SOU sociology and anthropology group at Maxville

SOU receives grant for archaeological project at African-American logging town of Maxville

(Ashland, Ore.) — A recent $20,000 grant from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office will enable staff and students from the Southern Oregon University Sociology and Anthropology Program to conduct archaeological investigations at the northeast Oregon town of Maxville – a logging town that was home in the early 20th century to both African American and white loggers.

SOU will collaborate on the project with the Maxville Heritage and Interpretive Center of Wallowa County – a museum established and run by descendants of Maxville’s inhabitants, and dedicated to the history of African American, Indigenous and immigrant loggers in the Pacific Northwest.

The Maxville townsite was acquired by the museum in 2022 to be developed as an interpretive, educational and communal space. SOU anthropology professor Mark Axel Tveskov was the lead author on a nomination that led the National Park Service to place Maxville on the National Register of Historic Places.

Those efforts led the Maxville project to earn a 2024 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award from the State of Oregon.

The grant will allow students from the SOU Sociology and Anthropology program to gain professional experience in archaeological survey, excavation and analysis through field work that will take place this September, and through laboratory work that will occur over the coming academic school year.

“This project will allow our students to engage in practical work on one of the most significant heritage projects currently underway in the Pacific Northwest,” Tveskov said.

Oregon’s State Historic Preservation Office offers matching grants for rehabilitation work that supports the preservation of locations listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or for work that helps to identify, preserve or interpret archaeological sites.

SOU students will work with Maxville Heritage personnel on geophysical survey and traditional archaeological excavation that will identify significant features of the Maxville townsite and gather a representative sample of artifacts to better understand the lived experiences of Maxville’s inhabitants.

“Uncovering our hidden history has been a through-line within our mission and vision,” said Gwendolyn Trice, executive director of the Maxville Heritage and Interpretive Center. “Research, oral histories, journals and archives are some of the ways in which we uncover and discover our history.

“Archeology takes this uncovering to the next level, using scientific methods above and below ground to reveal our past in a way that established collection of information, textiles and artifacts cannot achieve,” Trice said.

Other partners in the Maxville project include the Anthropology/Sociology Program at Eastern Oregon University and the Anthropology, Art History and Environmental Studies programs at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

Maxville, about 13 miles north of the town of Wallowa, was once home to about 400 residents and was the county’s largest railroad logging town from the mid-1920s to mid-1930s. Loggers and their families came to Maxville in the 1920s from the South and the Midwest in search of work, and the Bowman-Hicks Lumber Company – which owned the town – hired Black loggers despite Oregon’s exclusion laws of that period.

Maxville’s African American families lived in segregated housing, attended segregated schools and played on a segregated baseball team, but Black loggers worked side-by-side with their white counterparts.

Maxville’s eventual decline was due to economic conditions, including the Great Depression and a consequent downturn in the lumber market.


SOU Valorant Esports team has successful season

SOU Valorant Esports team completes successful season

SOU’s Valorant Esports team recently completed its best year of competition by finishing its regular season with six wins and one loss and then making it to the semifinals of its post-season Nace Starleague Open + tournament. The SOU team won its quarterfinal match, 2-0, against Connecticut’s University of New Haven before losing in the semifinals, 2-1, to eventual tournament champion Carleton University of Minnesota.

The SOU team’s season extended through winter and spring terms.

Members of the SOU Esports team grew into a cohesive unit, bonded by their shared passion for Valorant – a team-based, first-person hero shooter video game set in the near future. Valorant is among the most popular games played by Esports teams, with characters based on various countries or cultures, and players assigned to either the attacking or defending five-person teams.

The SOU team was led by Hunter Miller and Bruno Weston, and also included fellow students William Doctor, Elliot Glenn, Ezra Fader, Angelo Padavana, Kyle Richardson, Spencer Miller and Ryan O’Pecko.

“I’ve always had a passion for competing in Esports and I’m glad that SOU has a place where I can do that,” Weston said. “The season as a whole was unbelievable, this team showcased that a team doesn’t need to have the best of the best, as long as the team chemistry is on point.”

Many of the players had never before experienced the intensity of competitive Esports tournaments, but adapted as their season progressed. Team members found their places within the team, and came to understand their roles and team strategies.

“I am a long-time gamer, but I am new to the competitive (first-person shooter) scene,” Glenn said. “Learning about the game and strategy alongside the high-ranking players of our team has been a great learning experience, but the best part has been the chemistry between our players. Every practice was fun and informative, and every tournament carried an energy that no one could deny.”

SOU is among the first institutions on the West Coast to offer both an academic program and a competitive team in Esports – a billion-dollar global enterprise. The university’s academic minor in esports management is one of just a handful that are offered nationally and its combination of programs positions students for future employment in the growing industry.

Courses in the SOU’s Esports minor offer structural principles for the world of Esports, addressing the industry’s ethics, focusing on diversity, eliminating toxicity and teaching efficient business management. The minor complements majors of all kinds, but has lots of double-dipping opportunities in the BusinessCommunication and Emerging Media and Digital Arts programs.

The SOU Esports team was accepted two years ago into the NACE StarLeague, the national league of college Esports. The association hosts tournaments in the spring and fall, in which schools from all over the country compete in various video game competitions.

The SOU Laboratory of Anthropology was awarded $500,000 by Congress

SOU Laboratory of Anthropology project rewarded by Congress

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology’s Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project – an ongoing, collaborative effort to research and document the lives of Oregon’s early Chinese immigrants – was awarded almost $500,000 in the spending bill approved by Congress this month. The federal allocation more than doubles the total funding that the archaeological project has received since it began in 2016.

SOU is the only one of Oregon’s four technical and regional universities to receive congressional funding in the new spending bill.

“This is another example of our representatives at both the state and federal levels recognizing the important, innovative work that is coming out of our university,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “Senators Merkley and Wyden supported this request through all the twists and turns of the congressional budgeting process, and the result will be a far greater understanding of the vital roles that Chinese Americans and immigrants have played throughout Oregon’s history.”

The new federal funding will allow the award-winning Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project to expand well beyond its original focus on 19th century mining and railroad settlements, to encompass areas throughout the state where Chinese immigrants have had a presence. The project will also incorporate “orphaned” collections from other archaeological efforts, and will result in a series of field schools, volunteer opportunities, exhibits, digital content and free, public talks and programs.

“We have investigated railroad and mining sites across the state, but these funds will be used to explore and document the history of Chinese Oregonians living in diverse geographical areas and working in a variety of industries, in an effort to better capture the full range of Chinese American heritage and experience in Oregon,” said archaeologist Chelsea Rose, director of the SOU Laboratory of Anthropology.

“While we have done amazing things working with our partners to date, this allows us to investigate some of the ‘bucket list’ sites we have encountered over the years, and implement some of our dream projects,” she said.

SOULA works on the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project with agencies including the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, the Malheur National Forest, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Historical Society and the Portland Chinatown Museum.

Researchers have used local history and public archaeology to challenge dated stereotypes and highlight the transnational lives of the Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans that helped establish the early infrastructure and economic industries of Oregon. The project has included digging, interpreting and touring numerous archaeological sites around the state where Chinese immigrants worked and lived, and researching censuses and community records.

The effort has won several awards, including one last fall from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and a national Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in June of 2022.

Sens. Merkley and Wyden submitted a “congressionally directed spending request” on SOU’s behalf to better enable students to assist with a comprehensive, statewide inventory of Chinese heritage sites. It will pay for archival research, targeted field visits and community outreach, and archaeological investigations at seven to 10 sites identified during the survey.

“These investigations would target sites that will fill in gaps in the documentary record, including industries or areas of the state that have been understudied,” the congressional request said. “This will consist of a mix of archaeological excavation, intensive survey, or analysis of orphaned artifact collections.”

About two-thirds of the $499,743 allocated by Congress will be used for fieldwork and reporting, with most of the remainder earmarked for travel, curation and supplies. The funding is part of the federal Labor, Health and Human Services budget for improvement of postsecondary education.


SOU receives Tree Campus designation

SOU earns 10th Tree Campus designation

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been honored by the national Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA for the 10th consecutive year, in recognition of SOU’s commitment to the effective management of its urban forest.

Tree Campus Higher Education, a program that began in 2008, recognizes U.S. colleges and universities, and their leaders, for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. SOU, which first earned the distinction in 2014, is one of 411 higher education institutions nationwide to receive the most recent recognition.

“We are delighted to be awarded Tree Campus certification for another year at Southern Oregon University,” said Becs Walker, SOU’s director of sustainability. “This is very much a collaborative effort of faculty, students, staff and the community. Our trees are also facing increased stress from drought and disease, and our landscape department is working hard to minimize this impact.”

SOU earned the Tree Campus designation by fulfilling the program’s five standards for effective campus forest management: maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and a student service-learning project..

Trees on campus and in urban spaces can lower energy costs by providing shade cover, cleaner air and water, and green spaces for students and faculty. Trees can also improve students’ mental and cognitive health, provide an appealing aesthetic for campuses and create shaded areas for studying and gathering.

“Trees not only play a vital role in the environment but also in our daily lives,” said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Having trees on college and university campuses is a great way to show a commitment to students and faculty’s overall wellbeing.”

The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member, nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission of inspiring people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. The foundation, launched in 1972, has helped to plant nearly 500 million trees in more than 50 countries.


Travis Campbell recognized by American Economics Association

SOU economist’s research recognized by American Economic Association

(Ashland, Ore.) — SOU economist Travis Campbell and a co-author from Rutgers University have been recognized by the American Economic Association for writing the best research paper over the past year on LGBTQ+ economics.

The award for Campbell, an assistant professor of economics at SOU, and co-author Yana Rodgers of Rutgers was announced at the AEA’s annual meeting this month in San Antonio, Texas. Their paper, “Conversion therapy, suicidality and running away: An analysis of transgender youth in the U.S.” was nominated for the award from the AEA’s Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Economics Profession.

The research paper by Campbell and Rodgers was published last year in the Journal of Health Economics. Their study is based on data from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, and found that the controversial practice of “conversion therapy” increases the risk of suicide attempts among transgender youth by 55 percent, and increases the likelihood of running away from home by 128 percent. Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation – or gender identity or expression – to conform with heterosexual norms.

Campbell and Rodgers analyzed data from U.S. Transgender Survey, which is the largest-ever assessment of transgender people with more than 27,700 respondents across the U.S. participating.

Campbell has also authored an article for The Conversation website that summarizes the paper he co-authored with Rodgers, and a few related papers he has written.

Campbell joined the SOU Economics faculty after earning his Ph.D. in economics in 2022 from the University of Massachusetts. His research applies microeconomics to social justice issues, including economic inequalities based on race, gender and sexuality. His classes at SOU include Micro and Macroeconomics, Quantitative Methods and Application, Healthcare Economics, Labor Economics and Gender Issues in Economics.

The AEA’s Committee on the Status of LGBTQ+ Individuals in the Economics Profession presents its award annually to the best paper, published in a peer-reviewed journal or academic press, on topics “especially relevant to or about LGBTQ+ populations.”

The AEA committee was created to help build an economics profession that is open to all, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, race, religion, family status or disability. The committee is based on the belief that a diverse profession encourages the highest quality scholarship.


SOU's Neil Woolf to become president of New Mexico Highlands University

SOU VP named president of university in New Mexico

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University Executive Vice President Neil Woolf, who has served at SOU for the past five years, has been selected to become the 19th president at New Mexico Highlands University, in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The NMHU Board of Regents voted unanimously at a special meeting today to hire Woolf as the successor to President Sam Minner, who is retiring at the end of June after nine years as the university’s president. Woolf is expected to continue in his role at SOU until beginning his job at NMHU next summer.

“I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at SOU, which I feel have prepared me well for this next chapter in my career,” Woolf said. “SOU and the communities of southern Oregon hold a special place in my heart.”

Woolf began work at SOU in January 2019 as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. He previously led enrollment efforts at higher education institutions in Wisconsin, Washington and Nevada.

“A couple of his many achievements include helping SOU to coordinate with the Oregon Health Authority and others throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and initiating data sharing with school districts throughout Oregon and beyond – an effort that has already had a significant positive effect on our enrollment,” SOU President Rick Bailey said.

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 Ed.D. in higher education administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

New Mexico Highlands is a public university just east of Santa Fe in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and has satellite campuses in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Farmington and Roswell.


SOULA receives national recognition

SOULA receives national recognition

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) has received an award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) for SOULA’s collaborative work with other agencies on the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project – a wide-ranging effort to research and document the lives of Oregon’s early Chinese immigrants.

SOULA and other entities collaborating in the diaspora project received the National Trust/Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Award for Federal Partnerships in Historic Preservation during the NTHP’s recent PastForward Conference in Washington, D.C. The NTHP is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to save historic places nationwide, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is an independent federal agency; the two entities partner in presenting the Federal Partnerships award.

SOULA works on the ongoing project with agencies including the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, the Malheur National Forest, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Historical Society and the Portland Chinatown Museum.

Researchers are using local history and public archaeology to challenge dated stereotypes and highlight the transnational lives of the Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans that helped establish the early infrastructure and economic industries of Oregon. The project has included digging, interpreting and touring of numerous archaeological sites around the state where Chinese immigrants worked and lived, and researching censuses and community records.

The NTHP award honors outstanding partnerships that advance the preservation of important historic resources and have a positive impact on the community. It celebrates a project or program in which a federal agency and one or more nonfederal partners have achieved an exemplary preservation outcome.

“We are pleased to recognize the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project for their collaborative, multi-agency grassroots effort to uplift the underrepresented role of Chinese Oregonians in the region’s history,” ACHP Chair Sara Bronin said. “This project can serve as a model as we prioritize telling the full story of American history through preservation of historic places.”

The NTHP award was the second prestigious recognition for the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project in a little over a year – it received a national Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in June 2022, as part of that organization’s Leadership in History Awards.

“The Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project is thrilled to have our work nationally recognized,” SOULA Director Chelsea Rose said. “What began as a small, grass-roots collaboration now spans the state and is enriching our collective history by re-entering the important roles that Chinese Oregonians had in the settlement and development of the region.

“This (NTHP) award not only helps us continue to do this work, but will hopefully inspire others to work together, pool resources and seek out the important stories that have been lost or erased over time.”

The Federal Partnerships award was one of nine awards presented at this year’s PastForward conference to honor those who excel in preservation.


SOU teacher preparation programs achieve accreditation

SOU teacher preparation programs receive national accreditation

(Ashland, Ore.) — The seven teacher preparation programs offered by Southern Oregon University’s School of Education, Leadership, Health & Humanities have achieved accreditation from the Association for Advancing Quality in Educator Preparation, meeting the Oregon Legislature’s mandate that all programs in the state that offer licenses to teachers or administrators must be nationally accredited by July 2025.

All teacher preparation programs in the state are working through the accreditation process, which at SOU entailed four years of work to develop a 550-page report to AAQEP that details the university’s education programs. AAQEP accreditors made a site visit to the SOU campus in April, and the agency – one of two that is nationally recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation – granted an unconditional seven-year accreditation for the SOU programs in July.

“National accreditation is very beneficial for our graduates, as there are some states and districts that require a new hire to have been prepared by a nationally-accredited program,” said Susan Faller, a senior instructor and accreditation coordinator for SOU’s School of Education, Leadership, Health & Humanities.

National accreditation assures the quality of educator preparation programs through a nongovernmental, nonregulatory process of self-study and peer review. The standards- and evidence-based process is intended to ensure accountability and continuous improvement.

AAQEP – which currently has about 190 member programs in 36 states and other jurisdictions – uses a model that honors local context and fosters innovation and collaboration among institutions.

“Congratulations to all of the faculty, staff and stakeholders of Southern Oregon University who have achieved their goal of national accreditation by AAQEP,” said Mark LaCelle-Peterson, the agency’s president and CEO. “The program’s strong support for candidates and long-standing P-12 partnerships ensure that the teachers it prepares are ready to meet the challenges of today’s classrooms.”

The SOU academic programs that were accredited by AAQEP include four initial licensure programs, two advanced programs and one added endorsement. The initial licensure programs are:

The advanced programs are SOU’s Initial Administrator (principal) License and the Continuing Administrator License; the added endorsement is for the English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.

“Accreditation by a well-regarded, nationally recognized agency is an honor for the school and the university,” said Vance Durrington, director of the SOU School of Education, Leadership, Health & Humanities. “It demonstrates our commitment to preparing the outstanding educators who in turn will provide positive learning experiences for future generations of our state and region.”

SOU will work during the seven years of the current accreditation to prepare materials that will support the education programs’ annual reports and reaccreditation in 2030.


SOU makes Campus Pride list

SOU on Campus Pride’s “Best of the Best” list for 11th year

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has earned Campus Pride’s top ranking for the 11th consecutive year as one of the nation’s top 30, “Best of the Best” LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.  Campus Pride is a nonprofit that supports and improves campus life for LGBTQ+ people on campuses nationwide.

SOU is the only Oregon institution – and one of just three in the Western U.S. – to be included on this year’s Best of the Best list. San Diego State University and the University of Colorado at Boulder are the other Western schools on the list.

“At a time when many states are persecuting trans and nonbinary young people, it is critical for colleges – especially institutions in more supportive states – to be sanctuaries for LGBTQ+ students, and the Best of the Best colleges have worked to be places where trans and nonbinary students feel welcomed and included,” said Dr. Genny Beemyn, coordinator of the Campus Pride Trans Policy Clearinghouse.

SOU earned five out of five stars overall on the Campus Pride Index, which ranks universities in each of eight categories: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts. SOU drew five-star rankings in six of the categories and four-and-a-half stars in the other two.

“People are willing to learn and understand my perspectives,” a 24-year-old SOU student who identifies as queer is quoted as saying on the Campus Pride Website.

“This is important to me because all stories matter and by sharing more of ourselves it helps others to be more empathetic,” the student said. “SOU, in focusing on inclusion efforts, has helped me to be more authentically me.”

The Campus Pride recognition is meaningful for current and prospective LGBTQ students, particularly during a period of political polarization.

This year’s Best of the Best list is made up of campuses that have done “exceptional work in LGBTQ+ inclusive policies, programs and practices,” the organization’s website said. The Campus Pride Index rates colleges and universities based on self-reporting of factors including non-discrimination statements inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, gender affirming health care, LGBTQ+ peer mentorship programs, campus safety trainings on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTQ-specific major and course offerings, and the presence of LGBTQ and ally student and faculty organizations.

Supportive SOU programs and policies range from academic courses to residential living opportunities to co-curricular activities and groups. For instance, University Housing offers a gender-inclusive living environment in which students may decide whether or not they want gender to be a determining factor in their campus living arrangements. Many SOU majors and minors – including the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program – offer courses related to queer studies. The university also offers resources for queer and trans students through its Social Justice and Equity Center, promoting educational outreach, community engagement, and support and advocacy.


Alison Burke presents to United Nations conference

SOU criminology professor presents at United Nations session

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University criminology and criminal justice professor Alison Burke attended a United Nations conference in Vienna, Austria, last month to present her research on restorative justice to an international panel on crime prevention and criminal justice.

Burke was invited to the 32nd session of the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice – one of two policymaking bodies within the U.N. that guide international action on drugs and crime. Resolutions and decisions developed by countries’ delegates provide guidance on crime and justice issues to United Nations member states and to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

Burke and two other criminal justice academics from the U.S. – Stephanie Mizrahi, Ph.D., of California State University-Sacramento, and Angela Henderson, Ph.D., of the University of Northern Colorado – were invited to the U.N. session by Phillip Reichel, Ph.D., a representative of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, an American organization. Their presentations were made to a side panel organized by the ACJS.

The three U.S. criminologists discussed “Amplifying Victims’ Voices to Enhance the Functioning of the Criminal Justice System,” and Burke’s particular presentation was “Harmed People Harm People: Seeing the Offender as the Victim Through a Restorative Lens.”

The three were also invited to participate in other commission sessions as observers.

Burke, who has been an SOU faculty member for 15 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 created and teaches the classes for a Certificate in Restorative Justice at SOU, and also serves as a community restorative justice facilitator for the Emerging Adult Program in Deschutes County.

“I was able to apply outcome data from their EAP program to my (United Nations) presentation on incorporating restorative justice practices and show how restorative justice programs can be immensely effective and applicable worldwide,” Burke said.

“And thanks to students who are interested in learning more about alternatives to incarceration and reframing the punitive nature of the current criminal justice system, I get to teach restorative justice classes full of robust conversations, insightful and inclusive discussions, and true community building within the classroom setting.”

Burke was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to lecture and teach a course on women and crime in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019.

She 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 published in 2019 by Cognella Press.