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.

Campus Expo plans were developed at SOU's Churchill Hall

SOU Campus Expo 2.0 to offer glimpses of higher education future

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University is wrapping up the second installment of a research exercise it calls “peering into the future of higher education,” and will share its findings with the community in a Campus Expo event on Friday.

The expo, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, will feature presentations on seven topics that may help SOU in the implementation of its Strategic Plan – a blueprint for the university’s future.

The expo is free and open to faculty, staff, students and the general public. Refreshments will be served.

“As we completed our strategic planning, I promised that our plan would be dynamic – not one that would sit on a shelf and collect dust,” SOU President Linda Schott said when she announced the current round of research to campus.

“As the (implementation) work has proceeded, it has become clear that we need to do additional thinking about some of the ideas and issues in the plan,” she said.

Seven 10-minute reports at Friday’s expo will cover higher education trends and projections in the areas of financial stability, institutional collaborations, upper division education, general education, generating certifiably creative graduates, increasing learner satisfaction and success, and achieving lives of purpose.

About 80 faculty and staff members volunteered to split into seven “professional learning communities” and research those topics over the past two months, and will offer their findings at the Campus Expo. Audience members will then have an opportunity to discuss each presentation with others seated at their tables.

President Schott introduced the concept of professional learning communities two years ago to set the stage for SOU’s year-long strategic planning process. Seven groups formed at that time examined optimum learning spaces, who future students may be, how people best learn, how students are taught before arriving on campus, how advances in technology will change teaching, how to prepare graduates for jobs that don’t yet exist and how higher education will be sustained in the future.

The findings from that round of faculty-staff research helped to define the university’s new vision, mission and values, and the “strategic directions” that are now being implemented. Information from the current studies will help to maintain, focus and expand the implementation process.

White papers from both the 2017 professional learning communities and the groups that conducted this year’s research will be available following Friday’s expo on the university’s strategic planning website.

-SOU-

China's Cangdong village, where many Chinese migrants originated (photo courtesy of Stanford University)

SOU archaeologists participate in study of Chinese migrants’ homeland

(Ashland, Ore.) — Three members of the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) have participated in a three-year, international project to investigate everyday lives of 19th century Chinese migrants both in the U.S. and their Chinese homeland.

The Cangdong Village Project – which was confidential until this month – was led by Stanford University and involved researchers from at least seven U.S. universities and one in China.

“This important project marks the first-ever archaeological study of its kind, and we are so excited that SOU was able to play a role in this milestone transnational research project,” said SOU research archeologist Chelsea Rose, who served as a crew chief.

Her work on the project involved multiple trips over the past couple years to Cangdong village in southern China’s Pearl River Delta region – part of a five-county area that was home to most of the Chinese who migrated to the U.S. during the 19th century.

Rose serves as a research faculty member in the SOU Laboratory of Anthropology, where her focus is on archaeology of the American West – particularly the dispersal of an early Chinese migrant population in Oregon. She has been involved in the Stanford-based Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, which led to the Cangdong project.

She was joined on the Cangdong project by fellow SOULA employees Katie Johnson-Noggle, who served as the project’s cartographer and graphic designer, and Tyler Davis, who worked as a field researcher.

The project examined the practices of Cangdong Village residents during about a 50-year period in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Migrants from the area left to escape violence and economic hardship, and arrived in the American West to work in mines and railroads. They established flourishing Chinatowns throughout the region until many were forced to flee again by anti-Chinese violence and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Researchers at Cangdong village found a variety of Chinese ceramic bowls, some of which matched bowl types that have been found at railroad camp sites in the U.S. They also excavated British-made ceramic plates and American-made medicine bottles and clothing from the migration period.

Rose and other researchers have excavated sites where Chinese migrants lived and worked in Oregon and elsewhere in the U.S. West, but the areas from which they migrated had not been studied until Stanford initiated the international research effort. Stanford University was established with much of the wealth that Leland Stanford earned helping to oversee construction of the western half of the First Transcontinental Railroad.

A total of 27 archaeologists, anthropologists and others are listed as team members for the Cangdong Village Project. Participating institutions include SOU, Stanford, China’s Wuyi University, University of New Orleans, University of Massachusetts at Boston, San Francisco State University, Humboldt State University and Durham University.

-SOU-

Kim Stafford, Oregon poet laureate

Oregon’s poet laureate to speak at SOU Friends of Hannon Library event

(Ashland, Ore.) — Kim Stafford, Oregon’s poet laureate, will read and discuss his work in an SOU presentation on Thursday, April 18, 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 library’s Meese Room (#305).

Stafford is an associate professor at Portland’s Lewis & Clark College, and is founding director of the school’s Northwest Writing Institute. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown appointed him last May to a two-year term as Oregon’s ninth poet laureate – “an ambassador of poetry across the state.”

His father, William Stafford, served as Oregon’s fourth poet laureate from 1975 to 1990.

Kim Stafford grew up on Oregon, Iowa, Indiana, California and Alaska as his parents taught in various locations. He received his doctorate in medieval literature from the University of Oregon and has been a member of the Lewis & Clark faculty since 1979.

Stafford has wrtten a dozen books of poetry and prose. His most recent book, “100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do,” examines his brother’s death by suicide and his family’s struggle to cope with and live beyond the tragedy.

Stafford’s 1986 book, “Having Everything Right,” won a Western States Book Awards citation. His work has also been recognized with creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Governor’s Arts Award contributing to Oregon’s literary culture.

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 FHL1903 in the lot’s parking meter.

-SOU-

Ashland wildfire smoke

SOU Research Center smoke survey shows mixed views

(Ashland, Ore.) — Most tourists who visited southern Oregon during the smoky summers of 2017 and 2018 plan to return for future trips, but a majority will modify their plans to account for the possibility of more smoke, according to a new survey by the Southern Oregon University Research Center (SOURCE).

SOURCE’s 39-page “Southern Oregon Visitor Smoke Survey” is one of two reports that were combined by Travel Southern Oregon to create the booklet, “Southern Oregon Wildfire and Visitor Perception Study.” The SOURCE survey was emailed to 8,449 people who visited southern Oregon during the summers of 2017 or 2018, and 1,905 completed the questionnaire – a response rate of 22.5 percent.

“We at SOURCE are very excited about our survey results,” said Eva Skuratowicz, director of the independent, self-supporting research arm of SOU. “We believe that it is the first rigorous, methodologically sound research about southern Oregon visitor behavior and wildfires (and) smoke from wildfires.”

Both the SOURCE study and the second report – a focus-group study with visitors from Portland and San Francisco, conducted by a Portland business consulting firm – were funded in part by a grant from the Oregon governor’s office and administered by the travel bureau.

Travel Southern Oregon’s findings were presented last week to Oregon’s congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., and will also be shared with state legislators.

Smoke from last summer’s wildfire season resulted in 26 canceled or impacted outdoor performances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and $2 million in lost revenue. Visits to Crater Lake National Park dropped by 14 percent in July and August, compared to previous summers, and a wide variety of business owners reported lost sales that were attributed to the smoke.

The SOURCE smoke survey sampled the perceptions of visitors to two geographic regions in southern Oregon: Medford/Ashland; and an area encompassing the Klamath Basin, Middle and Upper Rogue River, and the Umpqua Valley. The regional reports produced similar patterns of results.

About 85 percent of those who visited either of the areas intend to return for future visits to southern Oregon, but about 72 percent said they would take into account wildfire smoke in deciding when to visit. A majority of those said they will not visit when there are wildfires or smoke in the region, and several said they would consider visiting in seasons other than summer.

A total of 541 respondents in the smoke survey chose to answer a final, open-ended question that asked for any other relevant comments. Of those, 144 did not consider wildfire smoke to be a deal-breaker when deciding whether to visit the area again.

“We saw two plays at the Bowmer theater but chose not to see the plays at Ashland High School,” said one respondent who came to Ashland to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

“We did enjoy some lovely meals in local restaurants and shopped a little, but could not fly fish, ride bikes or hike as we usually do,” the same person wrote. “We usually visit every-other year and love the area. We have been coming to Ashland for 40 years and anticipate coming back.”

However, 91 of those who answered the final question considered the smoke a significant problem and said they would travel elsewhere or alter their southern Oregon itineraries because of wildfire concerns.

“I know you can’t control fires, but they made for an unpleasant portion of our trip,” one person said. “I did, however, enjoy my visit to the southern Oregon coast.”

Another respondent planned to “move our visits earlier in July – trying to plan around possible smoke.”

-SOU-

SOU Digital Cinema in studio

HECC gives green light for launch of Digital Cinema degree at SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission gave final approval today for a new Digital Cinema degree program that will begin this fall at Southern Oregon University and prepare students for careers in film and other forms of visual media.

Members of the HECC, whose approval is needed for all new degree programs at the state’s seven public universities, OK’d the SOU program (https://sou.edu/academics/digital-cinema/) without discussion. It had previously been reviewed and endorsed by both the SOU Board of Trustees and the state universities’ provosts council.

“We’re excited to finally offer a major for the students out there who are looking for a ‘film school’ education,” said Andrew Gay, the program coordinator and associate professor of digital cinema at SOU.

“But we also know that today’s student filmmakers need to be prepared for all kinds of visual storytelling careers that go beyond the traditional ‘film school’ format,” he said. “Here at SOU, students will get that immersion in both worlds — in traditional filmmaking and in new digital worlds like streaming television and virtual reality.”

The new major will build upon the success of the existing Digital Cinema concentration within SOU’s Communication major, while introducing several new courses and immersive experiences for student filmmakers – including required coursework related to innovation.

The program’s centerpiece is a new, 12-credit spring immersion called “The Crew Experience,” in which student filmmakers will spend an entire term learning on location, collaborating under the supervision of experienced professionals on the sets of a significant film projects. Students will apply and interview for their crew positions based on the experiences, skill levels and portfolios of work they have developed in preceding classes.

No other film or media program in the Pacific Northwest offers such an experiential approach to professional production training.

Curriculum for the new program was designed with input from an advisory council of current and former students, film and media industry professionals, and experienced educators in the field. It was designed with both state and regional employment trends in mind.

“Economic diversification is key to the health and wealth of southern Oregon, and the media production sector is a promising target for growth in this region, based on existing assets and infrastructure,” said State Sen. Jeff Golden, who served on the new program’s advisory council.

-SOU-