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.

-SOU-

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.”

-SOU-

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.

SOU-Rotaract fundraising for ShelterBox

SOU’s Rotaract service club quadruples fundraising goal

(Ashland, Ore.) — Overachievement is becoming a thing for Southern Oregon University’s fledgling Rotaract Club. Most recently, the club’s student members set a fund-raising target of $1,000 for the ShelterBox disaster relief organization – and quickly quadrupled their goal.

“The Rotaract Club made over 300 origami 16-point stars to raise money for ShelterBox,” said club secretary Hannah Howard, explaining that members asked potential donors to pay what they could afford as a holiday-season contribution.

“We canvassed in front of Safeway, Market of Choice and at several Rotary Club meetings, making over $4,000 for ShelterBox,” Howard said. “To put this in perspective, it could fund four shelter boxes. We were so thrilled with the amount, and beyond grateful to all the club members who made it happen.”

Here’s another bit of perspective: Previous attempts have been made at SOU to organize a campus chapter of Rotaract – an entry-level version of Rotary International, geared toward young adults. Those efforts largely involved students in their final year at SOU and ultimately fizzled when the seniors graduated, but Howard and a handful of other current students have established a robust club in just over a year. It now has 15 to 20 active members, freshman through senior, and more than 60 who have shown interest in specific club projects.

The club’s other student officers are Lizzy Blackwell, president; Jackie Blanchette, vice president; Max Ostendorf, treasurer; and Christina Richardson and Sarah Grulikowski, immediate past co-presidents.

“I have been the Rotaract Club of SOU faculty advisor for a little over a year, and feel very lucky to work with such wonderful students,” said Melissa Anderson, campus engagement librarian at SOU’s Hannon Library.

Rotaract chapters must take on one local project and one “world service” project each year. The SOU club orchestrated a successful “Caroling for Cans” food drive for this year’s local project, then crushed its fundraising goal for ShelterBox – an official partner organization of Rotary International that takes relief efforts to people whose lives have been upended by natural disasters or conflict. They presented their ShelterBox pitch at five Rotary meetings in Ashland and Medford.

“The students are overwhelmed by the generosity they have witnessed, and empowered by the skills and confidence they have gained through this endeavor,” said former SOU President Elisabeth Zinser, the Rotaract club’s liaison to its sponsor, the Rotary Club of Ashland. “It is truly their project – they chose it, designed it, studied it and executed it.”

ShelterBox provides relief to people displaced by disasters throughout the world, delivering shelter boxes that each contain a large tent “house,” water purification kit, blankets and other equipment that will enable a family to survive. The charity was founded in 2000 in the United Kingdom, and has responded to events including the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Anderson, the Rotaract club’s faculty advisor, said support and guidance from the Rotary Club of Ashland and its sister organization, the Lithia Springs Rotary Club, have been critical to the student club’s success. But she credits the resourcefulness and enthusiasm of Rotaract members for accomplishing the club’s goals.

“The amazing job our SOU students did raising money for this very worthwhile organization – during finals, no less – is really going to make a difference in the world,” Anderson said. “The students have put the Rotary motto, ‘Service Above Self,’ into action – which is very fitting, since the Rotaract name itself stands for ‘Rotary in Action.’”

-SOU-

Enrollment office exterior-Woolf

SOU hires vice president for enrollment management and student affairs

(Ashland, Ore.) —Neil Woolf – who has led enrollment efforts at higher education institutions in Wisconsin, Washington and Nevada – has been hired as Southern Oregon University’s new vice president for enrollment management and student affairs.

He will start work at SOU on Jan. 9.

Neil Woolf“I am very excited to join the team at Southern Oregon University,” Woolf said. “Under the direction of the Board of Trustees and President (Linda) Schott, I look forward to advancing the mission of the university and assisting students in achieving their success.”

In overseeing both the enrollment and student affairs functions of SOU, Woolf will seek to maintain a steady growth in enrollment through both recruitment efforts and retention of existing students. Programs under his watch include enrollment services, financial aid, the registrar’s office, student life, the university’s student resource centers and organizations, and the Stevenson Union.

Woolf is currently the chief enrollment officer and interim assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management for the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He previously served for five years as associate vice president for enrollment management at Eastern Washington University, and for 12 years in various enrollment management and student affairs positions at Nevada State College, the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the University of Utah.

“I was drawn to SOU because of its exceptional academic and student support programs, its commitment to inclusion and equity, and the beautiful surroundings,” he said. “My family and I can’t wait to start making SOU our home.”

In his current position, Woolf has led implementation of UWO’s strategic enrollment plan, improving recruitment by focusing on approaches including search engine optimization (SEO), communicating with prospective students by text and improved collaboration with other key offices. He was one of three finalists brought to SOU for interviews in late November and early December, and was offered the job after demonstrating his understanding of the university’s challenges and opportunities in maintaining enrollment growth.

“His expertise and successful track records in both enrollment management and student affairs make him the ideal person for our position,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “I look forward to working with him to further the goals of our strategic plan.”

Woolf received his bachelor’s degree in government from Eastern Washington University, his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Utah and his Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He will succeed Blaine Steensland, who filled the position at SOU in an interim capacity last January through June, and has continued to work remotely and in a part-time role with the university since late summer. He retired in 2014 after 28 years in senior enrollment management and student affairs positions with the Penn State University system.

-SOU-

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.

-SOU-

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.

-SOU-

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.

-SOU-

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.