SOU bachelor of fine arts cohort "the Frenzies"

Entire cohort of SOU bachelor of fine arts students perform in L.A. and gain internships

The 2019 cohort for Southern Oregon University’s bachelor of fine arts in performance program will get more than degrees after completing their requirements last month. All 16 members of the BFA program performed a thesis showcase in December, first on the SOU campus and then at the historic Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, California.

And all 16 have secured internships at either the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or the Oregon Cabaret Theatre.

“Performing our thesis showcase in L.A. was a peek into the work it takes to put on your own show and let people see it,” said Taya Dixon, one of the actors who participated in the performance. “I now feel better prepared to produce my own art in a place like L.A., which makes me excited and more at ease to jump into the professional world.”

Jackie Apodaca, the head of performance for SOU’s Theatre’ program, redesigned the BFA-performance program’s thesis requirement several years ago. In place of a thesis paper, students now work collaboratively to create an industry-style acting showcase for a local audience.

This year, Apodaca led the senior BFA cohort – who call themselves the “Frenzies” – on the trip to Southern California, where they performed for friends, family, alumni and industry guests. 

In addition to booking the performance at Miles Memorial Playhouse, Apodaca was able to help the Frenzies find local internships and fellowships with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Both have close relationships with the SOU Theatre program.

“We often place every BFA student in a professional internship upon graduation,” Apodaca said. “It’s exciting to know our graduates are consistently going straight into the profession. This success distinguishes us from many regional undergraduate programs that offer, frankly, less for more.”

The BFA is a pre-professional degree with a declared area of emphasis in either performance, design, technology or management/direction. Admission into the BFA program is through audition, interview, and/or portfolio presentation, and requires two years in residence and acceptance into an undergraduate theatre major. For more information about audition/interview guidelines and dates, you can contact the Theatre Office.

“I’m so excited for the opportunity to work for a professional theatre company right out of college,” said Annie Murrell, another member of the Frenzies. “Especially one with as renowned a reputation as the Cabaret. I feel prepared for life as a working actor in a way I never could have without receiving a formal education in theatre and performance.”

The full 2019 BFA cohort – the Frenzies – are Austin Ewing, Quinci Lytle-Freeman, Hunter Sims-Douglas, Wren Eustis, Taya Dixon, Bucanan Howard, Lauren Taylor, Carlos-Zenen Trujillo, Galen James-Heskett, Annie Murrell, Sam Campbell, Rachel Routh, Angela Hernandez, Sean Boulton, Meghan Nealon and Corey Renfree.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Nonprofit management MBA students at SOU graduate with skills that nonprofit employers seek

SOU’s MBA for nonprofit management ranks among nation’s best

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s MBA program with a concentration in nonprofit management has been ranked among the best such programs in the U.S. by a student-focused online guide.

The website rated SOU’s nonprofit management MBA at No. 10 on its list of the best 25 programs in the nation. The website also lists the SOU program as its “Best in the Northwest” selection.

“We evaluated each program based on reputation, outcomes, flexibility, faculty and cost, then calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100 for each,” the Seattle-based website said. “Our top picks for the best online MBA in nonprofit management programs are a good value, well-respected and customizable.” evaluated 171 nonprofit management MBA programs based on factors including student engagement, potential return on investment and a combination of third-party evaluations. The website’s 2020 research guide, which is based on its assessments of 1,604 accredited colleges and universities, ranks dozens of academic programs – including 55 types of business degrees or certificates, 10 of which are MBA programs with various concentrations.

SOU offers on-campus MBA programs with concentrations on finance, accounting, information analysis and decision-making, business analytics, marketing, human resources and nonprofit management. The university also offers entirely online MBA programs with concentrations on accounting, business analytics, marketing, finance, healthcare administration and general business practices.

A certificate program in nonprofit management is offered as an on-campus or online program at SOU, for either undergraduate or graduate students. It does not require co-enrollment in a degree program – in fact, it’s one of three certificate programs at the university that can be completed without a bachelor’s degree and whose students can qualify for financial aid. The other two are SOU’s certificate in wine business and its certificate in management of human resources. bills itself as an unbiased college research platform – it doesn’t accept advertising. The website identifies top degree programs and also provides information about financial aid, internships and study strategies. Its program rankings take into account curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation and post-graduate employment.


SOU Percussion Ensemble members

SOU percussion groups to perform at prominent NYC music festival

Two percussion groups affiliated with Southern Oregon University will be featured this spring at the inaugural “Long Play” music festival – a three-day event at various New York City venues, produced by the renowned contemporary music organization Bang on a Can.

Left Edge Percussion, a contemporary percussion group in residence at SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts, and the SOU Percussion Ensemble, a student group at OCA, both have accepted invitations to perform at the May 1-3 festival in Brooklyn.

They are among nearly 50 groups that have been announced so far for the Long Play festival, with additional acts expected to be added next month. Performances are planned for at least 10 locations ranging from the opulent BAM Howard Gilman Opera House to The Plaza at 300 Ashland, an outdoor venue in downtown Brooklyn.

Left Edge Percussion, an ensemble of graduate students in SOU’s master of music performance program, is led by SOU music professor Terry Longshore. The group and its members regularly collaborate with artists of various media and are featured at festivals and events worldwide.

The SOU Percussion Ensemble, directed by Longshore and made up of students in the university’s music program, perform often on campus and elsewhere.

“Our students will perform along a star-studded cast of performers and composers at the festival, and worthy of note, we are the only university ensemble being featured at this festival,” Longshore said. “All of the other performers and composers are world-renowned professionals.”

The two SOU groups will perform “Strange and Sacred Noise” by composer and Pulitzer Prize for Music awardee John Luther Adams, who uses his music to describe the natural world and his concerns for its health. They will also perform “Ricefall” by Michael Pisaro, director of the Composition and Experimental Sound program at the California Institute of the Arts.

Bang on a Can was founded in 1987 by lauded contemporary composers Julia Wolfe, David Lang and Michael Gordon. Lang and Wolfe have each been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Gordon is the composer of “Natural History,” which premiered with a 2016 performance at Crater Lake by the Britt Festival Orchestra with Steiger Butte Drum, members of the SOU Percussion Ensemble and various SOU music faculty and students.

Mock homicide crime scene tape

SOU criminology and computer science students to solve (mock) homicide

Students from Southern Oregon University’s Criminology and Criminal Justice, Computer Science and Theatre departments will work together this week to create and manage something rather horrific – a homicide crime scene.

The exercise will be a cross between a first responder scenario and the Clue board game (think Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum). Four groups from the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department’s crime scene analysis class (CCJ 321) and the Computer Science Department’s computer forensics class (CS 346) will take as long as an hour each to process the mock crime scene and determine if the evidence points to a particular suspect.

Students from SOU’s Theatre Department, meanwhile, will put their skills to use by playing roles and providing realistic-looking blood and wound “evidence” for the homicide scene.

It will all play out for three-plus hours beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the Greensprings D residence hall.

The mock crime scene is being led by Tiffany Morey, a senior instructor in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department and a former lieutenant with the North Las Vegas Police Department. She often stages realistic experiences for her students, including “shoot/don’t shoot” drills that offer a taste of the split-second decision-making that’s required of police officers.

More than 40 SOU students will use Tuesday’s mock crime scene to test everything they’ve learned in their computer forensics and criminal investigation classes. Each of the four groups will have opportunities to interview witnesses, collect evidence, analyze blood spatters, test for gunshots and process technical evidence.

Each group will finish by filling out a crime scene packet, which asks them to analyze all their evidence “to present to the district attorney” – and to explain who commited the murder.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Smaller plates avoid food waste

SOU awarded grant for novel approach to reducing food waste

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been awarded a $7,512 grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to try a logical means of reducing food waste on campus: use smaller plates.

The grant pays to replace 10.5-inch plates with nine-inch plates at The Hawk student dining commons.

SOU’s grant application explains that “studies have shown a reduction in plate size can lead to a reduction in food waste as patrons eat the portions allotted on the smaller plate. Larger plates tend toward food waste as patrons take more food than the individual can consume in one sitting.”

Drew Gilliland, director of SOU’s Department of Facilities, Management and Planning, said that any money left over from the dish replacement will be used to “purchase additional smaller plates and purchase marketing materials to encourage healthy eating.”

SOU’s grant application was submitted last year by then-sustainability and recycling manager Roxane Beigel-Coryell, who has since left the university for a similar position in southern California. The plates were replaced in mid-September, before fall term classes began, so first-year students attending SOU won’t have noticed a change.

The grant requires that food waste measurements be recorded this year to determine the effectiveness of the reduced plate size. Gilliland said early indications are promising.

“It’s my observation that there is already less food waste and we want to continue to reduce that,” he said. “Publishing the results of the study will hopefully encourage our students to discuss food consumption.

“We plan on using the study as part of a marketing program to encourage mindfulness around our consumption and its impact on the greater environment.”

He pointed out that the discarded 10.5-inch plates weren’t thrown away.

“(The larger plates) will be used for special events and other events where food is provided,” Gilliland said. “We may also consider donating any excess to a non-profit.”

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Dylann Loverro to join SOU Board of Trustees

SOU Honors College student joins university’s Board of Trustees

(Ashland, Ore.) — Dylann Loverro, a Southern Oregon University Honors College student who has held various positions on campus, has been appointed by Gov. Kate Brown and confirmed today by the Oregon Senate to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees.

Loverro succeeds Shanztyn Nihipali, who graduated in June, as the university’s student member for the 15-person board. Her two-year appointment is a voting position.

“I am excited and honored to be a part of my university’s governing board,” Loverro said. “I look forward to supporting the strategies and vision that will increase student success and the great work happening at SOU.”

Loverro, who is working toward a 2021 bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies, is currently chief justice of the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University (ASSOU) and student representative on the Faculty Senate’s University Assessment Committee. She has also served as the international senator and vice speaker of the Student Senate.

She completed the Leadership Fellows Program during her freshman year at SOU, has participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Colorado and next spring will lead a Raider Alternative Weekend trip.

“We are pleased to welcome Dylann to SOU’s Board of Trustees,” said Lyn Hennion, the board’s chair. “She is a very involved and high-achieving student, and her voice will be a welcomed addition to the board.

“The board also thanks its retiring trustee, Shanztyn Nihipali, for his years of dedicated service to the board and his alma mater – SOU. We wish Shanztyn the best in all of his future endeavors.”

Loverro is from Ellensburg, Washington, where her mother is an associate professor of psychology and her father is chair of the Department of Curriculum, Supervision and Educational Leadership at Central Washington University.

She is fluent in French, and studied abroad in Lyon, France, during the 2017-18 academic year. During her senior year of high school, she served on the bipartisan Youth Advisory Board to former U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington’s 8th Congressional District.

Loverro intends to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees after completing her undergraduate studies at SOU. She hopes for a career with the U.S. State Department, the United Nations or another international organization.


SOU to adopt Purple Heart proclamation

SOU president to sign Purple Heart proclamation

Southern Oregon University will become the first Oregon university to adopt the Military Order of the Purple Heart proclamation during a formal ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 27, pledging the university’s support to military veterans and placing SOU on the “Purple Heart Trail.”

The Purple Heart is the United States’ oldest military award that is still issued – awarded to any member of the armed forces who is physically harmed or killed in action. The Military Order of the Purple Heart is a U.S. nonprofit organization made up of military veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart.

“(This proclamation) is a way to show appreciation and support for those who have earned the Purple Heart in service to our country,” said Kevin Stevens, coordinator of SOU’s Veterans Resource Center. “It also correlates with the core values and mission of our university.”

More than 200 SOU students each year are considered military-affiliated. Most of them are veterans or dependents, while many others serve as cadets in the Army ROTC program. SOU also offers a Military Science Program that serves nearly 150 students per term, and various campus organizations are dedicated to helping veterans – including the Veteran’s Resource Center, the Student Veterans Association and the Veterans’ Student Union.

SOU President Linda Schott will sign the proclamation on behalf of the university at 10 a.m. on Nov. 27, in SOU’s Veterans Resource Office – Room 301 of the Stevenson Union. The proclamation encourages SOU students and others to “show their appreciation for the sacrifices the Purple Heart recipients have made in defending our freedoms, to acknowledge their courage, and to show them the honor and support they have earned.”

The proclamation will also induct SOU into the Purple Heart Trail, a symbolic system of roads, highways, monuments and cities that give tribute to those awarded the Purple Heart. These locations have special signage to denote their participation in the trail.

While SOU is the first university in Oregon to make the declaration and become a part of the Purple Heart Trail, the trail includes 21 cities in Oregon, as well as Grant and Jackson counties.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Stanley Crawford to lecture on garlic battle

SOU guest to lecture on garlic, international companies and uncertainty

(Ashland, Ore.) — Stanley Crawford – garlic farmer, author and focus of the Netflix documentary “Garlic Breath” – will speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, in SOU’s Meese Auditorium (Room 101 of the Art Building).

Crawford’s free lecture will lead off the university’s 12th annual “Campus Theme” lecture series. Each year’s lectures follow a theme, with past series including “Ignorance and Wisdom,” “Truth” and “Shapes of Curiosity.” This year’s theme is “Uncertainty.”

Crawford is an author who moved to Dixon, New Mexico in 1970, where he and his wife Rosemary started their garlic farm, El Bosque Farm. There, he wrote “A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm” along with other essays and novels.

Crawford started a legal battle in the fall of 2014, when he petitioned the US Department of Commerce to look into Chinese garlic importer Harmoni International Spice, which Crawford claimed was exploiting an anti-dumping loophole. The fight between Crawford and Harmoni continues, but his account of the case has been told both through his upcoming book “The Garlic Papers: A Small Garlic Farm in the Age of Global Vampires,” and in the episode “Garlic Breath” of Netflix’s six-part documentary series “Rotten.”

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

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

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer


JPR's Paul Westhelle receives public radio award

JPR director receives national innovation award for public radio

(Ashland, Ore.) — Paul Westhelle, the executive director of Jefferson Public Radio at Southern Oregon University, has been awarded this year’s Madison Hodges Innovator Award for Public Radio Advancement by the nonprofit organization University Station Alliance.

Westhelle was recognized for strengthening JPR’s market position and finances, and overseeing its move last year into state-of-the-art facilities adjacent to the SOU Theater Building. The University Station Alliance, which serves as a link between public broadcast stations and the higher education institutions that sponsor them, is made up of about 50 broadcast organizations nationwide.

Westhelle receives public radio innovation award“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of Southern Oregon University and one of the most loyal and supportive public radio audiences in the nation,” Westhelle said. “JPR is blessed with a university licensee that truly understands the civic engagement opportunities and public service potential of operating an NPR affiliate.

“JPR is also blessed with an audience that stands with us time and time again to support our work at levels that far exceed national benchmarks – JPR is special, thanks to our listeners.”

The innovator award is named in honor of Madison Hodges, a longtime manager and advocate of public radio stations in Florida who died in 2014 while battling bone cancer. The award recognizes success and the courage to advance the mission of public broadcasting.

In honoring Westhelle, the University Station Alliance noted that JPR is one of the nation’s largest multi-state regional, rural broadcast organizations, with 23 stations and 36 translators serving an area with more than a million residents.

The organization said that Westhelle, “with only modest resources to tap,” has built relationships with the university, its foundation, listeners and the communities served by JPR.

“Paul’s success belies the common belief that public radio can only survive, much less thrive, in large population centers with strong economic underpinnings,” the Alliance said. “He has also made the case that public radio makes great sense in a university setting.”

The innovator award was presented to Westhelle at last month’s Public Radio Super Regional Conference in New Orleans. He received a plaque and a check for $1,500.


Javier del Rio

SOU to present Distinguished Alumni Awards

(Ashland, Ore.) — An arts graduate with a 30-year career as a museum curator and a regional education leader who has championed the underrepresented will be honored Friday when Southern Oregon University presents its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards during a luncheon on campus.

Bruce Guenther, who earned a bachelor’s degree in applied design from SOU in 1971, will receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. The award recognizes alumni whose personal and professional achievements have significantly benefited humankind and brought distinction to Southern Oregon University.

Javier del Rio, currently the assistant superintendent for business and human resources at the Phoenix-Talent School District, will be recognized with the Excellence in Education Award. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from SOU in 1994 and a master’s degree in education in 2005.

Bruce Guenther

Bruce Guenther

Guenther grew up in Medford and came to what was then Southern Oregon College in the late 1960s to study art and participate in the honors program. He found his career path when he landed a National Endowment for the Arts curatorial internship at the Portland Art Museum after graduation. Guenther served in curator roles at the Seattle Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Orange County Museum of Art in California. He returned to the Portland Art Museum as chief curator in 2000 and oversaw two major expansions before retiring in 2014.

Del Rio, who came to SOU as an exchange student from Spain, went to work for MCI Telecommunications in Los Angeles after earning his bachelor’s degree. He discovered his calling a few years later when he began teaching under an emergency credential in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He earned his teaching license from Cal State, Northridge, while he worked and then returned to SOU for his master’s degree. He has served in a variety of roles in the Phoenix-Talent School District and as principal in the Medford School District. At each stop in his education career, del Rio has advocated for underprivileged and underrepresented children, and those for whom English is a second language.