SOU-President Schott-higher education consortium

Southern Oregon’s four higher ed institutions announce consortium

The presidents of four public colleges and universities in southern Oregon joined forces today to create the Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium – an alliance aimed at streamlining students’ educational pathways and addressing the region’s specific workforce needs.

A memorandum of understanding signed by the presidents of Klamath Community College, Oregon Institute of Technology, Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University calls upon the consortium members to “promote innovative outreach and educational activities.” It specifically directs the institutions to share information, collaborate on complementary programming and facilities, and work cooperatively on professional training, technology and programming.

“Enhancement of the student pipeline and improvement of degree-completion metrics will be areas of particular emphasis,” the memorandum said.

The new consortium – first envisioned a year ago by the four presidents during a lunch meeting halfway between the Rogue Valley and Klamath Basin – will be announced during signing events at 10 a.m. today at KCC’s Founders Hall in Klamath Falls, and at 2 p.m. at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center in Medford.

The four presidents will discuss their interests in the collaboration during the Klamath Falls event, and will participate in a panel discussion at the Medford event. Randy Cox, executive director of the Klamath County Economic Development Agency, will speak at the Klamath Falls gathering. John Tapogna, president and partner of ECONorthwest, will discuss his organization’s recent report, “Oregon Talent Assessment,” as part of the Medford announcement.

The consortium is Oregon’s first regional coalition of colleges and universities. It is viewed as a pioneering step toward preparing southern Oregon’s students and workforce for a rapidly changing future.

“Statewide, we expect that most higher wage jobs openings in the next decade will require postsecondary education or training for job candidates to be competitive,” said Ben Cannon, executive director of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. “Innovative local partnerships are absolutely critical to fostering meaningful on-ramps to opportunity and economic mobility. We look forward to working with the coalition on our common goals.”

Cannon commended the four presidents for “strategically joining together as a coalition to advance the specific pathways necessary for their regional communities to thrive.”

The consortium is expected to prompt discussion about what kinds of economic growth are needed in southern Oregon, what industries the institutions should help support or attract, and how higher education can best align to meet those needs.

“Together, our united effort can create pipelines for highly skilled graduates to enter the workforce and will attract new businesses that pay living-wage salaries,” said KCC President Roberto Gutierrez. “Southern Oregon will be stronger than ever before.”

The consortium also provides a unified voice for southern Oregon, and will advocate for the region’s priorities in conversations with state and federal lawmakers. Regional grants and other combined resources are likely outcomes of the partnership.

“What excites me most about this consortium is the ability of all four institutions to work together to build a regional college-going culture that will transform our economy, strengthen families, and inspire others to pursue their dreams,” said RCC President Cathy Kemper-Pelle.

The new consortium will be an exercise in the power and flexibility of partnerships. The institutions – which already have shared academic strengths in areas including business, sustainability and healthcare – are open to exploring cooperative programs in various areas that will best serve their region and state.

“Our students, industry and business partners, and our communities all benefit through our collective voice for southern Oregon – a vibrant consortium of action focused on education, workforce and regional economy,” said Oregon Institute of Technology President Nagi Naganathan.

The four colleges and universities have a long history of working together to meet the needs of students and employers. Together, the institutions enrolled 26,600 students in 2017-18, and conferred a total of 3,370 college or university degrees.

“We have done a very good job of working collaboratively in the past,” said SOU President Linda Schott. “We are poised now to use our history of cooperation as the jumping-off point for a future of seamless pathways, interwoven academics and collective strength.”

SOU-childcare

Childcare returns to SOU’s former Schneider Children’s Center site

(Ashland, Ore.) — Daycare will return to the Southern Oregon University Family Housing property at 1361 Quincy St., in Ashland, when Lil’ Rascals Preschool & Childcare Center opens at that location on Jan. 7.

SOU signed a lease agreement this week that will enable Lil’ Rascals – which operated in Ashland for 15 years until its building was sold in 2016 – to move into the space that was vacated this summer when the Schneider Children’s Center closed. Lil’ Rascals will also continue to operate at its current location at 839 E. Main St., in Medford.

“We feel that the Quincy Street location is a wonderful opportunity to fill the void for additional, quality childcare in the Ashland community,” Lil’ Rascals owner Angela Greene said. “We anticipate childcare spots to fill quickly. We encourage interested clients to call our Medford Center and get on the waiting list for Ashland, right away.”

Lil’ Rascals can be reached in Medford at (541) 773-1598. It also plans a sign-up day at the Quincy Street location in Ashland from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

SOU sought to find a community partner to lease the property and resume childcare operations at the site after the Schneider Children’s Center closed Aug. 31. The university’s leadership endorsed a working group’s recommendation to end SOU’s affiliation with the children’s center ­– which operated at the location for many years – because its business model was not sustainable.

The center operated as an auxiliary program at SOU, and was ineligible to receive funding from the university. But it did receive support from student fees until the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University voted in 2014 to shift to a smaller subsidy that would directly benefit SOU students in need of childcare.

Students voted a year later to reinstate some general funding to the Schneider center, and the Wilsonville-based Oregon Child Development Coalition stepped in as an operational and financial partner. Changes in the state’s supervision requirements for day care centers later made that arrangement unworkable, and the OCDC was unable to take over the operation when SOU cut its ties this summer.

Greene said Lil’ Rascals will operate its new Ashland facility with at least eight employees, and encouraged SOU students and others to apply. She said the center will also offer a 10 percent childcare discount to SOU students and employees.

Lil’ Rascals will try to accommodate the needs of former Schneider Child Center clients and its own customers from its previous Ashland location, Greene said. The center accepts state subsidies for low-income clients.

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SOU-Theater JPR building

SOU unveils theater, JPR facilities with public celebration

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University will dedicate its expanded and renovated Theater Building, and new Jefferson Public Radio Broadcast Center, in a daylong celebration on Saturday. The public is encouraged to participate in the festivities.

The event will begin with a dedication ceremony at 11 a.m., followed by an open house, tours, complimentary entertainment and refreshments beginning at 11:30 a.m. A full day of theatre performances is also planned, with productions of “Small Mouth Sounds” in the Black Box Theater at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and “Into the Woods” in the Main Stage Theater at 8 p.m.

Tickets to the theater performances are limited, so those planning to attend any of the shows should call the SOU Box Office to purchase tickets 541-552-6348, or by email at boxoffice@sou.edu.

Planning for the expansion and renovation project – which added about 60,000 square feet to SOU’s Theater Building – began about 10 years ago, and construction wrapped up this week with the installation of public art in the facility’s outdoor courtyard.

The project added facilities for the university’s Theatre Department that include a new costume shop, control booths, acting studios, movement studio, theater design studio, lighting lab, administrative and theater offices, green room and backstage restrooms. The JPR studios and offices account for 7,000 square feet of the overall project.

The total cost was about $12.75 million, which includes $2.75 million for JPR annex. Construction bonds approved by the Oregon Legislature provided $11.5 million in funding, and JPR donors contributed another $1.25 million.

Entertainment during Saturday’s open house celebration will be provided by the Danielle Kelly Jazz Project, and refreshments will be available from the Peruvian Point Restaurant, Rogue Creamery, Ashland Food Co-op, Troon, Weisinger Winery, Kriselle Cellars and Simple Machine Winery.

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SOU-sustainability-carbon pricing

SOU president backs carbon pricing initiative

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott has joined about 50 other college and university presidents across the country in calling upon elected officials to address climate change and hold polluters accountable by enacting carbon pricing measures.

The “Put A Price On It” campaign is sponsored by Our Climate, a national non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young people to advance effective climate policy. The group is tapping higher education leaders to help convince local, state and national decision-makers that greenhouse gas emissions can be effectively reduced through economic penalties.

“Sustainability and environmental responsibility are key parts of our identity at SOU,” President Schott said. “Our vision, mission and values refer to those principles, and one of our guiding ‘strategic directions’ establishes the goals of modeling and promoting sustainability, and integrating it into all that we do.

“This initiative provides us an opportunity to act on our institutional beliefs,” she said. “We are proud to stand up and be counted as a leader in the carbon pricing movement.”

Carbon pricing regulations require those who emit carbon dioxide to either pay a tax or buy permits based on the volume of their emissions. The policies make dirty energy less affordable, and encourage both energy conservation and use of sustainable energy sources.

Portland State University is the only other Oregon institution listed among the initiative’s backers.

SOU is one of 130 U.S. higher education institutions identified by the Our Climate organization as potential strategic partners in the carbon pricing campaign. President Schott signed the Our Climate endorsement letter after researching the campaign and consulting with the university’s sustainability team.

“This is something that fully aligns with SOU’s values and supports the goals outlined in our Climate Action Plan,” said Roxane Beigel-Coryell, the university’s sustainability and recycling coordinator. “Putting a price on carbon holds large greenhouse gas emitters accountable for their contribution to climate change. It provides incentive to implement climate solutions from the top down, instead of putting the responsibility solely on individuals.”

Carbon pricing policies have been implemented in more than 40 countries, provinces, states and other jurisdictions around the world. The World Bank has endorsed the practice as a means of compensating for direct and indirect costs of carbon emissions, ranging from crop loss and flood damage to heat-related medical costs.

“By making carbon-intensive industries pay a fair share of the costs of their pollution, we will have cleaner air and healthier communities, and prevent the most devastating effects of climate change,” said the Our Climate endorsement letter signed by President Schott and other higher education leaders.

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SOU-Real Food-Linda Schott

SOU first in Oregon to accept “Real Food Challenge”

Southern Oregon University officially joined other universities across the country in working toward sustainable food practices when President Linda Schott signed the “SOU Real Food Campus Commitment” this morning.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all who will be doing this work on behalf of the university,” the president told a group of students and staff affiliated with SOU’s Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS). “My job is the easy one, just signing this.”

SOU became the first Oregon university to join the “Real Food Challenge” by pledging to support ecologically sustainable, humane and socially equitable food systems. The university agreed that at least 20 percent of its food budget by 2023 will be spent on “real food” rather than unhealthy products or those produced by industrial farms.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Greg Perkinson, who co-signed the document with President Schott and student leaders of the project, congratulated the students for their perseverance in what has been a lengthy process. “There’s so much all of you do to make a difference,” he said.

SOU joined more than 40 U.S. universities and four university systems – including both the University of California and California State University systems – by participating in the student-led Real Food Challenge. The movement’s goal is to commit $1 billion of the annual food budgets of U.S. universities to real food.

The Real Food Challenge was founded in 2007 by a group of student activists, national food movement leaders and higher education sustainability experts. It is now a self-funded project of TSNE MissionWorks, a New England organization that partners with various nonprofits.

Jill Smedstad, the university’s environmental and community engagement coordinator, said Friday’s signing marked a transition from “the campaign mode to the implementation mode” of the Real Food Challenge.

SOU committed to establishing a transparent reporting system and filing an annual progress report to evaluate it food purchasing practices; to create a food systems working group that will develop a “real food policy” and multi-year action plan; and to increasing awareness of ecologically sustainable, humane and socially equitable food systems.

Progress toward the project’s long-term goals is expected to begin immediately. Within a month, the university will be expected to complete a baseline food survey. Food service providers, distributors and others will be notified within three months that future contract terms will need to align with SOU’s new real food policy and multi-year action plan.

SOU Town Hall Vote

Senate District 3 town hall comes to SOU on Thursday

(Ashland, Ore.) — Arguably Oregon’s hottest legislative race of the year will come to Southern Oregon University on Thursday, when Democrat Jeff Golden and Republican Jessica Gomez answer questions at a town hall meeting cosponsored by the university and Jefferson Public Radio.

A link to Rogue Valley Community Television’s video of the entire town hall is here.

The event, expected to last an hour, will begin at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11 at SOU’s Music Recital Hall. Questions for the Oregon Senate District 3 candidates can be submitted in advance at townhall@jeffnet.org, and will be read at the town hall meeting by moderator Geoff Riley of JPR.

Tickets are free and limited to two per person. The event is expected to reach capacity, so those interested in attending are advised to get their tickets in advance. They can be ordered in advance at SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts Box office.

A block of 150 tickets are being held for SOU students. They can pick them up from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Oregon Center for the Arts Box Office or from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Stevenson Union Information Booth.

Sponsorship of this week’s town hall aligns with SOU’s mission of preparing the university’s learners to be responsible, engaged citizens in the local, state and federal democratic processes. The event also is an excellent opportunity for community members to become better acquainted with the candidates and their stands on various issues.

Professional and student staffers from SOU’s Digital Media Center will record the town hall for video playback on Rogue Valley Community Television. The Digital Media Center has also recorded 12 forums with state and local candidates. Those videos have been added to RVTV’s programing rotation and are embedded on the website of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsored the series.

The Associated Students of Southern Oregon University – the student government at SOU – will host a voter registration table at the event.

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SOU Mt Ashland Volunteer

Raiders to volunteer at Mt. Ashland Ski Area

NEWS RELEASE

(Ashland, Ore.) — As many as 200 Southern Oregon University students, employees and their families will ring in the new school year with a day of environmental stewardship. The entire SOU community was invited to volunteer on the slopes of local non-profit ski area Mt. Ashland on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Those who volunteer will include helping with erosion mitigation, trail brush trimming and removal of trash from the slopes before the snow flies.

“Volunteering at Mt. Ashland is a great way for students to kick off the new school year,” said Jill Smedstad, SOU’s environmental and community engagement coordinator. “They get to give back to their community and discover this amazing resource right in their backyard.”

“One of the goals of the Sustainability Resource Center at SOU is to inspire active citizenship, and we’re thrilled that so many students, employees and alumni are spending their Saturday volunteering together at Mt. Ashland,” she said.

This “day of service” represents SOU’s largest off-campus day of environmental service. Mt. Ashland will provide a gift certificate to each student who participates. Transportation, lunch and t-shirts will be provided by SOU for all who volunteer. Buses will arrive at the mountain at 10 a.m. and depart at 2 p.m., after a lunch catered by Mt. Ashland.

“Over the past few years the day of service has been a huge success, so we were elated that SOU wanted to come back again this fall,” said Hiram Towle, general manager at Mt. Ashland. “The students all work very hard and get an amazing amount of work accomplished. We are grateful for our partnership with the university, and we could not be happier to have them here again to take part in caring for their local ski area and the Ashland watershed.”

Mt. Ashland is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit ski area owned and operated by the Mt. Ashland Association under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service.

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SOU Jim Hatton

SOU’s Friday Science Seminar returns with the “replication crisis”

NEWS RELEASE

(Ashland, Ore.) — The fall series of Southern Oregon University’s popular Friday Science Seminars will open Oct. 5 with a presentation by Jim Hatton, SOU’s mathematics program chair, on the so-called “replication crisis.”

Hatton will review causes and some proposed solutions to the crisis, which stems from social scientists’ frequent inability to reproduce important studies. Statistical methods commonly used by the scientists has been called into question.

The lecture will be in SOU’s Science Auditorium (Science Building, Room 151), from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, with light refreshments provided by the university’s STEM Division.

A 2016 poll of 1,500 scientists by the journal “Nature” found that 70 percent had failed to reproduce at least one other scientist’s experiment and 50 percent had failed to reproduce experiments of their own.

The inability to replicate studies could have serious consequences for scientific fields in which significant theories are based on experimental work that cannot be reproduced. Replication of experiments is an essential element of scientific research.

The replication crisis, which was identified in the early 2010s as awareness of the problem grew, has been a significant issue in the fields of social psychology and medicine, where several efforts have been made to replicate classic studies or experiments, and to determine the reliability of results.

Hatton teaches developmental mathematics and precalculus at SOU, and publishes his mathematics explorations and other thoughts on his blog, Math Thoughts. He received his bachelor’s degree from Rice University and his master’s degree in operations research from Stanford University.

SOU’s weekly Friday Science Seminars cover a variety of topics from academic, industrial, commercial and non-profit sectors in the fields of biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science.

Other lectures in the next month include “A Frame Semantic Approach to Metaphoric Meaning,” on Oct. 12 with SOU German language instructor Maggie Gemmell; “Assessment of Virulence Mechanisms used by Pathogenic Vibrio Species,” on Oct. 19 with Blake Ushijima, an Oregon State University postdoctoral researcher of coral disease; and “Fall into Chemistry,” on Oct. 26 with the SOU Chemistry Club.

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About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.

SOU Janelle Wilson

SOU Student Life manager joins university’s Board of Trustees

NEWS RELEASE

(Ashland, Ore.) — Janelle Wilson, who has served since 2005 in various Student Life positions at Southern Oregon University, has been appointed by Gov. Kate Brown and confirmed today by the Oregon Senate to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees.

Wilson succeeds Joanna Steinman as the university’s non-faculty staff member on the 15-person board. Her two-year appointment is a voting position.

“I am honored to continue my service to SOU as a trustee of university’s governing board,” Wilson said. “I look forward to supporting the strategies and vision that will ensure the continued success of our university and students.”

Wilson has served since 2015 as the university’s associate director of student life for social justice and service. She served from 2005 to 2015 as coordinator of the Queer Resource Center and has taught various courses as an adjunct instructor.

“We are pleased to welcome Janelle to SOU’s Board of Trustees,” said Lyn Hennion, the board’s chair. “Her long and distinguished background in student affairs and social justice is valued highly and complements our board’s areas of expertise. The board looks forward to the great work we will all do together.”

Steinman, a graduate program specialist for the provost’s office, served a pair of two-year terms that ended earlier this year but she agreed to remain on the board until her successor was confirmed.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Joanna for her service and dedication to the university,” Hennion said. “We appreciate her many contributions to SOU over two consecutive terms as an inaugural trustee.”

Wilson has been heavily involved in the university and the community throughout her career at SOU. She is a founder and member of the university’s Bias Response Team, has served on numerous other committees and panels, and has led or participated in many presentations and trainings.

Her roles in the community include service as a board member of the Pride Foundation Leadership Action Team, co-organizer of the Southern Oregon Pride Parade, volunteer with the Ashland Independent Film Festival and SOU representative on the Rogue Valley Transportation District’s citizen advisory committee for master planning.

Wilson received her bachelor’s degree in multicultural and gender studies at California State University-Chico and her master’s degree in women’s studies in religion at Claremont Graduate University.

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SOU Solar Power Industry

Outlook is sunny for solar at SOU

NEWS RELEASE
(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s solar power prospects will become considerably brighter this fall, with the installations of three new photovoltaic arrays and a 57 percent increase in generating capacity.

“It’s a unique and thrilling opportunity to have three solar arrays being installed this year, furthering SOU’s commitment to implementing sustainable solutions,” said Roxane Beigel-Coryell, SOU’s sustainability and recycling coordinator. “Increasing the university’s solar energy resources is a crucial step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support Ashland’s renewable energy generation goals.”

Expanding solar energy production on campus is one of the many strategies SOU is pursuing to reduce its environmental impacts and build a better university for the future. The university is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

After this fall’s solar projects are completed, SOU will have eight arrays on seven buildings with total capacity of 391.45 kilowatts. The anticipated solar energy generation will increase 57 percent to 535,665 kilowatt hours per year, from the current 340,700 kilowatt hours.

The first new solar installation is scheduled to take place on Thursday, when 68 photovoltaic panels are placed on the new Student Recreation Center’s storage building. The array, funded by the SRC and the university’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program, will have a 23.8 kilowatt capacity. Its output will be fed back into the electrical grid and credited to SOU’s accounts, reducing the university’s utility bills.

Next up will be a 180-panel installation on the Student Recreation Center, which is expected to start Oct. 1 and wrap up in November. That array, with a 63 kilowatt capacity, is funded by the combined SRC and Lithia Motors Pavilion construction project. The power it produces will be fed directly into the SRC, reducing the building’s utility bills.

The third project will be at the university’s Hannon Library, where 159 panels with a generating capacity of 55.65 kilowatts will be installed in the late fall and early winter. That array will be funded by the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University’s Green Fund, and the student government organization will be paid by the university for the electrical power that will be fed directly into the library.

“The solar (array) being installed on the library is especially exciting because it’s made possible through a unique funding model proposed by SOU students,” Beigel-Coryell said. “This project, funded by SOU students, will provide the university with more renewable energy generation while providing the student Green Fund with revenue each year to fund more sustainable projects on campus.

“We haven’t seen this particular funding structure used on any campuses yet and we hope to serve as a model for other schools to leverage available resources to implement renewable energy projects and provide revenue for sustainable solutions.”

SOU’s first solar installation was a 24-panel, 6 kilowatt array that was placed on Hannon Library in 2000 and it still generating electricity at 70 to 80 percent efficiency. The university also has arrays on the Higher Education Center in Medford (56 kilowatts), the Stevenson Union (31.59 kilowatts), and the McLoughlin (73.7 kilowatts) and Shasta (82.5 kilowatts) residence halls.

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