The Lattin-Crocker clan has a strong connection with Southern Oregon University and a long legacy of school engagement. The tradition began in the 1960s with Frances (1964 graduate) and Bruce Lattin (1967), and Dawn (1969) and Paul Lattin (1970). Their time at the university was marked with great joy, camaraderie and personal growth.
Paul Lattin followed his brother Bruce to SOU.
“I knew my older brother Bruce liked it, and most of my friends went there. I hadn’t really considered any other place,” he said. “I really enjoyed the small classes, the instructors paid attention to you and, best of all, I met my wife Dawn there.”
Lattin credits Southern Oregon College with sparking his drive to succeed.
“I was a pretty average student my first two years, but in my junior year, I worked in food service as a student manager,” he said. “The work, and the confidence they had in me, gave me the drive I needed. From that moment on, I had the incentive to do better in school. My grades went up, and I have held onto that confidence and courage my entire life.”
SOU was the perfect fit for Dawn.
“It was a really good experience,” she said. “To this day, when we visit Ashland all those wonderful memories come back. I got a great education, and Paul and I have been married 50 years.”
Frances Lattin had originally gone to the University of Oregon, but it didn’t quite click with her so she decided to transfer after a lot of positive feedback from friends.
“SOC was just a whole different world. I had such wonderful professors,” she said.
As an English major with a theater minor, she said one of her favorite instructors was Angus Bowmer, founder of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
“He became a dear friend; I still have letters from him,” she said. “The instructors at SOU really got to know their students and connect with them.”
Lattin went on to teach high school after graduating.
“I had a wonderful career as a teacher,” she said. “Southern shaped so much of my life, my career, my relationships,” she said. “I tear up a little bit thinking of all the opportunities that SOC and my education have given me.”
Lattin happily shared her experiences with her daughters, Cathy and Suzy, and was delighted when the two decided to attend the university as well.
“It’s fabulous that my daughters also chose to go there,” she said. “They even met some of the same people I knew. I loved hearing about their time there.”
Cathy Crocker (1990) and Suzy Tannenbaum (1992) credit their mother, in part, with their eagerness to go to SOU and their engagement in college life.
“All of us had really rich experiences, and I’m so glad we were involved in student life,” Crocker said.
Tannenbaum said her education wasn’t the only thing she has carried with her throughout her career.
“Southern had such a community feel,” she said. “That’s what I carried into my law-enforcement career, working with the public, bringing people together, and building community and relationships.” she said.
Tannenbaum, the chief of public safety at Oregon State University, leads a team of officers who ensure the safety and security of the campus community. The family connection with SOU gives Tannenbaum great joy.
“Our kids and our grandkids will know that SOU is a special place,” she said. “We have such a history with it, our parents were even married at the little church near campus. I’m so proud of being a Southern grad, and I celebrate being a Raider and all the wonderful friendships and connections I’ve made through it.”
Crocker feels the same fondness for SOU as her sister. The relationships she made and the sense of engagement that her time at SOU helped foster has shaped her life in numerous ways.
“I grew a lot in college, and working as a resident assistant helped me learn to really dig deep with people and connect,” she said. “Those experiences helped make me into the person I am today.”
Both Crocker and her husband, Dan (1990), say they have fond memories of their time as residential staff at the dorms.
“Dan and I were high school sweethearts,” she said. “I was in Diamond Hall, and he was in Emerald. We could actually see each other from the windows of our apartments.
“We learned so much about the power of engagement and building community with our fellow students. It was amazing, and now our child Aubrey is an RA at SOU, so the tradition continues.”
Dan Crocker, who is the CEO of the Ashland YMCA, said his campus involvement was key to learning the skills that he uses every day.
“I was originally going to a different university and didn’t get involved in anything, and I was basically flunking out,” he said. “At SOU, I got involved. First, I was elected as hall president, and that led to being elected as the on-campus student government president, then I decided to be a hall director to help incoming freshmen not make the same mistakes I initially made.
“I had no idea that decision would lead to so many opportunities in the future.”
Over the summers he further honed his skills working as a Y camp director.
“By the time I graduated SOU, even counting my horrible credits from my first college, I graduated with strong leadership skills and a 3.7 GPA,” he said. “My time at SOU was amazing. It didn’t even seem like work.”
Aubrey, majoring in Emerging Media and Digital Arts, said that SOU checked all the boxes.
“For me, SOU was the most comfortable place I visited,” she said. “After a visit, I just felt like it was where I belong.”
Parents Dan and Cathy’s involvement in student life is what inspired Aubrey to become an RA as well.
“I like that I’m part of a long family tradition, both of going to SOU and involvement in campus life,” she said. “I hadn’t really thought of it as a legacy, but it’s a great one to have.”
Shared and updated from the spring 2020 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine