More than 1,100 graduates to receive degrees at SOU commencement

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/G6f0HY)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Saturday’s Southern Oregon University commencement ceremony will mark both an end and a beginning for more than 1,100 students – the conclusion of a degree program and the start of whatever adventure their education has prepared them to take on.

The event at Mountain Arena (Raider Stadium) will begin with a processional at 8:45 a.m., and ceremonies at 9 a.m. It is expected to conclude at about 11:30 a.m.

This year’s commencement address will be presented by Winona LaDuke, a prominent Native American environmentalist and activist who twice ran for vice president on a Green Party ticket headed by Ralph Nader. LaDuke, who lives on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, was raised in Ashland and her mother – noted Oregon painter Betty LaDuke – was a member of SOU’s art faculty for 32 years.

Other noted speakers include SOU President Linda Schott, SOU Board of Trustees Chair Bill Thorndike, SOU alumna Kacie Ryan (’07) and graduating student Dante Fumagalli.

In keeping with SOU’s commitment to sustainability, the 24-page commencement booklet will be printed on paper from responsible sources. Graduates’ robes will be biodegradable and made of wood fiber from renewable, managed forests. Students will collect robes following the ceremony from graduates who no longer want them, and they will be reused next year by graduates in need.

Water bottles, provided in part by a donation from Asante, will be filled by a crew from the Aviands dining service at SOU and handed out to the first 5,000 graduates and guests.

SOU’s Class of 2017 includes an expected 866 recipients of bachelor’s degrees, plus another 61 from the Oregon Health & Science University nursing program at SOU. Another 184 students will receive graduate degrees.

The university’s Social Sciences Division will lead the way with a combined 273 bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded; the Business, Communication & Environment Division will account for 247 graduates; the Education, Health & Leadership Division will have 245; the Oregon Center for the Arts will have 143; the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Division will have 94; the Humanities & Culture Division will have 30; and the Undergraduate Studies Division will have 13.

The Dankook Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Students will be presented to new graduates Rebekah Ratcliff, an honors graduate in sociology and anthropology who has been recognized for her work on local and Latin American projects; and William Babishoff, a former radio and television personality who will receive his degree in communication with an emphasis on film, television and convergent media. The award, given to SOU’s outstanding female and male graduates, commemorates more than 30 years of friendship between SOU and Dankook University in Seoul, South Korea.

The Universidad de Guanajuato Award for Outstanding Graduate Student will be presented to Jared Brown, who will receive his master’s degree in music performance with a 4.0 grade point average. Brown served as a graduate teaching assistant in music theory/aural skills and percussion, and worked with students at Crater High School in Central Point.

This year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards will be presented to music Professor Vicki Purslow; Lisa Ciasullo, an associate professor of math; Kylan De Vries, an associate professor of sociology and gender, sexuality and women’s studies; English and writing Professor Bill Gholson; and communication Professor Alena Ruggerio.

Raider Stadium will open at 7 a.m. and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. No tickets will be required. Free parking will be available in all SOU lots throughout the day, and a free shuttle service will run to the stadium from the Mountain Avenue lot about every 15 minutes.

Saturday’s ceremony will be broadcast live on RVTV and archived for later viewing. More information about SOU’s commencement is available at www.sou.edu/commencement.

-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.

Activist and former VP candidate Winona LaDuke to speak at SOU commencement

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

(Ashland, Ore.) — Winona LaDuke, a prominent Native American environmentalist and activist who twice ran for vice president on a Green Party ticket headed by Ralph Nader, will be the keynote speaker at Southern Oregon University’s June 17 commencement ceremony.

LaDuke, 57, was raised largely in Ashland and her mother – noted Oregon painter Betty LaDuke – was a member of SOU’s art faculty for 32 years.

Winona LaDuke currently lives on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota and is the executive director of Honor the Earth (HtE), a nonprofit that supports indigenous environmental justice. LaDuke co-founded the organization in 1993 with the folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls.

“Winona LaDuke is an inspiring role model for our graduates, our students and everyone who will be attending commencement,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “She has spent her distinguished career fighting for Native Americans, for women and for those who believe that our future is inextricably bound to the health of our environment.

“It will be an honor to welcome her back to Ashland, where the foundation for her life’s work was built – much like those who will be walking in our commencement ceremony.”

LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007, in recognition of her leadership and commitment to her community. She was named one of Time Magazine’s 50 most promising leaders under the age of 40 in 1994; received the Thomas Merton Award in 1996 for her devotion to justice; and in 1998 she shared the Ms. Magazine Women of the Year award with the Indigo Girls.

She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and her master’s degree in community economic development from Antioch University. She became a high school principal on the White Earth reservation, where she became active in Native American and women’s issues. She helped found the Indigenous Women’s Network in 1985, and four years later established the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which has bought back more than 1,200 acres of former reservation land from non-Natives and held it in a conservation trust for the Anishinaabe Tribe.

Her Honor the Earth organization played an active role in the year-long Dakota Access Pipeline protests, which ended in February when National Guard troops cleared protesters from the site.

SOU has attracted noteworthy speakers to its summer commencement ceremony in recent years, and most have had close connections to the university.

Last year’s commencement speaker was Harry “Doc” Kloor, an SOU alumnus who is the first and only person to earn two doctorate degrees simultaneously. Kloor – a writer, scientist and national technology policy advisor – earned doctorates in physics and chemistry from Purdue University.

In 2015, SOU’s commencement address was given by then-University of Oregon football coach Mark Helfrich, who is also an SOU alumnus. He was replaced as the Ducks’ coach after his team had a 4-8 season last fall.

This year’s commencement ceremony – SOU’s 91st – will begin at 9 a.m. at Raider Stadium.

-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.