SOU Research Center and city collaborate

SOU Research Center survey to help guide Ashland budget decisions

(Ashland, Ore.) — A survey that seeks to draw input from every Ashland household on city budget priorities is a collaborative project of the Ashland City Council, city staff and the Southern Oregon University Research Center (SOURCE). The survey will be distributed in early June to Ashland households that receive city utility services.

“The survey is an important joint effort between the city of Ashland and Southern Oregon University to reach out to the city’s residents,” Ashland City Manager Joe Lessard said. “The survey will give us information on the community’s service preferences going forward and help us understand how to balance them against the City’s funding resources.”

The survey will ask residents’ opinions on 14 budget-balancing scenarios (or “boxes”) that would reduce city spending and/or raise revenue through increases in fees. The object of each box – which will focus on various combinations of city departments or service areas – is to balance a projected $2 million-per-year, ongoing deficit in the city’s budget for the next biennium budget (the budgets for 2023-24 and 2024-25) by determining which services Ashland residents would be willing to have reduced or whether they would be willing to pay increased fees to maintain city spending.

The Ashland City Council and budget staff have been working with the university’s SOURCE office for the past several months to develop survey questions and explain the ramifications of each potential “box” of cuts and revenue proposals. The survey that is being sent to utility customers this month can be completed in just a few minutes and returned in the enclosed self-addressed envelope.

Staff from the SOURCE office at SOU will tabulate and statistically analyze responses to understand residents’ budget priorities and will report back to the city council.

SOURCE is affiliated with SOU, using students, university resources and the expertise of faculty to gather and evaluate research data. Clients for its surveys, program evaluations, implementation studies and economic analyses include government agencies, nonprofits and businesses.

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Goodwill and SOU collaborate to reuse unwanted items

SOU and Southern Oregon Goodwill Industries continue move-out partnership

With the school year coming to a close, Southern Oregon Goodwill and Southern Oregon University continue their long-standing partnership to ensure SOU students’ unwanted items don’t find their way to the landfill but rather are used to “do good” in the community.

Each year about this time, Southern Oregon Goodwill’s Operations team works with SOU’s Sustainability & Recycling program to coordinate the delivery of Goodwill’s Big Blue donation carts, where students can place their gently-used clothing, small electronics, housewares, and furniture. These items are then transported to a local Goodwill to be sold to savvy thrifters from around the region.

The sale of these items helps fund Goodwill’s GoodWorks program. GoodWorks provides paid on-the-job training and coaching supports for individuals with barriers to employment. It also provides jobs for more than 300 individuals throughout southern Oregon and northern California. “That is the story behind the store,” says Goodwill COO Dave Robison. “Not only do donations to Goodwill help fund our mission to enable employment, but donations also mean less impact to the local landfills and the environment. It’s a win-win, and we’re thrilled to partner with SOU each year to assist students vacating the dorms.”

“We, too, are really grateful for this partnership with Southern Oregon Goodwill,” says Becs Walker, SOU Sustainability & Recycling Manager. “Reducing waste and diverting as much as possible away from landfill through recycling is at the heart of our program since its inception in 2011,” she continues.

Last year donations from SOU students totaled more than 4,000 lbs., giving those no-longer-needed items a second chance.

Donation bins will be strategically located throughout the on-campus student housing from now until students move out on June 10 and 11. Students with questions should contact SOU Sustainability & Recycling Manager Becs Walker at 541-841-6796.

Story from Southern Oregon Goodwill Industries

Trustees appointed to SOU board

Ten SOU trustees appointed and confirmed

(Ashland, Ore.) — Three new and seven continuing members have been appointed by Gov. Kate Brown and confirmed today by the Oregon Senate to serve on the Board of Trustees of Southern Oregon University.

The new trustees are Brent Barry, superintendent of the Phoenix-Talent School District; SOU faculty member Andrew Gay; and SOU alumna Christina Medina, regional business manager for Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp.

“The Board of Trustees is truly excited to welcome aboard these exceptionally qualified individuals,” said Daniel P. Santos, the board’s chair. “Each will add a unique perspective and expertise to the university’s governing board. I appreciate Gov. Brown’s appointment and legislators’ confirmation of these community leaders, whose service will enable the university to continue to meet the needs of our students and the challenges of higher education.”

Returning to serve additional terms as trustees are Lyn Hennion and Bill Thorndike, who have served on the board since its inception; Sheila Clough, who was appointed to fill a vacancy and then completed a full, four-year term; Jonathon Bullock, Shaun Franks and Barry Thalden, who have completed their initial terms on the board; and Debra Fee Jing Lee, who was appointed last year to fill a board vacancy.

The terms of all of the new and reappointed trustees begin July 1 and run through June 30, 2026, except for that of faculty member Gay, whose term, by law, is two years.

Outgoing SOU faculty member Deborah Rosenberg and non-faculty staff member janelle wilson, as well as community members Paul Nicholson and Steve Vincent, are completing their service June 30 as members of the SOU Board of Trustees.

“I sincerely thank these trustees who have given SOU two full terms of service and are now retiring from our board,” Santos said. “We are a stronger SOU today because of their service, dedication, guidance and expertise.”

Continuing trustees are Santos, an SOU alumnus from Salem, and SOU student member Mimi Pieper. Non-faculty staff member Katherine Cable, a registration systems analyst at SOU, was appointed in February to the board’s SOU staff position and will begin her term July 1. One vacant seat on the SOU board will be filled at a later date.

Each of our trustees – new, continuing or retiring – demonstrate their outstanding commitment to SOU,” President Rick Bailey said. “These trustees all have essential roles in helping us to steer this beautiful ship. Under their watch, our university embraces opportunities, negotiates challenges and commits each day to excellent service to our students and community. We all look forward to moving the university forward under their leadership.”

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

Trustees are gubernatorial appointees, subject to confirmation by the Oregon Senate. As many as 11 at-large trustees serve four-year terms and one position each is reserved for an SOU student, a faculty member and a non-faculty staff member, each of whom serve two-year terms. The university president serves in a non-voting, ex officio capacity on the board, bringing total membership to 15.

New trustees

Brent Barry
Barry has served five years as superintendent of the Phoenix-Talent School District, and a total of 18 years in various roles with the district. He was named the Oregon Superintendent of the Year for 2022 by the Oregon Association of School Executives (OASE) and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators (COSA). Barry was vice principal and athletic director at Phoenix High School, then principal at the district’s Orchard Hill Elementary and finally assistant superintendent for academics and student programs before being promoted to superintendent in 2017. He has also taught health and math in Prineville, Oregon City and Medford. He was born and raised in the Rogue Valley, attending Medford schools and then earning his bachelor’s degree at Linfield College and his Master of Education degree at SOU.  He currently serves on the boards of the Rogue Valley Family YMCA and Rogue Power Pack, and  is a member of the Bear Creek Valley Rotary Club.

Andrew Gay
Gay is an associate professor and chair of Communication, Media & Cinema at SOU, teaching digital cinema courses in storytelling, screenwriting, directing, producing, production management, film festival programming, career design and development, and short film production. He earned the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2021. Gay is an active scholar and media artist, with a variety of recent academic and creative works to his credit. He is the former board president of Film Southern Oregon, sits on the board of the Oregon Media Production Association, is a programmer for the Ashland Independent Film Festival and serves on the Teaching Committee for EDIT Media (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Teaching Media). He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy/religion from Flagler College, and both a bachelor of fine arts degree in film production and a master of fine arts degree in film and digital media from the University of Central Florida.

Christina Medina
Medina is the regional business manager for Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp for Jackson County and northern California’s Del Norte County, and is responsible for managing the accounts of significant customers and performing governmental affairs, economic development and community and stakeholder relations functions. She has served 20 years in the electric utility industry and is bilingual in Spanish. Medina earned her bachelor’s degree at SOU in innovation and leadership, with a minor in psychology. Her volunteer roles include service on the board of directors for Asante Hospital System, as an Oregon American Leadership Forum fellow, president of Remake Talent, co-convener of R3V Reimagine Rebuild Rogue Valley, co-chair of the Medford Vision Task Force, community advisory council member for Rogue Retreat and executive board member for the Medford/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

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Scholarship to benefit Native American Studies Program at SOU

First Presbyterian Church of Ashland gifts scholarship to SOU Native American Studies

(Ashland, Ore.) — What began as a partnership among Southern Oregon University and community organizations to see Indigenous Peoples’ Day instituted at SOU and in the City of Ashland a number of years ago has continued to evolve into further advocacy for Native people. Representatives of the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland signed documents this week to establish a three-year scholarship commitment for Native students and the university’s Native American Studies Program.

The scholarship agreement is a collaboration by Dennis Slattery, an associate professor of business at SOU and First Presbyterian elder; Brook Colley, chair of the SOU Native American Studies Program; the Rev. Dan Fowler of First Presbyterian; and the SOU Foundation’s Cristina Sanz. The amount of the scholarship will be driven by congregants’ donations, but it will start at $2,000 per year.

“Dennis and I worked together to build a coalition for recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on campus and in the community a number of years ago, and we continue to work on building opportunities for our various communities,” Colley said. “Today, we take another step and I am very happy to sign a letter of commitment with the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland for scholarship support of the SOU Native American Studies Program.”

Fowler, the church’s minister, said the scholarship fund represents an opportunity for his congregation to be more than symbolic in its support of Native American people.

“We honor the fact that the land our church sits upon is the ancestral land of people who were here long before us,” he said. “We recently installed a plaque in our church with a land acknowledgment recognizing this. However, the plaque we placed upon the sanctuary is meaningless unless it includes some kind of action. The scholarship for Native American Studies is one action of many we hope to do. We pray for healing and reconciliation. We pray in time that Indigenous people would come to see us as an ally.”

Slattery credited the “team effort” that resulted in the scholarship, and said the incremental approach will allow church members to grow into their new role in helping Native American students.

“Everyone pitched in to make it all happen, from the Foundation to Brook and her program to the church’s board,” Slattery said. “This is a humble effort. We look to encourage others to take these kinds of small steps – many small steps will lead to something big. We can’t just talk about recognizing or honoring Native peoples, we need to also act. This is a step in that direction, one of many we hope to accomplish in the future.”

The underlying purpose of the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland’s partnership with SOU’s Native American Studies Program is to show and provide support for NAS Students. The church acknowledges a need to do more – to continue to work on equity matters for Native communities and to provide ever greater access for Native people to higher education.

Those who are interested in establishing a scholarship of any kind may contact the SOU’s Foundation office.

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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

Memorial Day Reflection and Remembrance on Wednesday

SOU Memorial Day event commemorates fallen service members

Southern Oregon University will observe Memorial Day during a commemoration event on Wednesday, May 25, honoring the men and women of our military branches who have died in service to the nation.

The SOU Reflection and Remembrance Ceremony will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Rogue River Room, located on the main floor of the Stevenson Union. SOU President Rick Bailey, Jr., an Air Force veteran, will be the keynote speaker.

“We have two days that honor military service – Memorial Day and Veterans Day – that are commonly confused,” said Jesse S. Watson, Ph.D., SOU’s equity coordinator for veterans & military families. “Memorial Day is the opportunity to honor the lives and sacrifices of fallen service members, while Veterans Day is a day to recognize our living military veterans.

“Military service is an oath that each individual upholds but I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the collective sacrifice of each member’s support network,” Watson said. “Countless loved ones mourn their loss, celebrate their dedication and honor their call to service.”

The Memorial Day Reflection and Remembrance Ceremony is an opportunity for the campus community and Rogue Valley neighbors to come together to remember those who have laid down their lives in service and to lift up those loved ones who carry their loss each day. All are welcome to attend the ceremony.

For more information, please visit: sou.edu/veterans.

low tuition rate increase approved

SOU Board of Trustees approves low tuition rate increase for second year in a row

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees agreed today with a recommendation from the university’s Tuition Advisory Council and President Rick Bailey, Jr., for tuition rates in the 2022-23 academic year to increase by $8 per credit hour for resident undergraduate students. The new rates were approved following a lengthy, collaborative process involving students, faculty and staff members, and came just a year after the university enacted its lowest tuition rate increase in recent memory – just $5 per credit hour.

SOU’s tuition rates will remain among the lowest of Oregon’s seven public universities, and the increase approved today for the coming year ranks near the middle of increases ranging from 3.19 to 7 percent that have been approved or proposed at the other schools for 2022-23.

Undergraduates from Oregon will pay $209 per credit hour at SOU, up from $201 this year – an increase of 3.98 percent, following last year’s increase of 2.55 percent. Residents of 16 Western states and territories that are part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange will pay $314, up from $301.50; and other non-resident undergraduates will pay $617, up from $597. SOU’s tuition rates for graduate students from Oregon will increase to $525 per credit hour, up from $505; non-resident graduate students will pay $630, up from $610.

“These tuition rates are the result of a very thoughtful process, and based on many months of analysis by our students, working alongside faculty and staff members,” said Daniel Santos, chair of the SOU Board of Trustees. “The Tuition Advisory Council members very clearly understand the needs of students and the university, and I appreciate them finding this balance between the costs of a high-quality education and affordability for our students.”

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the rates recommended by SOU’s Tuition Advisory Council, which met eight times and is made up of students, faculty and administrators. President Bailey reviewed the council’s recommendations and forwarded them to the trustees.

SOU has committed to keeping higher education within the reach of all students and prospective students, and strives to offset any tuition increases with opportunities for institutional aid – particularly for those who are least able to afford additional costs. The university has also implemented measures to reduce student expenses for textbooks, and to maintain affordable room-and-board costs for those who live in residence halls.

“All students who want to improve their lives through higher education should absolutely have the opportunity to do so on our campus,” President Bailey said. “We are committed to innovations that will change the current funding model, which relies almost entirely on tuition revenue from students and funding from the legislature. With creative endeavors, over time, we can relieve the dependence on both.

“We are actively pursuing a variety of other revenue sources for SOU, and those could prove to be transformational for our students and the institution. In the meantime, we must do our best to balance the academic and financial interests of our students.”

The state paid for two-thirds of its universities’ operating budgets 30 years ago and tuition covered the remaining third. The ratio is now exactly opposite.

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Arbor Day of Service on SOU campus

Arbor Day of Service celebrates SOU’s Tree Campus USA certification

The  SOU Student Sustainability Team and the Tree, Bee and Bird Committee will host a community-wide Arbor Day of Service on April 29 – an opportunity for hands-on volunteer work, connection with others who have an interest in sustaining the environment and a free lunch.

Volunteer check-in and lunch will be from 12:30 to 1:20 p.m. in the Stevenson Union, outside the Rogue River Room. Upon check-in, volunteers will sign up for tasks including sustainable campus beautification, construction of pollinator gardens, maintenance of the SOU Community Garden and – you guessed it – tree planting.

Lunch will feature food that qualifies under the Real Food Challenge (an initiative to provide food that is ecologically sound, humane, fair, or local/regionally sourced). Joseph Whitney, who heads the initiative, will speak alongside student sustainability coordinator Elizabeth Adkisson and David West, an enrolled citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and director emeritus of Native American Studies.

Groups will split off at 1:30 p.m. to join the SOU landscaping Team on campus, go to the SOU Farm with the Pollinator Club or head to the SOU Community Garden. Each group will hear from local experts about tree care, pollinators or gardening.

SOU celebrates Arbor Day as part of its Tree Campus certification. The university was recognized in December of 2021, for the seventh year in a row, as a Tree Campus. The national Tree Campus USA program was founded by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor college and university campuses that effectively manage the trees on their campuses, connect with the community to promote healthy urban forest management, and have student bodies that are actively involved in environmental stewardship. There are currently 402 campuses across the nation with this recognition.

Arbor Day has been celebrated by more than 44 countries beginning in 1594, and 45  states in the U.S. since 1872. It was established as a day to honor trees and the vital role they play in the world. Did you know that one large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for as many as four people? Trees also provide natural temperature regulation, water, air and soil pollution reduction, and stress relief for students and faculty on campus.

Day of Service participants will reciprocate that generosity by Mother Earth by putting their hands in the dirt and planting.

SOU’s Arbor Day observance was cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2021, so organizers are ready to make the 2022 SOU Arbor Day of Service one of the most enriching, impactful and fun events of the year. Those who are interested are urged to tell their friends, post on social media, and get the word out to anyone in the community to let them know they are invited to make a tangible and lasting impact on the local landscape. The event is open to the community.

Advanced registration is requested; those who wish to join for the volunteer lunch please fill out the form https://southernoregonuniversity.formstack.com/forms/arborday_2022 by April 26.

Story by the Student Sustainability Team, SOU Social Justice and Equity Center

SOU's Earth Day Extravaganza will highlight Earth Month

SOU Earth Month features Earth Day Extravaganza and more

Southern Oregon University and community partners are offering an “Earth Day Extravaganza” and a packed schedule of events during the last two weeks of April in observation of Earth Month 2022. Opportunities to learn, take action and celebrate will take place both on campus and in the community April 19 through 29.

Environmental and social sustainability are among SOU’s core institutional values, and the events offered by the Social Justice and Equity Center’s Student Sustainability Team will highlight SOU’s contributions in these areas and offer opportunities to get involved in making a difference. Campus events will include a free screening of the film “Necessity 2: Climate Justice and the Thin Green Line,” the Light Up Your Bike Night Ride and Workshop, the Earth Day Extravaganza and the Arbor Day of Service. All of SOU’s events are free and open to the public.

Events hosted by community organizations include the Bear Creek Stewardship Day, Earth Day celebrations at the Ashland Food Co-op and Temple Emek Shalom, the Run Wild Ashland Color Dash and the Rogue Valley Bike Swap.

Details on the full Earth Month line-up are available online.

SOU’s Earth Day Extravaganza will be held this year from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on April 22, in observation of the 52nd Earth Day. The Student Sustainability Team (formerly ECOS) has been hosting a similar version of the event for more than 20 years – historically, in the Stevenson Union courtyard. The Student Sustainability Team is moving the event to The Farm at SOU to help fill a void that was left when the Rogue Valley Earth Day event, traditionally held at the neighboring ScienceWorks, was discontinued.

The SOU Earth Day Extravaganza has adopted some of the more popular features of Rogue Valley Earth Day, in partnership with the event’s past organizers – including educational exhibits by more than 30 sustainability and social justice-minded organizations and businesses; the Earth Day Ecoquest, in which participants of all ages can complete activities to earning prizes; and musical performances by campus and community groups including the SOU Salsa Band, the Creek Side Strings and Elbow Room Taiko. Other additions include mini-workshops hosted by students from SOU’s Environmental Education master’s degree program, farm and art tours, lawn games, crafts and food trucks.

ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum will be extending its hours on the day of the event to 6:30 p.m., and will also offer free admission that afternoon.

Guests are asked to walk, bike, carpool or take a bus to the Earth Day Extravaganza, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit parking congestion. Limited on-site parking is available in the ScienceWorks parking lot and overflow parking at Willow Wind Community Learning Center is also available. Guests that walk, bike, take a bus or carpool to the event can stop by the Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) exhibit to receive bonus Ecoquest tokens to be used toward Ecoquest prizes.

SOU’s Earth Day Extravaganza is made possible by contributions from campus and community sponsors, including Café Mam Organic Coffee, the SOU Social Justice and Equity Center, Sustainability at SOU, the SOU Environmental Science and Policy Program, True South Solar, the Ashland Food Co-op, Southern Oregon Climate Action Now and many other partner organizations.

Please visit the Earth Day Extravaganza website for more information.

Contract agreement allows focus on students

SOU and faculty union agree to four-year contract

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University and its faculty union have come to terms on a new, four-year collective bargaining agreement. The contract is the result of a collaborative process that ultimately addressed faculty concerns related to pay equity and job security while also recognizing the university’s financial condition.

The university and Association of Professors of Southern Oregon University (APSOU) agree it is critical to now focus on the student academic experience.

“We all share a deep commitment to our students,” said Susan Walsh, SOU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This agreement allows us to move forward together in service to our students and the community.”

APSOU, the union that represents SOU faculty members, sent the contract to its members and it was ratified late last week.  The university and APSOU finalized their proposed agreement two weeks ago, following a declaration of impasse by the union.

Walsh – who has served the university for more than 30 years as professor, department chair and now SOU’s top academic administrator – joined the final stage of bargaining to urge unity. She said that all university employees – faculty, staff and administrators – have contributed in many ways to keep SOU financially viable despite enrollment declines, the region’s wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and an uneven economy.

“Our collective ability to deal with challenges often comes from the recognition that we must always keep what is best for our students at the center of all of our decisions,” Walsh said. “When it comes to a commitment to student success, there is no question that we are all on the same page.”

The new collective bargaining agreement starts with a 1 percent guaranteed minimum raise for the remainder of the current academic year. The contract provides for guaranteed minimum salary increases of 2.5 percent beginning next academic year, and then 2 percent for each of the two following years, as well as annual salary adjustments, based on years in rank, of as much as 2 percent. The university will continue to pay 95 to 97 percent of faculty members’ medical, dental, vision and life insurance benefits.

The agreement, which took effect upon ratification, will run through August 2025.

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