New Sustainable Tourism Management program at SOU

New SOU program offers degree in Sustainable Tourism Management

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s newest academic program will provide students the tools they need to recognize and address the role of sustainability in the tourism industry, and to become leaders of tourism-related organizations – from regional to global – that commit to sustainable business practices.

SOU’s unique Sustainable Tourism Management bachelor’s degree program will get underway this fall term with a core curriculum of classes from the university’s Business, Social Science and Environmental Science and Policy departments. It is offered through the SOU School of Business.

Those who major in Sustainable Tourism Management will learn about the importance of environmental and conservation practices in the operational, strategic and financial objectives of tourism-related organizations and destinations. They will come to understand the social responsibilities of those organizations to protect and preserve the resources and cultures that make their areas attractive to visitors, and to contribute to the long-term success of destination communities and environments.

“Learners in the Sustainable Tourism Management program will become experts in integrating sustainable planning, practices and policies in the growing tourism industry of southern Oregon and beyond,” said a document proposing the new program.

The program aligns with SOU’s vision statement, to be “an inclusive, sustainable university for the future that guides all learners to develop the knowledge, capacities and audacity to innovate boldly and create lives of purpose.”

“SOU collaborates across academic divisions, facilities, student life, housing and landscaping to forward our deep commitment to sustainability,” said Vincent Smith, director of the Division of Business, Communication and the Environment. “This new program will build on our existing collaborations between the Business program and Environmental Science and Policy program to serve our region’s growing sustainable tourism industry.”

Students in the program must complete 36 credit hours of required lower division coursework in business, environmental science and tourism, and 52 credit hours of required upper division coursework – including two courses in applied research and an internship. Required courses include “Sustainable Tourism,” “Tourism Policy and Planning,” “Tourism Economics,” “Case Studies in Corporate Sustainability,” “Environmental Sociology” and “Ecological Economics and Sustainable Development.”


National award for SOULA for Chinese Diaspora Project

SOU Laboratory of Anthropology project receives prestigious national award

(Ashland, Ore.) – The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) has received a national Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) for its Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project. The recognition is part of the AASLH Leadership in History Awards, the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation of state and local history.

The Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project is a multi-agency collaboration with the shared mission to promote research and education on Oregon’s early Chinese residents. The project partners include 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 use 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’s partners and affiliated OCDP Chinese American Advisory Committee share resources and expertise, conduct archaeological excavations, apply cutting-edge technology, model best practices and current scholarship, and aim to identify opportunities and overcome challenges in centering the history of the Chinese diaspora in Oregon.

The project will be hosting a number of public outreach events across the state this summer, including a public archaeology day at the Gin Lin Mining Trail in the Applegate Valley on Saturday, June 25, and a public archaeology day at the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site on Saturday, July 16.

The AASLH Leadership in History Awards recognize 53 people, projects, exhibits and publications across the nation this year. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions and programs to make contributions in this arena.

The AASLH is a national nonprofit association that provides leadership and resources to help the history community thrive and make the past more meaningful for all people. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at (615) 320-3203, or visit the website.


New degrees in Music Industry and Production

SOU offers new degree in Music Industry and Production for 2022-23

(Ashland, Oregon) The Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University has launched its newest degrees – a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in Music Industry & Production Studies (MIPS).

“I am so thrilled to see MIPS take off,” said Derek Keller, Ph.D., assistant professor of music at SOU. “Imagine yourself as an ‘artist in residence,’ composing, producing, performing your own music and preparing for a career in the industry. The MIPS program is an incubator for musical creatives and entrepreneurs who seek an open, welcoming environment to prepare for a career in tomorrow’s music industry.”

The new degree program is a robust one that features course sequences in audio & music production, music theory, aural skills, piano proficiency, music industry, business, and economics. Certificates in Music Industry and Production, and Sound Design – and a micro-credential in Audio and Music Production – are also offered for individuals that do not wish to pursue the full degree.

“MIPS is a unique blend of academics, specialization in music and entrepreneurial development,” Keller said. “I want our graduates to be ready to meet the future with poise, critical thinking and cutting edge audio tools, and to be adaptable with both academic rigor and vocational skills. We also happen to be an AVID learning partner, one of only two in the state!”

AVID is the software developer of Pro Tools, the industry-standard audio/music production software, as well as Media Composer and Sibelius. Students put their developing knowledge and skills to work in the MIP Lab and the Control Room of the Music Recital Hall at SOU.

“Students produce their own and their colleagues’ music, manage and direct live events, and contribute to our social media outlets,” Keller said. “All of this leads to network building and work experience that is résumé worthy.”

The MIP program is already gaining attention both locally and within the music industry.

“I wish they had this curriculum when I was in school,” said Andy Osborn, Artists & Labels Operations Manager at, and a featured guest artist in one of the SOU Music Program’s music industry courses this year.

“It is so terrific that you are offering these new opportunities to students and providing the cutting-edge tools and training they need; I would love to help any way I can,” wrote Ryan Wines, CEO of Marmoset Music, an SOU Alum and member of the SOU Foundation Board.

MIP classes feature regular guest artists and presenters from all sectors of the music industry.

In MUSIX, MIPS’ flagship ensemble, students compose, rehearse, produce and perform their own music. This music is released and accessible through both public/live performance and regular media outlets.  MUSIX has already released two EPs, and will release its first full-length LP in fall 2022.

“Our next release event will be in Lithia Park,” Keller said. “MUSIX recent performances are available on the OCA YouTube page, on Spotify, Pandora, or Bandcamp, or follow MUSIX on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.”

“We want our students to have complete control over their creative work, learn the power of their copyright, create a network of professional colleagues and write, produce, teach, arrange compose for film/video/radio, work in merchandising/retail/promotions/social media, manage performance venues, etc. – the industry is vast,” Keller said. “You can land a successful career in music outside of pursuing rock stardom, or performing cover music.”

The new BA/BS in Music Industry & Production Studies is now available to prospective and current students. SOU features open enrollment with rolling admissions, which means that any student can enroll at any time and begin pursuing their degree path. To apply to SOU go to

To assist students, SOU’s Music Program offers over $160,000 in music scholarships, and many opportunities for work study and student employment. For more information on scholarships go to:

For more detailed information about the new degree programs, contact Keller at


Digital Cinema capstone project breaks new ground

Digital Cinema capstone project breaks barriers at SOU

Digital Cinema student Tabitha Wheeler is spearheading a capstone film project unlike anything seen before at SOU. The project is likely to catch the eyes of movie lovers in the Ashland community and beyond, following its successful crowdfunding campaign, backing from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a passionately committed cast and crew.

Wheeler, a senior at SOU, wrote and is director and head producer of the film, “The Lost Years of Shakespeare.” She developed the script in early 2021, with the story following a woman who finds herself entwined in a mystery surrounding the cryptic death of Shakespeare. The film is set mostly in Ashland, and features landmarks such as the Ashland Springs Hotel and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It features professionally choreographed sword fights, and ties in with real historical events.

Wheeler began her career at SOU as an athlete, playing soccer. Having a long time love for filmmaking, dating back to elementary school, she chose Digital Cinema as her area of study and quickly flourished in the program. She has taken a break from soccer over the past year, and has gone full speed into her capstone project.

She began an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in March, and met her goal by the middle of April. There was an outcry of support from the Rogue Valley community, and the project quickly caught the attention of the local film community. More than $7,000 was raised through crowdfunding, exceeding Wheeler’s original goal and setting records for Digital Cinema capstone budgets.

The film is currently in production, with plans to wrap up shooting in mid-June and to begin post-production work shortly after. Wheeler and her crew plan to have a finished product by November, and to submit the project to various film festivals. They’ve had multiple location shoots, including trips up to Portland and the Oregon Coast. A shoot inside the OSF’s Elizabethan Theater is planned for this summer.

The capstone for Digital Cinema usually takes the form of a long term film project, with a full, student-run crew. Students typically spend a whole year in pre-production and research before filming even begins. The Digital Cinema capstone is intended to allow students to show their specialized skills, and get experience working on a long-term film project.

SOU News sat down with Tabitha Wheeler in this podcast interview. Listen here and subscribe to SOU News podcast with Nash Bennett on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts or Spotify.

Story by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Gilman Scholarship recipients

Two SOU students awarded prestigious Gilman Scholarships for study abroad

(Ashland, Ore.) — Two Southern Oregon University students have been awarded the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship in the spring 2022 scholarship round to support their upcoming study abroad programs. The prestigious scholarships support U.S. undergraduates of limited financial means in pursuing study or internships in countries around the world.

Zion Blackburne of Rogue River, who is a digital cinema major with a minor in business administration, will study at Dankook University in South Korea. Tiana Gilliland of Grants Pass, who is double-majoring in business and healthcare administration, will study at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

The Gilman Scholarship Program, one of the largest scholarship programs for study abroad, is part of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It has supported more than 34,000 Gilman scholars traveling to more than 155 countries since its inception in 2001.

“We know that studying abroad can have a significant positive impact on students’ academic and career journeys, but many students automatically write-off the opportunity as financially out-of-reach,” said Ariel Bloomer, education and abroad advisor for SOU. “I’m glad that programs like the Gilman scholarship exist to boost access to international education and help our students grow critical skills, like language, cultural agility and comparative analysis.”

Blackburne, an SOU senior, will participate this year in Dankook’s seven-week summer program, which provides a unique opportunity for students to gain professional skills and attend classes. He will lead Korean university students in conversational English lessons during the first three weeks, followed by a four-week academic program in which Blackburne will take Beginning Korean Language and Design Strategy and Planning courses. He will have opportunities outside the classroom to explore Korean culture through activities such as kimchi-making, K-pop dance class, Korean tradition knot art and a Buddhist temple stay.

SOU has a longstanding relationship with Dankook University that dates to an original “Institutional Friendship Pact” in 1970. The connection is celebrated in spaces on the SOU campus including the Stevenson Union’s Dankook Room, which features Korean art and mementos exchanged from visiting dignitaries over the years. Dankook University students visit Ashland on exchange during the academic year, while SOU students primarily participate in their English-taught program over the summer.

Gilliland will spend her entire sophomore year abroad through an SOU exchange with the University of Nottingham, where she will be based in the Department of Philosophy. She hopes to learn more about the United Kingdom’s publicly funded healthcare system, the National Health Service, and use her study of ethics as a foundation for a career in healthcare leadership. Traveling from Grants Pass to Nottingham, Gilliland plans to make the most of her UK experience by joining student societies around her interests – particularly the University of Nottingham Skydiving Club, the largest of its kind in the UK.

The exchange with Nottingham is one of the newest in SOU’s portfolio. Ashland welcomed its first two exchange students from Nottingham during the 2019-20 academic year. The University of Nottingham is one of the UK’s elite research universities, with approximately 40,000 students in a dynamic city in central England. Exchange students to SOU come from Nottingham’s multidisciplinary Department of American and Canadian Studies, and take courses such as American Legal History, U.S. Foreign Relations, Health Care Policy and American Indian Identities while living in Ashland.

The Gilman scholarship is named for the late U.S. Rep. Benjamin Gilman of New York, who received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2002. “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views but adds an enriching social and cultural experience,” Gilman said. “It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

The Gilman scholarship is among the most competitive national programs for undergraduates seeking to fund their study or internship abroad experiences. Its scholarships are intended to make study abroad more accessible to outstanding and diverse American students who have high financial need and may not otherwise be able to fund an international, academic experience.

Applicants for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship must be undergraduates in good academic standing who receive a Federal Pell Grant as part of their financial aid package. Successful applicants receive as much as $5,000 to apply toward study abroad program costs.

Those who apply must identify a study abroad program that is the best fit for their academic, personal and professional goals, and complete a scholarship application that consists of three essays. Deadlines are in March and October of each year. For more information on eligibility and the application process, students can connect with the SOU Office of International Programs via email (

Prior SOU Gilman scholars include Starlie Bertrand ‘22 of Ashland, who completed her bachelor of science in communication at the University of Calgary in Canada through National Student Exchange. While in Calgary, she took classes including Global Communications Governance, Communications History and Digital Rhetoric, and took advantage of her proximity to Banff National Park to spend plenty of time in the scenic Canadian Rockies. She hopes her experience abroad will help her launch an international career.


Crew Experience is underway

SOU Digital Cinema program launches unique “Crew Experience”

(Ashland, Ore.) — After a two-year pandemic delay, Southern Oregon University has launched its innovative, new, 12-credit spring immersion course called “The Crew Experience.” Student filmmakers spend an entire term learning on location, collaborating under the supervision of faculty and experienced industry mentors on the set of a significant film project designed to emulate the professional working environment.

Students had to apply and interview for their crew positions and were placed based on the experience, skill levels and portfolios of work they have accumulated in preceding classes. No other film or media program in the Pacific Northwest offers such an experiential approach to professional production training.

“This is truly ‘higher’ education, what college ought to be,” said Andrew Gay, associate professor and chair of Communication, Media & Cinema at SOU, and the principal architect of the Crew Experience.

“Today’s film student is savvy,” he said. “They know they can learn the buttons of a camera or editing software on YouTube, so why spend the tuition on film school? What we’re offering is professional immersion — hands-on training, working side-by-side, on-set with both faculty and industry veterans. It’s about learning the set culture, the lingo and procedures that mark professionals from amateurs. You can’t get that from a YouTube video.”

Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Canon USA, SOU students are working with a higher caliber of camera equipment than ever before. The company has loaned SOU two full C500 Mark II camera packages with cinema lens kits, providing students the opportunity to work with professional-grade gear as they develop their skills. Students who successfully complete the Crew Experience are eligible to receive SOU’s new micro-credential in Set Skills for Cinema Production, in recognition of their achievements.

Ashland-based producer and founder of Film Southern Oregon Gary Kout is one of the industry mentors working with Digital Cinema students in their final week of production. Kout also kicked off the term with an inspiration keynote address encouraging students to make the most of this unique opportunity.

“Filmmaking is as much a craft as it is an art, and the inner workings of a film set is an understandable mystery to those who’ve never been on one,” Kout said. “So to get a real education in film production, one has to get their hands on the gear and their bodies on a set. The Crew Experience provides this invaluable opportunity to SOU film school students that will benefit them greatly as they move into careers in the industry.”

Courtney Williams, another local writer-producer, 1st assistant director, and board member for the Oregon Media Production Association (OMPA) is another set mentor this term.

“Hands-on experience is one of the most valuable ways to learn filmmaking,” Williams said. “The Crew Experience is just that. Students experience rigorous planning, on-their-feet decision-making, creative-problem solving, and unexpected inspiration — what it really takes to make a movie!”

The Crew Experience has been shooting throughout the Rogue Valley this term and will continue production through Sunday, May 29. Gay said the project chosen for the Crew Experience was created specifically to pose significant production challenges for the students to overcome as a crew – such as working with a large crowd of extras during COVID and having to shoot in remote, rugged locations. The filming locations have included the Medford Railroad Park, downtown Medford, Porters Restaurant in Medford, Rogue Valley Roasting Co. coffee shop in Ashland, the Mill Creek and Barr Creek Falls trails in Prospect, and a private residence in Medford.

Rick Bailey, president of Southern Oregon University, commented on the unique program. “We are very proud of the students, faculty and staff who make The Crew Experience possible,” he said. “It is a great example of interdisciplinary collaborations leading to powerful experiential opportunities for our students. Opportunities like this make Southern Oregon University a truly one-of-a-kind institution.”

Media members may contact SOU to schedule a set visit for photography and/or video interviews on Saturday, May 28, while the student crew are filming at the Medford Railroad Park.


SOU's Campbell Center renovation is complete

OLLI community comes together to complete Campbell Center renovations

The Campbell Center on campus has finished its 25th anniversary classroom renovation project, which began in 2018. More than $600,000 was raised for the project, and students in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at SOU can now enjoy new, comfortable chairs, better lighting and much more.

The Campbell Center, on Frances Lane just east of the Cascade Complex, was formerly a World War II barracks, before being incorporated into the SOU Campus and used as office spaces, dorms and student family housing before becoming the home for OLLI at SOU.

The program offers educational courses for local adults who are age 50 and older. It provides a wide array of learning opportunities – everything from how to use various internet programs to learning a new musical instrument. The current OLLI catalog includes an assortment of courses in 15 broad subject areas – most taught by local OLLI members with expertise in one or more specific subjects, and all serving as volunteers.

Learn more about taking courses at OLLI here.

Fundraising for the Campbell Center renovation came from a variety of sources, including university and community organizations. OLLI’s own volunteer community accounted for hundreds of donations and a majority of the project’s funding.

Local wildlife artist Pam Haunschild painted a black-and-white mural of a nature scene in the members lounge at the Campbell Center, and portions were colored in periodically to track donations and the fundraising goal. The mural now stands fully colored, for OLLI attendees to enjoy.

The renovation features seating that is both more comfortable and accessible. Other new accessibility features include restrooms in each classroom, and new and improved LED lighting. OLLI has also implemented multipurpose audio/visual setups to enhance remote learning.

Overall, the Campbell Center has a modernized and improved feel, enhancing an already rich learning environment for members of the Rogue Valley community.

Please enjoy this video showcasing some of the newly renovated features at the Campbell center:

Story and video by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer/videographer

College access agreement signed by SOU, Grants Pass schools

Grants Pass schools sign college access agreement with SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Grants Pass School District and Southern Oregon University finalized an intergovernmental agreement on Friday that will make college admission information more widely available to students. The district will make basic contact information for Grants Pass  high school students available to SOU, which will promote college attendance and provide timely enrollment guidance – improving college access, especially for traditionally underserved students.

The arrangement is the third in a series of the rare agreements that SOU has negotiated over the past few weeks with southern Oregon school districts. The university signed identical pacts with the Medford and Ashland districts.

“These agreements illustrate our commitment to work in partnership with school districts throughout our region to make high school students aware of the opportunities that are available to them,” said SOU Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Neil Woolf. “Many students mistakenly believe that college is beyond their means. We want them to know that the life-changing benefits of a college education are accessible to virtually any student with the desire to achieve.”

Woolf said that communicating more efficiently with the region’s high school students – and encouraging more of them to attain their educational goals – will improve the prospects of students and communities throughout southern Oregon.

SOU President Rick Bailey said partnerships such as those with the local school districts lead to focused efforts on areas of mutual interest. “We all agree that helping people achieve their academic goals and become career-ready is good for the students, the schools, the university and the region,” Bailey said. “Relationship-building is the first step toward achieving the result that benefits us all. It is our intention to offer similar partnerships with every interested school district in the region and beyond.”

The Grants Pass school district will provide SOU with basic “directory information” about its students – name, school, mailing address, school email address, phone numbers and grade level or expected year of graduation. The agreement ensures that the district and university will comply with all federal and state privacy laws, and that no information will be provided about students whose parents have asked their school not to disclose the information.


New pathways to college access with agreement

Ashland district is second in a week to sign college access agreement with SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Ashland School District and Southern Oregon University finalized an intergovernmental agreement on Thursday to make the basic contact information of Ashland high school students available to SOU – less than a week after the university and Medford School District completed an identical pact. The groundbreaking agreements enable SOU to promote college attendance and provide timely enrollment guidance that may improve access to college, particularly for traditionally underserved students.

“Agreements such as these are rare in the world of higher education, but we anticipate additional partnerships with other local school districts in the weeks ahead,” said SOU Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Neil Woolf. “Our hope is to open pathways to college that haven’t previously existed for many high school students in our area.”

SOU President Rick Bailey said that raising awareness of the steps that are necessary to attend college – and offering support for those who are interested – will raise the prospects of students, the university and communities throughout the region.

“This latest agreement illustrates our ongoing partnership with the Ashland School District, and our shared commitment to the educational needs of all students – including those who may not have family histories of college attendance,” President Bailey said. “I am a first-generation college student myself, so I am well aware of how helpful it is to have someone who can point out both opportunities and obstacles.”

Ashland School District Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove said the arrangement with SOU will help address questions that some students may not otherwise be able to answer.

“We are excited to give our students access to information on local post-secondary options, and to learn about how post-secondary education is both possible and a good fit for their career and life interests after high school,” Bogdanove said. “Students need to know that college is within reach.

“Having a local university like SOU is an exceptional opportunity,” he said. “When students register for high school, they can elect to participate, or not, in sharing directory information with third parties, including colleges. By participating, students and their families have the opportunity to learn more about the options available to them.”

The school district will provide SOU with basic “directory information” about its students – name, school, mailing address, school email address, phone numbers and grade level or expected year of graduation. The agreement ensures that the district and university will comply with all federal and state privacy laws, and that no information will be provided about students whose parents have asked their school not to disclose the information.


Medford School District enters agreement with SOU

Medford district, SOU sign agreement to increase college access

(Ashland, Ore.) — A new intergovernmental agreement between Southern Oregon University and the Medford School District (MSD) will be “a game-changer for college awareness and access,” providing the basic contact information of MSD high school students so the university can offer them timely enrollment guidance and opportunities.

“What this will do is allow us to promote college attendance to all of the Medford School District’s students,” said SOU Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Neil Woolf, who described arrangements of this type as rare.

“This will help with improving access to and awareness of college possibilities for all students,” Woolf said. “It will improve access to college for underrepresented students in a number of ways, and it’s a testament to the good working relationship the Medford School District and SOU have built together.”

Medford School District Superintendent Bret Champion said the goal of the new intergovernmental agreement is to give students in the district access to information that may help them discover life-changing academic pathways. The arrangement is intended to increase college attendance among Medford students.

“In the Medford School District, we have a shared vision: ALL are learning and learning is for ALL,” Champion said. “This partnership helps bring that shared vision to life for our students. SOU plays a key role in providing options for our students that are open and hopeful, in addition to guiding students to own their present and future. We are grateful for their partnership.”

SOU President Rick Bailey echoed the appreciation. “We are very excited about this new agreement, and are grateful to Superintendent Champion and his incredible team,” President Bailey said. “I am confident that this will become the new statewide role model for collaboration between public and higher education.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the school district will provide basic “directory information” about its students – name, school, mailing address, school email address, phone numbers and grade level or expected year of graduation. The document specifies that the district and university will comply with all federal and state privacy laws, and that no information will be provided about students whose parents have asked their schools not to disclose the information.

The agreement says the school district and university recognize the importance of “seamless transitions from secondary to postsecondary institutions,” and both are “committed to improving the options for K-12 students to succeed in college and be career-ready.”