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

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