SOU in the News: August 14-15, 2012

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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

Southern Oregon University hires new Director of Performing Arts
Oregonlive August 14, 2012

SOU is one of four Oregon universities to make the Sierra climate-friendly ranking
Sustainable Business Oregon August 14, 2012

Football braces for the Frontier Conference
Daily Tidings August 14, 2012

Volleyball coach is upbeat on eve of new season
Mail Tribune August 15, 2012
Full version of print clips
A Taste Of Higher Learning
Academia Latina continues to grow, giving students a look at college life
By Sam Wheeler
for the Mail Tribune
August 15, 2012 2:00 AM
Academia Latina has a serious case of growing pains.
In its 12th year, the weeklong youth academy for Latino students has swelled from 25 applicants in 2001 to 135 this year — the most ever, says Director Juanita Gomez-Ephraim.
“We had to beat the bushes the first year for students,” she says. “This year, we had to turn so many away because we just don’t have enough money.”
The program started Sunday and is in full swing this week, as 80 seventh- through ninth-graders work through daily classes at Southern Oregon University. They experience the full run of campus for an early taste of college life, including sleeping in the dorms and eating in the cafeteria.
The program simply can’t keep up with its growing reputation among adolescent Latino students, says Academia Latina instructor Jonathan Chavez-Baez.
“We could have a 4.0 (GPA) only program,” Chavez-Baez says, “but we want struggling students around to learn from the 4.0 students.”
Jose Rivera, 21, who attended the academy for three years as an adolescent, came back this year as a senior instructor.
“The program pushes people to believe they can do anything with hard work and dedication, and go to any college,” Rivera says. “It encouraged me to further my education.”
Teaching mural art to students at Academia Latina this year is a pleasure, says Rivera, who is entering his final year as an art major at SOU.
The culture and history surrounding murals in Mexico and throughout the world are as important for his class to learn as the artistry used to create them, Rivera says. On top of the class work, his students are working on a large banner for Academia Latina organizers to keep and display annually, he says.
Elementary- and college-level math classes, creative writing, geography and history, and Portuguese are a few of the other classes this year.
Salsa dancing is the favorite of 15-year-old J.J. Quirarte, who attends South Medford High School and is in his third year at Academia Latina.
Students previously accepted into Academia Latina must maintain a higher grade-point average than the year prior to be considered again.
J.J. ended last year with a 3.8 GPA and hopes to get accepted into Academia Latina as a counselor in a few years.
Most of the academy’s applicants live in Southern Oregon, Chavez-Baez says, but many have been accepted from outside of the region and state.
The program draws most of its financial support from a handful of regional sponsors, foundations and GEAR UP, a U.S. Department of Education grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education, according to its website.
Nearly all of the students accepted into Academia Latina are given scholarships that pay for $650 of the $700 cost of enrollment. About 5 percent of those accepted who don’t qualify as low-income or who reside outside Southern Oregon pay the full amount, Gomez-Ephraim says.
As Academia Latina’s budget depends primarily on the availability of grants and the generosity of donors, recessionary cutbacks have made it challenging to keep the program running strong, Gomez-Ephraim says. Increasing that budget anytime soon looks bleak, she says.
Chavez-Baez, who also works as admissions counselor in charge of minority outreach at SOU, has been working with the Academia Latina for the last 10 years, he says.
There is a demand for the program to grow around, he says, one that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
“Here at SOU, we are really already seeing the fruits of this program,” Chavez-Baez says, pointing to a more than 25 percent increase in Hispanic student enrollment at SOU last fall.
One of the things that’s changed most about the program since it started is the wide array of professions and degrees Academia Latina’s students say they plan to pursue after graduating high school, Gomez-Ephraim says.
“It’s really too bad,” she says, shaking her head. “I would love to not have to turn students away who are more than capable to attend.”
Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email
New faculty join Department of Performing Arts at SOU
August 15, 2012 2:00 AM
David Humphrey, 65, is the new director of performing arts at Southern Oregon University.
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.
SOU’s Department of Performing Arts includes 46 full and part-time faculty, and presents scores of student musical and theatrical performances each year.
Other new faculty joining the department this fall include James Donlon, who brings a four-decade career in mime, movement, dance, clowning, masks, puppetry and circus; and Jeff Richmond, recognized as a significant voice in modern jazz composition and performance education who will be teaching upper level and advanced music theory, jazz performance and trumpet performance.
Jackie Apodaca, who joined the performing arts faculty last fall after a 20-year career in theater, film and commercial production, will join new faculty member Robert Clift, professor in the Communication Department, to develop a film and digital media program serving theater and communication students with the intent of forming a bridge between digital media, film and theater at SOU.
For more information, visit
Improv group performs at winery
August 14, 2012 12:15 PM
Local improvisational comedy group Levity will perform a show at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Grizzly Peak Winery, 1600 E. Nevada St., Ashland.
The show will be outdoors with a no-host wine bar and gourmet food.
“If you love goofy improv comedy like the TV show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ then you’ll love our show,” Levity group leader Lyda Woods said in a prepared statement.
Several group performers are Southern Oregon University theater majors, while others are active in other community theaters.
Tickets cost $8. Attendees should bring lawn chairs. Call 541-708-1082 to reserve spots.
Rohlfing upbeat as SOU set to begin
By By Joe Zavala
for the Mail Tribune
August 15, 2012 2:00 AM
ASHLAND — Figuring out how to replace starters who graduated is a challenge every year for Southern Oregon University volleyball coach Josh Rohlfing. But this year, after saying goodbye to two All-Americans plus two more major contributors, Rohlfing may be facing his greatest test yet.
Still, only days before his team’s season opener, not to mention a marquee matchup against fifth-ranked Biola, Rohlfing isn’t sweating it. Instead, the Raiders’ sixth-year head coach is boasting about SOU’s phenomenal athleticism, while also admitting that, yes, there will be a learning curve and there’s no telling how steep it will be.
“I feel like there’s a lot more questions than answers, and going into a season that’s a little unsettling at times,” he said. “But it’s the nature of change, the nature of transition. We’re transitioning away from two All-Americans who played for four years — that’s a tough one to do.”
Those two All-Americans were outside hitter Sarah Holgen and middle blocker Megan Bartling, both of whom were also Cascade Conference all-star selections.
Taking over as Southern Oregon’s primary ball-smasher this season will be senior Natalie Scheller, who ranked third on the team last season with 250 kills. Scheller will start alongside returning setters Angela Spieker and Caryn Westrick, both seniors, and junior libero Renee Yomtob.
The Raiders, who placed 11th in the country last season after advancing to the final bracket at nationals for the first time in team history, will start two setters in a 6-2 offensive system designed to maximize its versatility and spread opponents out. Other hitters who should see plenty of action are juniors Liz Madden and Haley Kasler, and — possibly — junior transfer Motade Atanda.
Atanda is still in the process of clearing some eligibility hurdles related to her transfer from Foothill Junior College, but if that works out in SOU’s favor the Raiders will have access to another major weapon. Though slight by outside hitter standards, the 5-foot-8 Atanda is a phenomenal jumper who can touch a basketball rim, according to Rohlfing. And in practice, the former Division I player for Butler University already has shown flashes of brilliance.
“She’s a better jumper than (Holgen), if you can believe it,” Rohlfing said. “You watch her here, and it’s insane. She’s going to be the one that can put balls away for us.”
The Raiders had plenty of players who could put the ball away last season, which partly accounted for their solid .233 attack percentage and 1,457 kills. Though he has yet to see them in a real match, Rohlfing is confident that the Raiders will be balanced again and may be even more athletic.
“I think we’re going to be quick, really quick, and explosive,” he said. “Understanding that, I feel like we could be very good offensively, and that’s exciting. We have two experienced setters back and they’re going to be able to run the offense however we want to run it “…so I think the pace to our game is going to be pretty phenomenal.”
“Last year, we thought we couldn’t get any faster than that,” Spieker said, “and then this year, we watched film, and we are faster than what we were — or about right where we were at the end of last year. So, there’s always room for improvement.”
Of course, the full potential of Southern Oregon’s athleticism can only be tapped if the Raiders effectively control the ball. To that end, SOU’s serve receive will be crucial.
The Raiders’ top two diggers from a year ago — libero Becky Johnstone and Holgen — have graduated, leaving Yomtob, sophomore defensive specialist Brookelynn Cole, Scheller and junior Mona Goudarzian to pick up the slack.
“If (serve receive) is on, if we’re going like we have in practice, we’re going to be exceptional,” Rohlfing said. “If that part of our game isn’t clicking, we could struggle a little.”
The Raiders, who were ranked second to College of Idaho in the Cascade Conference preseason coaches’ poll, won’t have to wait long to find out exactly how they stack up against the nation’s best. Biola, which lost just one player off a team that finished fifth in the nation last season, faces SOU in the opening-day nightcap of SOU’s Paul Elliott Invitational Friday.
Southern Oregon may not be at full strength — Atanda, along with freshmen Tyana Andrews and Kelsea MacPhee may or may not be eligible in time for SOU’s noon season-opener against UC Merced — but either way, the Raiders are looking forward to being tested right out of the gate.
“We just want to get together and play,” Scheller said, “because I think through that we’re going to find out our true identity and see who we really are as a team. When teams push us, will we battle back? Are we going to fight? Who are we going to look to?
“We’re going to find out a lot about ourselves.”

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