Ashland Chamber board-several members not pictured

Ashland Chamber goes to bat for SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Ashland Chamber of Commerce acknowledged an integral relationship between the business community and Southern Oregon University when the chamber’s Board of Directors voted unanimously today to urge adequate state funding for SOU.

Board members approved a letter of support that asks Governor Kate Brown and members of the Oregon Legislature for funding sufficient to maintain current service levels at Oregon’s seven public universities and keep tuition increases at manageable levels. The resolution explains the crucial role of higher education in preparing a qualified workforce to drive the region’s economy.

“The Ashland Chamber of Commerce, currently representing over seven hundred businesses and organizations, has been deeply connected, supportive and involved as a strong community partner of Southern Oregon University for over a century,” said a first draft of the letter that was provided following the meeting by Sandra Slattery, the Chamber’s executive director.

The letter pointed out that SOU is Ashland’s largest employer, its faculty help to educate future business and community leaders, and decreased state funding will ultimately lead to a loss in state revenue as fewer students enroll, graduate and land well-paying jobs. The Chamber “encourages legislative financial support for the future of Oregon through increased funding for higher education,” the letter said.

SOU President Linda Schott was invited to address the Chamber of Commerce board, and said after the meeting that the group’s endorsement will be helpful in ongoing conversations with lawmakers.

“It is very encouraging for us to get this kind of support from Ashland’s business leaders,” the president said. “It recognizes that SOU is truly part our community’s fabric, and that our university plays a crucial role in the region’s economic well-being.”

Governor Brown has included $736.9 million per year for the public universities in her recommended budget – the same amount that was approved for the current biennium, which ends June 30. But funding at that level doesn’t account for increased costs to the universities that are beyond their control – including the PERS retirement system, employee health plans and statewide collective bargaining agreements.

The universities need $857 million in funding from the state to maintain current academic and student support programs, and to keep annual tuition increases at or below 5 percent.

As recently as 1990, state support for higher education in Oregon accounted for more than two-thirds of attendance costs and tuition covered most of the remainder. State support has since decreased to the point the proportion has flip-flopped: students and their families now bear about two-thirds of the cost through higher tuition rates, and the state’s share accounts for about a third.

The declining state support has occurred despite federal research that shows workers age 25 and older who have bachelor’s degrees earn an average of $61,400 per year, compared to $36,800 for their counterparts with only high school diplomas. Those with bachelor’s degrees also pay an average of $14,500 per year in taxes, compared to $7,600 for those with a high school education.

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Polar Plunge is back on Saturday

Polar Plunge: SOU team to participate in Saturday’s Special Olympics fundraiser

SOU students, staff and faculty have the opportunity to brave icy waters and support local Special Olympics Oregon athletes with intellectual disabilities during the 2019 Polar Plunge event on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Medford’s Jackson Aquatic Center.

The Southern Oregon Polar Plunge will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a costume contest for the participants. The opening ceremonies are scheduled for 11 a.m., followed by the plunge – or plunges.

An SOU team, along with many other local supporters, will participate and support local special needs athletes.

Every student or participant who takes the icy “plunge” must raise $50 in support of the Special Olympics Oregon – half of which goes to local programs for Special Olympics athletes in Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties. The money helps to provide training, equipment, uniforms, wellness programs and experiences of a lifetime for the athletes.

Organizers recommend plunging with a team of family, friends, co-workers or members of local organizations. SOU will be represented by an Oregon Center for the Arts team organized by student captain Jared Brown. Those who aren’t up for a plunge can still participate by pledging as little as $5 to the SOU team.

More information about the plunge is available on the event website, or by calling (541) 841-6875 or emailing Polar Plunge event manager Kim Andresen – who doubles as division manager for SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts – at soplunge@soor.org.

The Southern Oregon Polar Plunge is the only pool-based plunge event in Oregon. It is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to help support local Special Olympics  athletes.

Every participant in the plunge will receive a commemorative t-shirt, hot soup and the opportunity to meet the Special Olympics athletes that will benefit from their plunges.

Story by Bryn Mosier, SOU Marketing and Communications intern

tall cop substance abuse prevention

“Tall Cop” presents substance abuse awareness training at SOU

A police officer-turned-substance abuse awareness speaker presented a fairly imposing message during a recent workshop for SOU faculty and staff, and community members from various agencies.

Jermaine GallowayJermaine Galloway — a 6-foot-9 former Division I basketball player – presented his “Tall Cop Says Stop” training to help attendees recognize signs of drug and alcohol abuse.

The program, “High in Plain Sight,” was sponsored by SOU’s Student Health and Wellness Center and was held Jan. 31 in the Stevenson Union Arena. It focused on methods used to conceal alcohol and drug use, games and tendencies at youth parties, non-traditional alcoholic beverages such as fortified energy drinks and “alcopops,” and trends associated with a variety of drugs.

A total of 128 people attended the free SOU event, including faculty or staff from Campus Public Safety, Housing, the Student Health and Wellness Center, Student Support and Intervention, Disability Services, the Student Recreation Center and the Psychology and Criminology and Criminal Justice departments.

There were also Ashland and Medford police officers, parole and probation officers, child welfare caseworkers, CASA volunteers, Juvenile Justice officers and staff from the Maslow Project, Hearts With a Mission, the Medford School District, La Clinica, the Jackson County Citizen Review Board, Jackson County Mental Health and the U.S. Veterans Administration.

The Student Health and Wellness Center organizers said the responses from attendees were positive.

“Everything was well organized (and) the speaker was outstanding,” one commenter said.

“It was so informative and educational,” another said. “I am so happy you were able to bring him to campus.”

Galloway – a former Boise, Idaho police officer – has received various awards and recognitions for his alcohol and drug awareness work. His website said Galloway’s training sessions have reached more than 105,000 people.

Consortium institutions discuss transfers-SOU

Consortium of southern Oregon colleges and universities to strengthen transfer agreements

(Ashland, Ore.) — Delegations from each of the institutions that make up the new Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium will meet this month to discuss the seamless transfer of credits from colleges to universities and other matters of shared interest. The consortium members are Klamath Community College, Oregon Institute of Technology, Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University.

The Feb. 25 event, 5:15 to 7:30 p.m. in the Rogue River Room of SOU’s Stevenson Union, will be an expanded version of the annual “Articulation Retreat” that counterparts from SOU and RCC have held for the past several years. This year’s version will include groups from Oregon Tech and KCC.

“We believe this event provides a wonderful opportunity for our SOHEC colleagues to build on what already is an enormously successful collaboration,” said SOU Provost Sue Walsh and RCC Vice President for Instructional Services Leo Hirner in their joint invitation to colleagues at the other institutions.

The consortium, a first-of-its-kind alliance of Oregon colleges and universities, is aimed at streamlining students’ educational pathways and addressing southern Oregon’s specific workforce needs. The ongoing collaborative effort took root with the four institutions’ presidents following a joint lunch meeting a year ago, and was announced in late November with signing events in both Klamath Falls and Medford.

SOHEC is considered a pioneering step toward preparing students and workforce members in the region for a rapidly changing future. It has been endorsed by state officials including the governor and the chair of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

The Feb. 25 Articulation Retreat will be an opportunity for information-sharing by staff members from the SOHEC institutions’ enrollment services, admissions, academic advising, curriculum and other support services offices. The goal of the event is to improve and expand transfer programs and other cooperative agreements among the schools, to make it easier, faster and more affordable for students to transition from one degree program to the next.

Representatives of media outlets will be welcome to report on the evening’s discussions.

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SOU-food-drive

Governor’s Food Drive will help SOU students in need

The annual Governor’s Food Drive is up and running through February at SOU, and those who contribute can make a real difference for students with unreliable access to food and other community members in need.

All food collected in campaign at SOU will be donated to the university’s Student Food Pantry, and monetary donations will support food assistance programs at ACCESS – the region’s community action agency.

“Our donations of food or pledges of monetary support can make a very real impact on hunger – not on the other side of the world, or in another part of the country, but right here on our campus,” SOU President Linda Schott said in announcing the food drive last month.

Recent studies have shown that as many as half of all U.S. college students have unreliable access to nutritious food. The Governor’s Food Drive draws donations from state government and public university employees throughout Oregon to support the Oregon Food Bank Network – but SOU has arranged for its food donations to go directly to its Student Food Pantry.

The Food Pantry provides SOU students who are in need with as many as 10 items of nonperishable food or hygiene supplies each week.

Red collection bags are expected to be delivered soon by campus mail to all SOU employees. The bags can be filled with non-perishable food items and returned anytime this month to collection barrels located in each building. SOU Dining and A’viands will offer a prize of coffee and snacks to employees from the building that collects the most pounds of donated food.

Employees may also sign up for monthly or one-time payroll deductions and submit the form to Michele Barlow in Human Resources. Each dollar donated is considered the equivalent of four pounds of donated food.

All employees who sign up for a payroll deduction, regardless of the amount, will be entered into a drawing for various prizes.

Other events associated with the food drive include a free concert, featuring student and faculty musical groups, presented by SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts. Admission to the “Feed Body and Soul” concert – at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, in the Music Recital Hall – will be two cans of food or a cash donation at the door.

SOU Athletics will collect nonperishable food donations at the women’s and men’s basketball games on Feb. 15 against College of Idaho and Feb. 16 against Eastern Oregon University. Tip-offs will be at 5:30 p.m. each day for the women’s games and 7:30 p.m. for the men’s games.

SOU-filmmaker-MovieMaker

Magazine names Ashland among best locales to work as filmmaker

For the sixth year in a row, MovieMaker Magazine has named the scenic town of Ashland in its annual ranking of the best places to live and work as a filmmaker in the United States.

This year, Ashland placed sixth in the magazine’s Small Cities and Towns category, competing well against larger markets including New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The magazine chose Ashland due to its picturesque filming locations, such as Lithia Park and Mt. Ashland, and because of the increase in moviemakers and actors moving to the area. Film students in the region can also take advantage of the Digital Cinema curriculum in the Communication program at Southern Oregon University.

“Because Ashland is a small, connected community, our students get tremendous benefits by learning filmmaking here,” said Digital Cinema professor Andrew Gay. “Filmmakers in the region enthusiastically support our student population with internships and PA gigs, helping them build skills that transfer to sets in larger markets such as Portland and Los Angeles.”

Gary Lundgren produced the coming-of-age film “Calvin Marshall” in the Rogue Valley in 2009, and has always seen Ashland as a welcoming community for filmmakers.

“When we made ‘Calvin Marshall’ in 2007, we employed quite a few first-timers and promoted people within their departments,” Lundgren told MovieMaker magazine. “A lot of those people are still friends of ours and have careers in bigger markets now, like Portland or Atlanta.”

Lundgren tries to contribute to Ashland’s positive and welcoming vibe by hiring a few first-timers whenever he’s assembling a crew for one of his films, such as his latest project, “Phoenix, Oregon,” a comedy about two friends who open a bowling alley and pizzeria.

MovieMaker magazine is geared toward the art and business of filmmaking, and claims to be the world’s most widely read independent film magazine. It was founded in 1993 in Seattle, but is now headquartered in Burbank, California.

Story by SOU student writer Sophie Passerini

SOU-French Dinner

SOU to host 23rd annual French Dinner

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University French Club will serve its 23rd annual French Dinner – a five-course meal for students, employees and community members – on Thursday, Feb. 28.

The dinner, in the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, is intended to promote French culture on campus and in the community. The dinner is organized by the university’s French Club, with the help of student union staff, French and other international students, and – for the first time – SOU athletes.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and orders will be taken at 7 p.m.

Tickets – $9 for students and university employees, and $13 for other community members – can be purchased at the Stevenson Union information booth on campus or at Paddington Station in downtown Ashland. Whole tables of eight can be reserved by contacting Marianne Golding, an SOU foreign languages professor and faculty advisor to the French Club, at golding@sou.edu.

The dinner will begin with soup, followed by a palate cleanser, quiche, salad and cheese, French bread, dessert and coffee or tea. Vegetarian options are available for the soup and quiche courses.

Wine donated by prestigious Oregon wineries can be purchased at $3 per glass for those who are 21 and older.

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audio-wayfinding-SOU

SOU subscribes to AWARE audio wayfinding app

(Ashland, Ore.) — SOU has partnered with the vendor Sensible Innovations to provide an audio wayfinding app for students, employees and visitors with sight impairments – and other users who like the convenience of audible navigation assistance.

The AWARE Audible Wayfinding app, which provides route directions to buildings and frequently visited locations on the SOU campus, can be downloaded for free from the App Store. The app was developed to help the visually impaired, but is also useful for new students or employees, visitors who are unfamiliar with campus, and others.

AWARE uses programmable “iBeacons” that are placed at various locations on campus as waypoints for users finding their way to both outdoor and indoor destinations at SOU. The beacons connect with smartphones and other mobile devices through Bluetooth Low Energy technology.

More than 200 beacons are currently in place at SOU, in often-used locations such as the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, the Higher Education Center in Medford and at accessibility features such as elevators, building entrances and restrooms. The next phase of implementing the audio wayfinding service will add beacons to new and remodeled buildings including the Lithia Motors Pavilion, Student Recreation Center and Theater Building, and will bring the total to about 300.

Users of the AWARE app can choose whether to read directions or hear them, using the accessibility features on their mobile devices.

Rasha Said – a former actuarial and financial analyst with a background in mathematics and computer science – founded Illinois-based Sensible Innovations as a new standard for visually-impaired services. She is the mother of a visually-impaired child.

The audio wayfinding app is expected to be particularly helpful for universities and transit systems, but the nine initial venues posted on the Sensible Solutions website suggest a wider spectrum – ranging from the Chicago Lighthouse to the Vision Forward Foundation in Wisconsin. Wright State University in Ohio is also listed among the company’s clients.

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virtual campus tour-SOU

SOU launches virtual campus tour

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University today launched a virtual campus tour that will give prospective students and others, anywhere in the world, an opportunity view the SOU campus in an immersive, online experience.

The virtual tour is expected to be an effective tool in recruiting students, and also will be helpful for those learning their way around campus or who want to see the facilities offered by various SOU departments.

The SOU tour includes 18 tour stops, each of which has an initial 360-degree photo, in which viewers can scroll side-to-side and up-and-down, similar to Google Street View. Each tour stop also includes secondary 360-degree photos, positional media (such as videos superimposed on screens that are part of the original photo) and supplemental media (other videos and photos).

An audio tour guide escorts viewers around campus, with scripts provided by staff members from the site of each tour stop. The tour can also be viewed with virtual reality goggles, for a fully immersive experience. SOU’s admissions staff are expected to take a couple pairs of goggles with them on recruiting visits.

SOU’s Marketing and Communications, Admissions and Information Technology departments have been working on the project for the past several months with the vendor YouVisit, which has produced similar virtual tours for about 600 other colleges and universities. A photographer from YouVisit was on campus in November and shot dozens of photos as SOU’s trees showed their autumn color.

Tour stops include Raider Way, Hannon Library, the Science Building, Theater Building, Jefferson Public Radio, the Music Building, Stevenson Union, Third Eye Theater, Churchill Hall, Center for Visual Arts, Digital Media Center, Raider Village, The Hawk, Student Recreation Center, Lithia Motors Pavilion and Raider Stadium, along with the Ashland watershed trails and Lithia Park.

A link to the virtual tour has been placed near the top of the SOU home page.

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naloxone-overdose-kit-SOU

SOU campus encouraged to prepare for overdose life-saving

Rescue kits that have been placed at 18 locations on the SOU campus will enable friends or passersby save the lives of those who may be experiencing an opioid overdose.

The kits, with nasal spray containers of the rescue medication naloxone, are located primarily in easy-to-find fire extinguisher and AED cabinets throughout campus. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, can legally be possessed and administered in Oregon. It does not have any narcotic effects, and works by reversing opioid-induced depression of the respiratory and central nervous systems.

The nasal spray is easy to use, but familiarity with the procedures is advised. Self-training tools include an eight-minute video with details on how and when to administer naloxone, and a step-by-step description of the medication’s use.

An average of more than 115 people per day die of opioid overdose in the U.S., and a spike in opioid use and overdoses has been seen in southern Oregon. SOU is taking a proactive approach to the situation because the university has lost students to overdose, and some others on campus are considered to be at risk.

Opioids include drugs such as heroin and methadone, along with prescription pain medications including hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, hydromorphone, morphine, oxymorphone, fentanyl and buprenorphine.

Overdoses requiring lifesaving treatment can occur in a wide variety of settings and circumstances, so everyone is encouraged to prepare as emergency responders.

The naloxone rescue kits at SOU are located in the Education/Psychology Building, Stevenson Union, Taylor Hall, Theater Building, Science Building, Hannon Library, Britt Hall, Cox Hall, Aspen Hall, Madrone Hall, Campbell Center, Greensprings Complex, Shasta Hall, McLoughlin Hall, The Hawk, Lithia Motors Pavilion, Student Recreation Center, and the Facilities, Maintenance and Planning office.