SOU School of Education makes global connections at Kenya conference

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/VqNXJh)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s School of Education is acting globally this week, serving as one of the leading organizers for the inaugural World Conference on Transformative Education in Kenya.

Bryce Smedley (left) in Africa

The conference will be held Thursday through Saturday, July 26-28, at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kakamega, Kenya. Its theme is “Rethinking Curriculum, Pedagogy and Research in Africa.”

SOU Assistant Professor Bryce Smedley – an organizer of the conference and the university’s representative at the event – credited SOU’s Global Connections Initiative for an expanding commitment to international education.

“We are part of a global community and therefore we must create globally competent teachers here in southern Oregon,” Smedley said. “SOU is not only participating in these discussions but actively providing leadership and making an international difference.”

Conference topics include Smedley’s work, “Transformative Education Through Service Learning and English Language Clubs,” and other topics including child development, teaching indigenous languages and educational opportunity in rural and developing regions.

The WCTE is co-sponsored by Southern Oregon University, the Global Institute for Transformative Education, the Bay and Paul Foundations, the School Project Foundation and Ball State University.

Keynote speakers include Ambassador Amina C. Mohamed, current cabinet secretary for the Kenya Ministry of Education; sociologist and professor Colletta A. Suda; governor of Kakamega County Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya; and many other experts in the fields of child development, culturally responsive teaching and holistic education.

SOU’s sponsorship of the conference is part of the School of Education’s dedication to expanding educational horizons and opportunities for both international and local students, said John King, director of the university’s Division of Education, Health and Leadership. The school’s Global Connections Initiative is also resulting in partnerships with education professionals and organizations worldwide. It has led to engagement with English learners of all ages and backgrounds, including displaced refugees in sub-Saharan Africa.

Through the initiative, SOU has participated in the construction of a community literacy center and girls’ school in Chombo, Malawi; promotion of teacher and student exchanges with the Roong Aroon School in Thailand; and membership in the Pacific Circle Consortium to support inter-cultural learning, educational research and policy development across the Pacific region.

The SOU School of Education will integrate both content and connections from the conference into upcoming courses in the school’s graduate and undergraduate catalogs, and further international outreach and recruitment efforts.

For more information on SOU’s School of Education, visit: https://sou.edu/academics/education/

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SOU offers opportunities for community members to get fresh air

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/eptm2g)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is making the best of a smoky situation, taking steps to protect students and employees from the area’s unhealthy air while offering a respite for community members in several air-conditioned facilities across campus.

“We’re lucky enough to be located in what we consider in many ways to be Oregon’s most attractive region,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “This is an opportunity for us to pay back this special community. Many of our students are gone for the summer, and we have several buildings where we are happy to welcome the public for various activities.”

Community members are invited, as long as this summer’s wildfire smoke lingers, to visit the university’s Hannon Library and Stevenson Union, and even get some exercise on the indoor walking and jogging track at the new Student Recreation Center. There will be no cost for any of the activities, but visitors are asked to abide by parking regulations in SOU’s lots.

Campus facilities and hours of public availability:

  1. The Stevenson Union will be open to community members looking for a break from poor outdoor air quality. These spaces are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (SOU offers free Wi-Fi to visitors.)
  • Dankook: SU Room 314.Located on the 3rd level of the student union, this space features soft chairs and couches.
  • Game Room: SU Room 330.Located on the 3rd level of the Union, this space features soft furniture, video gaming, puzzles and board games.
  • Elmo’s Seating: Elmo’s Dining is closed, but Einstein’s Bagels and Coffee is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. This space on the union’s main floor features round tables, booths, and small conversation tables. There is one TV.
  • Diversions (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only): Located on the basement level of the union, this space features tables, chairs, soft furniture and cable TV.
  1. The Hannon Library is open during the summer from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Saturdays.
  2. The Student Recreation Center has an elevated, indoor walking/running track that will be available to the public from 6 to 8 p.m. daily, Sunday through Thursday.

SOU employees have been advised to wear protective N95 or N100 face masks – which have been made available to them – if their work takes them outside. They will be encouraged to wear the masks anytime the air quality index rises above 200 at the state Department of Environmental Quality’s monitoring station at the Ashland Fire Department.

“We are very serious about helping all members of our campus community protect their health,” President Schott said.

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SOU earns high LGBTQ-friendly ranking in online guide

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/vSCcmP)

(Ashland, Oregon) — Southern Oregon University has been recognized by a third publication in the past year as one of the nation’s most LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.

Affordable Colleges Online, a popular website that offers various rankings and advice for prospective students, placed SOU seventh on its list of the 69 most LGBTQ-friendly universities in the country. SOU is the highest-ranked Oregon university on the list, which also includes University of Oregon, Portland State University and Oregon State University.

“This recognition is important during these times, since our SOU students are navigating their sense of belonging on a campus that appreciates and celebrates their diverse gender, affectionate and sexual identities,” said Thomas Arce, coordinator of the SOU Queer Resource Center, “From their peers, to faculty and staff, we have created a welcoming environment for SOU students and understand there’s still growth to be made.”

SOU was recognized last fall, for the fifth year in a row, as one of the nation’s Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities by Campus Pride, a nonprofit that supports and improves campus life for LGBTQ people on more than 1,400 U.S. campuses. The university also ranked 21st among the 50 best colleges for LGBTQ students by the online publication College Choice.

Criteria for the most recent list from Affordable Colleges Online included having an LGBTQ support center, inclusive housing, LGBTQ scholarships and college affordability. The ranking mentions SOU’s Queer Resource Center, gender-inclusive housing, Lavender Graduation celebrations for LGBTQ graduates and availability of a gender-inclusive Greek life option for students seeking to improve their professionalism.

SOU includes sexual orientation and gender identity in its non-discrimination policy and offers LGBTQ-related academic offerings through its Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program. SOU also participates in LGBTQ-specific college fairs, and its counseling and health staff provide queer- and trans-friendly services.

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Region’s schools send “Chief Science Officers” to visit SOU

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/V4iB87)

(Ashland, Oregon) — A group of 30 “Chief Science Officers” – students from 15 middle and high schools throughout Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties – will meet at Southern Oregon University Monday through Wednesday, July 16-18, to gain leadership skills and learn to be ambassadors for STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The Chief Science Officer Leadership Institute is organized by the Southern Oregon STEM Hub, one of 11 regional STEM Hubs that operate under Oregon’s Chief Education Office to tap local resources and promote STEM educational opportunities. Next week’s institute is co-sponsored by SOU, the Southern Oregon Education Service District, Talent Maker City, First Tech Challenge and Ashland Solar Van.

The event is intended to help the participating students become effective STEM ambassadors in their schools. They will explore STEM activities and potential careers, and receive professionalism and leadership training.

Activities will take place primarily in SOU’s Cox Hall classrooms. A “STEM-Onstration” showcase will be held at SOU’s Stevenson Union.

The Chief Science Officer program, which is being offered through various STEM Hubs around the state, is a unique approach for aligning education with industry. It is intended to give students a voice in community conversations about outreach and economic development, and introduce them to some of the potential pathways to STEM careers.

The Southern Oregon STEM Hub is part of Southern Oregon Success, a grant-funded program that weaves together community talent, expertise and resources to promote the health, academics and life successes of the region’s youths and families.

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New slate of officers named for SOU board

NEWS BRIEF (available online at https://goo.gl/BYg9aU)

Lyn Hennion

(Ashland, Ore.) – Lyn Hennion, an original member of Southern Oregon University’s Board of Trustees, has been elected to serve as the board’s second-ever chair. Her term as chair began July 1 and will continue for a year.

Paul Nicholson, another trustee who has served since the board was empowered by the Oregon Legislature three years ago, will serve as vice chair for the coming year. Nicholson previously served as chair of the board’s Finance and Administration Committee for three years.

Trustee Bill Thorndike served as board chair since the board’s 2015 inception, and Hennion was the 2017-18 vice chair. Thorndike did not seek a fourth year in the lead position, but remains a member of the 15-person board.

The board chair and vice chair are elected by their fellow trustees. Hennion will appoint chairs to lead the board’s Finance and Administration Committee and Academic and Student Affairs Committee. As board chair, she also will lead the Executive and Audit Committee.

Five of the SOU trustees – Hennion, Nicholson and Thorndike, along with Les AuCoin and Steve Vincent – began their second full terms as members of the board on July 1. Sheila Clough was appointed to fill a board vacancy last year, and the Oregon Senate recently confirmed Gov. Kate Brown’s appointment of new board members Deborah Rosenberg, Jonathon Bullock, Megan Davis Lightman, Shaun Franks and Barry Thalden.

Other continuing trustees are Daniel Santos, Joanna Steinman and student Shanztyn Nihipali. President Linda Schott serves in a non-voting, ex officio capacity on the board.

For more information on trustees, visit governance.sou.edu/board-members.

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