Sean O'Skea

SOU’s Sean O’Skea: from historic preservation to theatrical scene design

After moving back-and-forth – between the East and West coasts, and between theater stage design and historic preservation – Sean O’Skea has settled into his role at SOU as a professor of scenic design, which he’s held for the past 13 years.

O’Skea became interested in scene design after taking drama classes in high school and realizing he was more interested in creating evocative environments than in performing. To that end, he worked toward a bachelor’s degree in theatre at the University of Portland. But he started to have a change of heart while working on his graduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, deciding to work instead toward a master’s degree in historic preservation.

“My degree in historic preservation was a bit of a rebellion against working in theatre,” O’Skea said. “I had worked my first year in grad school at University of Wisconsin-Madison and was really having second thoughts. I’ve always been interested in history and architecture, and so jumped into the program at Ball State.”

He worked in Indiana for about a year as a historic preservationist, but found after moving back to the West Coast that historic preservation work is rarer than it was on the East Coast.

“While I was trying to find more work in historic preservation, I kept getting offered design jobs and adjunct teaching in theatre, and after a while I just sort of found myself back in theater full-time again – so I went to University Portland to finish my MFA,” O’Skea said.

“I was accepted for a tenure-track job at Alfred University in New York,” he said. “So we moved back across the country. I was at Alfred for three years when my wife was offered a fantastic job in PR for Microsoft. Our life has been alternating between my school and jobs taking us east, where we were never really happy, and my wife’s jobs bringing us back to Oregon.”

In Oregon, O’Skea spent a couple years raising his daughter as a stay-at-home dad, before applying for teaching jobs at nearby universities – including SOU, where he was eventually hired.

“My wife has always dreamed of living in Ashland, and Southern Oregon felt very familiar to my Sonoma County (California) childhood home,” O’Skea said. “(SOU is) big enough to have a real college experience but not so big that you get lost. Ashland has the best of both worlds – great culture, progressive community, much that you’d find in a big city, but we are minutes away from some of the most beautiful landscapes in the nation.

“I was impressed with the department and hit it off with the faculty, I met some students that were really excited and committed to their studies and we decided to just go for it.”

O’Skea teaches courses in the SOU Theatre Program including elements of design, which introduces the digital and hands-on processes of design; scenic design, which explores the principles of scene design in enhancing theatrical performances; computer aided design, which focuses on digital modeling and rendering techniques in the creation of physical artistic spaces; and drafting, which examines the techniques of drawing stage scenery and properties.

O’Skea uses a direct teaching style, assigning projects in his classes that get his students to develop the technical skills required in set creation. He advises students to be determined if they want to find academic success.

“Self-motivation is essential; your professors can only be your guides, you have to take the lead on your learning,” he said.

O’Skea enjoys gardening and traveling, when not working. While much of his travel to the East Coast is for work, he also vacations with his family during winter breaks – recently going to England and Italy. His travels help inspire his work as a scene designer.

“Everything influences my designs and as most of our travel is to historically juicy places I spend a lot of time filling sketchbooks, and taking reference photos,” he said. “It drives my wife and daughter crazy as we will be walking somewhere and suddenly I’m not there and they find me half a block back taking a photo of an interesting door knocker or a picturesque cracked wall, or something.”

O’Skea has published “Painting for Performance: A Beginner’s Guide to Great Painted Scenery (Routledge-2016),” an educational book that focuses on giving beginners the terms and techniques to paint stage scenery.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Kempner studies role of women in Saudi universities

SOU’s Ken Kempner studies role of women faculty in Saudi universities

Southern Oregon University emeritus professor Ken Kempner, a former dean of social sciences at SOU, has continued studying the role of higher education in developing countries – most recently, the role of women in Saudi Arabia’s universities.

Kempner’s research was cited last month in a story in the life sciences magazine The Scientist about women faculty members at Saudi universities.

“I have been most surprised in our research that the level of education and inclusion of women in Saudi society was much more than I realized,” Kempner said. “Women are highly discriminated (against) and marginalized in Saudi society, but ironically, because of the gender apartheid there is a great need for women professors, doctors, lawyers and school teachers.

“There are some extremely brave women out there who struggle against great odds to even show up to class,” he said. “We found women professors in Arab countries outside of Saudi Arabia face daily harassment and physical violence just by teaching their classes.”

Kempner said he has worked with several Saudi students during his career at Portland State University, the University of Oregon and then SOU. One student – Sana Almansour – studied under Kempner in a doctoral program at PSU and is now a professor at Princess Nora University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The two have collaborated on various projects over the years, including the essay – “The Role of Arab Women Faculty in the Public Sphere” – that was cited by The Scientist. The paper focuses on the involvement of women professors, both in their universities and in larger society.

“I am a Western Male and am unable to interview women in many Arab countries,” Kempner said. “For this reason my colleague, Sana, had to do all the interviews and translations. She has access to women in countries I would not be allowed to travel –Iran, in particular.

“Therefore, my role in our research is as the conceptual scholar and synthesizer of the interviews Sana conducts. I formulate the questions for Sana and she tells me which questions are politically too dangerous to ask. And there are many.”

Kempner began his faculty career at Portland State, then moved to the UO before becoming SOU’s dean of social sciences, education, and health and physical education in 2001. He took emeritus status in 2012.

He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach at the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; a fellowship at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico; and was a Yamada Scholar in Japan.

“My writing and research has always focused on the role of higher education in developing countries,” Kempner said. “I’ve been most interested in how universities contribute to social and economic development, and the role universities play in equity and social justice for women and under-represented groups.”

Kempner has continued to advise international students since his retirement and serves on several department committees.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Esports management minor is coming to SOU

Esports team and esports management minor coming to SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University will be among the first universities on the West Coast to offer both an academic program and a competitive team in esports when both are launched this fall. Esports is a billion-dollar global enterprise, and the programs will position SOU students for future employment in the burgeoning industry.

The University of California, Irvine, has an existing continuing education program in esports and a growing number of universities are exploring academic or team esports programs. SOU’s academic minor in esports management will be one of just a handful nationally.

The combination of competitive esports and the academic minor may help to attract more nontraditional students to SOU, President Linda Schott said.

“By offering a new academic minor, the university can meet the needs of students and the demands of a rapidly growing industry,” the president said. “Our new esports team will provide competitive, non-traditional sports offerings to students, which has the potential to increase student recruitment, engagement and retention.”

The academic minor – offered through SOU’s Business Program – will include curriculum in business, marketing, digital media and communication. Preliminary plans for the program call for new courses including Introduction to Esports Management and Contemporary & Ethical Issues in Esports.

SOU business faculty member Jeremy Carlton is organizing the esports management minor. Students can enroll for classes that begin this fall.

“The minor will help prepare students to be an integral part of the action in a field that values quick and strategic thinking, mental agility, intellectual curiosity and creativity,” Carlton said.

The university will also open an Esports Lab in its Student Recreation Center. The lab will house multiple computer gaming stations, one of which will be reserved for streaming and esports commentating – known as “shoutcasting.” The lab will be used for intercollegiate competitions, intramural gaming and open play for all SOU students and SRC members.

The university anticipates that its intercollegiate team will compete in the Collegiate Starleague (CSL). Collegiate esports started with CSL, which hosted the first collegiate competition in 2009 and has grown to include teams from 1,800 college campuses across North America. The CSL offers leagues across several titles and platforms, for players at all skill levels.

The CSL’s leagues and tournaments award scholarships to top-rated student gamers each year, and the organization is expected to eclipse the $1 million mark in scholarships in 2020.

SOU has elected to have members of its intercollegiate team help choose which games it will play. A survey conducted earlier this year indicated that students were most interested in “Apex Legends” and “Call of Duty.”

An important focus of the SOU team will be on health and well-being.

“This is a new sport, which means we have asked our campus recreation program to ensure that our players can perform at the highest levels,” Schott said, noting that there is a wellness and physical activity component required for students who participate on the competitive team.

“Our team members will engage weekly as part of a mandatory wellness component,” she said.

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Student teachers in SOU's School of Education are working remotely

SOU’s graduating student teachers provide value in varied settings

(Ashland, Ore.) — Even the most seasoned educators are currently navigating uncharted territory. But for student teachers in Southern Oregon University’s School of Education, unusual classroom circumstances are coinciding with the culmination of college journeys.

Teaching placements have gone ahead as scheduled – though not exactly as planned – for 110 SOU students who are either seniors or on track to complete the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) or Special Education programs this spring. They’re spread across 60 K-12 schools in 12 different districts, from Coos Bay to Klamath Falls and all over the Rogue Valley – with all learning delivered through a variety of remote formats.

John King – SOU’s director for the Division of Education, Health and Leadership – was among those figuring out logistics as the extent of disruption caused by COVID-19 was becoming apparent prior to spring term.

“Fortunately, we have great relationships with the districts and principals, and these (student teachers) are the people they’ll be hiring in the fall, so we’re working towards the same goals,” King said.

“What we’re trying to do is ensure our student teachers are providing added value for schools and students,” he said. “They need to satisfy degree requirements, yes, but we want to make sure they’re not just an extra burden because these schools are already under such enormous pressure in having to redesign a lot of their own work.”

Under normal circumstances, student teachers spend full days during the spring in their respective classrooms, delivering instruction and developing original curriculum. They’re now limited to remote instruction and finding classroom-to-classroom variations in approach, from face-to-face video instruction to packet pick-ups and online work.

MAT candidate Lauren Perkinson falls closer to the latter category in teaching anatomy and physical sciences at North Medford High School. Though she records herself giving lectures, the majority of her work goes into a weekly “learning grid” of activities that includes six options, from which students are asked to complete two.

“Everyone is affected differently and struggling to some extent, especially when it comes to students you have no contact with, but it’s a good lesson in the importance of adaptability as an educator,” Perkinson said. “One of the biggest takeaways is seeing teachers work together and support each other and students however they can, because they care so deeply about them.”

That support extends back to SOU, where ideas and experiences are shared in weekly Zoom classes.

“We’re trying to give them a menu of possibilities based on what each school is doing,” King said. “We have 110 different examples, so it gets incredibly complex very quickly, but that means they’re being equipped not only for their own classrooms, but also hearing experiences of others and seeing how these systems can work together.”

With subject knowledge testing centers closed, King is working with the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to offer alternatives for soon-to-be-graduates to complete their state licensure requirements.

“We certainly haven’t figured everything out,” he said. “But we’re trying to approach the situation with generosity and grace and patience, and we’re all learning together.”

Story by Josh McDermott, SOU staff writer

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SOULA staff work on Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project

SOULA wins Oregon Heritage Excellence Award for Chinese immigrant research

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) has won a 2020 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award for its work on the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project. Students worked with faculty on the project as part of a Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) summer archaeological field school in 2019.

“The (Oregon Heritage Excellence Award) recipients represent the extraordinary efforts to preserve Oregon’s heritage,” said Beth Dehn, coordinator for the Oregon Heritage Commission. “They also serve as models for others on how to develop new ideas, approaches and innovations.”

The Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project is one of only 10 projects to receive the award. The grassroots archaeology partnership of federal, state and local agencies examined the Chinese diaspora – or dispersed population – in Oregon, and challenged stereotypes that have been historically assigned to the immigrants.

The project is led by Chelsea Rose of SOU Laboratory of Anthropology, who partners with archaeologists from state and federal agencies on archaeological sites across Oregon.

The ongoing project has involved digging, interpreting and touring nine archaeological sites where Chinese immigrants worked and lived; and searching historical records such as censuses, community records and data from the Kam Wah Chung Museum in John Day. Research findings have been publicized through lectures, tours, theses, digital “story maps” and will be presented in an upcoming volume of the Oregon Historical Society’s quarterly journal. Local involvement with volunteer projects has been encouraged through the cultural heritage program Passport in Time and other public archaeological events.

“It is exciting to see how far this project has come, and how much can be accomplished when agencies work together toward a common goal,” Rose said.

SOULA started the partnership with the Malheur National Forest, and it has since expanded to include Oregon State Parks, the Medford District of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Oregon Historical Society, and other local and regional organizations.

The lead editors of the Chinese in Northwest American Research Committee – Chuimei Ho and Bennet Bronson – wrote one of three letters recommending the OCDP for the Oregon Heritage Excellence Award.

“Very few heritage efforts in other places have been as effective and innovative,” the letter from Ho and Bronson said. “Nothing like it currently exists in California or elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest. The OCDP’s research subject is vast, still largely untouched, and of great importance to all Chinese Americans.”

The historic population of Chinese immigrants in rural Oregon was high, but there are few descendant communities because of anti-Chinese violence and the federal Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The OCDP offers Oregonians a deeper sense of their shared heritage by discovering and publicizing Chinese achievements.

Don Hann, project co-director with the Malheur National Forest, has used innovative Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology to document historical Chinese mining sites. LIDAR, which sends a laser pulse through the surface of the ground, has allowed OCDP archaeologists to map over 1,000 acres of mining complexes hidden in the forest within an accuracy of 10 inches. The new maps highlight a system of dams, reservoirs and ditches that provided water for mining.

These complicated water systems reveal a picture of 19th century Chinese immigrants as entrepreneurs who had experience organizing gold mining operations in foreign countries.

SOU students participated in the OCDP last year by taking the class SOAN 375. The four-credit, four-week course – the archaeological field school – introduced methods of excavating, mapping, recovering and recording artifacts from prehistoric or historic sites.

“It was an incredible project for SOU staff and students to be a part of, and we are continuing to work and expand our research across the state,” Rose said.

She and other members of the SOULA staff have also worked on the Cangdong Village Project, a Stanford-led transnational research project looking into the five-county area that was home to most Chinese Immigrants during the 19th century. SOULA partnered with the Hannon Library and PAR Environmental in 2018 to create the Chinese Material Culture Collection – a digital archive of artifacts commonly found on 19th and 20th century Chinese archaeological sites in the American West.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

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Virtual meeting of SOU Percussion Ensemble

SOU music ensembles get creative in their new, virtual reality

With some schools cancelling ensembles altogether, Paul T. French – Southern Oregon University’s Director of Choral Studies and Vocal Studies – had doubts about the spring ahead for his corner of the Music Program in the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU. The idea of taking the choir virtual was especially daunting, with the experience rooted in collaborative rehearsals and harmonious performance.

“I didn’t even have a Google calendar,” French joked, “so we’re all kind of crawling forward and learning this together.”

SOU’s Chamber and Concert Choirs are joined for now and still rehearse twice weekly online. With upwards of 50 people on the screen, French and concert choir director Kendra Taylor watch as the singers mute themselves in their homes and perform individual parts to a piano accompaniment written by French’s wife, SOU instructor and staff pianist Jodi French.

Once they’ve learned and perfected the parts, they’ll record and send them to Taylor, who will plug them into and arrange them on an online music platform called Soundtrap.

“It calls for a lot of accountability from individual students because they can’t lean on other people, so the bar is higher and their own contributions are that much more meaningful,” Paul French said. “I’m proud of the students because they’re compassionate when we screw up and want to do whatever it takes to move forward, and after our second rehearsal the chat bar was full of all these tremendously positive and excited comments.”

The recording will be released later this spring. They hope to add a video component and perform the piece live in the fall, if all goes well.

Terry Longshore, SOU’s director of percussion studies, is taking a similar, virtual tack. Originally, he and SOU Raider Band director Bryan Jeffs had been invited to take 17 students to New York City in May for the inaugural “Long Play” music festival by the renowned contemporary music organization Bang on a Can.

In lieu of that trip, and considering the limitations some students have without access to their instruments, they’re working on an 18-minute piece in which 16 performers will pour dry rice over various materials – metal, wood, and leaves, to name a few. It will explore textural changes created by the rate at which the rice is falling. They will eventually turn their individual recordings into a video collage, and will later have the chance to interview the piece’s composer, Michael Pisaro of the CalArts School of Music.

Their other ideas include breaking into small groups that will create original soundtracks to short, silent films.

“They’re excited about the projects because they get to take advantage of what we have and try to make lemonade out of it while still learning something, having a unique creative experience and putting something out in the world that we’re proud of,” Longshore said.

French concurred with the sentiment.

“Given how isolated we feel, we’re not together, but we can see each other and create something together,” he said. “We still need art and this is what we can do.”

Story by Josh McDermott, SOU staff writer

Ed Battistella's new book is on presidential insults

SOU professor’s book shows presidential insults are nothing new

(Ashland, Ore.) — The contentious 2016 presidential campaign inspired Southern Oregon University English professor Ed Battistella, and the result is a new book examining the history of presidential insults and invective.

“Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, from Washington to Trump,” was published last month by the Oxford University Press.

The book documents more than 500 presidential insults and spares none of the 45 U.S. presidents. Holders of the nation’s highest political office have been called “ignoramuses,” “idiots” and “fatheads,” and have drawn comparisons to creatures including “sad jellyfish” and “strutting crows.”

“I’ve always loved history and was curious about the insults and invective used in earlier elections,” he said. “Our language provides plenty of ways to insult those in power and our Constitution gives us the right to do it.”

Battistella’s new book demonstrates that insulting the president is a time-honored American tradition.

“It was a pleasure to read a book that made me laugh aloud,” U.S. Senate historian emeritus Donald A. Ritchie said in his review of the book. “Edwin Battistella has done an impressive job of documenting and explaining the history of presidential ignominy. I suspect that readers will be sending him their favorite insults for the next edition.”

“It’s an engaging, thought-provoking look at a tradition as old as the republic and as immediate as the next election,” said Rosemarie Ostler, author of “Splendiferous Speech.”

Battistella is the author of several books, including Oregon Book Award finalist “Bad Language” and “Sorry about That: The Language of Public Apology.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College and his master’s degree and doctorate in linguistics from the City University of New York. He teaches linguistics and writing at SOU.

Battistella wrote in an April 1 opinion piece for Time Magazine that presidential insults are an unwelcomed but expected part of the job for U.S. commanders in chief.

“Today, Donald Trump characterizes reporting he does not like as ‘fake news’ and has called the mainstream press ‘enemies of the people,’ Battistella wrote. “But part of the genius of American democracy – both in our legal system and in our politics – is that citizens can openly insult the president.

“We enjoy protections of freedom of speech and freedom of the press that other nations do not, and our freedoms allow us to direct invective at the president with legal impunity.”

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SOULA work at Peter Britt Gardens

SOULA archaeological research leads to historic designation for Britt Gardens

Seven months after the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology was awarded a grant to analyze the Peter Britt Gardens, the site was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. 

The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology conducts archaeological research throughout southwest Oregon, allowing students to gain practical experience toward their anthropology major and the Cultural Resource Management certificate. SOULA works with the Coquille Indian Tribe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Medford District Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon State Parks, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Jackson County and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

Peter Britt settled in the Rogue Valley in 1852 and is best known for his early photography and agricultural innovations that helped spur the wine and pear industries in southern Oregon. He documented southern Oregon and its residents, and is credited with taking the first photograph of Crater Lake.

He created a formal garden on his property that was a cherished community space and a popular tourist destination. In 1960, 55 years after Britt’s death, his house and the connected garden burned down. 

Oregon’s State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation nominated the site to the National Register of Historic Places at its June 2019 meeting. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.

Before the inclusion of the Britt Gardens Site, only nine individual properties in Jacksonville were listed in the register.

SOULA initially excavated the 4.5-acre Britt Gardens in 2010 and 2011, before funding dried up and prevented the hundreds of findings to be fully studied. However, the city of Jacksonville and the state Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation approved a $15,000 grant to continue SOULA’s anthropological research in August 2019, as part of an effort to reconstruct the historic site. The committee awarded 17 other similar grants.

SOULA’s research uncovered Peter Britt’s original log cabin on the property. According to Mark Tveskov, the director of SOULA and an associate professor of Anthropology at SOU, the cabin site is “rare and highly significant, as it is one of the earliest known cabin sites yet discovered and professionally excavated in the State of Jefferson.” The cabin was the initial home Britt lived in when he came to the Rogue Valley in 1852, before he began construction of a larger home in 1856.

As the reconstruction of the gardens continued, SOULA teamed up with the Hannon Library to digitize over 100 artifacts from the site. Of the 2,064 prints created by Peter Britt, 776 can be found on the Southern Oregon Digital Archives. SODA was created by the Hannon Library in the early 2000s with grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Oregon State Library.

Peter Britt Gardens was added to the National Registry of Historic Places last month, making it the 10th Jacksonville location to be added and the first addition since March 2000. “It is rare for archaeological sites to make this distinction, so we are all happy that the nomination made it all of the way through,” said SOU research archaeologist Chelsea Rose.

Listing in the National Register is the first step towards eligibility for National Park Service-administered federal preservation tax credits that have leveraged more than $45 billion in private investment and National Park Service grant programs. Britt Gardens hosts the Britt Festival, an outdoor music and performing arts festival.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU Digital Cinema launches Crew Experience

SOU Digital Cinema program launches “The Crew Experience”

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Digital Cinema program has launched its new “Crew Experience” initiative with a crowdfunding campaign through the SOU Foundation on IndieGoGo. The campaign had raised more than a third of its $6,000 goal in less than 24 hours.

Crew Experience is the benchmark project of juniors and seniors in SOU’s Digital Cinema bachelor’s degree program. Students earn 12 upper-division credits in a 10-week production immersion –leaving the classroom behind to learn on location in a professional filmmaking environment, under the supervision of faculty and industry mentors.

This year’s Crew Experience project will be “Eight and Sand,” a short film set partly in a fictional family-run theme park called Train Town. The film – a story of two half-sisters trying to honor their mother’s dying wish – will be submitted to various film festivals.

The one-of-a-kind Crew Experience immersion training will prepare students for “below-the-line jobs” – or production work – in the film and television industry. It is the only such academic program in the Pacific Northwest.

“The fact that this exists here – in southern Oregon, in a smaller school – is fantastic,” said Randy Cordray, a veteran television producer whose credits include “The Office,” in a recent interview with SOU’s The Siskiyou student newspaper.

Students in the Digital Cinema program’s Entrepreneurial Producing class have launched the crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo themselves, in cooperation with the SOU Foundation. Crowdfunding for independent cinema is considered an essential professional skill. All contributions to the campaign are considered tax-deductible donations in support of SOU’s educational mission.

Digital Cinema students will use money raised in the campaign to cast union-represented talent, secure filming locations and pay for props, set dressing and wardrobe. It will also be used to buy digital storage space, feed the cast and crew, score and license music for the film, and send the completed project to film festivals.

The Crew Experience is designed to emulate, as closely as possible, a large-scale professional production.

SOU’s Digital Cinema program offers a world-class film school education at an affordable price and with no portfolio requirement for admission. The program is hands-on, student-centered and focused on cultivating career pathways for students. “Moviemaker” magazine has named Ashland a “best place to live and work as a moviemaker” for seven consecutive years.

For more information about Crew Experience: contact Andrew Gay, an associate professor at SOU and coordinator of the Digital Cinema program, at (541) 552-6669 or digitalcinema@sou.edu.

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SOU President Linda Schott to discuss uncertainty in higher ed

SOU president to discuss higher ed “uncertainty” in campus lecture

Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott will lead a discussion of uncertainty in higher education as the university’s Campus Theme lecture series continues this week.

President Schott’s talk – “Uncertainty: The Only Certainty for Higher Education” – will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the SOU Art Building’s Meese Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Her presentation is the fourth in this year’s Campus Theme lecture series, which is examining uncertainty in a variety of fields.

President Schott’s discussion will outline some of the uncertainties facing higher education in an age where change is constant.

With technology advancing at an exponential rate, she has advocated making SOU “Oregon’s university for the future” by focusing on the human skills that set us apart from technology – such as creativity, communication, cultural understanding and ethical decision-making.

She has encouraged faculty and staff at SOU to be explore and participate in the evolution of learning technologies. She has taken steps to include adult learners and non-traditional students in the academic mix at SOU to offset the nationwide demographic decline of traditional college-age students.

President Schott has also encouraged belt-tightening measures, pursuit of innovative revenue-producing programs and a re-examination of Oregon’s higher education funding model in response to the continued uncertainty of state support for public universities.

President Schott received her bachelor’s degree in history and German from Baylor University, and her master’s degree in history and doctorate in history and humanities, both from Stanford University. She taught at three Texas universities and held administrative positions in Michigan and Colorado before taking her first presidential post in 2012 at University of Maine at Presque Isle.

She is midway through her fourth year as president of SOU, focused on preparing students for the opportunities and uncertainties that lie ahead, and providing them with tools to lead successful lives of purpose.

The common premise for this year’s Campus Theme lectures is “uncertainty.” The first lecture in the series was by Stanley Crawford, who talked about his legal fight against a large garlic importing company. The second lecture was by Cailin O’Connor, who discussed the spread of misinformation and the inherent uncertainty of our beliefs. The third lecture, by SOU French professor Marianne Golding, followed the uncertain journey of three young Jewish refugees from Germany and Czechoslovakia and the women who helped them escape from German-occupied France.