Patridge hired as general counsel

Patridge hired as SOU general counsel

Rob Patridge, who has held several high-profile professional and public service positions throughout Oregon, has been hired following a nationwide search to become Southern Oregon University’s in-house attorney. He will begin work as SOU’s general counsel on Dec. 5.

“Rob’s varied legal career has been punctuated by innovation and leadership, guiding his clients through situations both routine and ground-breaking,” SOU President Rick Bailey said this week in a message to campus. “His experiences will benefit SOU as we re-engineer our financial structure by developing entrepreneurial revenue sources.”

Patridge has served four years as the Klamath County District Attorney, almost five years as chair of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, two years as general counsel and district director for former U.S. Representative Greg Walden, three terms as State Representative for Oregon House District 50 and two years as a Medford City Council member.

He has directed several “change management” efforts for clients, and led government and business leaders through emerging issues in commercial alcohol, tobacco, hemp and cannabis regulation, in his current position as regulated products leader at the international Deloitte Consulting firm. His clients at Deloitte have also included health care and financial institutions.

Patridge’s other work experience includes 13 years as managing member of the Covey Consulting firm, three years as president of Powder River’s Meridian Investments branch, six years as general counsel for Pacific Retirement Services, Inc., almost four years as a deputy district attorney for Jackson County and five years with Applied Laser Systems, Inc., of Medford.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a law degree from Willamette University, and has southern Oregon roots, graduating high school in Eagle Point.

Patridge succeeds Jason Catz as SOU’s general counsel, following Catz’s resignation earlier this year to take a position at Oregon State University.

“I want to personally thank our search committee – led by Vice President Toya Cooper – for the successful search that led to Rob’s hiring,” President Bailey said. “I encourage each of you to welcome Rob to our campus and to get acquainted with him as time allows.”

Solar power production to be supported by state grant

SOU to expand solar power, move toward energy independence

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Oregon Department of Energy to expand solar power production on campus, in the next step toward its ambitious goal of becoming the first college or university in the U.S. to generate 100 percent of the electricity used on campus.

The award from ODE’s Community Renewable Energy Grant Program will add solar arrays to The Hawk Dining Commons and the Lithia Motors Pavilion/Student Recreation Center complex, and will pay for the installation of battery storage at the Hawk to support students, first responders and the broader community, if needed.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for SOU, and for our students and the Ashland community,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “This grant supports our campus-wide efforts to expand sustainability as an integral part of our everyday operations. It also is a significant milestone in our entrepreneurial mission to reduce costs and broaden revenue, easing the financial burden on students and their families.”

Solar energy production is a key element of SOU’s innovative plan to develop new revenue streams and reduce dependence on the two traditional funding sources for public higher education nationwide – tuition and state funding. The proportions of funding from those two sources has flipped over the past 25 years in Oregon, from two-thirds state money and one-third tuition, to exactly the opposite.

Energy self-sufficiency will save SOU at least $700,000 per year in utility costs and President Bailey plans to expand the program from there, with additional solar installations that will enable the university to generate income by selling electricity to local utilities. He achieved that on a smaller scale at Northern New Mexico College, where he served as president before being hired at SOU in January.

SOU is also awaiting confirmation of a $2 million federal grant for its campus-wide solar build-out. Oregon’s U.S. senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, have placed SOU’s request in the senate’s draft appropriations bill for the 2023 fiscal year, which is currently in a process known as “Congressionally Directed Spending.” The federal grant, if awarded, will pay for additional solar arrays on SOU’s parking lots and rooftops.

For the state grant that was awarded this week, SOU submitted its application in July for $1 million toward a project that will cost a total of $1.34 million. It is considered both a community renewable energy project and a community energy resilience project, under the definitions of ODE’s Community Renewable Energy Grant Program.

The program was created by the 2021 Legislature, which set aside $50 million for projects throughout the state over the next three years – with $12 million available in the 2022 funding cycle. The program – open to Oregon tribes, public bodies and consumer-owned utilities – drew a total of 56 applicants who submitted 68 applications, with 20 projects awarded grants in the program’s first round.

“These new solar projects at SOU will take our efforts to the next level,” SOU Sustainability Director Becs Walker said. “We are pursuing all viable opportunities to generate renewable energy on campus. This will help us financially as well as set us on the pathway to achieve carbon neutrality.  Our university is helping to lead the way for our community, region and the state of Oregon.”

SOU chose the Hawk Dining Commons and Lithia Motors Pavilion/Student Recreation Center projects for this year’s state funding based on site readiness, community resiliency and public welfare factors. SOU will continue to implement energy conservation and energy efficiency measures as it increases its solar.

The university currently has nine solar arrays on its Ashland campus with a total output of 455 kilowatts, plus an array at the Higher Education Center in Medford and a pole-mounted array installed last year by a nonprofit on land leased from SOU. The two new arrays supported by the state grant will increase SOU’s solar capacity by a total of 359 kilowatts.

SOU’s first solar array – a 6 kilowatt project with 24 solar panels – was installed on the Hannon Library in 2000. A total of five new arrays have been added in just the past three years, in projects funded through a combination of private investors, grants, the student body and the university. SOU’s Hawk Dining Hall & McLoughlin Residence Hall each have solar hot water systems installed to augment the natural gas domestic water heating, and the campus also has three net-zero buildings – they create as much or more energy than they use.

Solar energy production is one of four opportunities that SOU is currently pursuing in its effort to be more entrepreneurial in its approach to revenue generation. The university has also initiated a project to raze its vacant Cascade housing complex, which was completed in the early 1960s, and replace it with an innovative senior living facility that produces synergy between its residents and the university. Funding for the demolition has been approved by the state and is expected to begin in the next few months.

Other projects that will produce revenue or reduce expenses for SOU include the establishment of a University Business District in southeast Ashland – discussions are underway with the local business community – and replacement of its operational software with the cutting-edge Workday platform, which eventually will save the university about $750,000 per year in recurring costs.

The projects are part of an effort to “re-engineer” SOU’s financial structure, reducing expenses to better reflect current enrollment and academic interests, expanding revenue sources and positioning the university for strategic growth into the future.

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Two appointed to SOU Board of Trustees

Former SOU administrator and consultant appointed to Board of Trustees

(Ashland, Ore.) — Liz Shelby, who retired from Southern Oregon University after serving as director of government relations and chief of staff, and lobbyist and government relations consultant Iris Maria Chávez have both been appointed by Gov. Kate Brown and confirmed today by the Oregon Senate to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees. They will begin their service to the board on Sept. 28.

Shelby appointed to Board of TrusteesShelby will complete the partial four-year term to which retired Oregon Supreme Court Justice Virginia Linder was appointed in February, but was unable to serve. Chávez will complete the unexpired four-year term of Lyn Hennion, who served on the board since its inception in 2015 and was appointed to a new term in June.

“I am honored and excited to join the Board of Trustees of Southern Oregon University,” said Shelby, who served for 25 years at SOU before her retirement in 2017. “With my background and commitment to public higher education in Oregon, I am eager to help guide the sustainability and diversity of SOU during this important time in the university’s history.”

Chavez appointed to Board of TrusteesChávez is the managing partner of Equity Action Partners of Portland, and has more than 15 years of experience working in government affairs, community engagement and communications for advocacy organizations and think tanks, advancing state and federal policy to improve community outcomes and increase government accountability. She has built issue-advocacy campaigns with a variety of advocacy and civil rights organizations across the country, leading to bipartisan legislation to provide investments in education, public safety, social justice and child welfare.

“I’m excited to join my new colleagues on the board at Southern Oregon University,” Chávez said. “I look forward to supporting the strategies and vision that will ensure the continued success of the university and our students.”

Chávez serves as the board chair for the Partnership for Safety & Justice and is a board member for the Latino Network Action Fund. She has built coalitions with – and advocated on behalf of – organizations including the Education Trust, League of United Latin American Citizens, Chalkboard Project, Children’s Institute, Partnership for Safety & Justice, Sponsors, Inc., and the Oregon Coalition of Community Charter Schools.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in history, sociology and African Diaspora Studies from Tulane University and her master’s degree in social policy from the University of Chicago.

Shelby served six SOU presidents as director of government relations and three as chief of staff before her retirement five years ago. She was involved in several significant transitions for the university, including its name change from Southern Oregon State College in 1997 and the shift to an independent board of trustees in 2015.

She previously served 16 years as director of the federal Small Business Development Center in the SOU School of Business, helping local entrepreneurs with business plans and working with existing business owners to develop strategies that increase profitability.

Shelby, a two-time alumna,  earned her bachelor’s degree in business and her master’s degree in business administration at SOU. She is the board chair for the Resolve Center for Dispute Resolution and Restorative Justice and is vice president of the Jefferson Public Radio Foundation’s board of directors. She previously served on the board of Rogue Credit Union for 14 years.

“The SOU Board of Trustees is very happy to welcome Iris and Liz to the board,” said Daniel Santos, the board chair. “Their expertise and broad range of experiences will help all of us to guide the university and advance its mission for the next 150 years. We are also tremendously grateful for Lyn Hennion’s lengthy and insightful service and leadership on the SOU Board; we wish her the very best.”

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President Bailey lays out financial strategy to solidify SOU's operations

SOU prepares for strategic realignment to solidify financial future

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University President Rick Bailey announced to employees today an emerging plan to address an outdated financial model that has left SOU and many other public higher education institutions relying too heavily on tuition revenue to balance their budgets. According to Bailey, the work over the next several months will be to strategically realign the university for future growth.

“We are drawing a line in the sand on using tuition increases to meet rising costs,” President Bailey said. “We are all committed to the innovations that will keep more and more from being put on the backs of our students.”

The president called for teamwork in managing costs with steps that will reduce recurring, annual expenses, as well as programmatic realignments that enable SOU to sharpen its focus and better prepare students for success and service to their communities.

“Our university has operated for most of its 150 years on a financial model that’s very common in public higher education: near-exclusive reliance on a combination of state funding and tuition revenue,” Bailey said. “That model was effective until about 30 years ago, when the balance between those two funding sources began to flip – what used to be about a two-thirds share from the state and one-third from tuition is now the exact opposite.

“Our leadership and budgeting teams have looked long and hard at our structural issues, and are confident that SOU’s financial foundation can be successfully re-engineered, but it will take several years to get there,” Bailey said. “Our new, bottom-line fiscal formula must be one in which revenue is greater than or equal to costs for the long-term. While that sounds fairly straightforward, it isn’t always followed.”

Bailey said there are four “planks” to re-engineer the university’s fiscal operations: managing costs, vigorously going after grants, leveraging SOU’s growing philanthropic capacity and diversifying the university’s revenue streams.

In his announcement, Bailey offered two examples of how the university has already begun to address recurring costs: a three-year shift to a new core information system that will improve service and save $700,000 per year; and the goal of making SOU the first public university in the nation to make all of its own electricity on its campus, saving another $700,000 to $800,000 per year. The university’s shift to the Workday information system began last month, and SOU has applied for both state and federal funding for the next steps toward powering the entire campus with its own solar arrays.

Bailey acknowledged that changes to SOU academic and support programs will be complicated but he promised transparency and intends to include student, faculty and staff governance groups in the analysis process, along with the unions that represent faculty members and classified employees.

“Our guiding principles throughout this process will be to act with integrity, transparency, compassion and humility; to focus on the best interests of our students and the long-term vision of SOU; and to view each step through the lens of JEDI – justice, equity, diversity and inclusion,” he said.

Bailey cited recent examples of how SOU efforts in the areas of grant procurement and philanthropy are already on the upswing. Recent grants from the National Science Foundation will pay for cutting edge research equipment in the university’s Chemistry and Physics Department, and will allow researchers in the Computer Science Department to work with local elementary teachers to develop their students’ computational thinking skills. And SOU just last week announced a $12-million philanthropic commitment from Lithia Motors and GreenCars that will support the university’s sustainability and accessibility efforts. That gift announcement came just months after the estate of late wrestling coach Bob Riehm made a $3 million donation, which at the time was easily the largest-ever single gift to the university.

The SOU president said that his vision for diversifying revenue to the university, beyond the traditional sources from tuition and state funding, will start with four ideas: expanding solar production as mentioned above; razing the Cascades Complex and building an innovative senior living facility that creates synergy between its residents and students; establishing a University Business District that produces partnerships between SOU and neighboring businesses; and creating a training center to help other organizations transition their core information systems to the Workday platform.

“There are undoubtedly more ideas that we have yet to imagine, but these are the handful that we are actively pursuing for now – and we are confident in each of them,” Bailey said “If just one or two of them pan out, they will be game-changers. If all of them cross the finish line, they will be transformational for the university. Ultimately, I am confident that SOU will reimagine what public higher education looks like, build a fiscally sustainable institution for our students, faculty and staff, and become a role model for the rest of the country – and we will do it together.”

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launch of new platform underway

SOU’s launch of new operating platform underway

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has begun a phased launch of a new operational software platform that is expected to eventually save the university more than $750,000 in recurring costs each year. It will improve user experiences and modernize processes for both students and employees.

SOU’s shift to the Workday platform – which will take three years to fully accomplish – will bring students streamlined registration options, an adaptable academic planner, and an integrated and effective mobile app, while employees will juggle fewer systems and see modernized and automated workflows, improved analytics and better security.

The university is seeking funding from the state to help cover $7 million of the $10 million pricetag to implement its new core information system, and plans to leverage its experience in implementing Workday to serve as a model – and potentially as a mentor – for other universities that shift to the platform. State funding of the move to Workday will save $2.5 million that SOU would otherwise have to pay in interest charges.

“This is an opportunity for us to improve many day-to-day experiences for our campus community, save a significant amount of money each year and potentially generate revenue in the future as we pave the way for other universities to make this important transition,” said SOU President Rick Bailey. “It is a terrific investment for SOU, and for the state of Oregon.”

SOU’s shift to Workday – from the outdated core information system it and most other universities currently use – began in early August with the planning and “discovery” phases of the new platform’s Business Administrative element, which includes human resources, finance and payroll. All employees – including faculty and student employees – will be moved to electronic time entry, leave requests and reimbursement procedures, and many other processes will be modernized and streamlined.

Implementation of the Business Administrative functions will be a gradual process, with a “go-live” date for the full component scheduled for next July 1.

The shift to Workday’s student module will then begin, and full implementation is expected to last another two years. The new platform will affect how students view and register for courses, and will provide tools for them to create academic plans, manage financial aid and complete other functions throughout their academic careers. Most functions will be accessible on Workday’s mobile app.

Workday also will become the primary portal through which the registrar will schedule and manage courses, and where faculty members and advisers will view and edit students’ transcripts and course progress.

SOU has hired a vendor – Alchemy – which specializes in helping colleges and universities implement the various functions of the Workday system. The university will take on a similar mentorship role after completing its own implementation process, as several other institutions in Oregon and elsewhere have indicated they plan eventual transitions to Workday and are closely monitoring SOU’s progress. Leaders of Oregon’s seven public universities have agreed that the transition is necessary and inevitable.

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New director for Division of Education, Health and Leadership

North Carolina educator accepts SOU director position

(Ashland, Ore.) — Vance Durrington, currently a program coordinator at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, has accepted an offer to become director of Southern Oregon University’s Division of Education, Health and Leadership. He will begin work at SOU on Sept. 12.

“We had an excellent group of finalists for this key position, and I am thrilled to have Dr. Durrington join SOU,” said Susan Walsh, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “It will be exciting to work with him as he implements his vision for the Division of Education, Health and Leadership, which has a rich tradition at SOU.”

Durrington has been with UNC-Wilmington for 15 years, serving as an associate professor and chair, and as coordinator of the Workforce Learning and Development program in the Department of Instructional Technology. He was previously coordinator of the Master of Science in Instructional Technology program in Mississippi State University’s College of Education.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Harding University in Arkansas, his master’s degree in educational supervision from Abilene Christian University and his Ed.D. from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. His research interests include distance education, diffusion of innovations, computer mediated communication, social network analysis and digital literacy.

Durrington started his career as a middle and high school teacher of math and computer science for four years, before returning to college for his graduate studies.

As director of SOU’s Division of Education, Health and Leadership, he will provide leadership for the university’s undergraduate programs in American Sign Language, education, English, health and exercise science, military science, outdoor adventure leadership, philosophy and Spanish. He will also oversee the division’s graduate programs in education, outdoor adventure and expedition leadership and teaching.

Durrington will succeed John King as the division’s director. King joined SOU’s education faculty in 2006, served as program chair for three years and then was division director for seven years before leaving in July to become director of ORS Impact, a social impact consulting firm in Seattle.

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SOU ceremony in Guanajuato to honor Faffie Siekman and Juan Carlos Romero Hicks

SOU leaders to honor alumnus and friends of the university in Guanajuato ceremony

(Ashland, Ore.) — A contingent from Southern Oregon University will visit sister institution Universidad de Guanajuato in the coming days to present SOU’s highest service award to prominent Mexican politician and SOU alumnus Juan Carlos Romero Hicks and his wife, Frances “Faffie” Siekman Romero.

“Juan Carlos and Faffie are true and longstanding friends of SOU and our entire community,” said SOU President Rick Bailey, who will present the couple with the SOU President’s Medal in a ceremony on Monday, Aug. 8. “They have honored their ties to SOU and the city of Ashland throughout their remarkable careers, and have gone to great lengths to strengthen the social and academic cross-cultural partnerships that we all enjoy.”

The two have tirelessly supported connections between the two universities – and the communities of Ashland and Guanajuato – since Romero Hicks enrolled at SOU for the first time in 1978. He earned master’s degrees from SOU in business administration and social sciences and has since served as rector (president) of the Universidad de Guanajuato, governor of the state of Guanajuato, a federal senator and currently as minority leader for the National Action Party (PAN) in the lower chamber of Mexico’s legislative branch. He has announced his 2024 presidential candidacy.

Faffie Siekman has focused on humanitarianism and philanthropy, supporting causes such as adequate eye care for the people of Mexico, building materials for families in need and animal welfare – including a burro rescue program near Guanajuato. She has matched donations to the Ashland Amigo Club’s Endowed Scholarship Fund – managed by the SOU Foundation – since the fund was established in 2017; it has resulted in 10 scholarships to date for students to study in either Ashland or Guanajuato.

The couple’s first child was born in Ashland, the day before Romero Hicks began classes at SOU. He has often said that his life was changed by the Amistad Program, which enables student exchanges between SOU and UG.

“When I became president of the University of Guanajuato, I said none of that would have happened if it weren’t for my experiences with the exchange program,” Romero Hicks said. “It gave me the education and the global perspective that shaped who I am.”

The SOU President’s Medal, established in 1984, is the university’s highest tribute and is awarded as often as once per year to a community member who is distinguished by her or his actions and contributions. It has previously been presented to 57 individuals and organizations, most recently in August 2019 to Confederated Tribes of the Siletz elder Agnes “Grandma Aggie” Pilgrim.

Recipients of the medal are recognized for their exemplary service to the university and community, and for demonstrating compassion, integrity, generosity, leadership and courage. The SOU president determines when and to whom the award is presented.

President Bailey, SOU Board of Trustees Chair Daniel Santos and Janet Fratella, SOU’s vice president for university advancement and executive director of the SOU Foundation, will represent the university in Guanajuato.

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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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Raider Up: President’s podcast, episode 2