SOU’s Hannon Library celebrates 65 years as a free home for federal publications

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(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library will celebrate its 65th anniversary as a Federal Depository Library on Thursday, April 26, with a day of presentations, exhibits and an open reception. The festivities will run from 2 to 7:30 p.m.

Federal Depository Libraries are the backbone of a U.S. government program intended to make federal government publications available to the public at no cost. The U.S. government is the world’s largest publisher, and its materials are available in a variety of electronic and paper formats at more than 1,200 depository libraries in the U.S. and its territories.

SOU’s Hannon Library is one of 20 depository libraries in Oregon – 16 of them at colleges or universities. Hannon Library received the program’s Depository Library of the Year Award in 2004 for its digital collections of significant government publications about the unique Southern Oregon bioregion. Those collections will be featured in the anniversary celebration, along with displays addressing the importance of free access to government information, especially congressional information for student research.

Guest speakers at Thursday’s event will include SOU professors and students, a representative from the Bureau of Land Management and exhibiting artists from the BLM-sponsored Artist-in-Residence program in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Presentations and displays will highlight the history, geology, archaeology, biology and environmental education activities in the Cascade-Siskiyou bioregion. Speakers and exhibitors, in alphabetical order, include SOU faculty and staff members Jad D’Allura, Linda Hilligoss, Stewart Janes, Jeff LaLande, Dotty Ormes, Michael Parker, Chelsea Rose and Darlene Southworth; students Hope Braithwaite, Suphasiri Muttamara and Elizabeth Schyling; the BLM’s Christine Beekman; Ashland artist Mabrie Ormes; and Ashland photographer Matt Witt.

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SOU’s “boundary-breaking” Oregon Fringe Festival begins on Tuesday

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(Ashland, Ore.) — The Oregon Fringe Festival – a distinctive blend of visual, musical and theatre arts presentations – will kick off its 2018 lineup with Gallery Openings at Southern Oregon University’s Center for the Visual Arts at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24. The six-day arts celebration will continue with shows and exhibitions on and around the SOU campus through Sunday, April 29.

The Oregon Fringe Festival, established in 2014, is described on its website as a “boundary-breaking platform for artists creating unconventional work in unconventional spaces,” and as a “celebration of zany, alternative (art) forms.” It encourages bold content from courageous artists of all ages and in various stages of their careers.

All of the festival’s presentations are free and open to the public. A full schedule of this year’s events is available online.

Visual arts highlights include exhibitions from current SOU students, visiting master students from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, and headlining artist Ruth Lantz.

Musical highlights include performances by current SOU students and alumni, and visiting headliners such as Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion and flautist Tessa Brinckman. SOU’s Left Edge Percussion Ensemble will perform Michael Gordon’s iconic “Timber,” and the vocal octet Desiderata will premiere a new work from composer Judd Greenstein that was commissioned by the Oregon Fringe.

This year’s theatre highlights include performances from current SOU students and alumni, a headlining performance of “The Truth” by Ashland’s A Muse Zoo, a staged reading of Stephanie Neuerburg’s “Ella Enchanted” and the one-woman show “Artichoke Hearts” by Sarah Mitchell.

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SOU Honors College hosts high school students for problem-solving

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(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.

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SOU’s new Thalden Pavilion to be dedicated on Friday

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(Ashland, Ore.) — SOU’s new Thalden Pavilion has lived up to its tagline – “dedicated to outrageous innovation in sustainability and the arts” – and the just-completed venue for information, education and performance will be recognized in all its audacity at 10 a.m. Friday, April 20.

The dedication ceremony will serve as an introduction of the visually stunning structure, which was made possible through the generosity of Barry and Kathryn Thalden of Ashland. Speakers at the event – at The Farm at SOU, on north Walker Avenue – will include SOU President Linda Schott, the Thaldens and Ashland architect Chris Brown of Arkitek Design and Architecture.

Performers from the SOU Music Program will provide entertainment.

The Thaldens and SOU saw the pavilion as a facility at The Farm that would bring together the university, local schools, the city, the business community and local theaters for various events and opportunities.

Donations from the Thaldens have covered the project’s design and construction costs, and their enthusiasm for the concept led them to commission Brown’s architectural firm to bring their vision to reality. Barry Thalden is a retired architect who designed casinos throughout the West, and Kathryn Thalden is a landscape architect who had her own firm in Kansas City before becoming a Unity minister and founding the Unity Church of Las Vegas.

Since moving to Ashland six years ago, their generosity has led to the flower basket program in downtown Ashland and murals outside the Ashland Emergency Food Bank and on Calle Guanajuato on the Ashland Plaza. They have recently commissioned an Ashland-themed mural to be painted in Ashland’s Mexican sister city of Guanajuato.

The Farm is a student-led agricultural and learning center at SOU. The 3 ½-acre property on Walker Street in Ashland serves as an organic farm for the production of healthy, sustainable food for the SOU community. It is also a center for sustainability and a hub for education, student and faculty research, and community outreach to the Rogue Valley.

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SOU’s Hawai’i club offers annual lu’au and performance

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(Ashland, Ore.) — The 22nd annual lu’au and hō’ike (feast and performance) by Southern Oregon University’s Hawai’i club will be an event with a purpose. This year’s celebration has a theme of Hoʻolaha Ana I Naʻokoʻa Me Ke Aloha – spreading diversity with love.

The lu’au will be from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, at The Hawk dining facility off Wightman Street in Ashland, and the hō’ike will begin at 4:30 p.m. at SOU’s Music Recital Hall.

The meal will be $12.25 per person and the dance presentation will be $10 per person, and both are open to the public. Students who have paid for SOU meal plans will be able to use their cards to “swipe in” to the lu’au.

The two-part program is presented each spring by the Ho’opa’a Hawai’i Student Union – one of five multicultural student clubs and organizations that are part of SOU’s Multicultural Resource Center. The Hawai’i club works to educate and inform students and community members about Polynesian culture while helping first-year members of the club in their transitions to life on the mainland.

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

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(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.

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

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(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.

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SOU professor promotes peace through education in Central African Republic

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(Ashland, Ore.) — A Southern Oregon University faculty member returned last week from the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR), where he served as an English language specialist on a project to equip students with the communication skills necessary to promote peace and conflict resolution.

Bryce Smedley, an assistant professor in SOU’s Education Department, visited students at the University of Bangui and elsewhere during his two-week stay in the CAR. He conducted an education needs assessment, offered teacher trainings and promoted the development of English Language Clubs in the country that is rated as the world’s poorest and the lowest in human development.

Most schools in the CAR have no books, teachers have little training and many schools have remained closed due to insecurity in a nation that has been at war off-and-on since 2004. English language learning allows students to better understand American foreign policy and provides skills that can help them gain upward social mobility.

Students in Smedley’s upper-division multiculturalism class at SOU are paired with students from the CAR to share their life stories, dreams and educational challenges.

“We need to encourage our students to be bold, compassionate and excited to explore cultures, languages, teaching and service-learning in a global context,” said Smedley, who served as an international mentor at Kabul Education University and a faculty member at American University of Afghanistan before joining the SOU faculty last summer.

“My work in Africa is continually connected back to my classroom teaching at SOU,” he said. “These types of educational experiences are transformative, and help develop students’ cultural competence in a global world.”

The CAR project is considered a medium for promoting security, peace and conflict resolution while teaching about democracy, gender and human rights, and restorative justice. The program was organized by the U.S. Embassy of Bangui in conjunction with the English Language Specialist program, which sends academics throughout the world to help strengthen education.

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

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(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.

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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 trustees endorse national initiative to boost higher ed perception

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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.”

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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.