SOU bucks national trend by increasing 2017 enrollment

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Official fall term enrollment figures released by the state this week paint Southern Oregon University as an institution on the rise and an exception among universities nationwide.

SOU posted gains in both the number of full-time equivalent students and actual headcount of students this fall, compared to fall term of 2016. Figures on full-time equivalent students are considered the most critical, because they indicate enrollment in terms of the credit hours and tuition revenue generated by students.

SOU’s full-time equivalent enrollment increased by just over 2 percent this fall, to 4,383 students – 90 more than a year ago. The university’s actual headcount – the total number of full- and part-time students enrolled – rose by just under 1 percent, to 6,139. That represents an increase of 51 students.

“These enrollment figures are a reflection of the upward trajectory SOU is experiencing,” said Linda Schott, the university’s president. “The trend across the country is for declining college enrollment. We are focused on preparing our students for a changing future, and on providing the knowledge and skills that will help them succeed.

“We are seeing increases this fall in the number of new, first-year students, retention of last year’s first-year students and overall retention of returning students. That indicates our efforts to attract students and provide the services they need are producing results.”

SOU has increased its institutional aid budget – financial aid for students who are the least able to afford higher education costs – to $4 million, from the $3.5 million that was budgeted previously. The university has also focused on its student success programs and expanded efforts to steer eligible students toward cost-saving options such as those that enable students to attain a college degree in three years.

“Our enrollment increase is due in large part to the strategic directions we put into place a couple years ago, regarding recruitment and retention,” SOU Provost Susan Walsh said. “We created several programs and initiatives that are intended to appeal to resident and nontraditional students. I really credit our enrollment and admissions team for the good work they’ve done.”

Data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showed that college enrollment across the U.S. fell by 1.4 percent in 2016, continuing a slide that began four years earlier. The nonprofit research center projected earlier this year that the nationwide enrollment decline would continue in 2017.

Total enrollment at Oregon’s seven public universities declined this year by six-tenths of 1 percent in full-time equivalent students and increased by less than one-tenth of 1 percent in total headcount of full- and part-time students. (Enrollment figures for the individual universities are available online.)

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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’s International Education Week includes U.S. Passport Application Day

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University will observe International Education Week beginning next Monday with a variety of events to celebrate international student diversity and promote study-away opportunities. The week will culminate with an extra day with extended hours of U.S. passport services on Friday for SOU and local community members.

SOU’s officially designated Passport Acceptance Facility, operated by the Office of International Programs in Room 322 of the Stevenson Union, will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, for the special passport application day. Normal weekly hours of operation for the facility – which is open to the public – are 9 to 11:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday.

International Education Week activities will kick off with representatives of the university’s Study Abroad Program answering questions and offering information from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday in the Stevenson Union lobby, near the bookstore.

An open house at the Office of International Programs will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday in Room 322 of Stevenson Union. A “Study Away” information session with past participants in the Study Abroad Program will be offered at 6 p.m. Wednesday on the third floor of McLoughlin Hall in the North Campus Village student housing complex. SOU’s French Club will present its French Film Night at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Room 313 of the Stevenson Union.

More information is available from the Office of International Programs, at (541) 552-6336.

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SOU soccer players get more than a win out of conference tournament

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(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University men’s soccer team, in just its third year of existence, had a weekend its members won’t soon forget at the Cascade Conference Championship in Eugene.

They’ll remember winning the tournament, too.

But it wasn’t their overtime win in tournament’s final game on Monday that provided the biggest buzz for SOU’s team members. It was the gesture by three SOU players, who met a Special Olympics goalie – Trevor “T-Bone” Novak – at a soccer clinic the previous day and fulfilled his lifelong dream by arranging for him to be “in goal” at the start of Monday’s championship game.

A player for SOU’s opponent, Salem’s Corban University, dribbled the ball toward SOU’s goal and kicked the ball toward Trevor – who successfully blocked the shot.

“The awesome part of this event was what Trevor said as he was leaving: ‘I now have 25 new brothers and this has been the best day of my life,’” SOU Coach Biniam Afenegus said. “What an experience for Trevor, but more so for my players. They were talking about Trevor on the bus all the way home.”

A few of SOU’s players began talking with Trevor during Sunday’s Special Olympics soccer clinic – an annual event organized by tournament host Northwest Christian University and the four teams scheduled to play in Monday’s men’s and women’s final games. Trevor mentioned that his lifelong wish was to play goalie in a college game.

SOU players Michael Miller, Sean McManamon and Junior Rivas later talked with NCU’s athletic director about getting Trevor into the start of the following day’s championship game and making the necessary arrangements with the referees.

The plan went off without a hitch, and Trevor sat with the team for the rest of the game and even participate in its halftime huddle.

As a volunteer coordinator for Eugene-area Special Olympics pointed out later, that good karma may have come back around for the SOU team. “The best part of the story is that the SOU Raiders won the championship – maybe their good deed was paid back,” she said.

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SOU announces new Vice President for Finance and Administration

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Greg Perkinson, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who currently manages a nationwide program for The Boeing Company with a $100 million annual budget, has accepted an offer to become Southern Oregon University’s new vice president for finance and administration.

He will start with the university on Dec. 18.

“I really look forward to serving the faculty, students and staff at SOU,” Perkinson said. “Customer service is ‘job one’ and I was really impressed by the team’s customer-focus and values-based approach to student success.”

Perkinson currently leads Boeing’s Consolidated Facilities Operations and Maintenance (CFOAM) program, which is based in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. He leads a team of more than 600, responsible for management of finances, facilities, supply chain and environmental health and safety at three government sites. He has worked at Boeing since 2009 and as the CFOAM program manager since 2015.

Perkinson served as a civil engineering officer in the Air Force from 1984 until his retirement from active duty in 2009. He was based at the Pentagon as manager of the Air Force’s Joint Basing Program from 2007-09, and from 2006-07 was commander of the 286th Mission Support Group – a position equivalent to city manager – at the Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait. He was also a public works director at two Air Force bases, and served as a faculty member at the Air Force Academy.

“We had an exceptional field of finalists for this position, from inside and outside our organization,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “We are excited to bring Greg on board. His career experiences – from Lean business practices to sustainable building – create a great match for SOU. I look forward to seeing how his expertise will help us become more effective and efficient in serving our students and our region.”

SOU’s vice president for finance and administration oversees a broad range of campus operations, including the university’s Business Services, Budget Office, Human Resources, Facilities Management and Planning, Campus Public Safety, Information Technology and Service Center departments. It is a key leadership position that works closely with the university president on policy and operational issues.

Perkinson and his wife Christine are excited to “head west” and transition to Ashland, where they can enjoy the culture and diversity of the region, and be closer to family.

Perkinson received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Kent State University and his master’s degree in architectural engineering from Penn State University. He is a registered architect in California.

He will succeed Craig Morris as SOU’s vice president for finance and administration. Morris will retire at the end of this year after serving the last 20 years of his career with SOU. Morris began as business manager for the university’s physical plant and held various other positions before becoming the vice president for finance and administration in July 2009.

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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.

Inaugural Oregon Arts Medallion goes to Medford’s James Morrison Collier

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(Ashland, Ore.) — The inaugural Oregon Arts Medallion, presented by Southern Oregon University’s Oregon Center for the Arts, was awarded today to local arts patron James Morrison Collier in recognition of his widespread philanthropy in support of local arts organizations.

Collier – who taught English in Delano, Calif., before moving to Medford in 2003 – was honored during a luncheon in SOU’s Schneider Museum of Art. Speakers included SOU President Linda Schott and SOU Board of Trustees Chair Bill Thorndike, who presented the medallion.

Other guests at the presentation included acclaimed pianist and SOU music professor Alexander Tutunov, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Armando Duran, who plays the title role in OSF’s current production of Julius Caesar. Duran spoke as Julius Caesar to honor Collier, who wrote his master’s thesis on the Shakespeare play.

The Oregon Arts Medallion was created by the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU to recognize and honor outstanding philanthropy in the arts throughout Oregon. The OCA’s mission, in part, is to honor Oregonians who participate in or support the arts.

Criteria for the new award is straightforward: long-term support for the arts in Oregon. The recipient is selected by OCA Director David Humphrey and the SOU Foundation.

Collier, who is particularly interested in supporting young artists, has helped numerous local arts organizations. Medford’s Craterian Theater became the Craterian Theater at The Collier Center for the Performing Arts after Collier made an undisclosed donation five years ago. Talent’s Camelot Theatre named a new venue in Collier’s honor in 2010 after he made a $300,000 donation. Other organizations he has supported include the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Rogue Opera and the Rogue Valley Chorale.

He has also donated several pianos, including one to the Rogue Valley Manor, where he lives.

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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.

Annual SOU Botanical Tour to begin with Friday launch party

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(Ashland, Ore.) — A launch party on Friday for Southern Oregon University’s Botanical Tour will introduce a fully web-based tour option that includes 107 GPS coordinates for trees located across the university’s 175-acre campus, along with a printed tour brochure.

The current version of SOU’s tree tour is the largest at any university in Oregon – and possibly in the U.S.

“This is a unique area,” said Mike Oxendine, SOU’s landscape services supervisor and resident arborist. “We can grow a wide variety of trees in southern Oregon, and we have benefitted greatly from our predecessors who planted many types of trees for us to enjoy.”

There are more than 300 tree varieties at SOU and many are still being identified. SOU’s Siskiyou Arboretum in Roca Canyon – just south of the Science Building – contains more than 70 different species of trees that are native to the region and were donated to SOU by Plant Oregon in 2016.

Friday’s Botanical Tour will begin at 10 a.m. in front of the Plunkett Center, at Siskiyou Boulevard and Mountain Avenue, following a brief presentation highlighting the tour’s goals. The online tour can be found at landscape.sou.edu/sou-botanical-tour.

SOU’s Botanical Tour was launched in 2015 by Environmental Science Program student Daniel Collay, with collaboration from the Landscape Department and faculty and staff across campus. The purposes were to educate southern Oregon residents about SOU’s sustainability programs and biodiversity, inspire people on- and off-campus to expand sustainability efforts and foster engagement with groups throughout the community.

For the tour, SOU’s campus is divided into north, south east and west quadrants and selected trees are numbered from one (a black oak on the north campus) to 107 (a Douglas fir on the south campus).

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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 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.

SOU seeks input on future direction

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Alumni of Southern Oregon University and other interested community members are being asked again to share their thoughts as the university enters the home stretch on a plan that will shape SOU’s future and how it serves students and the region.

Hundreds of responses were received after SOU reached out to community members last spring to participate in a “strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats” (SWOT) analysis of the university. Those responses helped shape the university’s proposed vision, mission and values (sou.edu/strategic-planning/the-sou-plan/) – guiding principles that will serve as a framework for SOU’s growth and evolution.

A new online survey (sou.edu/strategic-planning/feedback/) seeks community members’ feedback on the strategic planning process to date, and on each of seven “strategic directions” that are intended to move the university toward the future that is envisioned.

The strategic directions were created this summer by the university’s Strategic Planning Committee and other campus leaders, based on the work that had been done in previous months by a broad cross-section of constituents. The directions call for SOU to transform how and what it teaches; become an employer of choice that provides excellent service; support campus sustainability and ecological resilience for the bioregion; create a diverse, equitable and inclusive community of flourishing learners; achieve and maintain financial stability; develop physical and virtual environments in which learners can thrive; and serve as a catalyst for regional economic, cultural and social development.

SOU will continue its collaborative planning process through the fall and is expected to adopt and begin implementing a new strategic plan next year. The intention is to produce a focused, achievable and forward-thinking plan that will inspire SOU’s faculty, staff and students to strive for greatness.

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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.

SOU program for under-represented and disadvantaged scholars receives funding

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/9eegW6)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s McNair Scholars Program, which has prepared under-represented students for post-graduate education since 2003, has been selected for another five years of funding despite talk at the national level of reducing support for the McNair program.

“The decision to continue to fund the nation’s McNair Scholars programs at this point in time illustrates a continuing commitment from our elected federal officials and the U.S. Department of Education to support undergraduate students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds and who have demonstrated strong academic potential,” said Dee Southard, an associate professor and director of SOU’s McNair program.

A letter of notification from the U.S. Department of Education indicated that SOU’s funding proposal received 108 out of 110 possible points from evaluators. The SOU program was approved for a grant of $243,878 per year for the five-year grant cycle – a total of just over $1.2 million.

Ongoing support for the nationwide program – which is offered on more than 200 college and university campuses – has been in doubt because of the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the U.S. Department of Education. The funding notification guarantees the status of SOU’s McNair program through 2022.

“The vast majority of the student scholars who participate in the SOU McNair program graduate with their bachelor’s degrees from SOU and then continue directly on, entering into and successfully completing highly competitive graduate level programs of study,” Southard said.

The McNair program was initiated in 1989 by the U.S. Department of Education to increase doctoral studies by students from underrepresented and disadvantaged segments of society. It honors physicist and astronaut Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African-American to fly in space. He died in 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after launch.

SOU’s McNair program – formally known as the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program – serves 28 undergraduate scholars each year. The application period for the 2018 cohort is Oct. 2 through Nov. 1 of this year.

The SOU program – which offers one-to-one guidance from faculty mentors – is intended to help promising scholars complete their undergraduate degrees, enroll in graduate school and prepare for doctoral studies. Six SOU McNair alumni have completed their doctoral programs since the program began 14 years ago.

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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.

Southern Oregon University among U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges

NEWS BRIEF (available online at https://goo.gl/e2TVHy)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is tied at the No. 25 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges rankings for the best public, regional schools in 15 Western states, which was published today. SOU is also ranked No. 76 among all regional universities in the West.

On its overview page for SOU, U.S. News pointed out that the university’s student-faculty ratio is 21-to-1, and that 46.3 percent of its classes have fewer than 20 students. It also highlights student services such as nonremedial tutoring, the Women’s Resource Center and the Student Health and Wellness Center.

SOU ranks second among Oregon schools on the public, regional universities list. Western Oregon University tied with two other universities for 22nd on the ranking, while SOU tied with four other universities for the next spot on the list, No. 25.

U.S. News & World Report came out with its first college rankings in 1983, and has published an increasingly more popular – and varied – list since 1985. The 2014 rankings drew 18.9 million page views in a single day to usnews.com, according to Wikipedia. The 2018 version includes almost 50 types of numerical rankings, in categories ranging from “A-Plus Schools for B Students” to “High School Counselor Rankings.”

The publication says it ranks schools based on hundreds of data points, including as many as 15 measures of academic quality. The most weight is given to student outcomes such as graduation and freshman retention rates.

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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.

A message from President Schott about DACA

Greetings to all members of the SOU community

I am writing to you from Guanajuato, Mexico, where SOU has enjoyed a sister-university partnership for 50 years with the Universidad de Guanajuato. I have been reminded in meetings with my counterparts at our sister university, and with officials from the City of Guanajuato, of what a warm and lasting collaboration we enjoy.

The U.S. began a relationship just over five years ago with a group of young immigrants who entered our country as minors. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy now protects almost 800,000 students and others who grew up in the U.S. and are determined to build their lives there, but lack the legal documentation to remain.

You have likely heard by now that President Trump will end DACA’s protections in six months, unless Congress acts to shield this group of young people from deportation.

I want to assure you that SOU’s commitment to all of its students – including those who have been protected by DACA – supersedes politics. We are obliged as an institute of higher learning to safeguard the ability of each student on our campus – regardless of immigration status, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, religious affiliation or political persuasion – to pursue his or her educational dreams.

SOU will continue to protect the privacy of all students, respect the value that their differences bring to our campus and accommodate the needs of those who face obstacles in their academic paths. We will resist immigration enforcement at SOU without legal compulsion or evidence of imminent risk to public safety.

Oregon law prevents SOU or any state agency from assisting with the investigation or apprehension of those whose only offense is their lack of immigration documentation. U.S. education privacy laws require that we maintain the confidentiality of students’ information, including their immigration status.

SOU is among the hundreds of colleges, universities and higher education organizations around the country that support the continuation of DACA protections. While we await Congressional action on this issue, students who feel they may be directly impacted by the changing DACA policy may contact Unete, a Medford-based advocacy center for farm workers and immigrants, at (541) 245-1625.

The bonds of friendship between SOU and Universidad de Guanajuato can be felt in every greeting and every hug I have received here. Faculty and administrators told me repeatedly today that it is those bonds that will ultimately prevail. Goodness, kindness and a spirit of determined cooperation will help us overcome our obstacles, regardless of scope or scale. Let us remain strong in our support of each other and in our commitment to education for all who seek it.

With optimism,

 

Linda Schott
President, Southern Oregon University