide

In addition to her membership in the new Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, President Schott is one of more than 700 college and university presidents in the U.S. to sign a statement in support of DACA. She communicated directly with SOU’s DACA students more than a year ago to assure them of the university’s unequivocal support, and has consistently told all segments of the campus community that the institution’s core values begin with the protection of students’ academic rights.

“I am a historian by trade, and understand how important it is to heed the lessons of the past,” President Schott said. “If we don’t protect the vulnerable among us, how long will we be safe from those same risks?”


SOU’s new Hornets to Raiders program prepares Hispanic students for college

NEWS RELEASE (available online at

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s collaborative program to introduce Hispanic students to the promise of higher education – offered first in the Phoenix-Talent School District and then at Medford’s McLoughlin Middle School – has added a third venue.

A “Hornets to Raiders” program began this fall at Hedrick Middle School in Medford, with an initial cohort of 16 students. A Pirates to Raiders program began in 2011 at Talent Middle School, and a Bulldogs to Raiders program started two years ago at McLoughlin – like Hedrick, in the Medford School District.

“Parents were the main reason I reached out to the Medford School District regarding Hedrick,” said Jonathan Chavez Baez, SOU’s coordinator for minority outreach programs. “They were aware of the program and wanted to have support. We knew the need was there, but needed to get Bulldogs to Raiders off the ground. Once the Hedrick staff got on board, we were able to get this going.”

The Pirates program currently involves a total of 98 students in grades 8 through 12, and the Bulldogs program has 136 students in grades 8 through 10.

Those who began the Pirates program in 2011 and 2012 are now of college age and 37 of the 42 who graduated high school – 88 percent – have gone on to two- or four-year colleges, including 10 at SOU. A statewide average of 38.5 percent of Latino high school graduates go on to attend college, according to data at – a project of the Oregon Business Council.

The Bulldogs program at Medford’s McLoughlin Middle School and has not yet sent its first group to college.

The Hedrick program and its two predecessors all are intended to open doors to Hispanic students by forming partnerships between students, their families, their school districts and SOU to ensure that the students remain on track for college.

“Something very unique and special this program has is the family focus,” Chavez Baez said. “It is essential to include the family in this entire process. I truly believe the success of the student is the success of the whole family. These families face so many barriers in various areas, that we want to be able to tear those down.”

The family members of program participants make sure their students attend school, manage their studies and participate in events related to the program. The university and school district offer mentoring, financial aid information, transportation to program events and opportunities to learn about SOU. The students take appropriate college preparatory courses, attend two program-related events each year and sign contracts, promising to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average through high school.


SOU athletic and recreation facility headed toward completion

NEWS RELEASE (available online at

(Ashland, Ore.) — Construction crews have entered the home stretch toward completion of Southern Oregon University’s new Lithia Motors Pavilion and the adjacent Student Recreation Center, with the facilities’ opening date expected to be near the end of February.

Andersen Construction of Portland began work on the 100,000-square-foot combined project in August 2016, and has remained slightly under-budget and largely on-schedule. The buildings will open about a month later than originally planned, because an excess of construction projects in southern Oregon has left subcontractors in short supply.

The state-of-the-art facilities – expected to receive a LEED Gold rating for sustainability – will serve as the home of several SOU athletic teams and as an exercise venue for students. The Lithia Motors Pavilion and Student Recreation Center replace 60-year-old McNeal Pavilion, which was demolished after an engineering study found it was too obsolete for any of its parts to be salvaged.

The Lithia Motors Pavilion will feature a competition gym that can seat more than 1,400 fans for men’s and women’s basketball games and wrestling matches, and women’s volleyball games. The pavilion will also have locker rooms, classrooms, offices and a conference room for academics, offices and a conference room for SOU athletic staff, an athletic training and sports medicine room, a wrestling practice room, an equipment room, a ticket booth and storage areas.

The pavilion received $22 million in bond funding from the state and pledges for about $2 million more from several donors – including $1 million from the local DeBoer family and their company, Lithia Motors. The DeBoers and Lithia pledged another $1 million to fund athletic scholarships.

The Student Recreation Center will feature a two-court recreational gym, suspended indoor running track, fitness center, climbing wall, multipurpose rooms, an outdoor programs area, staff offices, locker rooms and storage areas. The $17.7 million recreation center was funded by fees that SOU students levied upon themselves.