SOU's 150th anniversary recognized by Oregon Legislature

Oregon Legislature congratulates SOU on 150th anniversary

The Oregon Legislature has recognized the 150th anniversary of Southern Oregon University, moving last week to adopt a resolution that applauds and congratulates the university for its ongoing “service, leadership and contributions to the State of Oregon.” The legislation – House Concurrent Resolution 1 – was signed by Oregon Senate President Rob Wagner in an event attended by SOU President Rick Bailey and SOU Board of Trustees Chair Danny Santos.

150th anniversary event in SalemSOU, which was founded in 1872 as the Ashland Academy, has celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary throughout the 2022-23 academic year. The institution has been in its current location since 1926, and was known by a total of nine other names before becoming SOU in 1997.

Last week’s resolution was sponsored by State Rep. Pam Marsh and State Sen. Jeff Golden, both of Ashland. It was co-sponsored by representatives Kim Wallan, Zack Hudson, Boomer Wright, Emily McIntire, Ricki Ruiz and David Brock Smith.

The resolution contains 19 “whereas” notations – recognizing everything from the evolution of SOU’s name and focus, to its commitment to sustainability, to the leadership of its graduates – before concluding with a “therefore” statement congratulating “SOU, tens of thousands of SOU alumni and all Oregonians” on the university’s 150th anniversary.

The complete text of the resolution follows:

House Concurrent Resolution 1
Sponsored by Representative MARSH, Senator GOLDEN, Representatives WALLAN, HUDSON, WRIGHT; Representatives MCINTIRE, RUIZ, SMITH DB

Whereas Southern Oregon University (SOU) can trace its beginning to 1869, when local citizens formed the Rogue River Valley Educational Society with the goal of building an academy of higher learning in Ashland, Oregon; and

Whereas in 1872, the first building was completed, and the Ashland Academy officially opened and welcomed its first students; and

Whereas in 1882, the Legislative Assembly authorized creation of a state normal school in Ashland for teacher training, and the school was renamed Ashland State Normal School; and

Whereas in 1895, the school was renamed Southern Oregon State Normal School and was located about a mile south of the present campus; and

Whereas in 1925, the City of Ashland donated 24 acres for a new campus, the present site of SOU; and

Whereas the institution has grown and evolved as a resilient organization with the support of the public over the course of 150 years, including attaining university status in 1997 with an official name change to Southern Oregon University; and

Whereas SOU has prepared future generations of teachers since 1882 and was named the top college for K-12 education degree programs in 2020 by, based on the United States Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System; and

Whereas SOU’s School of Business was named best in the Northwest and was ranked 10th in the United States for MBA programs in nonprofit management by, based on analysis of regional accreditation statistics in 2019; and

Whereas SOU advances and encourages the arts within the institution and in the surrounding community, including Professor Angus Bowmer’s vision that created the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1935; and

Whereas SOU has fostered creativity education by hosting the annual international Creativity Conference since 2018; and

Whereas SOU proudly implements character-driven athletics programs as a foundation for sportsmanship and athletic accomplishments, and SOU has been recognized twice with the Cascade Collegiate Conference Presidents’ Cup for Academic Excellence, was first in the fall 2018 LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup rankings from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and has achieved multiple conference and national championships; and

Whereas SOU has been lauded as one of the most environmentally responsible higher education institutions in the United States and Canada, including recognition as a “Tree Campus USA,” as the nation’s first “Bee Campus USA” and as the nation’s top pollinator-friendly college in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” rankings; and

Whereas SOU has been included in the top 20 list of green colleges and universities by the United States Environmental Protection Agency since 2008 and received the Excellence and Innovation Award for Sustainability and Sustainable Development from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; and

Whereas SOU achieved the “Gold” level for sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and received a Climate Leadership Award at the Presidential Climate Leadership Summit of the nonprofit organization Second Nature; and

Whereas SOU strives to create an inclusive campus community, resulting in it being named one of the nation’s “Best of the Best” LGBTQIA+ campuses for 10 consecutive years by Campus Pride; and

Whereas for 150 years, dedicated faculty and staff have led the way at SOU, continually renewing the university’s commitment to putting students first by building a community of learners who impact their own lives and the lives of those around them; and

Whereas graduates of SOU have become leaders in business, government, academia, the military, science, medicine, education, the arts and every other field of human endeavor; and

Whereas the SOU Board of Trustees received the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership in 2019-2020; and

Whereas Southern Oregon University has publicly acknowledged that these successes exist within the ancestral homelands of the Shasta, Takelma and Latgawa people; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon:

That we, the members of the Eighty-second Legislative Assembly, commemorate the 150th anniversary of Southern Oregon University and congratulate SOU, tens of thousands of SOU alumni and all Oregonians on this significant public milestone of service, leadership and contributions to the State of Oregon.