cites SOU's conversion to remote learning

SOU recognized by for doing well in conversion to remote coursework

SOU was recognized Monday by the rankings website as one of “Eleven Schools That Did Online Learning Well This Spring.” Universities that made the list were from all parts of the U.S., but SOU was the only one mentioned from the West Coast.

“We used the Moodle platform as well as Zoom call platforms to communicate,” SOU senior Kaylyn Jordaan told the website. “This resulted in only two different logins and clear communication and expectations.

“I had three of my five classes require Zoom meetings and logins,” she said. “The other two had weekly check-ins, and due dates that stayed consistent.”

SOU’s experience in shifting to remote and online classes for spring term, combined with the professional development opportunities that many faculty members engaged in over the summer, are expected to result in improved fall term experiences for students. was founded in 2002 as College Prowler, producing print guidebooks for prospective students. It began offering free online content in 2009, and now provides research services for home-buying, job searches, parenting and coronavirus support – along with college guidance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic turned college life upside down for administrators, faculty members and students across the globe,” said in introducing its online learning list.

“Though every institution faced intense challenges pivoting to fully online instruction nearly overnight, some rose to the occasion,” the website said. “We talked to students at 11 different schools that went the extra mile when it came to making the switch.

Other institutions that made the list are Mississippi State University, Florida International University, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, Howard University, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Rutgers University-Newark, Trine University, Brigham Young University, University of Connecticut and University of Nebraska-Omaha.

SOU's Danielle Mancuso receives ACUI award

SOU’s Danielle Mancuso recognized by international group

The Association of College Unions International has recognized Danielle Mancuso, SOU’s associate director of student life, with the organization’s Excellence in Volunteer Service Award.

Mancuso served as the association’s 2019 Region IV Conference coordinator and co-chair, and developed the first joint regional conference in ACUI’s modern regional structure. Mancuso has held volunteer positions with the association for two years.

“Working for ACUI is so rewarding and fulfilling,” Mancuso said. “I count on my time at these conferences to rejuvenate and to learn. What I appreciate most about being in service to this organization are the talented and committed colleagues that I connect with regularly.”

ACUI is the professional home to thousands of campus community builders around the world, primarily focused on the work of those in the college unions and student activities field. The Excellence in Volunteer Service Award acknowledges individuals for their success and loyalty to ACUI during the previous 12 months in a volunteer role.

“Two weeks into my role as Conference Chair, I was asked if I would be interested in collaborating with Region I (another 5 states) to create a joint conference,” Mancuso said. “It meant more people and the opportunity to host a conference at University Nevada, Reno, at the Joe Crowley Student Union.

“It was amazing to lead a team of seasoned professionals, mentors, mid-level and new professionals. From the beginning of planning the conference, we designated a theme and a purpose, everything we did was rooted in that purpose – ‘Collaborations for a Common Vision.’”

The volunteer award recipient is chosen based on a high level of engagement that affirms ACUI’s value of professional service, validating their leadership, passion and contribution to the association.

“Mancuso’s work, vision and action has been centered on a deep and constant care for the experience of others,” the ACUI said. “A true storyteller, they succeeded in spinning a narrative throughout the joint regional conference that supported delegates in reflecting upon how identity shapes our stories.”

Mancuso’s achievements in professional service are significant to the association and to SOU. Mancuso began at Southern Oregon University in 2008 as Commuter & Veterans Resource Center Coordinator, and has positively impacted the SOU student experience for the past 12 years.

“In higher education, we engage in collaboration with departments, community partners, staff and faculty, organizations,” Mancuso said. “Our work is about people and processes. I was determined to put people and our stories of coming together at the center of this conference. I think what is most meaningful to me is that of the 400 conference attendees, 11 of them were SOU students. It is so much more meaningful to share in this good work with them.

“At the closing of the conference, I had a number of colleagues and mentors approach me and say it was the best ACUI Regional Conference they had been to – they said it met the National Conference Standards. I was so heartened that the intention we had set as a team came to pass. This award is a symbol, an acknowledgement from people that I deeply respect that are telling me that my leadership is strong, recognized and needed.”

Story by Kennedy Cartwright, SOU Marketing and Communications assistant and student writer

JPR wins Edward R. Murrow awards

JPR wins news reporting awards in regional Edward R. Murrow contest

The Jefferson Public Radio newsroom is among the winners of the 2020 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards. The Murrows are presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) to recognize outstanding broadcast and online journalism.

JPR won in the Feature Reporting, Hard News and News Series categories in RTDNA’s NW small market division. That’s made up of public and commercial radio stations in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. This is the third year running JPR has won in the Hard News category.

JPR was also recognized by the Associated Press Television and Radio Association (APTRA).The Associated Press award for News Feature was chosen from among submissions by small market public and commercial radio stations in the 13 western states, including California, Oregon and Washington.

“I’m thrilled to see the JPR news department recognized once again for its journalistic excellence,” stated JPR Executive Director Paul Westhelle. “Thanks to the support of our listeners, we’ve made a major investment during the last year expanding the capacity of our newsroom to create better, deeper local journalism for citizens of our region. These awards acknowledge that commitment as well as the dedication of the talented JPR journalists who work each day to create a better informed public.”

The RTDNA has been honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Awards are presented to news organizations whose work demonstrates the spirit of excellence that Murrow set as a standard for the profession of broadcast and digital journalism.

Listen to the winning entries:

Hard News

Bulldozers In The Wilderness: Are They Worth The Environmental Cost?
by Liam Moriarty

Federally designated wilderness areas are strictly protected. So it raised eyebrows last summer when fire managers brought bulldozers and other heavy equipment into wilderness areas to fight wildfires in Southern Oregon and Northern California.

News Feature

Ashland’s EJ Holland Continues Oregon Running Legacy
by Erik Neumann

At the State of Jefferson cross-country meet in Ashland’s Lithia Park, the tangy smell of trampled grass hangs in the air. Lanky teenagers sprint the last few hundred yards to the race finish line while parents and classmates cheer from the edge of the course.
(This story won both a Murrow and an APTRA award)

News Series

Oppressed By Wildfire
by April Ehrlich

Jefferson Public Radio spent months speaking to families in Northern California about how wildfires impact them. We found that wildfires leave the most long-lasting impacts on marginalized populations — including people of Latino and Native American descent, people who are homeless, and people with disabilities. The key issue is that wildfire response and preparation systems weren’t designed with these communities in mind.

Regional Murrow winners are automatically entered in the national Edward R. Murrow competition. National winners will be announced in June.

This story is reposted from Jefferson Public Radio

SOU remains a Bee Campus USA

SOU – the nation’s first Bee Campus – keeps its designation

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University – which collaborated with Bee City USA to develop guidelines for Bee Campus certification in 2015 – has been recertified as a Bee Campus USA for a fifth consecutive year.

Colleges and universities are awarded the honor of being a Bee Campus based on the rigorous criteria of the Bee City USA organization, an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. SOU helped create the Bee Campus award after being inspired by two early adopters of the Bee City designation – Ashland and neighboring Talent.

There are 98 Bee Campuses across the United States, including four other colleges in Oregon: Lane Community College and University of Oregon in Eugene, and Portland Community College and Portland State University in Portland.

SOU’s place as a Bee Campus is hard-earned – students and faculty maintain over a dozen pollinator-friendly gardens, two pollinator-friendly beds, herbicide-free wildlife areas and a subcommittee of SOU’s Sustainability Council dedicated to bees and other pollinators. The work is recognized not only by Bee City USA, but also from the Sierra Club, which named SOU the nation’s top pollinator-friendly college in 2018.

The university’s dedication to pollinators is a key element of its commitment to sustainability. A third of all food is produced due to insect pollination, while 90 percent of wild plants and trees require pollinators to reproduce.

It is generally believed that the decline in honey bee populations is caused by a complex combination of factors – including diseases, parasites, mono-cropping and exposure to insecticides, herbicides and fungicides – that progressively weaken the bees’ individual and collective immune systems.

Colleges and universities that apply to become certified Bee Campuses must commit to development of habitat plans, hosting of awareness events, development of courses or workshops that support pollinators, sponsorship and tracking of service-learning projects for students, posting of educational signs and maintaining a pollinator-related web presence.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer


SOU pivots toward remote classes

SOU is designated as “Tree Campus USA” for sixth year

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has earned recognition as a 2019 Tree Campus USA – an honor it’s held since 2014.

Tree Campus USA, an Arbor Day Foundation program started in 2008, honors colleges and universities and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation.

“Communities worldwide are facing issues with air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being, and energy use,” said Lauren Weyers, the program coordinator at the Arbor Day Foundation. “Southern Oregon University is stepping up to do its part … to provide a solution to these global challenges.”

A total of 383 campuses nationwide received the recognition in 2019, but only seven colleges in Oregon were recognized – six universities and one community college. SOU is listed among those seven because it fulfilled Tree Campus USA’s five core standards for effective campus forest management: a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, a dedicated annual expenditure for its campus tree program, an Arbor Day observance and a student service-learning project.

SOU’s Arbor Day is run by the Landscape Services Department, which has ramped up its Arbor Day activities as part of an ongoing campaign to remain a designated Tree Campus. Between 2014 and 2016, Landscape Services organized volunteers to plant 137 large trees and 24,000 plants around campus.

All trees planted at SOU’s Arbor Day celebrations are donated by Plant Oregon, a Talent nursery. SOU offers free t-shirts and lunches to its Arbor Day volunteers. Arbor Day 2020 is on Friday, April 24.

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. Tree Campus USA’s colleges donate money to support the Arbor Day Foundation’s Time for Trees initiative, which strives to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities by 2022.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer


SOU board condemns racial injustice

SOU board receives national Nason award for exceptional leadership

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Board of Trustees of Southern Oregon University has been selected to receive the 2019-20 John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership, given by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) – the premier organization representing higher education governing boards.

The Nason Award, established in 1992, is presented in partnership with TIAA to higher education governing boards that demonstrate exceptional leadership and initiative.

This year’s honoree, SOU, was chosen from among more than 30 nominations illustrating the critical work of boards from both public and private institutions, statewide systems and institutionally related foundations.

“The Board of Trustees of Southern Oregon University is thrilled to be recognized for our accomplishments since 2015 when the board was created,” said Lyn Hennion, SOU Board Chair. “We share this award with all of the bright students at SOU who motivate our work and all of the dedicated employees at SOU, whose everyday efforts have contributed to this tremendous honor.

“I am deeply proud of the collaborative work our board has undertaken with our campus, our community, and our state, to advance higher education in Southern Oregon and for our Great State of Oregon.”

In less than five years, the SOU Board of Trustees has exhibited courageous leadership to advance the institution and the enduring value of higher education. During a major period of transition and a statewide higher education governance transition, the newly-formed SOU board hired a new president and revitalized community relationships.

It also collaborated with the university’s administration on a broad and inclusive strategic planning committee to adopt a new mission and create and implement a transformative strategic plan. SOU’s strategic plan aims to transform curriculum and pedagogy; addresses demographic shifts; supports sustainability and the university’s ecological bioregion; focuses on creativity and innovation; aims to create a truly diverse and inclusive campus; and highlights regional economic, cultural, and social development.

“During this time in higher education when nationwide, regional universities are facing unprecedented challenges, the SOU Board is just getting started,” Hennion said. “We look forward to building on this momentum to ensure an even brighter future for SOU.”

SOU is one of six institutions receiving this year’s Nason Award. Anne Arundel Community College Board of Trustees, Arizona State University Enterprise Partners Board of Directors, Loyola Marymount University Board of Trustees, McDaniel College Board of Trustees, and Parker University Board of Trustees also are honorees.

“The AGB Nason Award recognizes boards that demonstrate exemplary and courageous leadership to advance student success and institutional vitality,” said Henry Stoever, the president and CEO of AGB. “We congratulate Southern Oregon University and look forward to honoring them before their peers at our national conference.”

The SOU Board of Trustees will be honored at AGB’s 2020 National Conference on Trusteeship in Washington, D.C., on April 5-7.  AGB also will present the award to SOU’s Board of Trustees on April 21, at the next regular meeting of the SOU Board.

The Nason award is named for higher education leader John W. Nason, who served as the chair of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and helped more than 4,000 interned students continue their college studies across the nation during World War II. Learn more about AGB’s Nason Award at


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Betty LaDuke, recipient of Oregon Arts Medallion

Betty LaDuke receives the second-ever Oregon Arts Medallion

Betty LaDuke, who taught art for more than three decades at Southern Oregon University, has been named the second recipient of the biennial Oregon Arts Medallion. She received the award from SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts at a reception earlier this month.

LaDuke has traveled and exhibited her work throughout the world, published books on her travels, painted a 100 foot high mural, featured her art at Disneyland and the United Nations, been passionately involved in social activism and community engagement, and has given generously of her time, talent and resources in support of young artists from all cultural backgrounds.

Her art can currently be seen across the SOU campus – in Hannon Library, the atrium of the Theatre/JPR Building and in Churchill Hall.

LaDuke was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1933. She attended the High School of Music and Art in New York and later received scholarships to study at Denver University, the Cleveland Institute of Art and at the prestigious Instituto Allende in San Miguel, Mexico.

She lived in Mexico with the indigenous Otomi, whose heritage influenced LaDuke’s work throughout her career.

She received her master’s degree in printmaking from California State University, Los Angeles, then moved to Ashland and was the only woman in SOU’s Art Department for 18 of her 32 years of teaching.

The Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU created the Oregon Arts Medallion in 2017 to honor long-term philanthropists who support the arts in Oregon. OCA Director David Humphrey and the SOU Foundation awarded the first medallion to Jim Collier, who annually supports over 18 organizations per year to nurture up-and-coming young artists.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

JPR's Paul Westhelle receives public radio award

JPR director receives national innovation award for public radio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Paul Condon on mindfulness

SOU’s Paul Condon has essay on mindfulness published

Paul Condon, an assistant professor of psychology at SOU, recently published an article in Current Opinions in Psychology’s special issue on mindfulness about how meditation may increase empathy and altruism in certain contexts.

Current Opinions in Psychology, a scientific journal dedicated to recent discoveries and papers in the broad field of psychology, published the special issue on mindfulness in August. It included the work of more than 100 scholars from around the world to create the largest ever field-wide collection of texts on mindfulness since it became a scientific discipline two decades ago.

“It is without a doubt the most comprehensive and authoritative scholarly work on mindfulness that is currently available,” Condon said.

Mindfulness is defined as the awareness of one’s present experience, a type of pure “living in the moment” that was particularly central to Buddhist teachings. Nowadays, people practice mindfulness across many disciplines, including health care, social justice movements, corporations and mobile applications. Scientists have looked at mindfulness with an increasingly critical eye as it has increased in popularity, trying to explain how useful the practice is without making it seem like a cure-all.

Condon’s article focuses on how meditation and other mindfulness exercises can increase pro-social behavior, such as those that help the collective instead of the individual. Condon notes that the increase in pro-social behavior seems to only happen in certain contexts, and when meditating in a certain way.

“Various (historic) meditative practices support the cultivation of virtuous mental states and behavior…,” Condon said in the article. “In contrast to Buddhist traditions, many modern mindfulness programs emphasize an ethically neutral context. Yet an ethically neutral context could lead to problematic applications of mindfulness-based training.”

Testing and research hint that neutral-value meditation – which focuses on letting all feelings, even negative feelings and ideas, enter and leave one’s mind – can both raise and lower pro-social behavior depending on what the person was like before meditating.

Positive-value meditation – in which a person discerns between morally negative and positive thoughts while meditating, and focuses only on the positive ones – shows a stronger link to increasing pro-social behavior.

“Participants who completed a mindfulness or compassion meditation program offered their seat to (a) suffering confederate at a much higher rate (50 percent), compared with those in a wait-list control (15 percent)…,” Condon’s article said. “Other measures of prosocial behavior include reductions in hot sauce used to punish a transgressor; willingness to include an ostracized individual in the online ball-tossing game ‘Cyberball’; email messages written to an ostracized individual; and visual attention to scenes of suffering measured with eye-tracking.”

Ultimately, while the evidence is encouraging, Condon concluded that much still needs to be done and the study of mindfulness and pro-social behavior is still a burgeoning field.

Students and other members of the SOU community can read Condon’s entire essay, and the rest of Current Opinions in Psychology’s special issue, for free on this website until Oct. 30.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer