Study shows SOU's economic impact on region

Study confirms SOU’s vital economic impact role in region

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is a powerful economic engine for its region, responsible for a total of $282.5 million in annual output in Jackson County, according to a recent economic impact study by Portland-based consulting firm ECONorthwest.

SOU also is responsible for a total of 2,146 direct, indirect and induced jobs in its home county, the study found. Direct jobs are those at the university, indirect jobs are at businesses with which the university contracts and induced jobs are those generated in the local economy when wages earned at the university are spent.

The ECONorthwest study looked at the impact of all four Technical and Regional Universities (TRUs) in Oregon – SOU, Oregon Institute of Technology, Western Oregon and Eastern Oregon. SOU rated highest in both total economic output and total jobs among the four universities.

“This study confirms what we have long known – that SOU is a critically important player in the southern Oregon economy,” SOU President Linda Schott said.

“Our impacts go well beyond what was measured in this study,” she said. “We work collaboratively with employers in our region to develop academic programs that fill local needs and create opportunities for our students. We confer about 1,100 degrees each year, and a high number of those graduates stay in our area to launch careers and become leaders in their fields.”

The economic impact study also pointed to a recent analysis by the Oregon Employment Department that found a significant earnings advantage for local workers with four-year college degrees. The Employment Department determined that Jackson County residents with bachelor’s degrees earned an average of 35.5 percent more per month than those with some college or an associate degree, and 48.7 percent more than those with only a high school education.

The ECONorthwest study found that the TRU institutions had an annual total of 188,053 out-of-town visitors on their campuses, who spent a combined $15.4 million in those communities – with SOU the highest, at $6.05 million. Spending was calculated for lodging, dining and shopping.

Overall, the study found that the four TRUs were responsible for $1.03 billion in direct, indirect and induced economic output in Oregon.


SOU's Lock-In event for criminology students is Friday

19th annual “Lock-In” brings police to teach at SOU

SOU’s Criminology and Criminal Justice students will get plenty of hands-on training when representatives from a variety of local law enforcement agencies will be on campus to present workshops at a “Lock-In” event on Friday (Feb. 28).

The 19th annual Lock-In will draw on the expertise of agencies including the Ashland and Medford police departments, Oregon State Police, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County District Attorney’s Office and the Army National Guard. They will be on campus to raise awareness on criminal justice issues and host a variety of learning scenarios, which will run from 1 to 3:30 p.m. and from 3:35 to 6 p.m.

A large police presence will be visible primarily in and around Taylor Hall and the Stevenson Union. Sessions will be held in the Rogue River Room, where officers will present workshops on topics such as gunshot and traumatic injury control, active shooter scenarios, K9 demonstrations, crime scene investigations, explosives units and more.

Simulation notices will be posted on the buildings, along the perimeter of the area and in each room where a simulation is held.

The Lock-In provides opportunities for networking and camaraderie, along with practical training. To sign up students can pay a $10 fee or can get 1 credit by enrolling in the 1/2 day class CCJ 199.

Those with additional questions may contact criminology professor Tiffany L Morey.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

The Governor's Food Drive at SOU will help students with unreliable access to food

Governor’s State Employee Food Drive to run through February at SOU

All food and cash donations collected at SOU during the seventh annual Governor’s State Employee Food Drive – which runs through February – will go to the Student Food Pantry and SOU students with unreliable access to food. Payroll deductions will support food assistance programs at ACCESS – the region’s community action agency.

“The most needed items at the SOU food pantry include boxed meals, soups, oatmeal, peanut butter, canned tuna, tortillas, canned fruit and other non-perishable items,” said Jill Smedstad, the environmental and community engagement coordinator for Student Life.

Recent studies have shown that as many as half of all U.S. college students have unreliable access to nutritious food. The Food Pantry provides SOU students who are in need with as many as 10 items of nonperishable food or hygiene supplies each week. Donations through the Governor’s Food Drive go directly toward supporting the Food Pantry.

“Overall, the total pounds collected (last year), including the pounds equivalent to the monetary donations, was 10,697,” Smedstad said. “This is equal to about 8,000 meals. This year we are hoping to increase both pounds of food donated and monetary donations through employee payroll deductions, with a goal of raising the equivalent of 10,000 meals.”

Red collection bags are expected to be delivered soon by campus mail to all SOU employees for the food collection competition among campus buildings, which is coordinated by the Student Sustainability Center. The bags can be filled with non-perishable food items and returned anytime this month to collection barrels located in each building. Employees may also sign up for monthly or one-time payroll deductions and submit the form to Michele Barlow in Human Resources.

Those who donate will help students in need and also have a chance to win awards and prizes for their good deeds. SOU Dining will offer a prize of coffee and snacks to employees from the building that collects the most pounds of donated food, with a dollar considered the equivalent of four pounds. All employees who sign up for payroll deductions will also 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. 11, in the Music Recital Hall – will be two cans of food or a cash donation at the door. Performing artists include Left Edge Percussion, SOU Jazz Combo, SOU Chamber Choir, and Mazama Saxophone Quartet.

SOU Athletics will collect nonperishable food donations at the women’s wrestling match on Feb. 20, and at the mens and womens basketball games on Feb. 21.

“While the Governor’s State Employee Food Drive is focused specifically on soliciting donations from employees, students who can are certainly encouraged to donate as well – at athletic games, at the ‘Feed Body and Soul Concert’, or by putting cans in any of the barrels around campus,” Smedstad said.

The Student Sustainability Center will host a day of service with ACCESS at its food warehouse in Medford, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29. The entire SOU community is invited – students, employees, alumni, and friends and family. Transportation to and from Medford will be offered, and lunch will be provided. Sign up or find more information about the event online at after Feb. 1.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU emeritus professor Joseph Smith passed away Jan. 5

Retired SOU business professor Joseph Smith passes away at age 98

Emeritus professor Joseph Raymond Smith, who taught business at SOU for 26 years, passed away on Jan. 5 at age 98.

Smith joined the faculty in 1964 of what was then Southern Oregon College. He taught courses in accounting and taxation until his retirement as an emeritus professor in 1990.

Smith was born in Magrath, Alberta, Canada in 1921, and graduated from high school in Salt Lake City, Utah before joining the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He graduated first in his class at the communication school and served as an electronics instructor, earning the rank of sergeant.

He volunteered for Mormon missionary work after the war in southern Brazil, then married his first wife, Alice Zemp, and earned his master’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University. He and his growing family relocated to Hawaii, where he was one of the original faculty members at Brigham Young University-Hawaii in Laie, Oahu, chairing the Division of Business.

He was a driving force behind the creation and founding of the Polynesian Cultural Center while in Hawaii, and served as a bishop of the Laie ward.

Smith received his doctorate in business from Colorado State College and relocated his family to Ashland in 1964 to join the Southern Oregon College faculty. He married Carolina Maria Timor in 1982.

Smith engaged in various commercial enterprises – both brick-and-mortar and online – in addition to his teaching. His business pursuits ranged from carpentry and textiles to education and tax consulting – he earned the status of an IRS enrolled agent. He was an accomplished carpenter and took great pleasure in the activities of rural life.

Smith is survived by his spouse, Carolina Smith; his children Gordon (Linda) Smith, Kent Smith, Jorae (Mark) Scofield, Loretta Backstrom, Raymond (Georgina) Smith, Shari Griffin and Yazmine (Mike) Arringtion; 14 grandchildren; and 14 great grandchildren.

Funeral and memorial services are being arranged by Litwiller-Simonsen Funeral Home in Ashland. Visit the funeral home’s website for viewing, memorial service and burial information. Flowers and condolences can be delivered to Litwiller-Simonsen Funeral Home at 1811 Ashland Street, Ashland, Oregon 97520. Alternatively, memorial donations can be sent to the Dr. Joseph R. Smith Endowed Scholarship Fund at Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

Marianne Golding (pictured with Dan Morris) will offer a Campus Theme lecture

“Uncertainty” series tackles incomplete accounts of three Jewish WWII refugees

Southern Oregon University French professor and Summer Language Institute director Marianne Golding will present a “Campus Theme” lecture this month on World War II France.

The free lecture, which is part of SOU’s Campus Theme lecture series, will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Hannon Library’s Meese Room. It follows the uncertain journey of three young Jewish refugees from Germany and Czechoslovakia and the women who helped them escape from German-occupied France.

Each year’s Campus Theme lectures examine a common premise, and this year it’s “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.

Golding’s lecture will touch upon uncertainty by examining some of the errors found in personal and official archives and biographies. An American Sign Language interpreter will translate the lecture.

“(Holocaust survivors) who were never able to share their stories, because it was too painful to share them or because they died before they were ready to do so, one has to rely on a mixture of historical facts, which are sometimes erroneous or incomplete, and other people’s memories, which can also be erroneous or incomplete,” Golding said.

The lecture is especially important and personal for Golding. One of the three survivors she will talk about is her father.

“I loved my father dearly and felt guilty that I hadn’t tried to find more about his past while he was alive,” she said. “I feel I am honoring him with the research I am doing now, and also understanding so much more the reasons why he behaved the way he did, why he couldn’t share emotions or talk about his childhood – like so many other war refugees.”

Golding grew up outside of Paris before receiving her doctorate in French Literature from UCLA. She became a French language professor at SOU 1998, and teaches beginning through advanced French courses. She is particularly interested in autobiographies, feminist literature, and French-speaking literature, culture and film. She has authored the second edition of “The Graded French Reader” and various articles and conference presentations.

She has also been the director of SOU’s Summer Language Institute since 2014. The Summer Language Institute offers French teachers a masters degree in teaching French. The program takes three summers to complete and is held in Angers, France.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU's alternative spring break trips include a service opportunity in California's John Muir Woods

SOU students to tackle homelessness and environment issues for spring break

The deadline to apply online for either of two Raider Alternative Break trips this spring is Jan. 18. The trips – one to Arizona and the other to Marin County, California – will coincide with SOU’s spring break, March 21 through 29.. 

Raider Alternative Breaks focuses on inspiring students to be active citizens. Through short-term service learning experiences, students explore various themes and issues. The topics are examined through readings, media, discussions, group reflection, direct experience and dialogue with partners and community members. Students can also earn academic credit for their service by registering for the spring term class Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) 399 – a pass, no-pass option that can be worth two to four credits.

One of this year’s spring break trips – to East Mesa, Arizona – is called “Basic Needs,” and will involve providing help with housing and food insecurity. The eight-student RAB group will volunteer with House of Refuge, a non-profit organization that provides transitional housing and support services to families in crisis; and United Food Bank, an East Valley-based provider of food for the needy.

The second trip is “Into the Woods,” a forest conservation and recreation opportunity in the Muir Woods National Monument north of San Francisco. The 10-student spring break class will travel across the Golden Gate Bridge to volunteer on a variety of conservation and recreation enhancement projects, including the maintenance and clean-up of trails, boardwalks, habitats, beaches and historic sites.

The RAB Spring 2020 Application and Information form includes more detailed information on each experience and explains participant expectations and commitments.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Philosopher Cailin O'Connor to speak at SOU

Philosopher to lecture at SOU on misinformation and false beliefs

Cailin O’Connor – mathematician, philosopher, author, evolutionary game theorist and associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine – will speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in Room 151 of the Southern Oregon University Science Building.

O’Connor’s free lecture is part of SOU’s “Campus Theme” lecture series. Each year’s lectures follow a theme, and this year it’s “uncertainty.” The first lecture in the series was by Stanley Crawford, who talked about his legal fight against a large garlic importing company. To continue with the theme, O’Connor will discuss the spread of misinformation and the inherent uncertainty of our beliefs.

That topic is also the focus of O’Connor’s 2018 book, “The Misinformation Age,” in which she and co-author James Owen Weatherall use models of social networks to show the social spread of false beliefs. O’Connor also wrote the 2019 book, “The Origins of Unfairness – a monograph on social categories’ influence over cooperation and the distribution of resources.

“The Misinformation Age” was selected last January for both the New York Times’ Editor’s Choice Reading List and Scientific American’s Recommended Reading List.

O’Connor has been a member of the UC-Irvine faculty since 2013. She received her bachelor’s degree in visual and environmental studies from Harvard College in 2006 and her doctorate from UC-Irvine in 2013.

SOU faculty members are asked to encourage their students to attend Campus Theme presentations.

The themed lectures are presented by the Oregon Center for the Arts in partnership with the Office of the Provost and the Division of Humanities and Culture.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, who will visit SOU for Friday's town hall meeting

U.S. senator to visit SOU for town hall meeting

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon will be on the Southern Oregon University campus on Friday for what promises to be a wide-ranging town hall meeting as he seeks input on “what we need to do to strengthen our state and our nation.”

The SOU event, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, is part of Merkley’s ongoing town hall tour of Oregon’s 36 counties. SOU students and employees are encouraged to attend Friday’s meeting, which is apparently the first SOU visit by a U.S. senator since October 2015 – when both Merkley and Sen. Ron Wyden came to the SOU campus to discuss student debt.

Merkley’s staff said he would have preferred to visit when school is in session, but the upcoming impeachment trial and other senate business in Washington, D.C., have limited his Oregon schedule. His Friday event was scheduled by Merkley’s staff, rather than by any group at the university.

All southern Oregon residents are invited to attend the town hall meeting. Free parking is available in SOU’s Mountain Street parking lot.

More information about Merkley’s town hall schedule and issues he is currently addressing is available on his website.

Merkley was the first in his family to attend college, earning his bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University and his master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University. He worked as a national security analyst before returning to Oregon to serve as executive director of the Habitat for Humanity office in Portland.

He was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1998, became speaker of the house in 2007 and then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008. He was reelected in 2014 and is running for reelection to a third term in 2020.

SOU community asked to help higher education survey

SOU community members encouraged to help in state higher education planning

All members of the SOU community have been asked to help set the stage for a statewide strategic plan on postsecondary education by completing an online survey from Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission.

Respondents from throughout the state will be asked for their views on the future of postsecondary education in Oregon; the state’s educational goals, public investment and accountability; and priorities such as student success, equity, affordability and impacts on both communities and the economy. The survey – which takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete – is hosted by the HECC and Portland’s Coraggio Group strategic consulting firm.

The online study, which must be completed in one session, will remain open only through Dec. 24.

Results will provide a baseline as the HECC begins development of a new strategic plan to improve educational outcomes and guide the future of higher education and training programs in Oregon. Focus groups, interviews and other online tools will also be used to gauge public attitudes, perceptions and preferences.

The HECC is actively seeking input from existing and prospective students, parents, faculty, staff, administrators, community leaders and policymakers. Participation by SOU employees and students will ensure that the university’s perspectives are well-represented.

The HECC – a board of volunteer commissioners – advises the governor and legislature on Oregon’s postsecondary education policies and funding. It makes budget recommendations and sets funding allocations for the state’s 17 community colleges and seven public universities.

Britt Hall at SOU

SOU offices relocated for Britt Hall renovation

SOU departments that occupy space at Britt Hall are being temporarily relocated, primarily to accommodate seismic and mechanical upgrades to the building. The OHSU nursing program is also investing in a complete renovation and modernization of its simulation labs, classrooms and support areas in Britt’s lower level.

Abatement and some demolition work will begin in February, with an anticipated completion date of Fall 2022 for the entire project.

Affected departments are in the process of being relocated to other accommodations around campus:

  • The Service Center moved Dec. 2-5 to the first and second floors of Susanne Homes west wing; contracting, purchasing, student employment, university travel, support specialist functions and paycheck distribution services will be provided at the new location.
  • The Service Center accounting unit will remain in Britt Hall until it joins Business Services at Room 154 of Churchill Hall on Jan. 2
  • OHSU nursing moved Dec. 2-6 to Cascade Hall; services transferred to the new location Dec. 9
  • The academic Department of Communication is moving Dec. 16-19 to a modular facility east of the Digital Media Center on Webster Street; services are transferring to the new location Dec. 23
  • The Admissions Department is moving Dec. 23-24 to the Stevenson Union Access Center, below the SOU Bookstore; services are transferring to the new location Dec. 30
  • The Enrollment Services Center is moving Jan. 20-24 to the Computer Services East Building; services are transferring to the new location Jan. 27

Signage and a map will be posted outside Britt Hall to help direct traffic to the new locations of the various offices.

Britt Hall was the second building on campus – following Churchill –when it was built in 1937.