Students at SOU to benefit from new ScholarshipUniverse app

SOU simplifies and broadens student aid options with ScholarshipUniverse

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has launched a new suite of software intended to keep students in school by helping them identify and apply for relevant scholarships – both internal and external.

The ScholarshipUniverse platform, from the higher education support vendor CampusLogic, automates much of the scholarship screening and application process for students. It matches scholarships to students based on their responses to a series of questions and guides them through the application process.

Students can login to the ScholarshipUniverse website or use a mobile app to check the status of their scholarship applications. It also helps to keep students on-task – those who have started scholarship applications will receive live alerts and text messages, reminding them to finish the process.

A majority of SOU students are eligible for financial aid in one form or another – scholarships, grants, institutional aid or work-study. But many students at SOU and elsewhere don’t make the most of their financial opportunities – CampusLogic estimates that almost three million students across the country leave college each year because of finances, while many scholarships go unfilled.

Almost 500 colleges and universities nationwide use products from CampusLogic to help their students navigate the financial aspects of higher education.

SOU’s recent strategic planning process identified student success through service excellence as a key component of the university’s mission. Its addition of the ScholarshipUniverse software is intended to help more students remain in school, complete their degree programs and go on to lead successful lives.

The ScholarshipUniverse platform helps students track and manage both internal scholarships available through the Southern Oregon Scholarship Application (SOSA) and external scholarships offered by a spectrum of organizations, foundations and private companies.

-SOU-

SOU's public safety officers will train with APD in downtown Ashland

SOU public safety officers to get code-violation training with APD

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Campus Public Safety officers may occasionally be seen in downtown Ashland beginning this week, citing people for smoking, intrusive panhandling and other minor infractions as part of a new training program with Ashland Police.

CPS officers, who typically work on or adjacent to the SOU campus, are authorized by the Ashland Municipal Code to serve as code compliance officers throughout the city and issue citations for those who violate provisions of the city code – the same as Ashland Police Department’s Central Area Patrol officers.

But the SOU officers don’t get a high volume of citation-writing work on their home turf, and newly hired officers sometimes struggle with the nuances of dealing with code-violators. That isn’t an issue for the city’s CAP officers – particularly in the downtown area.

So Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara and SOU Campus Public Safety Director Andrew MacPherson have agreed to a training partnership: newly hired CPS officers will begin shadowing Ashland’s CAP officers, who will serve as code violation mentors. The SOU officers will learn from their city counterparts, and become better prepared for enforcement actions on and near campus.

“SOU is an integral part of our community, and cooperation and collaboration with them can only yield overall positive results,” said Ashland City Administrator Kelly Madding, who approved the new program.

SOU’s officers will never work by themselves in downtown Ashland. But after a period of time working with and observing city officers, the CPS officers will likely begin initiating contact with suspected code-violators – under the watch of their mentors from the city’s police department.

“This is a great opportunity for our public safety officers to get intensive training in some situations that don’t happen all that often on campus,” said MacPherson, SOU’s director of public safety. “With this training, they’ll be prepared when those situations do happen, and in the meantime we’re strengthening the solid relationship we already have with Ashland Police.”

-SOU-

Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium members meet again this week

Consortium of Southern Oregon colleges and universities work together on student success

(Ashland, Ore.) — Collaboration to benefit the region’s students and economy is continuing this month as the new Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium holds two separate meetings for academic and enrollment leaders.

The chief academic officers from the four schools – Klamath Community College, Oregon Institute of Technology, Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University –  will meet for the third time in the past year when they convene for about six hours on Wednesday at SOU. Several of their key staff members will also participate.

The academic group is expected to address topics including how new and existing majors at the four schools can complement each other; programs that lead to stand-alone certificates and alternative credentials for students; 2+2(+2) programs that allow students to incrementally earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees; development of stronger K-12 programs that serve as pipelines to higher education; and personalized learning opportunities.

The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. on the third floor of SOU’s Hannon Library, and will continue until about 3:15 p.m. Representatives of media outlets are welcome to report on the day’s discussions.

Enrollment leaders from the four institutions met last Monday, July 8, at the Running Y Ranch near Klamath Falls.

That meeting was the second for the SOHEC institutions’ enrollment and student affairs leadership group. They discussed several topics, including the “Badger to Owl Connection” partnership between KCC and Oregon Tech. The program promotes access, affordability and degree completion by offering tuition waivers for two terms at Oregon Tech to qualifying KCC graduates.

The SOHEC leaders also discussed the potential expansion of a reverse transfer program in which credits earned at SOU or OIT can be transferred back to RCC or KCC. The program enables students who have transferred from community college to the universities before earning their two-year associate degrees to complete them while working toward their four-year bachelor’s degrees.

The consortium’s enrollment group agreed to meet quarterly, with the next meeting tentatively scheduled to take place this fall at SOU.

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 member institutions work in partnership to promote and build student success in the region, working as colleagues rather than competitors to improve educational attainment.

The SOHEC partners were recently honored with a “Collaboration Award” at the annual meeting of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. (SOREDI). The award “takes a holistic view of our region and looks for partnerships that cultivate an environment of support” and teamwork, according to SOREDI. It was accepted by RCC President Cathy Kemper-Pelle, KCC President Roberto Gutierrez, Oregon Tech President Nagi Naganathan and SOU Provost and Vice President Sue Walsh, on behalf of President Linda Schott.

SOHEC’s collaborative efforts took root with the four institutions’ presidents following a joint lunch meeting a year and a half ago, and the partnership was announced last November with signing events in both Klamath Falls and Medford.

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

Students in outdoor classroom at SOU, ranked among top 20 U.S. public liberal arts colleges

SOU rated among top 20 public liberal arts institutions in U.S.

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been named one of the nation’s top 20 public liberal arts colleges in a new rating by College Values Online, a website that helps prospective students evaluate colleges and universities.

SOU is the only university in Oregon to make the list, and joins Washington’s The Evergreen State College as the only two West Coast schools included in the top 20.

College Values Online rated public liberal arts colleges throughout the U.S. based on their tuition costs, student retention rates, class sizes, the variety of degree programs offered and core curriculum. The 20 institutions that rose to the top are listed alphabetically, and are not numerically ranked.

The website specifically mentions SOU’s economics, environmental science and theatre programs, and its connections to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

College Values Online offers a wide variety of college and university ratings – from “Small Catholic Colleges” to “Best Colleges for Rowing.” It has ratings for both online and on-campus programs.

SOU is also included on the website’s list of the most affordable colleges in the Pacific Northwest.

-SOU-

Suresh Appavoo, SOU's new Chief Diversity and Inclusivity Officer

SOU hires chief diversity and inclusivity officer

(Ashland, Ore.) — Suresh Appavoo, who has served in diversity leadership roles for the past 18 years at Dominican University of California, has been hired as Southern Oregon University’s new chief diversity and inclusivity officer. He is expected to begin work at SOU in mid-August.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Dr. Appavoo to SOU,” President Linda Schott said. “He is extremely well-qualified to fill this critical role, and to lead the creation of what our strategic plan describes as a diverse, equitable, inclusive community on our campus.

“He shares our goals to instill a sense of belonging at SOU, to support those from underrepresented backgrounds and to prepare all of our learners to succeed in this increasingly diverse world.”

Suresh has been Dominican’s dean for equity and diversity for the past five and a half years, and he served as director of the university’s Center for Diversity for 12 ½ years before that. His recent accomplishments include developing a five-year institutional diversity plan and aligning it with Dominican’s strategic plan.

He will have similar responsibilities at SOU, where he will be expected to develop initiatives to support elements of the university’s strategic plan that pertain to diversity, equity and inclusion. He will be asked to help promote a welcoming climate for all students and address barriers to recruiting and retaining students. The chief diversity and inclusivity officer will report directly to the president and will serve as a member of her executive team.

Suresh will also serve as SOU’s Title IX coordinator and affirmative action officer.

“In Oregon, and especially at Southern Oregon University, we have to recognize that we have an unprecedented, innovative and transformative opportunity to create an equitable, inclusive and sustainability-serving institution,” he said. “My goal is to partner with everyone who is a part of the SOU community to collaboratively actualize this opportunity so that we can all learn to be, and learn to live, with all of our diverse identities.”

The expanded position of chief diversity and inclusivity officer will replace the role of director of diversity and inclusion at SOU. Marjorie Trueblood Gamble left that job last June to become Dean of Multicultural Life at Macalester College in Minnesota and Shenethia Manuel, a higher education administrator who has worked in Missouri and Oklahoma, has filled the position on an interim basis.

Appavoo received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of the Pacific and his master’s degree in international management from the American Graduate School of International Management, which is now a part of Arizona State University. He earned his doctorate in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco.

He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2012, while serving at Dominican University, to work with government agencies and institutions of higher education in the Republic of Maldives.

-SOU-

AAAS Pacific Division meets this week at SOU

SOU to host 100th annual meeting of the AAAS Pacific Division

(Ashland, Ore.) — Leading West Coast scientists with gather in Ashland Tuesday through Saturday, June 18 to 22, when Southern Oregon University hosts the 100th annual Pacific Division Meeting of the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Organizers are putting a unique, grassroots spin on the conference by encouraging visiting scientists to enjoy the area’s cultural and recreational amenities, and by offering opportunities for community members to be involved in the event. The public is welcome to attend the meeting’s opening reception and plenary session on Tuesday afternoon and evening, and everyone is invited to a “science pub” event on Wednesday evening at three Ashland pubs and restaurants.

Anyone may attend the full, four-day schedule of lectures, workshops and presentations by signing up for the conference and paying a $35 registration fee. Membership in the AAAS is not required.

The program for this year’s meeting is intended to mix scientists with the interested public in discussions about science, with an emphasis on the environment and climate change. There will be an invitation-only symposium at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Room 161 of the SOU Science Building on the role of scientists in advocating for local and regional climate policy; a talk at 8:45 a.m. Thursday in the SOU Music Building on “The Honey Bee as a Model for Reverse-Engineering a Brain;” and a town hall-style meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday in Room 207 of the Science Building on the climate future for Oregon wineries.

Tuesday’s public opening reception, from 4 to 6 p.m. in SOU’s Schneider Museum of Art, will feature an exhibit of works from various artists that are “inspired by science.” The opening talk that follows at 6 p.m. in the adjacent Art Building’s Meese Auditorium will be about “Freeing the Klamath River.”

Topics for the “science pub crawl” from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday will include the social, economic and political impacts of climate change at the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant; “Fires!” at Harvey’s Place Restaurant & Bar; and a “Climate Change Poetry Jam” at Oberon’s. About 10 to 20 scientists participating in the AAAS conference will be present at each of the Ashland pubs to engage with the public in informal conversations.

A full schedule of the meeting’s events is available online.

The four-day AAAS conference is expected to draw between 250 and 350 participants, with a fifth day on Saturday reserved for educational field trips and visits to various local venues or attractions.

The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, with about 120,000 members in more than 91 countries. It publishes the journal “Science.”

The organization’s Pacific Division serves more than 30,000 members in California, Hawaii, Idaho, western Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and most other Pacific Basin countries.

The division was recognized by the AAAS in 1912, and has held annual meetings almost year since 1915 – meetings were not held in 1918 because of World War I, or in 1943-45 because of World War II. The group has met three times previously in Ashland, most recently in 2010.

The AAAS Pacific Division is led by Executive Director James Bower, in an arrangement with SOU. Bower, a computational biologist who has served as a faculty member at Cal Tech and University of Texas, moved to Ashland four years go and accepted the AAAS post following the retirement of former executive director Roger Christianson, an emeritus biology professor at SOU.

-SOU-

Kamilah Long-SOU commencement speaker

OSF’s Long to serve as keynote speaker at SOU commencement

(Ashland, Ore.) — Graduates and others at Southern Oregon University’s June 15 commencement ceremony should expect a keynote speech about motivation, self-empowerment, the importance of personal interactions and the lifelong value of friendships. And perhaps a soulful, heartfelt song.

Kamilah Long, the director of leadership gifts at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a powerful speaker at local events, will tell graduates to believe in themselves and drill down to their “core purpose.”

“I have a story I want to share,” Long said. “It’s about the experience I had working for Angela Basset, as an intern on the set of a movie. It impacted the rest of my life.

“And I’ll probably weave a little song into it – ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.’”

Long will anchor the list of speakers at this year’s SOU commencement, which will begin with an 8:45 a.m. processional into Raider Stadium. The program is expected to be more compact than in recent years, with the focus squarely on the accomplishments and potential of about 1,000 graduates who will receive degrees.

There will be no tickets to the event, but graduates have been asked to tell their guests to arrive early. Parking and seating are both limited, and available on a first-come basis.

Long, who is originally from Montgomery, Alabama, has worked in the development office at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 2014. She previously worked as a creative arts consultant for the Lowndes County Board of Education in Alabama, and has served as an artistic director and as an adjunct professor.

She received her bachelor’s degree in theatre and biology from Alabama State University and her master of fine arts degree from the University of Louisville.

Long said one piece of advice she would have liked to have heard more emphatically during her graduation ceremonies is to maintain the friendships that are forged in college.

“Yeah, stay in contact with the people you’ve connected with,” she said. “What you learn in life is that your family doesn’t always have to be your blood relative.”

Long was chosen as the keynote speaker for this year’s commencement ceremony in part because of the rousing reception she received as a speaker at this year’s Southern Oregon Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration. She spoke about the impact of hearing Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech as a young girl, and about believing in yourself and living with dignity. She ended that speech with a few soulful lines of the Gospel song, “How I Got Over” – which Mahalia Jackson sang shortly before Dr. King delivered his iconic speech at the 1963 March on Washington.

Long said she hopes to touch on the importance of contributing to society, treating others with kindness and respect, and living with confidence in her speech to SOU’s graduates.

“My approach is definitely motivation of the students to use their personal power,” Long said. “It’s about self-empowerment and the importance of stepping into your light.”

-SOU-

President Schott discusses tuition rates at Board of Trustees meeting

SOU Board of Trustees approves potential tuition rates for 2019-20

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees agreed today with President Linda Schott’s recommendation for tuition rates for the 2019-20 academic year that will be directly tied to the Oregon Legislature’s budget allocation for higher education. Tuition for resident undergraduate students is expected to increase by a range of $15 to $23 per credit hour, depending on the Legislature’s funding decision.

“The board’s vote today demonstrates our commitment to preserving access to a college education for SOU’s current and future students, while balancing the board’s responsibility to safeguard the fiscal health of the institution,” said Lyn Hennion, chair of the SOU Board of Trustees. “An SOU degree will remain an affordable and clear path toward a successful future.

“This decision is linked directly to the amount of state revenue we receive as one of Oregon’s seven public universities,” she said. “The more funding provided by the State Legislature, the lower we will be able to set our students’ tuition rates.”

The range of tuition rates approved by the Board of Trustees is based on a unanimous recommendation from SOU’s Tuition Advisory Council, which has met more than a dozen times and is made up of students, faculty and administrators. President Linda Schott suggested adopting a spectrum of potential tuition rates tied to various legislative funding scenarios, and the trustees unanimously approved the plan following more than an hour of discussion.

SOU’s tuition increase for the coming academic year will be accompanied by continued efforts to reduce costs across campus. The university has saved more than $1 million over the past year by asking departments to voluntarily trim their budgets.

“No option available to us would have been painless,” President Schott said. “These are the best choices for our students and the university, as lawmakers continue to shift the burden of higher education from the state to our students and their families.”

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.

However, President Schott said the support of SOU’s Board of Trustees will enable the institution to continue on the strong positive trajectory it has established in recent years. “Today’s actions maintain the excellence of our academic and support services, and enable us to continue meeting the needs of current and future learners in our region,” she said.

SOU remains committed to keeping higher education within the reach of all students and prospective students, and will offset the tuition increase with $500,000 in additional institutional aid for those who are least able to afford the additional cost. The university has also addressed student expenses for textbooks, and the room-and-board costs of those who live in residence halls. The overall cost of attendance – which includes tuition, mandatory student fees, and housing and meals – is expected to increase next year by 4.39 to 5.21 percent, depending on the tuition rate eventually adopted.

The increase in resident undergraduate tuition is likely to be in the range of 8.5 to 13.5 percent for next year, depending on the Legislature’s funding decision. The annual dollar amount of the increase, based on 15 credit hours per term, will be between $675 and $1,035. Tuition for nonresident undergraduates will increase by 5 percent – $26 per credit hour or $1,170 per year.

Because the state’s six other public universities are also planning for increases, tuition at SOU will remain among the lowest of the Oregon schools.

State legislators are not expected to make final decisions on the state budget until early July, but universities must prepare their budgets during the spring. SOU will continue to make its case for additional state funding, but must use current information to plan for the coming academic year.

“We look forward to state lawmakers prioritizing higher education and making a clear financial commitment to the students who are Oregon’s future leaders,” said Hennion, the Board of Trustees chair.

-SOU-

SOU Bee Campus pollinator habitat

SOU earns renewal as Bee Campus USA

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University – which became the original Bee Campus USA three years ago – has been notified that its certification has been renewed for 2019 following a rigorous application process.

Colleges and universities are certified based on various criteria as “bee campuses” by the Bee City USA organization, an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. SOU collaborated with Bee City USA to develop guidelines for the Bee Campus certification in 2015, after being inspired by two early adopters of the Bee City designation – Ashland and neighboring Talent.

There are now 70 colleges and universities nationwide that have earned Bee Campus USA certification, including four others in Oregon: Lane Community College, Portland Community College, Portland State University and University of Oregon.

Phyllis Stiles, the founder and “pollinator champion” of Bee City USA, congratulated SOU on its successful renewal and thanked the university for its leadership role in the effort to preserve bees and other beneficial insects.

“Most importantly, you continue to inspire your campus and community to take care of the pollinators that play a vital role in sustaining our planet,” Stiles said.

SOU was also named the nation’s top pollinator-friendly college last summer by the Sierra Club, as part of its annual “Cool Schools” rankings.

Measures taken at the university to help bees survive and thrive include a student-maintained pollinator-friendly garden, two other native pollinator-friendly beds, herbicide-free wildlife areas and creation of a Bee Campus USA subcommittee of SOU’s Sustainability Council.

Colleges and universities may apply to become certified Bee Campuses after first forming leadership committees made up of faculty, staff and students. Those selected as Bee Campuses must commit to development of habitat plans, hosting of awareness events, development of courses or workshops that support pollinators, sponsorship and tracking of service-learning projects for students, posting of educational signs and maintaining a pollinator-related web presence.

They must also apply each year for renewal of their certification.

-SOU-

Harry Fuller birding in Klamath Basin

Author, birder Harry Fuller hosted at SOU by Friends of Hannon Library

(Ashland, Ore.) — Natural history author Harry Fuller, whose work includes books on birding and owls, will discuss the Klamath Basin and its birds in a presentation on Thursday, May 9, that is part of the Friends of Hannon Library Speaker Series for the 2018-19 academic year.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. in the Southern Oregon University library’s Meese Room (#305).

Fuller will explain why the Klamath Basin is such a rich birding location, and how one of the nation’s first wildlife refuges was designated in that area. He has been leading bird trips and teaching birding classes since the 1990s. Annual trips that Fuller leads include trips in Oregon and Washington for the Klamath Bird Observatory, Road Scholar and Golden Gate Audubon.

Before retirement, Fuller managed TV and internet newsrooms in both San Francisco and London. He has lived in Oregon since 2007.

His natural history books include “Freeway Birding” and “Great Gray Owls in California, Oregon and Washington.”

The Oregon State University Press will publish a book of Fuller’s essays next year about Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, titled “Edge of Awe.” It will include his essay on common nighthawks that are seen at the Malheur refuge in abundance.

Fuller’s birding journal can be accessed online at atowhee.blog.

Friends of Hannon Library was established in 1974 by a group of SOU librarians, faculty members and interested citizens to raise money and enrich the library’s collections. The organization sponsors a lecture series each year – this year bringing a total of six speakers to campus for talks on a variety of literary topics.

Those who are visiting campus to attend Thursday’s event can park free in any SOU lot by entering the special code FHL1904 in the lot’s parking meter.

Those who need disability accommodations to participate in the event, may contact DOU’s Disability Resources office at (541) 552-6213. For more information on the event, contact Hannon Library staff at libraryevents@sou.edu or (541) 552-6816.