SOU Honors College hosts high school students for problem-solving

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/FSX9W9)

(Ashland, Ore.) — About 150 high school students from throughout southern Oregon will try their hand at resolving some of today’s most troubling issues when Southern Oregon University Honors College students lead their annual Democracy Project symposium on Tuesday, April 24.

The event – “Truth and Reconciliation: A Model for America?” – will prepare high school students to use the conflict-resolution model developed as South Africa emerged from apartheid in the early 1990s. The students will then attempt to settle the U.S. First Amendment issues of athletes kneeling in protest during the national anthem, the appropriateness of confederate monuments and the proliferation of “fake news.”

Tuesday’s daylong symposium will include guest speakers Ernle Young, a retired bioethicist from Stanford University who was a white South African and Methodist pastor who opposed apartheid; and Albert Munanga – originally from nearby Zambia and currently the Zambian Embassy’s honorary consul for Washington state – who serves as regional director of quality improvement for Era Living, a Seattle-area developer of retirement communities.

This year’s third annual Democracy Project symposium is being organized by SOU Honors College students Rebekah Krum and Megan Godsby. All members of the Honors College will participate in the day’s events, helping to facilitate and moderate the various presentations and activities.

The symposium will last from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Democracy Project is an ongoing effort by SOU’s Honors College to comprehensively examine international democracy. It is intended to offer emerging leaders an understanding of conflict resolution and how democracy is understood, implemented and promoted around the world.

-SOU-

SOU’s Spring Powwow to be presented by Native American Student Union

NEWS BRIEF (available online at https://goo.gl/x6UmNW)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Native American Student Union will share native culture with the campus and greater community when it presents the 26th annual Spring Powwow on Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15, at the Phoenix High School gymnasium.

The event will include drumming, dancing and cultural sharing from tribes throughout the Northwest. Aztec dancers will perform and Native American arts and crafts will be available.

The grand entry ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, and at noon on Sunday.

The family-friendly powwow is free and open to the public. No alcohol or drugs will be permitted. Phoenix High School is located at 745 North Rose St., in Phoenix.

-SOU-

SOU’s Latino Youth Leadership Conference addresses equity, racism, barriers

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

(Ashland, Ore.) — More than 350 Latino youth from Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lane county high schools will meet on the Southern Oregon University campus on Friday, March 9, for the seventh annual César E. Chávez Leadership Conference.

The event – which this year will feature Hispanic civil rights advocate Luis Avila as keynote speaker – celebrates the heritage of César E. Chávez and teaches young people to carry on Chávez’ legacy of leadership.

This year’s conference will include 22 workshops in the areas of leadership, college and career, culture, identity and arts, and life skills. The workshops are intended to inspire Latino youth to become leaders and work for social justice, and to empower them to pursue higher education.

The event is particularly relevant in a year when immigration and racial issues are at the forefront of national conversations. Students at the conference will learn how to ensure that their voices are heard.

Avila, an advisor with 270 Strategies, most recently served as the national program director at Stand for Children – a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to improving public school education.

While at Stand for Children, Avila worked with immigrant parents to mobilize thousands of voters and protect funding for their children’s schools. He was awarded the agency’s National Leadership Award for his work supporting, coaching and developing organizers around the country.

Avila serves on the executive board at the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., and is on the board of TNTP – an organization focused on ending educational inequality.

A record number of high schools and participants are expected at this year’s event. Students are nominated to attend by teachers and counselors at their high schools.

-SOU-

Open forums to introduce SOU’s Campus-Community Resilience Assessment

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/i3L221)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University will hold a pair of open forums to introduce a Campus-Community Resilience Assessment that will be conducted over the next few months to determine the local area’s ability to absorb or adapt to ongoing climate changes.

The forums, which are free and open to the public, will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The same information will be shared at both sessions, which will be in the Rogue River Room of SOU’s Stevenson Union.

SOU’s Sustainability Office is taking on the resilience assessment as part of the university’s Climate Commitment to the Climate Leadership Network, which is made up of more than 600 U.S. colleges and universities. SOU was one of just six institutions to be recognized at the Climate Leadership Network’s summit last year.

Member institutions in the network each commit to take action on climate issues and prepare students to solve current and future challenges. Members may make a “Carbon Commitment” to work toward carbon neutrality, a “Resilience Commitment” to focus on climate adaptation or – as SOU has done – a “Climate Commitment” to do both.

The Resilience Assessment is a response by SOU to the reality of climate change and the urgent need for action. It will provide a baseline of current efforts on campus and in the community to address changes in the climate, identify vulnerabilities and develop initial indicators of resilience.

The assessment will draw input from five small working groups that will each focus on a specific topic: social equity and governance, health and wellness, ecosystem services, infrastructure and the economy. Nominations are still being accepted from those who would like to serve on the groups. Anyone who is interested may contact the university’s Sustainability Office at (541) 552-8139 or sustainability@sou.edu, or by attending one of the upcoming forums.

-SOU-

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 trustees endorse national initiative to boost higher ed perception

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

SOU trustees endorse national initiative to boost higher ed perception

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to pass a resolution to support and participate in a project with college and university trustees nationwide to revive the public’s trust in higher education.

The Guardians Initiative – developed by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) – is intended to increase support for higher education. It aims to strengthen financial backing from state legislatures across the country, prompt a rebound in college and university attendance and improve the public perception of higher education.

The SOU board is among the first in the country to endorse the Guardians Initiative.

“The enduring personal and societal value of higher education is well-supported,” said Bill Thorndike, chairman of the SOU Board of Trustees. “The lifetime earnings gap between those with college educations and those without has never been greater. Moreover, the economic and cultural benefits that colleges and universities bring to their communities are invaluable.

“We need to restore the luster to higher education. As public perception improves, we want higher education to become a greater legislative priority and for universities such as SOU to be recognized as keys to the growth and sustainability for individuals and communities.”

The traditional role of trustees might focus narrowly on the issues of the colleges and universities they serve. The Guardians Initiative encourages trustees to also advocate for higher education in general, to lobby at the state and federal levels for improved support, and to help improve the public’s perception of the value of higher education.

The initiative is meant to galvanize the support of about 50,000 college and university trustees nationwide.

“SOU’s trustees are recognized leaders and creative thinkers from the public and private sectors,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “I am tremendously excited to see how they will influence our national conversation about higher education.”

-SOU-

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.

Oregon’s HECC praises SOU strategic planning work

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/3wzpvr)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission unanimously approved Southern Oregon University’s new mission statement on Thursday, and its members described the university’s strategic planning work as “exemplary” and “energizing.”

A delegation from SOU including President Linda Schott was in Salem to present the university’s new vision, mission, values and strategic directions at the HECC meeting. SOU’s entire strategic planning effort won support, but commission members were required by state law only to evaluate and approve the mission statement (included below in its entirety).

“Our strategic plan is the roadmap that will guide SOU into a future filled with equal portions of uncertainty and opportunity,” President Schott said. “It defines not only who we are as members of a dynamic academic community, but who we strive to be and how we intend to achieve our goals.”

HECC member Sandy Rowe, who was editor of The Oregonian from 1993 to 2010, described SOU’s work as “outward facing – that is rare.”

“SOU has broken out of the pack,” she said.

Commission member Terry Cross, former executive director and current senior advisor to the National Indian Child Welfare Association, called the university’s mission statement “exemplary work.”

“I like the alignment with HECC,” he said. “You are helping us lead, helping us to be a better commission.”

HECC Chairman Neil Bryant, a Bend lawyer, acknowledged that he has been critical of SOU in the past but said the university “achieved focus” with its new mission statement.

President Schott, in a message to SOU students and employees on Thursday afternoon, thanked each person who has weighed in with feedback during the year-long strategic planning process, and especially those who have done the heavy lifting on the project.

“I am immensely grateful to all of you who have worked so many hours over the past year to visualize the future of our institution and craft the strategic plan that will help us realize our potential,” she said.

SOU’s new mission statement:
Southern Oregon University is a regionally-engaged learning community committed to being the educational provider of choice for learners throughout their lives.

We inspire curiosity and creativity, compel critical thinking, foster discovery, and cultivate bold ideas and actions.

We achieve student success, professional preparation, and civic engagement through service excellence, evolving technologies, and innovative curriculum.

We foster access, equity, inclusion and diversity in thought and practice.

We prepare our learners to be responsible, engaged citizens in our democracy.

We promote economic vitality, sustainability, cultural enrichment, and social well-being in our region, the state, the nation, and the world.”

-SOU-

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

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/n2MeKa)

(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 OregonLearns.org – 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-

SOU athletic and recreation facility headed toward completion

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

(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.

-SOU-

SOU’s Christianson honored as AAAS Fellow

NEWS BRIEF

(Ashland, Ore.) — Roger Christianson, an emeritus professor of biology at Southern Oregon University, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – a prestigious honor that is bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

He was recognized for his “exemplary service as the AAAS Pacific Division leader since 2002.” Christianson was originally elected to a three-year term as the Pacific Division’s executive director and has served in that role for the past 15 years.

“It has been an honor to represent SOU to AAAS members in the Western United States while serving as executive director of the Pacific Division,” he said. “I was truly humbled upon finding out that my name had been put forward for election to AAAS Fellow.

“I share this honor with all of my colleagues at SOU and trust that this reflects well on the quality of faculty, staff and programs at SOU.”

Christianson is one of 396 AAAS members nationwide who were honored this year as Fellows. He is one of just nine 2017 AAAS Fellows in Oregon, and the only one outside of the University of Oregon (with six) and Oregon State University (with two).

Christianson coordinated and taught in SOU’s General Biology Program for non-majors from 1980 until he took emeritus status (retirement from active teaching) in 2014. He served as chair of the Biology Department from 1996 to 2003.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in cellular and organismal biology, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in biology, all from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science publication. The AAAS was founded in 1848 and currently has more than 120,000 members.

Those who were named as Fellows this year will be presented official certificates and gold-and-blue rosette pins during the 2018 AAAS Annual Meeting on Feb. 17 in Austin, Texas. They will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Science.

-SOU-

SOU student joins university’s Board of Trustees

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

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University student Shanztyn Nihipali has been appointed by Gov. Kate Brown and confirmed today by the Oregon Senate to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees.

Nihipali’s two-year appointment is effective immediately. He succeeds Jeremy Nootenboom as the board’s student trustee – a voting position and full member of the panel. Nootenboom’s term ended when he graduated in June.

“It is an honor to have been recommended by the students and ultimately appointed to serve my university as a member of the SOU Board of Trustees,” Nihipali said. “These are exciting times for SOU, and I look forward to continuing to support the university’s advancements as an institution for the future.”

He expects to earn his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a certificate in nonprofit administration in 2019.

“The Board of Trustees enthusiastically welcomes Shanztyn to his new role,” said Bill Thorndike, SOU’s board chair. “We value the student trustee’s full participation on the board and look forward to working together.”

Nihipali serves as a student representative to the University Planning Board and SOU’s Strategic Planning Committee. He is the founder and chair of the university’s Polynesian Education Conference and has served as chair of SOU’s Hoʻopaʻa Hawaiʻi Club. He received a Building Bridges Award for 2015-16 academic year and an Outstanding Community Building Award for 2016-17.

He has served as a Raider Ambassador since January 2015, leading as many as 35 campus tours for prospective students and their families. He also worked for one year as a front desk assistant in SOU’s Office of Business Services.

Nihipali’s family has been involved in the real estate and construction industry of Hawai’i for almost 40 years, which provided the foundation for his interest in business. He is focusing his studies on hospitality and tourism management.

In addition to his campus leadership roles, he enjoys participating in autism awareness and cultural revitalization activities in his spare time.

-SOU-