four appointed to SOU board

Four appointed to SOU Board of Trustees

(Ashland, Ore.) — A local entrepreneur and double-alumna, a chemistry professor and campus leader, a graduate student in the School of Education and an undergraduate Honors College student have been appointed by Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek and confirmed today by the Oregon Senate to serve on the Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees.

Sachta Bakshi Card will complete the unexpired, at-large term of Jonathon Bullock, who resigned from the board last year; her term will end in June 2027. Hala Schepmann, Ph.D., will serve a two-year term as the SOU board’s faculty representative; Julissa Taitano will serve a two-year term as the board’s graduate program representative; and Garima Sharma will serve a two-year term as the board’s undergraduate representative. Card, Schepmann and Taitano are full voting members of the board, while Sharma’s undergrad position is non-voting in its first year and then shifts to a voting position in its second year.

“This is an outstanding group to help steer the course of the university we all love,” said SOU Board Chair Daniel Santos. “These new board members bring rich and varied experiences to the table, and each has deep connections to SOU. Our governing body, university, community and state will benefit from their service.”

Sachta Bakshi Card, who was born and raised in India before moving to the U.S. at age 17 to attend SOU, is an entrepreneur and investor who owns restaurants and advises other small businesses in southern Oregon. She is an honors graduate of SOU, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Economics, a certificate in Applied Finance and Economics, and a master’s in management degree. She also has an MBA from San Francisco State University and a master’s degree in International Business from University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. Card is a member of the boards of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Options for Helping, Resources and Assistance (OHRA). She received the prestigious American Association of University Women’s award for the Outstanding Woman Student in Economics while a student at SOU.

Hala Schepmann joined the SOU faculty in 2001 and recently served as chair of Chemistry and Physics, navigating the department through the COVID-19 pandemic and leading the creation of an endowed summer research program for students and faculty.  She has also served in SOU leadership roles including president of the faculty association and co-founder and leader of a university alliance that supports underrepresented faculty groups. Schepmann co-leads the National Science Foundation ASCEND project that focuses on supporting the advancement of women STEM faculty nationwide.  Her most recent effort – a project of NSF GRANTED (Growing Research Access for Nationally Transformative Equity and Diversity) – seeks to transform research enterprises at primarily undergraduate, emerging research institutions. Schepmann specializes in organic chemistry and spectroscopy and her research interests include drug discovery and development of inclusive teaching strategies. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Texas, Austin, her master’s degree in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of California, Berkely, and her doctorate in bioorganic chemistry from Rice University.

Julissa Taitano is a graduate student in the SOU School of Education’s Master of Science in Education program, with a concentration in higher education leadership. She has served as a student leader in many positions, including as a member of the SOU women’s wrestling team, and as a student representative and former student body vice president in the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University. She currently serves as chair of the Student Fee Budget Committee, which works to determine students’ “incidental fees” and other charges that can affect the university for many years. Taitano, as an aspiring educator, recognizes a systemic need for higher education institutions to embrace the urgency of being a catalyst for change. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education, with a minor in philosophy at SOU.

Garima Sharma is a junior in the SOU Honors College, with double majors in healthcare administration and pre-nursing, and minors in ethics and health promotion. She currently serves as chief justice for the ASSOU, where she looks at governing documents and helps establish rules for the student government to follow. Sharma has embraced leadership roles across campus, including service as president of the Black Student Union and work in the Social Justice & Equity Center. She has also been a resident assistant in University Housing for the past two years.

SOU was granted authority by the state to form its own independent Board of Trustees beginning July 1, 2015, following the legislature’s dissolution of the Oregon University System and State Board of Higher Education. SOU’s board is responsible for governance and oversight of the university.