SOU's Alison Burke receives Fulbright scholarship

SOU criminology professor awarded Fulbright scholarship to teach in Bosnia

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University criminology and criminal justice professor Alison Burke has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to lecture and teach a course on women and crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Burke will serve at the University of Sarajevo during the current 2019-20 academic year. She received a four-month teaching assignment that will begin in February.

Fulbrights are among the most prestigious scholarships in academia, and Burke’s award is the third for an SOU faculty member in three years. Erik Palmer, an associate professor of communication at SOU, is currently teaching and conducting research as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Ghana. Theatre arts professor Eric Levin was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in Ireland during the 2017-18 academic year.

“It is a huge honor for me to participate in the Fulbright program and collaborate with colleagues at the University of Sarajevo,” Burke said. “Living and working in Bosnia and Herzegovina will be a phenomenal learning experience and I look forward to returning to SOU with new international connections, deeper cultural appreciation and a fresh perspective I can share with my students.”

Burke, who has been an SOU faculty member for 11 years, served in a variety of juvenile justice positions before earning her doctorate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2008 and shifting her career to higher education.

Her research interests include gender and juvenile justice, and delinquency prevention. She teaches four courses – Introduction to Criminology, Theories of Criminal Behavior, Crime Control Theories and Policies, and Juvenile Delinquency – and a seminar series that includes a segment on women and crime.

Burke earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of New Mexico and her master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Colorado at Denver. She has also studied at England’s Oxford University.

Her work has appeared in publications including the International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies, the Journal of Active Learning in Higher Education and the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. She has authored the books “Gender and Justice: An Examination of Policy and Practice Regarding Judicial Waiver,” published in 2009 by VDM Publishing; and “Teaching Introduction to Criminology,” published this year by Cognella Press.

Burke is SOU’s 18th Fulbright scholar. The university’s first Fulbright scholarship was awarded to Economics Professor Byron Brown for the 1986-87 academic year, which he spent lecturing on economics at Karl Marx University in Budapest, Hungary.

Fulbright scholarships are part of a merit-based, international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It was founded by former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright and has awarded scholarships each year since 1948. It currently offers about 8,000 grants annually for graduate study, research, lecturing and teaching in more than 160 participating countries.

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SOU's Hala Schepmann is co-director of $1 million NSF grant project

SOU professor to co-direct $1 million NSF grant to advance women in STEM

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University chemistry professor Hala Schepmann will co-direct a five-year, $999,899 National Science Foundation project to support mid-career women faculty members nationwide in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The project – Advancing STEM Careers by Empowering Network Development (ASCEND) – will focus in two directions. It will help individual faculty members advance their careers and also address systemic issues that prevent mid-career women from achieving full professorships and leadership positions in their disciplines and institutions.

Schepmann and co-directors from Willamette University, Western Oregon University and Gonzaga University in the Northwest; John Carroll University and University of Detroit Mercy in the Midwest; and Claflin University, Furman University and the Citadel in the Southeast will lead the project that will include as many as 75 participants. Colleges and universities in the three regions will collaborate to provide educational opportunities, training resources and professional support.

The NSF grant to support the project began this month and will run through September of 2024.

“The ASCEND project aims to both develop women leaders among faculty and enable university administrators to remove systemic and institution-specific barriers to support the advancement of a diverse STEM faculty,” Schepmann said. “Professional development trainings will focus on self-advocacy, collaboration, leadership, change implementation, conflict resolution and negotiation.”

The grant is part of the NSF’s ADVANCE program, which is intended to increase the representation and advancement of women faculty members in STEM fields. It is part of the NSF’s strategy to broaden participation in the STEM workforce. The NSF has invested more than $270 million in ADVANCE projects at over 100 institutions nationwide since 2001.

The ASCEND project that Schepmann is co-directing is one of two prestigious NSF grants announced this fall that have SOU faculty members in leadership roles. A two-year, $299,000 NSF grant to develop the “computational thinking” skills of kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students is being led by Eva Skuratowicz, an adjunct professor of sociology and anthropology, and director of the SOU Research Center (SOURCE).

“I couldn’t be more pleased that Dr. Schepmann received this grant,” said Susan Walsh, SOU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This award acknowledges Hala’s substantial commitment to increasing the advancement of women in science, and paves the way for SOU to continue to make a significant contribution to this important work.”

Co-directors of the ASCEND project will lead the creation of peer mentoring networks in each of the project’s three regions. Members of the networks will meet online each month and in-person once per year to collectively identify barriers to their professional advancement and strategies to address them.

Each regional network will be made up of one administrator “alliance” made up of four or five academic leaders and five faculty “alliances,” each aligned with a STEM-specific academic discipline and made up of four or five members.

“In collaboration with faculty, administrators will strategically design and implement comprehensive campus-specific change plans that reduce barriers encountered by women in STEM fields, create more equitable communities and foster the retention and advancement of a diverse STEM faculty population,” the project’s written summary says.

The project is intended to establish a “critical mass” of change and precipitate reforms that benefit women in STEM fields throughout U.S. higher education.

More information is available on the ASCEND program website.

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SOU Computer Science Building

SOU-led team receives NSF grant to develop “computational thinking” model

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been awarded a two-year, $299,000 National Science Foundation grant to develop the “computational thinking” skills of kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students in the Ashland and Phoenix-Talent school districts.

The grant is part of the NSF’s Computer Science for All program, which is intended to extend computer science and computational thinking opportunities to all K-12 students in the U.S. Curriculum developed by SOU-led researchers, in partnership with teachers in the two school districts, will be intended for use in schools nationwide.

“It’s critical for students to learn computational thinking skills during their early years of elementary school,” said lead researcher Eva Skuratowicz, director of the Southern Oregon University Research Center (SOURCE). “That gives them the confidence to continue their learning in fields such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”

Computational thinking is the articulation of problems and solutions in logical, computer-like ways. Those skills enable people to decompose problems, identify patterns and design answers.

“CT solutions have evolved from general problem-solving skills because of advances in technology that have changed both the nature of problems that need to be solved and our ability to solve them,” said Maggie Vanderberg, an associate professor of computer science at SOU and research team member for the NSF project.

The two-year project, “Empowering K-5 Teachers in Southern Oregon Through CT,” will begin in October. For the first year, researchers and a small group of educators will work side-by-side to develop and assess CT classroom strategies. During the second year, a total of 16 local teachers – two each from the Phoenix-Talent School District’s Orchard Hill, Phoenix and Talent elementary schools, and the Ashland School District’s Bellview, John Muir, Helman, Walker and Willow Wind elementary schools – will be chosen to collaborate on the project.

Skuratowicz and her research team were awarded the highly competitive NSF grant on their third attempt. Their proposal has been developed over the past four years in collaboration with the two local school districts.

“It is a great honor for SOU to be chosen by the National Science Foundation to lead this important and far-reaching project,” said SOU Provost Susan Walsh, the university’s chief academic officer. “This is a tribute not only to the tenacity of the research team, but to the sense of collaboration that drives our university.”

Eping Hung, a computing teacher at Ashland’s Willow Wind Elementary School, has helped to develop the grant project, along with Gladys Krause from Virginia’s William and Mary College and Joseph Wilson from the American Institutes for Research.

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Excavation by SOULA at Britt Gardens site

SOU Laboratory of Anthropology receives grant to complete Britt project

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology has received a grant of about $15,000 from a division of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to analyze and report on artifacts unearthed during 2010-11 digs at Jacksonville’s Peter Britt Gardens.

Britt GardensThe excavations by SOULA were conducted as the city of Jacksonville prepared for a restoration project on the 4.5-acre Britt Gardens site. But funding dried up and the archeological findings were never fully studied to develop a detailed picture of life at the 1800s homestead.

“We are thrilled to receive the Preserving Oregon grant,” said Chelsea Rose, a research archeologist with SOULA. “The Britt Gardens Site is one of the most important archaeological resources in southern Oregon, and this funding will allow us to analyze and interpret the thousands of artifacts from the Britt homestead and share our findings about this fascinating family with the local community, tourists and interested scholars.”

The grant is one of 18 that were awarded this summer by the state parks’ Oregon Heritage division for historic and archeological projects throughout Oregon. Each was approved by the state Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation.

Peter Britt historical photo

Peter Britt

About 30,000 artifacts were recovered during the excavations nine years ago. Britt – an early Rogue Valley settler – was a painter, photographer and horticulturist whose photos of Crater Lake were instrumental in creation of the national park in 1902. The SOULA excavations included the site where Britt built a log cabin upon reaching Jacksonville in 1852.

“Everyone always asks archaeologists what our favorite find is,” Rose said. “Mine came from the Britt Gardens Site – two glass plate photograph negatives with images on them.

“This grant finally gives us the opportunity to tell the story of these artifacts, and hundreds of others, and what they can reveal about the lives of the Britt family and their experience in 19th century Jacksonville.”

The grant will pay for artifact analysis, site mapping, illustration and photography of the excavation project, and compilation of a detailed report on archeological findings. SOULA is also working with the university’s Hannon Library to create a digital artifact collection that will feature more than 100 artifacts from the Britt site.

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Students at SOU to benefit from new ScholarshipUniverse app

SOU simplifies and broadens student aid options with ScholarshipUniverse

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has launched a new suite of software intended to keep students in school by helping them identify and apply for relevant scholarships – both internal and external.

The ScholarshipUniverse platform, from the higher education support vendor CampusLogic, automates much of the scholarship screening and application process for students. It matches scholarships to students based on their responses to a series of questions and guides them through the application process.

Students can login to the ScholarshipUniverse website or use a mobile app to check the status of their scholarship applications. It also helps to keep students on-task – those who have started scholarship applications will receive live alerts and text messages, reminding them to finish the process.

A majority of SOU students are eligible for financial aid in one form or another – scholarships, grants, institutional aid or work-study. But many students at SOU and elsewhere don’t make the most of their financial opportunities – CampusLogic estimates that almost three million students across the country leave college each year because of finances, while many scholarships go unfilled.

Almost 500 colleges and universities nationwide use products from CampusLogic to help their students navigate the financial aspects of higher education.

SOU’s recent strategic planning process identified student success through service excellence as a key component of the university’s mission. Its addition of the ScholarshipUniverse software is intended to help more students remain in school, complete their degree programs and go on to lead successful lives.

The ScholarshipUniverse platform helps students track and manage both internal scholarships available through the Southern Oregon Scholarship Application (SOSA) and external scholarships offered by a spectrum of organizations, foundations and private companies.

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Grandma Aggie receives President's Medal

Native elder “Grandma Aggie” recognized with SOU President’s Medal

(Ashland, Ore.) — Agnes Baker “Grandma Aggie” Pilgrim, who has been recognized as a “living treasure” by the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz, received the Southern Oregon University  President’s Medal in a presentation at SOU’s Thalden Pavilion.

Grandma Aggie, who is 95, is the most senior elder of southern Oregon’s Takelma Tribe and has led a varied life. Her early careers included singer, nightclub bouncer, jail barber and logger, but she embraced a more spiritual path in the 1970s. She worked as a manager and social worker with the United Indian Lodge in Crescent City, California, and joined the Cultural Heritage and Sacred Lands Committee of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz.

She then enrolled at SOU – which was then Southern Oregon State College – and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Native American studies in 1985, at age 61. She is a co-founder of SOU’s Konoway Nika Tillicum Native American Youth Academy – an eight-day residential program for Native American middle school and high school students – and received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2002.

Grandma Aggie has continued to be engaged with the university, returning last year to bless and help dedicate SOU’s new Student Recreation Center.

The SOU President’s Medal, established in 1984, is the university’s highest tribute and is awarded annually to a community member who is distinguished by her or his actions and contributions. The award was presented posthumously last year to Steve Nelson, who served almost 20 years as a volunteer leader of SOU’s Jefferson Public Radio and the JPR Foundation.

The presentation ceremony for Grandma Aggie was at SOU’s Thalden Pavilion, which features 28-foot-tall cedar “teaching poles” carved by Native American sculptor Russell Beebe. The pavilion is one of 13 homes around the globe of the World Peace Flame.

Grandma Aggie was a co-founder in 2004 of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, an alliance of female elders who promote protection of the earth and awareness of Native culture. She brought the Salmon Ceremony back to the Rogue Valley in 1994, after the Takelma tradition had been suppressed for more than 120 years.

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SOU's public safety officers will train with APD in downtown Ashland

SOU public safety officers to get code-violation training with APD

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Campus Public Safety officers may occasionally be seen in downtown Ashland beginning this week, citing people for smoking, intrusive panhandling and other minor infractions as part of a new training program with Ashland Police.

CPS officers, who typically work on or adjacent to the SOU campus, are authorized by the Ashland Municipal Code to serve as code compliance officers throughout the city and issue citations for those who violate provisions of the city code – the same as Ashland Police Department’s Central Area Patrol officers.

But the SOU officers don’t get a high volume of citation-writing work on their home turf, and newly hired officers sometimes struggle with the nuances of dealing with code-violators. That isn’t an issue for the city’s CAP officers – particularly in the downtown area.

So Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara and SOU Campus Public Safety Director Andrew MacPherson have agreed to a training partnership: newly hired CPS officers will begin shadowing Ashland’s CAP officers, who will serve as code violation mentors. The SOU officers will learn from their city counterparts, and become better prepared for enforcement actions on and near campus.

“SOU is an integral part of our community, and cooperation and collaboration with them can only yield overall positive results,” said Ashland City Administrator Kelly Madding, who approved the new program.

SOU’s officers will never work by themselves in downtown Ashland. But after a period of time working with and observing city officers, the CPS officers will likely begin initiating contact with suspected code-violators – under the watch of their mentors from the city’s police department.

“This is a great opportunity for our public safety officers to get intensive training in some situations that don’t happen all that often on campus,” said MacPherson, SOU’s director of public safety. “With this training, they’ll be prepared when those situations do happen, and in the meantime we’re strengthening the solid relationship we already have with Ashland Police.”

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Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium members meet again this week

Consortium of Southern Oregon colleges and universities work together on student success

(Ashland, Ore.) — Collaboration to benefit the region’s students and economy is continuing this month as the new Southern Oregon Higher Education Consortium holds two separate meetings for academic and enrollment leaders.

The chief academic officers from the four schools – Klamath Community College, Oregon Institute of Technology, Rogue Community College and Southern Oregon University –  will meet for the third time in the past year when they convene for about six hours on Wednesday at SOU. Several of their key staff members will also participate.

The academic group is expected to address topics including how new and existing majors at the four schools can complement each other; programs that lead to stand-alone certificates and alternative credentials for students; 2+2(+2) programs that allow students to incrementally earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees; development of stronger K-12 programs that serve as pipelines to higher education; and personalized learning opportunities.

The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. on the third floor of SOU’s Hannon Library, and will continue until about 3:15 p.m. Representatives of media outlets are welcome to report on the day’s discussions.

Enrollment leaders from the four institutions met last Monday, July 8, at the Running Y Ranch near Klamath Falls.

That meeting was the second for the SOHEC institutions’ enrollment and student affairs leadership group. They discussed several topics, including the “Badger to Owl Connection” partnership between KCC and Oregon Tech. The program promotes access, affordability and degree completion by offering tuition waivers for two terms at Oregon Tech to qualifying KCC graduates.

The SOHEC leaders also discussed the potential expansion of a reverse transfer program in which credits earned at SOU or OIT can be transferred back to RCC or KCC. The program enables students who have transferred from community college to the universities before earning their two-year associate degrees to complete them while working toward their four-year bachelor’s degrees.

The consortium’s enrollment group agreed to meet quarterly, with the next meeting tentatively scheduled to take place this fall at SOU.

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 member institutions work in partnership to promote and build student success in the region, working as colleagues rather than competitors to improve educational attainment.

The SOHEC partners were recently honored with a “Collaboration Award” at the annual meeting of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. (SOREDI). The award “takes a holistic view of our region and looks for partnerships that cultivate an environment of support” and teamwork, according to SOREDI. It was accepted by RCC President Cathy Kemper-Pelle, KCC President Roberto Gutierrez, Oregon Tech President Nagi Naganathan and SOU Provost and Vice President Sue Walsh, on behalf of President Linda Schott.

SOHEC’s collaborative efforts took root with the four institutions’ presidents following a joint lunch meeting a year and a half ago, and the partnership was announced last November with signing events in both Klamath Falls and Medford.

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

Students in outdoor classroom at SOU, ranked among top 20 U.S. public liberal arts colleges

SOU rated among top 20 public liberal arts institutions in U.S.

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been named one of the nation’s top 20 public liberal arts colleges in a new rating by College Values Online, a website that helps prospective students evaluate colleges and universities.

SOU is the only university in Oregon to make the list, and joins Washington’s The Evergreen State College as the only two West Coast schools included in the top 20.

College Values Online rated public liberal arts colleges throughout the U.S. based on their tuition costs, student retention rates, class sizes, the variety of degree programs offered and core curriculum. The 20 institutions that rose to the top are listed alphabetically, and are not numerically ranked.

The website specifically mentions SOU’s economics, environmental science and theatre programs, and its connections to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

College Values Online offers a wide variety of college and university ratings – from “Small Catholic Colleges” to “Best Colleges for Rowing.” It has ratings for both online and on-campus programs.

SOU is also included on the website’s list of the most affordable colleges in the Pacific Northwest.

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Suresh Appavoo, SOU's new Chief Diversity and Inclusivity Officer

SOU hires chief diversity and inclusivity officer

(Ashland, Ore.) — Suresh Appavoo, who has served in diversity leadership roles for the past 18 years at Dominican University of California, has been hired as Southern Oregon University’s new chief diversity and inclusivity officer. He is expected to begin work at SOU in mid-August.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Dr. Appavoo to SOU,” President Linda Schott said. “He is extremely well-qualified to fill this critical role, and to lead the creation of what our strategic plan describes as a diverse, equitable, inclusive community on our campus.

“He shares our goals to instill a sense of belonging at SOU, to support those from underrepresented backgrounds and to prepare all of our learners to succeed in this increasingly diverse world.”

Suresh has been Dominican’s dean for equity and diversity for the past five and a half years, and he served as director of the university’s Center for Diversity for 12 ½ years before that. His recent accomplishments include developing a five-year institutional diversity plan and aligning it with Dominican’s strategic plan.

He will have similar responsibilities at SOU, where he will be expected to develop initiatives to support elements of the university’s strategic plan that pertain to diversity, equity and inclusion. He will be asked to help promote a welcoming climate for all students and address barriers to recruiting and retaining students. The chief diversity and inclusivity officer will report directly to the president and will serve as a member of her executive team.

Suresh will also serve as SOU’s Title IX coordinator and affirmative action officer.

“In Oregon, and especially at Southern Oregon University, we have to recognize that we have an unprecedented, innovative and transformative opportunity to create an equitable, inclusive and sustainability-serving institution,” he said. “My goal is to partner with everyone who is a part of the SOU community to collaboratively actualize this opportunity so that we can all learn to be, and learn to live, with all of our diverse identities.”

The expanded position of chief diversity and inclusivity officer will replace the role of director of diversity and inclusion at SOU. Marjorie Trueblood Gamble left that job last June to become Dean of Multicultural Life at Macalester College in Minnesota and Shenethia Manuel, a higher education administrator who has worked in Missouri and Oklahoma, has filled the position on an interim basis.

Appavoo received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of the Pacific and his master’s degree in international management from the American Graduate School of International Management, which is now a part of Arizona State University. He earned his doctorate in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco.

He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2012, while serving at Dominican University, to work with government agencies and institutions of higher education in the Republic of Maldives.

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