SOU in the News – August 27-29


JPR Foundation ‘basically broke’

Mail Tribune August 29, 2012
Letters to the Ashland Daily Tidings:
Between the lines, SOU has its way
Daily Tidings August 29, 2012
Dean of Students is a vital position
Daily Tidings August 27, 2012
Oregon University System, Jefferson Public Radio network, make peace
OPB August 28, 2012
Southern Oregon U, Jefferson Public Radio, make peace
Radio Survivor August 29, 2012
Ore. campus to take over public radio system in settlement
The Chronicle of Philanthropy August 29, 2012
Full version of print clips
JPR Foundation ‘basically’ broke
Ousted executive director is skeptical of group’s deal with SOU; others disagree
By Damian Mann
Mail Tribune
August 29, 2012 2:00 AM
The net worth of the JPR Foundation’s assets may drop to zero because of its recent agreement with Southern Oregon University, Jefferson Public Radio’s ousted executive director asserts.
“It basically doesn’t have any money,” said Ron Kramer, who was terminated effective June 30.
Kramer made his assessment after reviewing a six-page agreement reached between SOU and the JPR Foundation, which was announced Monday. Without assets, the foundation will be hard-pressed to take on projects such as the remodeling of the Holly Theatre in Medford, Kramer said. Even more dubious is an effort to build new JPR headquarters at Jefferson Square on 10th Street, he said.
JPR Executive Director Paul Westhelle said it’s true the assets of the foundation will be significantly reduced — but they will be partly shifted into Jefferson Live!, which eventually will own the Holly Theatre, Jefferson Square and the Cascade Theatre in Redding, Calif.
After taking out the debt on these various buildings, Westhelle said the net worth of Jefferson Live! could total more than $5 million.
“It would have plenty of assets,” he said.
Other assets owned by the foundation, such as radio station licenses, would be shifted to Southern Oregon University for the benefit of JPR, he said.
As a result, the foundation would become something of a money manager, raising funds for the radio stations while coordinating with Jefferson Live! on separate cultural projects that would benefit the community, such as the Holly, he said.
Westhelle, who helped coordinate the effort to remodel the Cascade Theatre, said he hopes that fundraising efforts on the Holly could yield significant progress in pushing forward with that project in about a year.
The SOU and JPR Foundation deal gives SOU control over all 22 radio stations.
The agreement also provides a framework for selling off radio station licenses in the future, with the proceeds benefitting JPR.
Westhelle said selling off a radio station would make sense only if there is a duplication of service. As an example, he said a new JPR station in Coos Bay offers broader coverage than smaller stations that serve the same area.
Westhelle said no plans exist at the moment to sell off any radio stations.
Much of the new agreement looks similar to an earlier version that prompted public outcry, resulting in intervention by Gov. John Kitzhaber.
The new agreement differs in that it allows an autonomous board of directors to run the foundation and offers the possibility that Jefferson Live! could own the Cascade. However, the university would exercise more oversight over the foundation under the new agreement.
“From my standpoint, there is no meaningful or discernible difference between the settlement agreement announced yesterday and the settlement agreement of June 9,” Kramer said Tuesday.
Kramer said the creation of Jefferson Live! and the separation of the administration of the foundation and radio stations could add another $500,000 to the $3.5 million Holly restoration project.
Westhelle said he couldn’t understand where Kramer got that number, but said that taking on the Holly and Jefferson Square projects would require extra staff — something that has already been taken into account.
JPR Foundation board president Steve Nelson said he is still not completely clear how assets will be transferred from the foundation to the other entities, saying it is part of ongoing discussions.
He said about $2,000 in operating expenses will be left in the foundation’s account after it takes on the hiring of a new executive director, administrative staff and setting up separate offices.
But how the foundation will parlay its resources to finance the Holly and Jefferson Square is something that is still being worked out.
“It’s not going to be easy in some spots,” he said.
He said officials have considered a number of financial scenarios that would allow Jefferson Live! to take over the Cascade Theatre, which is now owned by Southern Oregon University.
Nelson said his goal is to re-energize the fundraising campaign for the Holly and to make sure the central mission of JPR succeeds.
“No one wants radio to fail,” he said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email
Letters to the Editor
August 29, 2012 2:00 AM
Between the lines, SOU has its way
The article announcing the agreement between JPR and SOU is so full of double talk and contradiction that the reader is left in a swirl of confusion about what happened.
First we are reminded that all the hullabaloo was started by SOU’s determination that the JPR Foundation’s fundraising for the Holly conflicted with SOU’s own fundraising. Since the new agreement sets up two fundraising outfits, the JPR Foundation and its new subsidiary Jefferson Live!, it’s hard to see how that conflict is being remediated.
Next we hear Mary Cullinan say that she’s sure “people will be smart enough to figure out the difference” between the two. Yet the article goes on to say that as a subsidiary of the JPR Foundation, the two will be potentially sharing the same board members! Furthermore, we are told that SOU would sell the Cascade Theater to the Foundation but that Jefferson Live! could eventually take over ownership of the Cascade, the Holly and Jefferson Square! Is the difference between these two organizations clear now?
What seems clear to me is that SOU is having its way with JPR, to the detriment of the radio station and the listening public, while pretending their power play is a win-win.
Avram Chetron
August 27, 2012 2:00 AM
Dean of students is a vital position
Your article on administrative reorganization at Southern Oregon University attributed the primary rationale to student retention and job placement.
Both goals are sensible, generalized in the article as “enhanced student support service.” It’s unclear how this will be accomplished by lashing together an array of personnel described as “lower-level student support,” but I wish them much luck with unmentioned pitfalls.
The only named casualty in the shake-up is that of Laura O’Bryon, current Dean of Students, who has fulfilled that post for some 15 years. Judging from my experience in a comparable job at the University of California, the SOU administration is taking a bold and (in my view) foolhardy risk by eliminating such an anchor position.
Modern-day student life requires a central manager who can cope around the clock with a steady stream of student crises. That person is called on routinely to make both quick and reasoned decisions in a full spectrum of emergencies that includes life threats and potential violence.
Not to trivialize the issues involved, but it often requires the wisdom of Solomon to know when, let’s say, social isolation or breaking up with a girlfriend may be just part of the vagaries of life, or when they can lead to mental breakdown and set off untold tragedy. Only someone who hasn’t read a newspaper or watched TV news for the past decade can dismiss such possibilities. I do hope that SOU has thought out these risks.
Robert Griffin

SOU in the News – August 27-28


SOU takes charge of radio stations
Mail Tribune August 28, 2012


SOU-JPRF reach agreement
KOBI 5 August 27, 2012

SOU, JPR reach agreement
KTVL 10 August 27, 2012

SOU and JPR Foundation reach agreement
KDRV 12 August 27, 2012

SOU gets control of radio stations
KAJO 1270 Grants Pass August 28, 2012

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SOU takes charge of radio stations
University, Jefferson Public Radio reach deal on assets and direction
By Damian Mann
Mail Tribune
August 28, 2012 2:00 AM
Southern Oregon University and the Jefferson Public Radio Foundation have hammered out a deal that gives SOU sole control over 22 radio stations and creates a separate fundraising arm for projects such as the Holly Theatre restoration.
The agreement, reached during recent mediation sessions and announced Monday, also provides a framework for selling off radio station licenses in the future.
Proceeds from any license sales must be used to support JPR, which broadcasts from Mendocino County in Northern California to Eugene.
Under the agreement, a separate fundraising arm called Jefferson Live! LLC eventually could take over ownership of the Holly Theatre in Medford, the Cascade Theatre in Redding, Calif., and other Medford properties off 10th Street known as Jefferson Square.
Sen. Alan Bates, a Medford Democrat, and Rep. Peter Buckley, an Ashland Democrat, said the agreement would foster a strong radio station and continue with the effort to remodel the Holly.
“Our role in this is more about getting something back on track that was dangerously off track,” Bates said.
The agreement spells out an arrangement in which SOU exercises more oversight over JPR and its foundation.
The JPR Foundation and SOU had been at odds over control of leadership and assets of JPR’s public radio station network, leading to the termination of Executive Director Ron Kramer in June.
Attorneys for SOU, acting with the support of the Oregon University System Chancellor’s Office, threatened personal lawsuits against each member of the JPR Foundation board.
Gov. John Kitzhaber intervened, appointing Portland mediator Susan Hammer to help resolve the differences.
An audit by OUS last winter criticized the fundraising activities for the Holly Theatre and Jefferson Square because they could conflict with fundraising by SOU.
SOU President Mary Cullinan said she didn’t seen any potential conflict in the fundraising activities of Jefferson Live! and those of the university.
“I’m absolutely not worried,” she said.
Cullinan said she thinks people will be smart enough to figure out the difference between the fundraising activities of Jefferson Live! and the JPR Foundation. Jefferson Live! will be a subsidiary organization of the JPR Foundation, potentially sharing the same board members.
The JPR Foundation will raise money solely for the radio station operations.
She said Jefferson Live! offers a clear distinction between fundraising for the Holly and fundraising for the radio stations.
“I’m delighted by the transparency of this organization,” Cullinan said.
Paul Westhelle, executive director of JPR and interim executive director of the JPR Foundation, said no fundraising for special projects such as the Holly could be conducted on-air for the foundation or Jefferson Live!.
However, the radio station could air fundraising announcements for Jefferson Square because the station might build its new headquarters there. The radio station is currently housed in a cramped basement at SOU.
Westhelle is planning to remain as executive director of the JPR Foundation only until a replacement can be found.
As part of the agreement, Kramer would be able to serve only as a volunteer consultant or independent contractor to Jefferson Live! or the JPR Foundation.
The agreement proposes that the university and JPR Foundation would drop any potential legal action against Kramer if he would agree to drop legal claims as well.
The JPR Foundation would have to prepare business plans that would be submitted to SOU for any significant activities, such as selling off assets, borrowing money or purchasing property.
SOU currently owns the Cascade Theatre, but would sell it to the JPR Foundation for the remaining debt plus costs to transfer the property.
Steve Nelson, president of the JPR Foundation board, said there will be no further discussion about separating the radio stations from SOU now that the agreement has been reached.
SOU and JPR will continue to provide staff to support the foundation, but no SOU or JPR employee will perform executive or management roles in the foundation or its subsidiary.
Nelson said radio station licenses would be sold only if it was determined that they didn’t adequately serve the overall needs of the radio station. He said no particular license has been identified that could be sold yet.
Nelson said the foundation’s priority will be setting up Jefferson Live! and continuing efforts to restore the Holly. Jefferson Square would be of secondary importance, he said.
Although much of the agreement looks similar to an earlier version that prompted public outcry and the governor’s intervention, Nelson said there are differences.
The foundation will no longer be made up of seven directors appointed by SOU, six from community colleges and four from the current foundation. Instead the foundation board will continue to remain autonomous, Nelson said.
Another new feature is a mechanism for the foundation to purchase the Cascade Theatre, he said.
Also, Nelson said selling off radio station licenses will be part of a negotiated process.
Nelson said a timeline hasn’t been developed to move forward with the new organization and to get the fundraising activities back on track.
He said his main goal is to see the Holly completed, then he will step down from the foundation.
“The agreement allows us to move forward with the Holly Theatre in a transparent manner,” he said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email

SOU in the News – August 24-25, 2012

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Construction on SOU’s Churchill Hall is two months ahead of schedule
Daily Tidings August 25, 2012


Business management program widens SOU’s horizons
Mail Tribune August 25, 2012


SOU president receives contract extension, raise
Mail Tribune August 24, 2012


SOU’s Master in Management program is coming to SaleM
Salem Statesman Journal online August 26, 2012

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Timely turnaround
The $6.4 million renovation of SOU’s 86-year-old Churchill Hall is two months ahead of schedule
By Sam Wheeler
Ashland Daily Tidings
August 25, 2012 2:00 AM
The renovation of Southern Oregon University’s first building, 86-year-old Churchill Hall, is running about two months ahead of schedule and staff should begin funneling back into its top floor by the first week of September, the project’s contractor said.
Workers have gutted the building down to its frame, reinforced it with a network of steel columns and girts, added foundation support and are currently finishing remodeling its interior, said Aaron Ausland, CEO of engineering and construction firm Ausland Group, who’s been working on the project since October.
“We pretty much built an entire new structural skeleton inside the old building,” he said. “Being a seismic renovation and an architectural renovation, it’s been a very complex project, but our team has been very proactive identifying potential problems before they occur.”
With new flooring, walls, electrical wiring, lighting, and windows, the building will be more energy-efficient, and its sturdy new frame makes it less susceptible to earthquake damage, Ausland said.
The entire project is expected to cost about $6.4 million, with direct construction costs totaling about $4.9 million, said Drew Gilliland, SOU director of facilities, management and planning.
“I think we’ve done a great job on the job on the project. It’s been a win-win for both of us,” Gilliland said. “And, we’re always glad to keep the work in the valley with our contractors.”
Oregon Health & Science University will have all of its faculty at SOU consolidated in Churchill’s top story, and will be first to move back into the building. If things go smoothly, crews could have the project wrapped up in October, Ausland said, allowing President Mary Cullinan and other administrators to move back in, as well as a handful of SOU’s staff who will work from offices on the top floor.
“The goal right now is to get OHSU moved it,” Gilliland said. “We have a few offices and classrooms up there that our staff will use, but I don’t think they will be finished with the work until the end of September.”
Initially, SOU established a timeline for the project to be completed by December 2012.
The Oregon University System, through its deferred maintenance program, contributed $1.3 million to cover the seismic retrofitting, and OHSU, which operates a nursing program at the SOU campus, contributed $500,000.
Another $2.7 million for the project comes from state energy loans and $1.8 million from lottery bonds. Although SOU will not have to pay back the lottery bonds, it will be required to pay back the energy loans.
The faculty members in SOU’s foreign language program, who once worked out of Churchill’s top story, will eventually move to the second floor of Central Hall, which is where most of the OHSU staff and faculty currently work from. The foreign language program is working out of a manufactured home near Central Hall.
Except for the building’s clearer glass windows, the renovation effort is virtually unnoticeable from outside Churchill.
“On the outside you’d never know what was going on in there, but we’ve been hard at work “… it looks spectacular,” Ausland said.
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

Management program widens SOU horizons
By John Darling
for the Mail Tribune
August 25, 2012 2:00 AM

In a rare venture outside the southwest corner of the state, Southern Oregon University this fall will teach its popular Master’s in Management degree at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.
SOU has taught the two-year program, intended for professionals already in careers, in the Rogue Valley and at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. It has been looking for an opportunity to teach it in another school with access to professional markets, says MiM coordinator John Bowling of SOU.
“Our MiM program is unique in Oregon. We’re the only school offering it,” says Bowling.
“The state capital has large numbers of state workers and is a base for a lot of nonprofits. It’s a focus of organizational leadership and supervisors with experience, and it’s designed for full-time working people.”
The degree program will be taught in classrooms at Chemeketa Center for Business & Industry by SOU professors, with adjunct teachers from the Portland area, says Bowling.
It’s designed so courses are taught Friday evenings and Saturdays, with online communication, team learning and mentoring by professionals, covering a three-credit course in five weeks.
Teaching a degree 240 miles away, in the middle of Oregon’s population base, is motivated in part by the desire to enhance SOU’s reputation, he notes.
“It seemed a good opportunity there to deliver what’s been really successful here and build name recognition by stepping into the Portland market,” Bowling says. “We hope it piques interest and people will want to come here in person and study.”
The degree requires 45 credits total, 28 of them in core subjects such as Budget-Finance, Strategic Management, Marketing for Public and Private Organizations, Organizational Leadership and Legal Issues in Management. Elective graduate credits can be earned in the students’ specialization, such as commercial, government, nonprofit, and in their discipline, such as arts, health, etc.
The degree is also taught at SOU’s sister campus in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, good communication skills and at least three years of increasingly responsible experience working full-time at the management level, the website notes.
Criteria considered include the number of people supervised, the size of the budget administered, and the degree of decision-making autonomy.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at
About the program
The cost of the Master’s in Management program at Southern Oregon University is $400 a credit, for a total of $18,000. Those wishing to apply may visit the website at or call the School of Business at 541-552-8243.

SOU president receives contract extension, raise
By Sam Wheeler
for the Mail Tribune
August 24, 2012 2:00 AM
ASHLAND — Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan’s contract has been renewed for another two years with a $20,000 increase in pay.
The State Board of Higher Education this month approved a $10,000 annual “longevity adjustment” increase, retroactive to 2011-12, and a 5 percent increase in salary, bringing her annual pay to $205,236. Her contract was renewed in June.
Similar 5 percent increases in pay were approved for five other presidents in the university system.
In 2009, at the height of the recession, Cullinan and other university presidents took a voluntary pay reduction. The 4.6 percent decrease brought her $185,460 salary down to $176,928.
In 2010, her original salary of $185,460 was reinstated.
Then, Cullinan was the lowest paid university president in the system. Now, her salary is fifth- highest of the seven presidents.
The other university presidents’ salaries are now $623,385 for Oregon State’s Edward Ray; $194,736 for Eastern Oregon’s Bob Davies and Western Oregon’s Mark Weiss; $540,000 for Portland State’s Wim Wiewel; and $210,108 for Oregon Institute of Technology’s Christopher Maples. Newly appointed University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson, who was hired at an annual salary of $540,000, did not get an increase.
Cullinan was not available for comment, said Jim Beaver, SOU director of interactive marketing and media relations.
The 5 percent increases at OSU and PSU will be made up by the universities themselves and their internal foundations, rather than through OUS dollars, said Di Saunders, OUS director of communications.
The $10,000 longevity adjustment Cullinan received in June was accompanied by a $15,000 similar increase for Ray. With six years under her belt at SOU, and nine years for Ray at OSU, the two are the longest serving presidents in the university system.
“Even with the proposed increases, compensation and salary packages continue to be near or below the median of peers,” OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner advised the board during an Aug. 3 meeting. The board questioned the message presidential salary increases could send during a year of across-the-board tuition increases.
According to the Administrative Compensation Survey prepared by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources for 2010 and 2011, which the Board of Higher Education used as a rationale for the increases, the average salary for presidents of public masters universities with budgets of less than $50 million was just over $220,000.
The board defines each of its four regional universities by that standard. Accounting for about 3 percent inflation in 2011, the board concluded that about $226,000 is the national average for presidents at universities with budgets of less than $50 million annually.
Unlike the three largest universities, Cullinan and the other regional university presidents do not receive salary support from their schools’ foundations, Saunders said. However, all university foundations can make deferred compensation payments to an account for their presidents, which act as a type of pension, Saunders said.
“Aside from longevity pay, our presidents haven’t seen an increase since 2008,” Saunders said. “The board decided it was well deserved, after some discussion.”
Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

Southern Oregon University and JPR Foundation Reach Agreement on Shared Partnership for Future

The press kit components are available as PDFs.

JPR – JPRF Settlement Fact Sheet
JPR – JPRF Chart
Listen to the August 30 “Jefferson Exchange” with guests President Cullinan, JPR Foundation President Steve Nelson, and JPR Interim Executive Director Paul Westhelle.
JPR Listeners Guild Logo(Ashland, ORE) – Southern Oregon University (SOU) and the JPR Foundation have reached an agreement on a new organizational structure that continues their existing 14-year partnership to operate SOU’s regional public radio network, Jefferson Public Radio (JPR). Also contained in the agreement is the creation of a new entity called Jefferson Live!, which will be wholly owned by the JPR Foundation, to manage Redding’s Cascade Theatre, restore Medford’s Holly Theatre and explore the feasibility of the Foundation’s Jefferson Square project.
Read more

SOU in the News – August 22

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SOU student affairs administration gets extreme makeover
Mail Tribune August 22, 2012

Construction continues on newest SOU residential complex

Mail Tribune August 22, 2012

SOU grad’s research foiled by Lassen fire

Mail Tribune August 22, 2012

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SOU student affairs administration gets extreme makeover
By Sam Wheeler
for the Mail Tribune
August 22, 2012 2:00 AM
A reorganization effort in the student affairs department at Southern Oregon University will bring sweeping staff changes when the academic year begins.
The university hopes to increase student retention and graduation rates by hiring additional staff to enhance its student support services. But redefining roles in the department means a handful of management-level positions will be replaced by lower-level, student support personnel, SOU officials said.
SOU hopes the changes will increase students’ access to one-on-one advising time and mentoring and counseling focused on post-graduation success, SOU Vice President of Student Affairs Jon Eldridge said.
Four management-level positions will be eliminated, Eldridge said, including dean of students. Those responsibilities will be split among six new positions, including a director of retention or student success, which will be an administrative position, he said.
Current Dean of Students Laura O’Bryon will not fill that position, he said.
O’Bryon, who has worked for SOU for more than 15 years, was unavailable for comment Monday, according to the student affairs department. She did not return multiple emails sent to her address.
“We never confirm or deny that somebody is involved in a personnel issue … I can say it included a handful of management-level administrators,” SOU spokesman Jim Beaver said of the changes. “These staffing changes are not budget-related. We’re always evaluating the effectiveness of the organization and making changes as needed for improvement.”
The university is accepting applications for some of the new positions, among them a career preparation coordinator, an additional adviser for the university’s student support program called Success at Southern, and a councilor in the student health center.
“All of the things we’re putting into place are things that have been shown to be successful at other institutions … academic goal-setting and planning, career preparation, early intervention when a student is not attending class or needs supplemental instruction,” Eldridge said. “It enables students to stay on track not just for their degrees, but for when they get out and try to get their jobs.”
Eldridge said increasing interaction between students and academic advising outlets across campus should help push the university’s retention rate to 75 percent within the next two years. In 2005, the school retained 62 percent of its previous year’s non-graduating student population. The school’s retention rate is currently floating around 70 percent, Eldridge said.
“It goes without saying that staff reductions due to state disinvestment, coupled with student demographics that require significant levels of support, have hampered our retention efforts. This is why the following reorganization is being launched,” Eldridge wrote in an email to the entire SOU staff in June.
“Unfortunately, this also means that some existing positions have given way to this new structure. It is important to state that those individuals who have received notice that their positions have been eliminated or restructured deserve our thanks for their hard work and dedication,” his email continued.
Eldridge said there is a possibility of two part-time counseling positions emerging after the department settles into the reorganization.
“We just haven’t had enough of them to meet student demand,” Eldridge said. “The reorganization allows us to better align our resources and better serve students.”
Reach Daily Tidings reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

Halls of higher learning
Construction continues on newest SOU residential complex
By John Darling
for the Mail Tribune
August 22, 2012 2:00 AM
The new dormitories at Southern Oregon University are rising rapidly — showing two or three stories, in most places — and are coming in under budget and on time so far, says the school’s housing director, Tim Robitz.
Being built by Adroit Construction of Ashland, the 702-bed, suite-style North Campus Village will cost between $40 million and $50 million and should be ready for fall term 2013, Robitz said.
The two residence halls and a dining complex are being built on SOU-owned land and financed by American Campus Communities, a builder-manager of campus properties valued at $2.8 billion, according to its website.
“They develop, build and manage them and we lease out the ground,” said Robitz, adding that the estimated bottom line includes final financing costs.
Adroit crews have been building concrete footings, framing rooms and hanging fiberboard sheeting for walls on the two residence halls, which will total 200,000 square feet, said project manager Steve Lawrence.
“The residence halls will be four stories and we’ve framed walls up through the third story on the south hall and are framing walls on the second story of the north hall,” said Lawrence.
The halls are 35 percent to 40 percent complete, he added, while the 27,500-square-foot dining hall is about 20 percent done, with the concrete slab slated for pouring in early September. The east parking lot is done and the south parking lot is under construction.
The dorms will consist of four-room suites with two bathrooms and a common living space, some with kitchenettes. It will be a step below Madrone Hall, completed in 2005, which has groups of four-person apartments in which students have their own bedrooms and share a living room, full kitchen and two bathrooms.
The new halls will replace the aging Cascade dorm, built in the 1970s east of Indiana Street. Cascade will be “re-purposed” for faculty from the Science Building, which must undergo a seismic retrofit, said Robitz. When that’s done, Cascade will be razed, with the site eventually being used for classrooms.
The new halls are as yet unnamed, but cost-conscious SOU is open to “putting a donor’s name on any of the three buildings,” he said. If that doesn’t happen, students may be asked to name them after something or someone that “speaks of the region,” Robitz added.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at

Lassen ecosystem study foiled by California fire
By Chris Conrad
Mail Tribune
August 22, 2012 2:00 AM
Forest fires burning in Northern California have hampered the efforts of environmental scientists, including a recent Southern Oregon University graduate, to study the area’s ecosystems.
Scientists with the Klamath Network were forced to leave Lassen Volcanic National Park when fire burned a 43-square-mile area of the park.
The Klamath Network planned to send scientists into the park to measure trees and take an inventory of the park’s vegetation.
This information would be used to gauge the overall health of the park. The Klamath Network also notes fuel levels on the ground, which can help in forest fire suppression efforts.
However, the Reading fire, which started on July 23, shut down its work, most likely for the rest of the summer, said Daniel Sarr, lead ecologist with the Klamath Network.
“We might get back into the park by the end of the summer, but now all we can do is wait and see what happens with the fire weather,” Sarr said.
Sarr said his agency had two crews of three people in the park when the fire began.
The environment deteriorated quickly as the fire burned through thousands of acres in a short time.
Among those who planned to monitor the various plots of land in the park was Katie Bergbauer, a recent SOU graduate in environmental science.
She said the monitoring crews were able to perform several studies before the fire started, but there was much more work to do.
She said the plan was to take an inventory of the vegetation and fuel in several randomly selected plots and then return in three years to see if there were any changes in the area.
“We go in and take an inventory of every single plant in the plot and we identify and take measurements of every tree,” Bergbauer said.
They also planned to take note of all invasive species in the plots and report their findings to the U.S. National Park Service.
But the monitoring crews found the smoke from the fires was too much to handle.
“It was like having smoke from a campfire blowing in your face,” she said.
According to the fire incident monitoring website, the Reading Fire was 79 percent contained Tuesday and The Associated Press reported that firefighters hoped to have the blaze fully contained soon.
That will be too late for the Klamath Network scientists, who hoped to record valuable information that the U.S. National Park Service could use to better manage and maintain public wildlands.
Sarr said some good could come from the fires. He said aspen trees have been struggling in the park for some time.
“We are waiting to see if the fires will benefit the aspen in the park,” Sarr said.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

New Kind of Graduate Business Program Comes to Salem

Master in Management degree focuses on leadership

(Salem, Ore.) A new kind of graduate program in business management will be offered for the first time this fall in Salem. The Master in Management (MiM) focuses on leadership, decision-making skills, ability to promote organizational change, and the ability to manage performance through people. The two-year degree program is offered by Southern Oregon University with classes taught at the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry. Read more

SOU in the News – August 16-20, 2012

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Future employment uncertain for Pathway Enterprises workers when SOU’s food service contract transitions to its new provider
Daily Tidings August 20, 2012
SOU alumna is “The College Authority” in Medford
Mail Tribune August 20, 2012
New SOU dorms under construction
KDRV Newswatch 12 August 16, 2012
SOU construction crew hits gas line
KDRV Newswatch 12 August 17, 2012

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An unsure path

Future employment uncertain for Pathway Enterprises workers when SOU’s food service contract transitions to its new provider
By Sam Wheeler
Ashland Daily Tidings
August 20, 2012 2:00 AM
With a new long-term food service contract in the works at Southern Oregon University, the future is “up in the air” for a dozen employees of Pathway Enterprises Inc., whose mostly mentally or physically disabled staff has been working behind the scenes in SOU’s main kitchen for the past 15 years, a director from the organization said.
“We’re all pretty nervous, kind of chomping at our finger nails waiting to see what happens,” Medford-based Pathway Enterprises Director Of Contract Services Rick Simpson said.
So far, what Simpson has heard from the university “sounds hopeful,” concerning whether the school’s likely soon-to-be food service provider Minnesota-based A’viands Food and Services Management will renew a contract with Pathways after current provider Sodexo Inc. is ousted at the end of this month.
Simpson is expecting to speak with representatives with A’viands on Aug. 27, he said. A similar meeting three years ago with representatives from Sodexo Inc. resulted in a $750,000 contract.
Ten of the employees who work in the dish room at SOU’s Cascade Complex dining hall cope with mental and/or physical disabilities, and use paychecks they receive working the job to support themselves and live independent lives, Simpson said. A handful of the employees who have more severe impairments live in low-income housing provided by Pathway Enterprises in Medford.
Three-year dishwasher Adam Titus pays his own rent in Ashland with the $9 hourly wage. Titus, 31, graduated from Ashland High School in 1999, and has lived here his entire life, but did not want to share what disability he suffers from.
“I hope I can still have a job here, and they keep our contract,” Titus said. “Where will I go?
“They have the right to do it, but I don’t see why they would. Why would you want to get rid of these people that work so good?” said Titus, who hasn’t started looking for another job.
The fact that Pathway Enterprises is doing the work for what it would cost Sodexo — or less — is about the only fiscal incentive the food service provider had for bringing in the disabled workers, but they did, Titus said.
Titus said SOU Housing Director Tim Robitz, who is involved in negotiations with A’viands, informed Pathway Enterprises that A’viands is aware of the Medford organization, and agreed to meet with it.
Representatives from A’viands were not available for comment Friday, a representative from its headquarters in Roseville, Minn., said.
Concerning its possible contract with A’viands, SOU Director Of Interactive Marketing and Media Relations Jim Beaver said the university is “moving ahead as if it were going to be approved.”
A’viands will take over on Sept. 1 if a deal is reached, Robitz said. If a contract agreement between it and Pathway Enterprises hasn’t been met by then, the dozen employees keeping the dishes shiny at the Cascade Complex dining facility will be unemployed.
There is a wide variety of illnesses and disabilities among the staff, Pathway Enterprises Ashland Area Manager Mike Balliet said.
The Quality Rehabilitation Facility program defined by the state legislature requires state-funded organizations, such as SOU, to seek out and award contracts to Community Rehabilitation Programs such as Pathway Enterprises who can offer competitive bids to provide services that are deemed appropriate for its workers.
Providing all of the dining services at SOU goes beyond the capability of Pathway Enterprises, Simpson said, so the decision of whether to include the competitive community rehabilitation program is left up to the food service provider.
About 30 additional Pathway Enterprises employees work cleaning the residence halls at SOU, Simpson said. That contract, worth about $900,000 annually, will need to be restructured when SOU opens its new residence halls in September 2013.
The Medford organization’s workforce is about 75. About 65 of those employees suffer from a disability and work janitorial, dishwashing and other low-level jobs serving a variety of businesses across the Rogue Valley, but losing the SOU contract would be a huge blow, Simpson said.
“The fact of the matter is, lots of people are looking for work, and it’s especially difficult to find work if you have any barrier to employment,” he said. “We hire a lot of disabled veterans, individuals with mental illness, development disabilities … this group suffers from a huge array of disabilities that have impacted their lives in an incapacitating way … they just are not capable of participating in competitive employment.”
Rules governing the Quality Rehabilitation Facility program state its goal is to “encourage and assist individuals with disabilities to achieve maximum personal independence through useful and productive gainful employment “… thereby enhancing their dignity and capacity for self-support and minimizing their dependence on welfare and need for costly institutionalization.”
“I love it here, it’s a good job,” Titus said, pulling incoming plates off the rack and placing them in a massive washing machine. “I am just hoping we can stay around.”
Balliet, who doesn’t have a disability, said having to layoff these 10 employees would be tragic, because, at the moment, “I think work is pretty thin for us,” he said, meaning it’s likely they wouldn’t be relocated within the company.
“It’s quite a production,” he said, observing the hustling group. “They’re a finely oiled machine.”
Sodexo, A’viands, Chartwells Catering Services and Aramark Food Services submitted proposals to SOU for a 10-year contract to oversee its food services on campus, university Housing Director Tim Robitz said. He estimates the new deal could generate between $300,000 and $500,000 in profits for SOU annually.
Robitz said A’viands expects that it could generate between $8 million and $15 million of revenue over the contract period, which will include managing a 27,800-square-foot, one-story dining and community hall being constructed along with two new residence halls north of Ashland Street on the east side of SOU’s campus.
The organization plans to provide between $1 million and $3 million for capital improvements to campus dining facilities if it is awarded the contract, Robitz said.
As negotiations are ongoing, Robitz said he could not discuss how much the 10-year contract will be worth.
“Hopefully we’ll still be around,” Simpson said.
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

Home grown: The College Authority

August 20, 2012 2:00 AM
Editor’s note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it? I do college planning. I work with families of college-bound high school students, helping navigate the complexities of college admission and financial aid systems. I’ve been doing this since 2005 and the class of 2013 will be our eighth season of kids.
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I moved here in 2005 from Klamath Falls.
What inspired you to go into this line of work? When we moved to the Rogue Valley I was doing financial advising. I needed a marketing hook to get in front of more people and gather more assets. When I found the college-planning niche, I fell in love with it and gravitated to that line of work. I learned from my own experience in college that I made a lot of mistakes. If I knew then what I know now, I could have done it better and cheaper. So now I get to share that with families.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I would have hired my first employee sooner. It’s allowed me to free up my time. Instead of doing it all, I’m delegating the real time-consuming, day-to-day stuff and it frees me up to help more families.
What’s the toughest business decision you’ve made? Hiring is a big risk and expense. This is my company and to share that with someone and bring someone in to help, making that financial commitment to the business and another person is a little scary. This is the first business I’ve owned. We go into business because we have a product or service we love and want to share. We don’t go into business because we know how to run a business. We learn that along the way. I’ve learned to keep going and take that next step, make that next call and do the next marketing piece and keep moving forward.
Who are your competitors? Around here, I’m alone in what I do, but there is a lot of misinformation and lack information. People don’t know what’s ahead and they should do their due diligence and should take control of their college planning. The high schools give a lot of information about college admissions, but it’s not proactive. People are talking to friends and neighbors, but they are missing the financial pieces, the affordability pieces and how much their family can afford to spend on college.
What are your goals? I want to expand our footprint. The bulk of our clients come out of the Rogue Valley. We’ll go to Klamath Falls and Roseburg this year and maybe in five years up to the Eugene area. Most of our families come off referrals from previous families we’ve worked with or financial advisors or accountants.
What training or education did you need? I was a licensed financial adviser for a number of years with South Valley Wealth Management. I do continuing education on the financial pieces and admissions every month. I went to Southern Oregon University and have a bachelor’s degree in communications.
What’s your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. Match those with a business model and a mentor who has a heart to share with you.
To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or
Business card
Business: The College Authority
Owner: Cori Murphy
Address: 815 Bennett Ave., Medford
Phone: 541-773-9600
Employees: Two
Facebook: The College Authority

SOU in the News: August 14-15, 2012

If you are unable to access local newspaper content on your computer, scroll down this page to view print clips.


SOU gives Latinos a taste of higher learning
Mail Tribune August 15, 2012

New faculty join Department of Performing Arts at SOU
Daily Tidings August 15, 2012

SOU theatre students are part of an improv group performing this Saturday
Daily Tidings August 14, 2012
Read more

Southern Oregon University names new Director of Performing Arts

Talented new faculty also join SOU’s performing arts program

(Ashland, Ore.) Southern Oregon University announces the appointment of David Humphrey, PhD, as Director of Performing Arts at the university. Dr. Humphrey has more than 30 years of professional executive management and artistic production experience. Most recently he was the Director of the Museum of Performance & Design in San Francisco. Before that he worked at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as the Director of Education and as executive producer of a joint project between The Kennedy Center and the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
Read more

SOU in the News: August 8-11, 2012

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Opinion on independent Oregon public university boards is mixed

Associated Press August 11, 2012

Southern Oregon University gets grant to study biomass plant

Sustainable Business Oregon August 8, 2012

Southern Oregon University explores possibility of biomass system

Biomass Magazine August 8, 2012
Full Version of print clips
Opinion on independent state university boards mixed
Associated Press
August 11, 2012 9:20 AM
SALEM, Ore. — A proposal to free some of Oregon’s public universities from the grips of the statewide higher education board has garnered mixed reviews from the seven university presidents.
Some love it, some hate it, others are somewhere in the middle. Regardless, the issue is certain to be a hot topic for the Legislature next year, and a group of wealthy donors has put up more than $400,000 to be sure of it.
University of Oregon and Portland State University officials argue that they can’t reach their full potential while so many key decisions are made by the Legislature or the State Board of Higher Education.
They’ve asked the Legislature to create new governing boards, specific to each institution, that would take on the oversight of many of their most important affairs — hiring and firing a president, making decisions about salaries and other spending, and setting tuition.
Administrators at several of the other schools, however, worry that the universities will end up competing instead of collaborating; that the four regional schools will lose clout; or that higher education would end up with yet another layer of bureaucracy and micromanagement.
A task force created by the legislature has been studying the issue for months and is writing a bill that lawmakers will consider next year. The panel must have a draft ready by Aug. 15 and will take public comment for 30 days.
Oregon’s public four-year colleges are currently governed by 13 people appointed by the governor to the higher education board. They hire and fire presidents, set budgets and tuition, and determine each school’s niche in the whole system.
“There’s only so much they can know, in fact, there’s very little they can know about any one institution,” said Wim Wiewel, president of PSU. “It’s not because they aren’t good and smart and dedicated people. They just can’t know too much about any one of them.”
A board that’s dedicated to PSU and accountable for its success, Wiewel argued, could help him strategize about the university’s future and squeeze money from donors. Moreover, he said some donors are reluctant to give money because the statewide board, not the school, has ultimate control over the finances.
Some of the other presidents see it differently.
“The seven institutions should continue working as a system, collaborating, designing approaches together that will attract, retain and educate more Oregonians,” Mary Cullinan, South Oregon University president wrote in written testimony to lawmakers. “Collaboration will be more challenging if we have independent university boards.”
If the dominant universities get institutional boards, the smaller schools will probably follow suit, Cullinan wrote.
The proposals under consideration wouldn’t completely eliminate the authority of the statewide board over the schools that get their own governing body. Details are still being worked out, but the statewide board would likely continue to be responsible for requesting money from the Legislature and coordinating academic programs — an attempt to keep the schools from competing with each other for money or students.
“What I don’t want is another board telling me how to run the university,” said Ed Ray, Oregon State president. “I’ve got a board. I don’t need another board. And I think they (UO and PSU) don’t need another board, but — you know what — they’re grown-ups and they’re going to make their own decisions.”
Ray has said Ohio State University had its own governing board while he was an administrator there, and the board often micromanaged university operations. He said administrators and the board never discussed needs of the state or the higher education system as a whole.
The debate over institutional boards is not especially new, but it became a hot-button political debate late last year, when the statewide board fired then-UO President Richard Lariviere. He had aggressively lobbied to get more independence for the UO, with its own governing board and a new funding stream.
A 2011 bill gave the seven public universities and the statewide chancellor’s office, as a group, more control over their own income and spending, but it retained the longtime governance model.
While discussion of boards and governance has dominated legislative discussion of the university system in recent years, the schools are still struggling to make ends meet. State funding, adjusted for inflation, has been relatively flat for more than a decade and universities have raised tuition precipitously to make up for the difference.
“No governance system, in whatever form, can make up for disinvestment in higher education by state legislatures,” Oregon Institute of Technology President Christopher Maples told the legislative panel in June.
Maples said he believes it’s too soon to move forward because there are still more questions than answers about the creation of institutional boards.
Earlier this year, a group of wealthy donors including Phil Knight, the Nike founder and UO benefactor, and Tim Boyle, chief executive of Columbia Sportswear, created Oregonians for Higher Education Excellence, a political action committee that now has more than $400,000 in the bank.
There’s no specific plan for the money yet, Boyle said, but it could be used to push for a ballot measure if the Legislature doesn’t act.
The state’s control over universities far exceeds its financial support for their operations, Boyle said.
“This is about improving higher education in Oregon, and the goal is to have the governance system more closely match the realities of the state support,” he said.
Associated Press writer Steven DuBois contributed.
AP-WF-08-11-12 1403GMT