Consortium institutions discuss transfers-SOU

Consortium of southern Oregon colleges and universities to strengthen transfer agreements

(Ashland, Ore.) — Delegations from each of the institutions that make up the new Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium will meet this month to discuss the seamless transfer of credits from colleges to universities and other matters of shared interest. The consortium members are Klamath Community College, Oregon Institute of Technology, Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University.

The Feb. 25 event, 5:15 to 7:30 p.m. in the Rogue River Room of SOU’s Stevenson Union, will be an expanded version of the annual “Articulation Retreat” that counterparts from SOU and RCC have held for the past several years. This year’s version will include groups from Oregon Tech and KCC.

“We believe this event provides a wonderful opportunity for our SOHEC colleagues to build on what already is an enormously successful collaboration,” said SOU Provost Sue Walsh and RCC Vice President for Instructional Services Leo Hirner in their joint invitation to colleagues at the other institutions.

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 ongoing collaborative effort took root with the four institutions’ presidents following a joint lunch meeting a year ago, and was announced in late November with signing events in both Klamath Falls and Medford.

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

The Feb. 25 Articulation Retreat will be an opportunity for information-sharing by staff members from the SOHEC institutions’ enrollment services, admissions, academic advising, curriculum and other support services offices. The goal of the event is to improve and expand transfer programs and other cooperative agreements among the schools, to make it easier, faster and more affordable for students to transition from one degree program to the next.

Representatives of media outlets will be welcome to report on the evening’s discussions.

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Scholarships-application-deadline

March 1 deadline approaches for more than 600 OSAC scholarships

(Salem, Ore.) – The Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission is encouraging Oregon students to apply for privately funded scholarships at OregonStudentAid.gov by the March 1 deadline.

Oregon students may explore more than 600 privately funded scholarships and apply for as many as 40 with a single application. There is no cost to apply, but students must submit their completed OSAC scholarship applications and all other required materials by 5 p.m. on March 1.

SOU students may also seek help with their financial aid options at the Financial Aid Office in Britt Hall, or on the university’s financial aid website.

SOU’s Financial Aid Office is urging current and future students to complete their Southern Online Scholarship Applications (SOSA) by March 15 for financial aid during the 2019-20 academic year. Completion of the SOSA form is required for those seeking any from a pool of scholarships – both need- and merit-based, for undergraduate and graduate students, and for Oregon residents and nonresidents.

The scholarship funding available through Oregon’s HECC office is for groups including graduating high school seniors, undergraduate and graduate students at colleges or universities, GED and homeschooled students, community college and vocational school students, and single parents returning to school. Details on specific scholarships that are available through HECC can be found on the OSAC Scholarship Catalog.

Students who want to be considered for federal or state financial aid, including grants and loans, must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA) in addition to the OSAC application. The ORSAA is Oregon’s alternative to the FAFSA for undocumented students, including students who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.

OSAC uses data from the FAFSA or the ORSAA to determine students’ eligibility for the Oregon Promise, the Oregon Opportunity Grant and numerous scholarships. Information from the FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for federal aid, including the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Direct Loans and Federal Work-Study.

More information about deadlines and eligibility for the Oregon Promise and the Oregon Opportunity Grant is available at OregonStudentAid.gov. OSAC also hosts several webinars and resources for students, counselors, students, parents, and educators on financial aid opportunities.

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SOU-French Dinner

SOU to host 23rd annual French Dinner

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University French Club will serve its 23rd annual French Dinner – a five-course meal for students, employees and community members – on Thursday, Feb. 28.

The dinner, in the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, is intended to promote French culture on campus and in the community. The dinner is organized by the university’s French Club, with the help of student union staff, French and other international students, and – for the first time – SOU athletes.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and orders will be taken at 7 p.m.

Tickets – $9 for students and university employees, and $13 for other community members – can be purchased at the Stevenson Union information booth on campus or at Paddington Station in downtown Ashland. Whole tables of eight can be reserved by contacting Marianne Golding, an SOU foreign languages professor and faculty advisor to the French Club, at golding@sou.edu.

The dinner will begin with soup, followed by a palate cleanser, quiche, salad and cheese, French bread, dessert and coffee or tea. Vegetarian options are available for the soup and quiche courses.

Wine donated by prestigious Oregon wineries can be purchased at $3 per glass for those who are 21 and older.

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environmental education-SOU

Master’s of environmental education at SOU: 50 years in

(Ashland, Ore.) — “Eventful” pretty well sums up the 1968-69 academic year: The decision was made at Yale University to admit female students. USC running back O.J. Simpson won the Heisman trophy. A music festival called Woodstock would be held during the summer. And Southern Oregon University launched its Master of Science in Environmental Education program – an ahead-of-its-time curriculum that would adapt, evolve and prepare hundreds for outdoors- and sustainability-related careers over the next 50 years.

“The program is committed to creating environmental leaders, and focused on staying modest in size to be able to present the highest quality,” said SOU professor Stewart Janes, one of the program’s current coordinators. “Our goal is to become more well-known, in an effort to be the go-to for environmental education in Oregon.”

SOU’s program has been unique in the state since its beginning – designed during the 1960s by biology professor Irene Hollenbeck to prepare elementary teachers to operate outdoor schools. Hollenbeck was an outdoor school pioneer, establishing the state’s first in 1957, and her curriculum at SOU (at the time, Southern Oregon College) was initially called the Master of Science in Outdoor Education program.

A lack of funding and support for outdoor schools in the 1980s put the program at a crossroads: it could either dissolve or be redesigned. Its then-directors, biology professors Ron Lamb and Don Mitchell, broadened it to serve additional purposes as the Master of Science in Environmental Education program beginning in 1990.

The program has produced about 300 degrees, and spawned careers with agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey, the Houston Zoo, the nonprofit Wimberley Valley Watershed Association in Texas and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

One notable member of the program’s 1985 cohort is Linda Hilligoss, who went on to create a nonprofit organization, teach elementary and middle school, and serve as the education coordinator at Crater Lake National Park’s Science and Learning Center. She returned to SOU as science education coordinator, and has served for the past 12 years as co-coordinator of the master’s in environmental education program with Janes.

“The accomplishments of all of our graduates are exemplified in the varied leadership roles they step into across the country,” said Janes, an environmental education professor.

The program focused in part on natural history and education as it transitioned during the early 1990s from its outdoor school roots toward its current emphasis on environmental education. A partnership between environmental education – at the time, part of the Biology Department – and the SOU School of Education had developed by the mid-2000s, enabling students in the department to take education courses. SOU also partnered with the nonprofit Siskiyou Field Institute to operate the Deer Creek Center – a field station near Selma with yurts and meeting facilities.

The partnership with SFI allowed SOU’s environmental education master’s students to present eight weeks of educational programs at the field station each fall. That served as underpinnings for the Fall in the Field capstone project, which remains a central element of the master’s degree program.

Fall in the Field has benefited from collaborations with the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the Ashland Food Co-op and the Rogue Valley Audubon Society. SOU’s environmental education master’s students are now in their eighth year of an arrangement with the BLM to provide educational programing at the national monument.

Students in the 1 ½-year master’s degree program learn to create, market, manage and assess the effectiveness of their educational offerings. Their tasks range from curriculum development to arranging for on-location porta-potties.

The master’s program includes various other ongoing projects, including the offer of “Natural Science Kits” for loan to K-12 educators in Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties. The kits have been available for more than 25 years, to provide teachers a no-cost opportunity bring the ecology of the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion into local classrooms with curriculum developed by SOU’s environmental education students.

The SOU master’s program is the first in the Western U.S. and sixth overall to be accredited by the North American Association of Environmental Education. Representatives of the SOU program now serve in leadership roles to help other universities achieve accreditation and align with NAAEE standards.

The program is as vital and popular as ever as it passes its 50th anniversary, helping students address issues – both locally and globally – such as climate change and loss of biodiversity.

“Humans are the stewards of our planet, and as environmental educators it is our duty to increase awareness for the need for mindful stewardship while encouraging action,” said Crystal Nichols, a graduate assistant in the program.

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Feetham-turnaround-SOU

Student set to complete turnaround after transfer to SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University accounting student Mary Jane Feetham is on track to graduate next June and then take an exam to become a certified public accountant – the final step in a personal turnaround from near-homelessness and reliance on public assistance.

Feetham recognized that something had to change five years ago when she ended a relationship due to domestic violence and sought shelter at the Dunn House, a refuge operated by the Community Works nonprofit organization in Medford.

The first step was the hardest – she had to live without her three young children for two months while researching options and finding a safe place to live.

The second step was to find and accept help. An Oregon Department of Human Services caseworker helped her line up resources to pay a deposit, rent a place to live and qualify for food stamps. The Rogue Educational Achievement (REACH) project – another DHS program – helped her identify career goals, enroll at Rogue Community College, secure a travel voucher so she could afford the commute from Butte Falls and find day care for her children, who ranged in age from 2 months to 8 years.

“There are resources out there, but so many people don’t even know they have an opportunity,” Feetham said. “Generational poverty is pounded into people. These nonprofits (can) become their support.”

Feethan finished her associate degree at RCC and transferred to SOU, but continued to face obstacles – financial and otherwise – while commuting from Butte Falls for classes that began at 8:30 a.m. She collected cans for money, found free items on Craigslist and even learned on YouTube how to repair her car when it wouldn’t start.

But her turnaround was on track, and she was grateful for her education and the guidance she had received. She became involved in her community as a way of giving back, and that led to her participation in the 2017 Jackson County Community Needs Assessment. She wrote a report that identified unmet needs and gaps in community services, and the report is still being used by nonprofit organizations and city governments to determine where efforts should be focused.

“She is inspirational and proof that where there is a will, there’s a way,” said Joan McBee, an SOU business professor and department chair.

Feetham is now a board member for the Butte Falls Community School Partnership and president of the Butte Falls Active Club. She received aid from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and used some of that money to complete certifications through Oregon State University for grant-writing and nonprofit management. She landed a full-time grant-writing position with ACCESS, which serves low-income, disabled and senior populations in southern Oregon.

“I could write at home and earn a living while going to school,” Feetham said. “Eventually, I had to devote more time to school.”

Feetham – who has received a Ford Family Scholarship and 10 other grants or scholarships during her time at SOU – is now just a couple terms away from graduating, and is nearing her goal of working in the region and remaining involved in her local communities. She is serving as an intern with an accounting firm in the area and proudly points out that she is “breaking the mold of welfare recipients.”

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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.

audio-wayfinding-SOU

SOU subscribes to AWARE audio wayfinding app

(Ashland, Ore.) — SOU has partnered with the vendor Sensible Innovations to provide an audio wayfinding app for students, employees and visitors with sight impairments – and other users who like the convenience of audible navigation assistance.

The AWARE Audible Wayfinding app, which provides route directions to buildings and frequently visited locations on the SOU campus, can be downloaded for free from the App Store. The app was developed to help the visually impaired, but is also useful for new students or employees, visitors who are unfamiliar with campus, and others.

AWARE uses programmable “iBeacons” that are placed at various locations on campus as waypoints for users finding their way to both outdoor and indoor destinations at SOU. The beacons connect with smartphones and other mobile devices through Bluetooth Low Energy technology.

More than 200 beacons are currently in place at SOU, in often-used locations such as the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, the Higher Education Center in Medford and at accessibility features such as elevators, building entrances and restrooms. The next phase of implementing the audio wayfinding service will add beacons to new and remodeled buildings including the Lithia Motors Pavilion, Student Recreation Center and Theater Building, and will bring the total to about 300.

Users of the AWARE app can choose whether to read directions or hear them, using the accessibility features on their mobile devices.

Rasha Said – a former actuarial and financial analyst with a background in mathematics and computer science – founded Illinois-based Sensible Innovations as a new standard for visually-impaired services. She is the mother of a visually-impaired child.

The audio wayfinding app is expected to be particularly helpful for universities and transit systems, but the nine initial venues posted on the Sensible Solutions website suggest a wider spectrum – ranging from the Chicago Lighthouse to the Vision Forward Foundation in Wisconsin. Wright State University in Ohio is also listed among the company’s clients.

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Chad Hamill-ACE fellowship-SOU

Prospective higher ed leader to serve prestigious ACE fellowship at SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) — Chad Hamill, the vice president for Native American initiatives at Northern Arizona University, has chosen to serve a prestigious ACE fellowship (from the American Council on Education) at Southern Oregon University during this year’s winter and spring terms.

The ACE fellowship program is highly competitive, and considered a pipeline for those aspiring to presidencies and other senior administrative positions in higher education.

Hamill will work closely with President Linda Schott while serving his fellowship, applying his expertise to existing SOU programs and acquiring knowledge that he will take back to NAU.

“We are thrilled to serve as Dr. Hamill’s host institution during his ACE fellowship,” President Schott said. “We expect that this relationship will help SOU to improve its outreach, and already strong connections, with Oregon’s nine recognized Native American tribes.

“It is especially gratifying to us that SOU was Dr. Hamill’s first choice for a host institution, and that he is truly excited about contributing to our mission.”

Hamill said that he visited a larger university first and had more or less decided to serve his fellowship there, but quickly changed his mind after a visit to SOU last spring.

“Ten minutes into my first meeting with President Schott and her team, it was clear that they are united by a shared vision for SOU,” he said. “I look forward to contributing to that vision over the next five months while learning the ins and outs of university leadership, in particular through the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Schott.”

The ACE fellowship program, established in 1965, is intended to identify and prepare future higher education leaders. Almost 2,000 people have received ACE fellowships, and more than 80 percent of them have gone on to serve as senior leaders at U.S. colleges and universities.

A total of 43 fellows were chosen for the 2018-19 academic year, following nomination by their home institutions and a rigorous application and selection process. ACE represents more than 1,600 college and university presidents, providing leadership and advocacy on key higher education issues.

Hamill, an associate professor and former chair of NAU’s Department of Applied Indigenous Studies, has taught at the Flagstaff university since 2007. His specialties include music and sovereignty, music and spirituality and Indigenous ecological knowledge. His book, “Songs of Power and Prayer in the Columbia Plateau,” explores song as a vehicle for spiritual power among tribes of the interior Northwest – including his own, the Spokane.

He has served previously as an instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and at the California Institute of the Arts.

Hamill received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the California Institute of the Arts, and his doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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virtual campus tour-SOU

SOU launches virtual campus tour

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University today launched a virtual campus tour that will give prospective students and others, anywhere in the world, an opportunity view the SOU campus in an immersive, online experience.

The virtual tour is expected to be an effective tool in recruiting students, and also will be helpful for those learning their way around campus or who want to see the facilities offered by various SOU departments.

The SOU tour includes 18 tour stops, each of which has an initial 360-degree photo, in which viewers can scroll side-to-side and up-and-down, similar to Google Street View. Each tour stop also includes secondary 360-degree photos, positional media (such as videos superimposed on screens that are part of the original photo) and supplemental media (other videos and photos).

An audio tour guide escorts viewers around campus, with scripts provided by staff members from the site of each tour stop. The tour can also be viewed with virtual reality goggles, for a fully immersive experience. SOU’s admissions staff are expected to take a couple pairs of goggles with them on recruiting visits.

SOU’s Marketing and Communications, Admissions and Information Technology departments have been working on the project for the past several months with the vendor YouVisit, which has produced similar virtual tours for about 600 other colleges and universities. A photographer from YouVisit was on campus in November and shot dozens of photos as SOU’s trees showed their autumn color.

Tour stops include Raider Way, Hannon Library, the Science Building, Theater Building, Jefferson Public Radio, the Music Building, Stevenson Union, Third Eye Theater, Churchill Hall, Center for Visual Arts, Digital Media Center, Raider Village, The Hawk, Student Recreation Center, Lithia Motors Pavilion and Raider Stadium, along with the Ashland watershed trails and Lithia Park.

A link to the virtual tour has been placed near the top of the SOU home page.

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Jeffersonian-SOU-remembrance

SOU’s student-produced “Jeffersonian” news magazine to air on public television

(Ashland, Ore.) — It’s a show with the feel of “Oregon Field Guide” and the personality of Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” segments of the late 20th century. It features in-depth reporting and richly colorful subjects. And each segment of “The Jeffersonian” is conceived and produced by students at Southern Oregon University.

“Life on the Margins” – the sixth roughly-annual episode of SOU’s student-generated news magazine – will premier this month on Southern Oregon Public Television. The show, with one segment about two veterans who have suffered traumatic injuries and another about an artistic couple who are aging together, will air on SOPTV at 9 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14, and at 11:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21. It will also be shown in a pair of overnight slots – at 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, and at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

The new “Jeffersonian” episode will also be screened in a free, public event at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 14 at Meese Auditorium in the SOU Art Building. The student producers and subjects of their films will offer a Q&A session following the screening.

“The Jeffersonian” is a project of SOU’s Department of Communication and the university’s Digital Media Center, in collaboration with SOPTV. It’s described by the station as a “program that captures the multi-faceted blend of people, places and activities that comprise the unique vibe of life in the northern Siskiyou Mountains and Rogue River Valley of Oregon and California.”

Its first episode – “Harvest,” about the region’s food culture and wine industry – was introduced in May 2013 and was followed by episodes on trails, filmmaking, marijuana and local mysteries.

“The episodes have been almost entirely student-produced, delivered by student teams in SOU courses, with a little post-production help from SOPTV and audio production vendors in the community,” said Erik Palmer, a faculty member and chair of SOU’s Communication Department.

“We’ve averaged about one episode of the program per year, and hope to continue the partnership as long as students keep bringing their A-game to the craft of television production and storytelling,” he said.

Students in SOU digital media courses last spring produced and submitted five short documentaries to be considered for the “Life on the Margins” episode of “The Jeffersonian.” Two were selected, and finished over the summer.

The first story included in the new episode is “Remembrance,” about two Purple Heart recipients – one who served in Vietnam and the other who served in Afghanistan. It was produced and edited by student Nathan Comer, while Teresa Spalding served as executive producer and other work on the project was done by Nick Garrett-Powell and Cam Pierce.

The second story, “Here, We Are,” is about a Talent couple whose creativity and love for each other help them through the challenges of aging. Student Nicole Gullixson, who narrated the “Life on the Margins” episode, also served editor of the second segment and helped with photography. Samae Chlebowski was the director and cinematographer, and Jade Martin served as production assistant.

“The amount of work by students varies by episode, but on this episode the shorts were researched, reported and produced by students, and the host is a student,” said Christopher Lucas, a digital cinema instructor at SOU. “SOPTV’s staff assembled the final program with SOU’s supervision.”

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ASPIRE mentors-HECC-SOU

Help change students’ lives; become an ASPIRE mentor

(Salem, Ore.) – The Office of Student Access and Completion at Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating commission is encouraging community members statewide to sign up as ASPIRE volunteer mentors at OregonStudentAid.gov/ASPIRE to help students find pathways to success.

ASPIRE is the state’s mentoring program to help students access education and training beyond high school. The program matches trained and supportive adult volunteer mentors with middle and high school students, to  help plan for their future career and education goals. ASPIRE volunteering opportunities are available at 157 schools or sites throughout the state, and no prior experience is needed. Training, tools and resources are provided.

“This is probably the most direct way to make a difference in a young person’s life,” said Adrienne Simmons, ASPIRE mentor at Ashland High School.

Students who participate in ASPIRE gain support in planning for their lives after high school, receive help in applying for training and college programs, and get assistance in applying for scholarships and financial aid. Students at ASPIRE sites are more likely to graduate on time, and enroll in colleges at higher rates. ASPIRE students are also more likely to receive financial aid through scholarships and grants.

The unique roles ASPIRE mentors play in the lives of students were reflected in exit surveys of recently mentored students.

“My mentor guided me through every step to college,” one student said. “Without her help, I would not be attending college.”

Another student said his mentor guided him “through the ins and outs of how to approach a new job.”

The ASPIRE program’s call for volunteers is part of National Mentoring Month, a campaign held each January that focuses attention on the need for mentors and how partners can work together to increase youth mentoring.

Oregonians with the time and willingness to become ASPIRE volunteer mentors in their communities can learn more, find an ASPIRE site in their area, or sign up at OregonStudentAid.gov/ASPIRE.