Cool School: SOU named nation’s top pollinator-friendly campus

NEWS RELEASE

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University – which became the original Bee Campus USA three years ago – has been named the nation’s top pollinator-friendly college by the Sierra Club, as part of its annual “Cool Schools” rankings.

“Besides the fact that the campus boasts more than a dozen pollinator gardens, professors have taken students out to create bee habitats for the campus farm and to collect native flower seeds to sow the in arboretum,” the Sierra Club wrote of SOU.

The environmental group picked what it considered to be the top 14 schools out of 50 campuses across the country that have been certified for the Bee Campus USA list, administered by the Bee City USA organization. SOU topped a Sierra Club list that included both small and large institutions – including Georgia Tech (No. 2), University of Missouri, Columbia (No. 10), Auburn University (No. 11) and University of Central Florida (No. 14).

“Student engagement between the environmental science students and the Landscape Department at SOU has made it possible for us to change the culture surrounding the urban campus environment,” said Mike Oxendine, SOU’s landscaping superintendent.

“Where we once tended manicured lawns, we now tend pollinator gardens and wildlife habitat,” he said. “We are adapting to the changing climate by making the SOU campus landscape a resilient and safe place for pollinators and other forms of wildlife.”

SOU is now one of four Bee Campus USA schools in Oregon, but is the only one to make the Sierra Club list. The University of Oregon, Portland State University and Portland Community College are the state’s other Bee Campus USA institutions.

Colleges and universities may apply to become certified Bee Campuses after first forming leadership committees made up of faculty, staff and students. Those selected as Bee Campuses must commit to development of habitat plans, hosting of awareness events, development of courses or workshops that support pollinators, sponsorship and tracking of service-learning projects for students, posting of educational signs and maintaining a pollinator-related web presence. They must also apply each year for renewal of their certification.

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SOU accommodates smoke-weary public in recreation center schedule

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

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is continuing to help community members find refuge from the area’s wildfire smoke, even during an upcoming maintenance period for the university’s Student Recreation Center.

The center’s annual closure for maintenance and training had been scheduled for 16 days next month, but has been reduced to 10 days to accommodate public use of its elevated, indoor walking and running track –a popular smoke-free haven over the past month. An average of 32 community members have used the track each evening since the university began offering free admission for two-hour windows each Sunday through Thursday. The facility’s popularity peaked at 73 users on Thursday.

The entire recreation center will be closed from Saturday through Monday of Labor Day weekend. The indoor track will resume its current public hours – from 6 to 8 p.m. daily, Sunday through Thursday – during the period between Labor Day and the maintenance closure (which will run from Monday, Sept. 10, through Wednesday, Sept. 19).

When it reopens following the closure on Thursday, Sept. 20, public hours for the indoor track will shift to 10 a.m. to noon daily, Monday through Saturday. There will be no public hours on Wednesday, Sept. 26, when the recreation center’s grand opening activities will be held.

SOU  President Linda Schott has also invited community members to use other air-conditioned facilities on campus to escape this summer’s wildfire smoke. Facilities and hours of availability are:

The Stevenson Union has a variety of spaces that 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, 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.

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.

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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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Interim diversity and inclusion director named at SOU

NEWS BRIEF (available online at https://goo.gl/hx1ZR1)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Shenethia Manuel, a respected higher education administrator, has accepted an offer to serve as Southern Oregon University’s interim Director of Diversity and Inclusion from July through December as the university launches its search for a permanent director.

Marjorie Trueblood Gamble, who has served in the SOU position for the past seven years, will leave June 29 to become Dean of Multicultural Life at Macalester College in Minnesota.

Manuel will work remotely through July, then will be on the Ashland campus from August through the end of the year. The university will launch a nationwide search for its permanent Director of Diversity and Inclusion in August.

“Shenethia is well-respected in higher education and highly qualified to step right in to help SOU maintain its positive momentum in diversity and Title IX matters,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “Strong leadership in those areas is critical as we begin implementing various components of our new strategic plan.”

Manuel served as vice president for human resources, equity and inclusion at Missouri University of Science and Technology from 2008 until last September, when she took emerita status and began her own consulting firm in Norman, Oklahoma. She worked previously as director of personnel and affirmative action officer at Rose State College in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

SOU worked with a search firm to identify Manuel as a candidate for the interim SOU position, and she was offered the job following an interview process that included members of the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Title IX team and Cabinet.

She received her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Oklahoma, her law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and her master of arts in ministry and culture degree from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Recognitions to lead off SOU commencement event

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

(Ashland, Ore.) — Seven alumni of Southern Oregon University will be honored – two with special posthumous recognitions and five with annual awards – as part of Saturday’s 2018 commencement activities.

All of the awards will be presented at the Pre-Commencement Alumni Breakfast on Saturday morning.

Steven Nelson, who passed away this spring, will be posthumously recognized when a President’s Medal is presented to his family. Nelson, a financial advisor and former banker, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SOU, and served nearly 20 years as a volunteer leader at Jefferson Public Radio and the JPR Foundation. His work contributed to JPR’s growth and expansion, restoration projects at the Cascade Theatre in Redding and the Holly Theatre in Medford, and the development of the radio station’s new home in the SOU Theater Building.

Edrik Gomez, who was a high-achieving SOU student when he died in a helicopter crash while on a firefighting crew at northern California’s Iron 44 blaze in 2008, will be honored posthumously when a Certificate of Achievement is presented to his mother. He was majoring in communication and political science, had a 3.72 grade point average and had been admitted into the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program at the time of the accident that claimed nine firefighters’ lives. Gomez, who was from Coquille, was involved in SOU’s Multicultural Center, the Latino Student Union, and the Ecology and Sustainability Center.

Recipients of this year’s annual alumni awards are Jeff Brady, for Distinguished Alumni; Amanda MacGurn, for Young Alumni; Malcus Williams and Tim Williams, for the Stan Smith Alumni Service Award; and Betsy Bishop, for Excellence in Education.

Brady, who earned his SOU bachelor’s degree in communication in 1995, is a national desk correspondent in Philadelphia, focusing on energy issues for National Public Radio. He is credited with helping to demystify an industry that can seem complicated to many listeners and to establish NPR’s Environment and Energy Collaborative for reporters at NPR member stations around the country.

MacGurn, a 2006 French language and culture graduate at SOU, taught English in Costa Rica and Chile before joining the Peace Corps and ultimately earning her master’s degree in public health from Emory University. An internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention led her to a full-time position in the health agency’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. MacGurn was deployed to West Africa four times during the Ebola outbreak, and continues to work in the region where her French skills are critical.

Malcus Williams, who died while on a call for the Ashland Police Department in March, played football and met his wife, Ona, while a student at SOU. He became a reserve officer and then was sworn in as a full-time Ashland Police officer during the 1996 flood. He completed his degree in criminology and criminal justice in 2008, while serving as a full-time officer, and served on the department as a school resource officer, firearms instructor, patrol officer, sergeant and Citizen’s Academy diversity instructor. He also served in the community as a youth sports coach.

Tim Williams was a forward on the nationally ranked SOU basketball team of the late 1990s before earning his bachelor’s degree in criminology in 1999, then moving on to earn his law degree at the University of Oregon School of Law in 2003. He is a partner in the firm of Dwyer Williams Dretke Attorneys, has been recognized as one of the best trial lawyers in the country, has held a variety of posts in the Oregon State Bar and has advocated justice for the economically disadvantaged. He has also served on the board of directors of the Ronald McDonald House of Central Oregon, the Sparrow Clubs of Central Oregon and other nonprofit organizations.

Bishop received her undergraduate degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., before earning her master’s degree in teaching at SOU in 1977. She taught 10 years at Monrovia High School in California, and has taught English and theatre at Ashland High School since moving back to Ashland in 1988. She has maintained a 25-year school and business partnership with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has been recognized with four statewide teaching awards and earned two national awards in 2016.

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SOU internet marketing class features real-life experience

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/SR6DhY)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Undergraduate- and graduate-level business marketing students at Southern Oregon University will complete their first interactive, real-time and real-life Internet Marketing and e-Commerce course this month.

Karen Fronek

The innovative course – designed by SOU Adjunct Instructor Karen Fronek, the president of Make It Happen Marketing in Medford – has taken students from the classroom to the virtual workplace as they built a marketing website (www.SOU436536.com) using weekly lessons in real-time.

Joan McBee, chair of the SOU Business Department, oversaw the project and described Fronek’s approach as unique, with an element of modern marketing not typically available to university students.

“It’s exciting to be part of a course that is specifically designed to propel students from the classroom to the modern workplace,” McBee said. “This is what higher education is all about, and what SOU is committed to achieving. Preparing students for the transition to the next phase of their lives is one of the most important objectives we can accomplish.”

The goal for Fronek’s course was to find a way to properly prepare students for the current work environment in the field of marketing. The SOU436536.com website was created specifically for the Internet Marketing course by Fronek and web administrator Kevin McMillian of Core Business Services in Medford.

“As the owner of a marketing agency and as their instructor, I felt it was my responsibility to introduce these future marketing professionals to our world as we live and work in it every day – the real world of business marketing,” Fronek said. “That means learning the intricacies of one of the most important message outlets in today’s workplace – an organization’s website.”

The university’s previous curriculum didn’t allow for a comprehensive, hands-on approach using current marketing tools, because internet marketing changes daily, she said. Students in the new course learned week-by-week the art of creating relevant and engaging content for social media channels, videos, blogs and vlogs, and writing effective emails. They learned search engine optimization and created a product for ecommerce with web-optimized graphics. Each completed assignment was posted live online to students’ personal branded pages at SOU436536.com.

The curriculum also included instruction on using video editing phone apps to film, edit, and upload videos quickly. Students achieved Google AdWords awards by studying and passing Google Adwords Fundamentals and Google My Business exams through Google’s Academy For Ads.

“I loved watching the students gain confidence and hone their skills during this course,” Fronek said. “Students had to think like real internet marketers. They learned about Ideal Customer Avatars (ICA), creating messaging specifically for their ICA audience. They had to be creative, agile and resourceful in what they produced, and they had to work in teams. The best part is that they were not just learning new marketing concepts, they were actually applying those new-found skills weekly.”

Fronek is currently designing a version of the Internet Marketing course for SOU’s new Online MBA Program, serving as many as 100 students nationwide.

“Making this course relevant is my highest priority,” she said. “As a business owner, being able to bridge students into modern marketing methods is the best I can do for them. My goal is that when they graduate, they are a benefit to any organization immediately. That’s my ultimate reward.”

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