IAS Innovation Fund launches junk-to-art initiative

Junk-to-art program spotlights SOU’s IAS Innovation Fund

Impact of the SOU Institute for Applied Sustainability’s Innovation Fund will be on display when an exhibition of the Recology Ashland-SOU Artist-in-Residency program opens on Friday, May 17, at the university’s Temporary Sculpture Garden.

Recology Ashland partnered with SOU student artists last year to raise public awareness of environmental needs, such as reduction of waste sources, recycling and resource conservation. The award-winning program, led by SOU sculpture professor Michael Parker, helps students learn about turning waste into art, by using materials found at Recology’s Valley View Transfer Station to create works of art.

This week’s show marks the second year of the residency program, and features work by student artists Adam Garrett, Cameron Daniel Whiting, Carli Lamberto, Mel Villarreal and Naia Duggan.

The artists’ work will be featured from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the temporary public sculpture garden near SOU’s Center for the Visual Arts, the halls of Susanne Homes Hall Two & Three, the Sculpture Studio and the CVA Galleries. The show will celebrate the community collaboration and innovative solutions of the five artists.

The SOU Institute for Applied Sustainability was created in September 2022 as part of a $12 million gift to the university from Lithia Motors and its GreenCars division. The overall gift included $4 million to establish the SOU Institute for Applied Sustainability, which works with Lithia on initiatives including an academic credential in corporate sustainability, a national sustainability demonstration site, a sustainability conference and the IAS Innovation Fund – which offers micro-grants for innovative projects by SOU faculty and staff, such as the Recology Artist-in-Residency program.

The micro-grants are intended to serve as strategic investments, supporting SOU’s sustainability efforts and setting the stage for longer-term funding opportunities.

Creativity Conference at SOU set to begin

Sixth annual Creativity Conference at SOU set to begin May 16

(Ashland, Ore.) — The 6th annual Creativity Conference at Southern Oregon University will kick off Thursday, May 16, and run through Sunday, May 19. The four-day event features a dynamic, global lineup with over 100 presenters, including five keynote speakers.

Drawing together many of the world’s leading scholars, researchers and practitioners from the field of creativity, alongside a diverse array of professionals seeking to infuse creativity into their endeavors, the conference is set to spur curiosity and innovation, and generate conversations to transform and inspire creative thinking. The conference will feature research presentations, artistic exhibits and performances, and hands-on demonstrations. See the conference website for a full listing of this year’s program.

The conference will feature both in-person and remote presentation formats. In-person presentations, demonstrations and performances will run Thursday, May 16, through Saturday, May 18. Attendees joining in-person will have the option to view these sessions in designated venues in SOU’s Stevenson Union. Sunday, May 19, is devoted exclusively to remote presentations. All sessions – remote and in-person – will be accessible via livestream, ensuring inclusivity and engagement. Additionally, archived presentations will be available for viewing post-event.

“This conference showcases internationally renowned speakers, researchers and artists who are at the forefront of creativity research and application,” said Conference Co-Executive Director Dan DeNeui. “Their insights will ignite imagination and challenge attendees to reimagine their ideas about creativity.”

This year’s conference will again feature unique presentations and demonstrations on artificial intelligence and creativity. On Friday, the conference will feature an AI forum where attendees can learn about how faculty, students and innovators are using AI technology, and get hands on experience with AI tools.

Attendees can expect a diverse range of formats, including 60-minute panel discussions, 40- to 50-minute individual presentations, 15-minute “boom talk” sessions delivering concise insights, and engaging poster presentations. Each format will provide ample opportunities for interactive dialogue and exchange.

Distinguished keynote and invited speaker/performers for this year’s conference include:

  • Indre Viscontas, Associate Professor at the University of San Francisco
  • Tuomas Auvinen, Dean of the School of Arts, Design, and Architecture at Aalto University in Finland
  • Sandra Russ, Distinguished University Professor Emerita at Case Western Reserve University
  • April Matson, Executive Director of Rock The Rez
  • Bob Root-Bernstein, Professor of Physiology Emeritus at Michigan State University
  • Derek Keller, Assistant Professor of Music, Southern Oregon University

The SOU Creativity Conference serves as a global platform, offering cutting-edge insights and resources for individuals interested in the science and application of creativity research. The event fosters collaboration among creativity researchers, facilitating the expansion of professional networks and knowledge exchange.

Aligned with SOU’s strategic vision, which prioritizes creativity, innovation and essential human skills, the conference underscores the significance of creativity in driving progress and meeting the evolving needs of society.

Interested individuals can register for the conference by visiting the Creativity Conference website.

Those with questions can reach out to either Dan DeNeui at deneuid@sou.edu or Mark Runco at runcom@sou.edu.


Study-away trip to Bosnia

CCJ 389E: Spring break trip to Bosnia

A small group of students from SOU embarked on a recent transatlantic journey to explore Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia as part of their Criminology and Criminal Justice study away class CCJ 389E: War, Genocide, Peace & Reconciliation (open to ALL MAJORS). The fall term 2023 class concluded with the eight-day study abroad component during spring break 2024.

Throughout the fall term, students in the class immersed themselves in the rich history of the region, including its significant roles in WWI, WWII and the Bosnian war of the 1990s, delving into topics of war crimes, genocide and the region’s efforts toward healing and reconciliation. This groundwork set the stage for the experiential part of the class: the journey to Bosnia.

The group traveled together to Sarajevo, where they enjoyed a welcome dinner at an amazing traditional Bosnian restaurant in the old town. The next morning, they embarked on a walking tour of the city – the architecture a blend of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslav influences. The city’s rich cultural tapestry is woven with mosques, synagogues and churches standing side-by-side, reflecting its diverse heritage. Despite its past conflicts, Sarajevo’s resilient spirit is reflected through the incredible warmth and hospitality of its people.

Following the city tour, participants in the trip were deeply moved by their visit to a museum depicting the harrowing impact of the Sarajevo siege on the city’s children. In a poignant display of solidarity, the museum also features artifacts from children currently residing in war-torn regions like Ukraine and Gaza. The SOU group’s exploration continued at Galerija 11-7-95, a photographic tribute to the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. Meeting with Tarik Samarah, the photographer and founder, was a humbling experience as those in the group learned about Samarah’s renowned exhibitions worldwide (such as the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C, UN Headquarters in New York, Galerie du jour in Paris, the Dutch Parliament in the Hague and London’s Westminster Abby and Tate Modern Gallery), reinforcing the importance of remembrance and fostering a future free from such atrocities.

The SOU contingent visited Srebrenica on day three. The Srebrenica genocide, occurring in July 1995, stands as one of the darkest chapters in European history since World War II. It saw the mass murder of over 8,000 Bosniak men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces, despite the town being designated a UN safe area. The international community’s failure to prevent the atrocity highlighted the inadequacy of peacekeeping efforts during the Bosnian War.

The group’s final academic engagement in Sarajevo was a profound meeting with Dr. Hasan Nuhanović. Serving as an interpreter for the United Nations in Srebrenica during its fall to the Bosnian Serb Army, he tragically lost his entire family that day and has since dedicated himself to advocating for justice for the victims of Srebrenica. Dr. Nuhanović shared his deeply personal story with SOU students, and the group engaged in a meaningful dialogue, asking probing questions that he answered with honesty and introspection. This encounter left participants acutely aware of the enduring impact of war – as one student eloquently put it, “we only have to live it for a few days; they have to live it every day.”

Amidst the weighty academic aspects of the journey, the group found solace in the vibrant celebration of Ramadan across the country. In Sarajevo, the old town was adorned with strings of green lights, and each evening, a cannon fired a firework over the city at sundown to mark iftar and the end of the day’s fast. This signaled the bustling opening of cafes and restaurants, infusing the city with vitality, while the unwavering generosity and sense of humor among the people demonstrated their resilience in the face of adversity.

As their time in Sarajevo came to an end, the group journeyed to the enchanting city of Mostar before continuing on to Dubrovnik, Croatia, nestled along the stunning Adriatic coast. In Dubrovnik, they immersed themselves in the city’s rich history and then savored a leisurely day of shopping and soaking up the sunshine, culminating their week with relaxation and exploration.

While each student may have their own favorite moments from the trip, the overwhelming consensus is that it was truly incredible. As a faculty member, there’s nothing quite as fulfilling as guiding students on an overseas journey. Traveling with them facilitates transformative learning experiences, bridging the classroom with the real world and encourages students to step outside of their comfort zones. Witnessing their growth, curiosity and empathy throughout the journey has been truly remarkable. And as the legend goes, “Whoever drinks water from any of Sarajevo’s fountains and spouts will return to Sarajevo,” perhaps hinting at the magnetic allure of this captivating city.

Stayed tuned for next year’s CCJ 389A trip to London and Paris, focusing on historic prisons, contemporary court cases, and of course, Jack the Ripper!  For more information, please contact Dr. Alison Burke at burkea@sou.edu. All majors are welcome.

Chloe Fiveash awarded Goldwater Scholarship

SOU student receives prestigious scholarship

(Ashland, Ore.) — Chloe Fiveash, a Southern Oregon University junior majoring in biochemistry, is one of 438 recipients nationwide of the 2024 Goldwater Scholarship – a prestigious U.S. award that recognizes the research work of undergraduates in math, science and engineering. Fiveash, a first-generation college student who experienced homelessness while in high school, is SOU’s first Goldwater Scholar since 2021 and second since 2007.

Goldwater Scholars each receive as much as $7,500 annually for tuition, fees and room-and-board, along with national recognition for their undergraduate research. Fiveash is also a McNair Scholar at SOU and receives federal Pell and Supplemental Education Opportunity grants, the Oregon Opportunity Grant and at least five other scholarships.

She completed a 2022 independent internship by researching the ability of the insecticide fipronil to be absorbed by field mustard, to determine if the plant can effectively reduce concentrations and toxic effects of fipronil. She is currently researching the ability of the mold Aspergillus niger to limit the toxicity of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that is common in many foods.

“I feel incredibly honored to be recognized for my dedication to my research and education,” Fiveash said. “This opportunity will allow me to focus on the more impactful aspects of my current education such as my classes and research projects, and it will also open many doors for future financial endeavors to support my desire to go to graduate school.”

Fiveash has served as a volunteer caregiver at Mountain View Adult Foster Home, worked with SOU’s OSPIRG group to help with voter registration and volunteered to clean up the Antioch Cemetery. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, has made the Provost’s List of full-time students earning at least a 3.5 grade point average several times and is on track to graduate cum laude in June 2025

She is one of just four Oregon university students to be selected as Goldwater Scholars this year. A total of 1,353 science, engineering and mathematics students were nominated by 446 academic institutions to compete for the 2024 Goldwater Scholarships. The 438 scholarships awarded for 2024 brings the total number since 1989 to 10,720. Almost all of this year’s awardees – including Fiveash – intend to pursue doctorate degrees, with 57 of them planning research careers in mathematics and computer science, 237 in the sciences, 80 in medicine and 64 in engineering and materials research.

“I am so grateful for Chloe,” said Vincent Smith, director of SOU’s School of Science & Business. “Her hard work, determination and perseverance are inspirational.

“We face so many challenges as a planet,” Smith said. “I strongly believe that education still remains the greatest path toward equality, sustainability and vitality. SOU is appreciative of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation for their commitment to recognizing remarkable human potential.”

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation is a federally endowed agency that was created in 1986. Its scholarship program “was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics,” according to its website. “The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.”

The application process for the Goldwater Scholarships prompts students to demonstrate their commitment to research and tighten their focus on career goals – skills they will need when applying to graduate schools and for subsequent research scholarships. SOU undergraduates interested in learning more about the Goldwater Scholarship, eligibility criteria and how to apply may contact Melissa LaBonty, assistant professor of biology and the Goldwater Scholarship campus representative, at labontym@sou.edu.


SOU students to study Blue Zone in Costa Rica

SOU offers study-abroad opportunity to Costa Rican “Blue Zone”

Southern Oregon University will offer an innovative study-abroad opportunity in Costa Rica this summer that explores the intersection of health, longevity, culture and the environment. The program focuses on the Central American country’s “Blue Zone” on the Nicoya Peninsula – one of a handful of locations worldwide where residents’ life expectancy is highest.

Students who participate in the trip, from July 21 through Aug. 18, will be eligible to earn a total of six academic credits in two core courses – Health and Longevity (HE 399) and Environmental Health (HE 331). They will study the factors that contribute to healthy aging – from diet to community engagement – and also will engage with local communities, visit historical sites and experience Costa Rica’s rich cultural heritage.

The application deadline for the Costa Rica program, which will cost $4,725 for SOU students, is April 15.

SOU classes offer Blue Zone exploration in Costa RicaThe trip is being coordinated through SOU’s Study Abroad program and is offered in partnership with Academic Programs International, an independent study abroad provider that offers academic opportunities in more than 20 countries worldwide.

Financial aid options, including scholarships totaling $4,000 from Academic Programs International, are intended to make the program accessible to students from diverse backgrounds. Non-degree-seeking students and those from other universities are also eligible to participate.

The trip will include excursions to the 11,000-foot Volcán Irazú, Costa Rica’s highest volcano; the famous Monteverde cloud forest; and several days on the Nicoya Peninsula and National Park Reserve. There will also be opportunities for city walking tours, a visit to an organic farm, a local dance class, surf lessons and a cooking class.

Students will immerse themselves in Costa Rican culture through host-families, while exploring Costa Rica as a living classroom with a strong global reputation for health, happiness and environmental protection. Participants will practice experiential and service-based learning, and will learn evidence-based practices in health and wellness as they study the Nicoya Peninsula’s Blue Zone.

The original five Blue Zones – in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California – identified populations that are among the healthiest and longest-living in the world. The practices of inhabitants have been studied to find common keys to healthy aging, including a sense of community, culture, diet, lifestyle, activity, religion and agriculture.

Most centenarians on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, for example, have a strong sense of purpose, focus on their families, maintain their social networks, continue to practice physical chores and remain relatively free of stress by embracing their common traditions. They enjoy light dinners – typically of squash, corn and beans – early in the evening, take in vitamin D through sensible sun exposure and drink water that is high in calcium.

Those who are interested in the Costa Rica program are encouraged to contact Crystal Stroud, an SOU adjunct instructor in Health, Physical Education and Leadership, at stroudc@sou.edu.

The SOU Laboratory of Anthropology was awarded $500,000 by Congress

SOU Laboratory of Anthropology project rewarded by Congress

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology’s Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project – an ongoing, collaborative effort to research and document the lives of Oregon’s early Chinese immigrants – was awarded almost $500,000 in the spending bill approved by Congress this month. The federal allocation more than doubles the total funding that the archaeological project has received since it began in 2016.

SOU is the only one of Oregon’s four technical and regional universities to receive congressional funding in the new spending bill.

“This is another example of our representatives at both the state and federal levels recognizing the important, innovative work that is coming out of our university,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “Senators Merkley and Wyden supported this request through all the twists and turns of the congressional budgeting process, and the result will be a far greater understanding of the vital roles that Chinese Americans and immigrants have played throughout Oregon’s history.”

The new federal funding will allow the award-winning Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project to expand well beyond its original focus on 19th century mining and railroad settlements, to encompass areas throughout the state where Chinese immigrants have had a presence. The project will also incorporate “orphaned” collections from other archaeological efforts, and will result in a series of field schools, volunteer opportunities, exhibits, digital content and free, public talks and programs.

“We have investigated railroad and mining sites across the state, but these funds will be used to explore and document the history of Chinese Oregonians living in diverse geographical areas and working in a variety of industries, in an effort to better capture the full range of Chinese American heritage and experience in Oregon,” said archaeologist Chelsea Rose, director of the SOU Laboratory of Anthropology.

“While we have done amazing things working with our partners to date, this allows us to investigate some of the ‘bucket list’ sites we have encountered over the years, and implement some of our dream projects,” she said.

SOULA works on the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project with agencies including the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, the Malheur National Forest, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Historical Society and the Portland Chinatown Museum.

Researchers have used local history and public archaeology to challenge dated stereotypes and highlight the transnational lives of the Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans that helped establish the early infrastructure and economic industries of Oregon. The project has included digging, interpreting and touring numerous archaeological sites around the state where Chinese immigrants worked and lived, and researching censuses and community records.

The effort has won several awards, including one last fall from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and a national Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in June of 2022.

Sens. Merkley and Wyden submitted a “congressionally directed spending request” on SOU’s behalf to better enable students to assist with a comprehensive, statewide inventory of Chinese heritage sites. It will pay for archival research, targeted field visits and community outreach, and archaeological investigations at seven to 10 sites identified during the survey.

“These investigations would target sites that will fill in gaps in the documentary record, including industries or areas of the state that have been understudied,” the congressional request said. “This will consist of a mix of archaeological excavation, intensive survey, or analysis of orphaned artifact collections.”

About two-thirds of the $499,743 allocated by Congress will be used for fieldwork and reporting, with most of the remainder earmarked for travel, curation and supplies. The funding is part of the federal Labor, Health and Human Services budget for improvement of postsecondary education.


Provost and VP for Academic and Student Affairs Casey Shillam

Former University of Portland administrator to become SOU’s top academic leader

(Ashland, Ore.) — Casey Shillam, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N, who served most recently as dean and professor of the University of Portland School of Nursing & Health Innovations, will be the next Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Southern Oregon University. She will begin her duties at SOU on Friday, March 1.

Shillam is an experienced academic leader, nurse, educator, administrator and U.S. military veteran. She is an expert on aging, a skilled researcher and statistician with a long record of research funding, and has a prolific publication history. Under her leadership, student enrollment at the University of Portland nursing school grew by 35%, becoming the state’s largest undergraduate nursing program. Throughout her administrative career, she has secured more than $10 million in federal, philanthropic and foundation funding for academic program development, student scholarships and research.

“Dr. Shillam has already made a huge impact in our state, and we are truly excited to have her join the SOU family and apply her expertise to our academic and student-centered programs,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “Her skills align seamlessly with many of our programs and initiatives – from our outstanding academic program offerings to our student support systems, to our plans for a senior living facility on the SOU campus, to ongoing efforts that will expand our behavioral mental health offerings and address the statewide shortage of counselors. We look forward to her leadership helping us to continue to move onward and upward as an institution.”

Shillam’s work on aging and health policy has made significant impacts regionally and nationally. In Oregon, she shaped legislation through the House Committee on Health Care to address the healthcare workforce shortage, resulting in actionable steps with measurable outcomes to address critical issues. At the federal level, she co-chaired the Department of Health & Human Services RAISE Family Caregiving Advisory Council, which provided the U.S. Congress with the first national caregiving strategy and federal funding priorities to support over 53 million family caregivers. She is currently serving on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission.

“Southern Oregon University stands out as a leader of regional institutions of higher education, and I am honored to join this thriving campus community,” Shillam said. “A strong roadmap has been developed by President Bailey and the entire SOU community, leveraging opportunities and strengths of the people and resources of southern Oregon. I am eager to begin my work in implementing this plan with SOU’s innovative leaders, talented faculty, dedicated staff and outstanding students.”

Shillam is a first-generation college graduate with a deep commitment to student support and well-being. She earned a bachelor’s degree in arts and letters at Portland State University; bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in nursing, all at Oregon Health & Science University; and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Davis. Her bachelor’s degree in nursing was from the OHSU program on the SOU campus.

Current Provost Susan Walsh, Ph.D., announced last summer that she planned to retire, but agreed to serve until Shillam begins her new role on Friday. Walsh has served 42 years at SOU, rising through the academic ranks from instructor in the Communication Department, to full professor and eventually to the institution’s top academic leadership position.

The Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs is the leader in sustaining an environment of academic excellence and student success at SOU.


Raider Educator Day keynote will be from alumna Katherine Holden

Raider Educator Day with SOU’s School of Education

(Ashland, Ore.) — A keynote address from Katherine Holden, a nationally recognized alumna and principal of Talent Middle School, will highlight the second annual Raider Educator Day, hosted on Saturday, March 9, by Southern Oregon University’s School of Education. The event, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Rogue River Room of SOU’s Stevenson Union, will serve as a platform for prospective and current students, and recent alumni, to connect with seasoned education professionals, gain insights into the field and explore career opportunities.

Holden, who also taught high school for 10 years at the Ashland School District’s Wilderness Charter School and served seven years as associate principal at Ashland Middle School, has earned acclaim for her innovative contributions to education – particularly in areas including grading reform and equity, diversity and inclusion. She was named the 2022 National Assistant Principal of the Year in recognition of her transformative work in implementing a standards-based grading and reporting system. Her expertise has been shared at conferences across the United States, and she has led professional development for over a thousand educators.

“Katherine Holden’s remarkable career exemplifies what can be achieved by those who embrace the possibilities of innovative teaching and service,” said Vance Durrington, director of SOU’s School of Education, Leadership, Health & Humanities. “Our Raider Educator Day provides a unique opportunity for newcomers to the field of education, or those contemplating education careers, to gain insights from our most respected educators.”

The event will include sessions and mock interviews with superintendents, administrators, hiring managers and teachers from local school districts – many of whom are SOU alumni. School of Education faculty members and student leaders also will participate.

The day is intended to provide valuable career and pathway advice to attendees. Topics will include teacher preparation programs, scholarships and insights into the evolving landscape of the education field.

Raider Educator Day is open at no charge to all who are interested. The schedule and sign-up information are available online.

About Katherine Holden
Holden earned her bachelor’s degree in biology, master’s degree in education and the Administrative License Program at SOU. She currently serves as principal at Talent Middle School and has been actively involved in educational leadership and advocacy.


SOU Clinical Mental Health Counseling program receives funding

SOU counseling program expanding to address statewide need

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s master’s degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling has been awarded a $1.8 million grant from the Oregon Health Authority, and would receive another $1 million if pending legislation is approved, to help address a critical statewide shortage of behavioral healthcare practitioners.

The current OHA grant will be used in part to expand the capacity of SOU’s program to 60 students, from the current maximum of 48. There are now 40 students in the program – eight below capacity. The grant will incentivize participation in the program by making available as much as $18,000 in support for each student in next fall’s CMHC cohort – $5,000 in tuition assistance plus a $1,000 stipend per term, for as many as three terms.

The SOU program has extended its priority deadline to Feb. 14 for admission into the fall 2024 cohort of students. Applications are now being accepted for next fall’s students.

“The state is working to prioritize funding to deal with the behavioral health crisis in Oregon,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “SOU and other universities in Oregon now have an opportunity to work together and expand our existing behavioral health programs, and collaborate with community partners to meet workforce needs with more licensed mental health counselors and master’s of social work degrees.”

A new study commissioned by the state suggests that Oregon lacks the capacity to house an estimated 3,000 adult, residential mental health patients – from inpatient psychiatric beds at hospitals to facilities for those with substance use and withdrawal management issues. The report indicates a construction cost of at least $500 million, but does not address staffing or operational costs at those facilities, or workforce development costs.

SOU’s $1.8 million grant is part of the OHA’s Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative to improve care across the state, particularly for under-represented communities including people of color, tribal members, LGBTQIA+ and residents of rural Oregon. Oregon Tech received a $623,700 grant through the OHA initiative to expand its master’s degree programs in Applied Behavior Analysis and Marriage and Family Therapy.

SOU’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is expected to add a tenure-track faculty position this winter to support the program’s increased capacity next fall.

A hearing is scheduled today for Oregon Senate Bill 1592, a separate piece of legislation sponsored  by State Sen. Jeff Golden that targets the state’s behavioral mental health workforce crisis. If approved in this year’s short legislative session, the bill would provide $1 million each in funding for programs at SOU, Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Tech and Western Oregon University, and $2 million for Portland State University.  SOU would use the funding to build a master’s degree in social work program, in collaboration with PSU, and to expand existing programs.

The mission of SOU’s CMHC program is to train competent, culturally aware, ethical counselors to provide exceptional mental health services in both public and private settings. The  program is fully accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).


SOU faculty members picked for AASCU leadership institute

Four from SOU chosen for AASCU leadership institute

(Ashland, Ore.) — Four Southern Oregon University faculty members are among 36 educators selected from higher education institutions across the country to take part in the inaugural Department Chair Leadership Institute, an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities that is intended to help participants develop critical skills and prepare for future administrative roles.

SOU’s participants in the AASCU program are Jackie Apodaca, professor and co-chair of the Theatre Department; Dee Fretwell, senior instructor and chair of the School of Business; Larry Gibbs, associate professor and chair of the Healthcare Administration Program; and Jesse Longhurst, associate professor and chair of the Education Department.

Members of the initial cohort of the DCLI will participate in an in-person meeting this week in Washington, D.C., and in three 75-minute virtual sessions in February and March. The leadership institute’s comprehensive curriculum covers how to lead a department based on an institution’s mission and strategic plan, navigate difficult conversations, grow and sustain a future-focused department and and maintain relevance as higher education changes.

The DCLI is designed for current department chairs state colleges and universities who aspire to be dynamic, strategic and empathetic leaders. Participants gain a national perspective on the importance of the department chair in serving the institutional mission, leading with an equity mindset, delivering value and ensuring student success. The institute was created in response to AASCU member feedback and requests for a robust professional development program for department chairs.

Richard Helldobler, president of New Jersey’s William Paterson University and a former AASCU board member, is serving as executive sponsor and lead faculty member of the new leadership institute. He said a recent study found that 67% of department chairs reported no training was received for their position, even though chairs are considered the most critical front-line managers for academic and institutional effectiveness.

“AASCU is taking this issue head-on with the development of this new program to help department chairs understand roles and responsibilities, finances and navigating the complexities of university leadership,” Helldobler said.

The demand for the new program was so high that the 2024 institute will be made up of two cohorts, with the second group participating in its in-person meeting in August and virtual sessions in September and October.