Outstanding Staff award recipients named

Williams and Raco named 2021 Outstanding Staff

President Linda Schott announced today that the winners of SOU’s 2021 Outstanding Staff Awards are Robin Williams, student success coordinator in the Division of Business, Communication, and the Environment; and David Raco, operating systems/network analyst 2 (systems administrator) in Information Technology.

Robin Williams David Raco

Recipients of the top award for our university’s classified and unclassified staff each receive a $750 honorarium and glass trophy. The winners’ names are also added to a perpetual plaque in the first-floor hallway of Churchill Hall.

I thank the members of our campus selection committee for carrying out the unenviable task of paring down this year’s list of deserving nominees to just two recipients – and I commend their choices,” President Schott said in her announcement. “It is an honor just to be nominated for this award, and I would like to recognize each of the other 18 employees whose names were submitted by their peers:”

  • Max Brooks, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs – Office of Career Connections – career prep coordinator
  • Anita Caster, Academic Affairs – Education, Health and Leadership – Education – graduate administrative services coordinator
  • Anna D’Amato, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs – Student Health and Wellness Center – director
  • Edward Derr, Academic Affairs – Humanities and Culture – student success coordinator
  • Miaya Dombroski, Academic Affairs – Education, Health and Leadership – Education – placement coordinator
  • Helen Eckard, Academic Affairs – Oregon Center for the Arts – Theatre Arts – administrative program assistant
  • Cindy Garboden, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs – Student Health and Wellness Center – registered nurse 2
  • Brady Hogan, Finance and Administration – Information Technology – information technology consultant 3 (computing coordinator)
  • Kristy Johnson, Athletics – head athletic trainer
  • Terry Knowles, Academic Affairs – Social Sciences – office specialist 2 (division assistant)
  • Stephen Lanning, Finance and Administration – Information Technology – operating systems/network analyst 2 (systems administrator)
  • Josh Lovern, Finance and Administration – Budget and Planning – director
  • Lizzie Parkhurst, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs – Disability Resources – information technology consultant 2 (alternative format media and assistive technology specialist)
  • Josh Rolphing, Athletics – head volleyball coach/assistant athletic director for compliance
  • KC Sam, Academic Affairs – Education, Health, and Leadership – distance learning transfer specialist
  • Jill Smedstad, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs – Student Life – equity coordinator for sustainability and basic needs resourcing
  • Ulrich Somerauer, Finance and Administration – Information Technology – operating systems/network analyst 2 (lab and student computing coordinator)
  • Miranda Stiles, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs – Admissions – senior admissions counselor

Williams and Raco will be featured on the employee recognition webpage as this year’s winners of the Outstanding Staff Awards, and also will be honored during SOU’s end-of-year Virtual Recognition Ceremony. That event will be held remotely and via livestream (sou.edu/video) from 12:30 to about 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9.

Visit the Human Resources Employee Recognition – Outstanding Staff Award website for more information about the award program or to see past years’ award recipients and nominees.

Ed Battistella's book on presidential insults is a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards

SOU professor’s book on presidential insults is a book award finalist

A book by Southern Oregon University English professor Ed Battistella on the history of presidential insults has been named a finalist for this year’s Oregon Book Award in the general nonfiction category. Battistella is one of a combined 35 authors announced this week as finalists across seven categories.

His book, “Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, from Washington to Trump,” was published a year ago by the Oxford University Press. Battistella and the book have since been quoted in numerous media stories – from the Baltimore Sun to the Daily Beast to Time Magazine.

The book documents more than 500 presidential insults, with each of the 45 U.S. presidents through Donald Trump receiving a share of the ire. The commanders in chief have been called everything from “ignoramuses” to “idiots” to “fatheads,” and have drawn comparisons to creatures such as “sad jellyfish” and “strutting crows.”

“I’ve always loved history and was curious about the insults and invective used in earlier elections,” Battistella said after the book was published. “Our language provides plenty of ways to insult those in power and our Constitution gives us the right to do it.”

“Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels” is one of five finalists for the Oregon Book Awards’ Frances Fuller Victor Award for General Nonfiction. The other nominees are “The Fire Is upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America,” by Nicholas Buccola of Portland; “No Option but North: The Migrant World and the Perilous Path Across the Border,” by Kelsey Freeman of Bend; “Persistent Callings: Seasons of Work and Identity on the Oregon Coast,” by Joseph E. Taylor III of Portland; and “Abalone,” by Ann Vileisis of Port Orford.

The winner will be decided by a three-judge panel and announced on a special episode of OPB Radio’s “The Archive Project” at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 2. Out-of-state judges are assigned to name award recipients in each category, based on literary merit, and each winner will receive a $1,000 cash award.

Frances Fuller Victor, who died in 1902, spent 35 years traveling throughout Oregon to interview pioneers and write the region’s history.

The annual awards are presented by the nonprofit organization Literary Arts, Inc., to recognize the best work of Oregon writers in the areas of fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, drama, graphic literature and literature for young readers. The nonfiction category includes two awards for nonfiction – general and creative.

Battistella was inspired to write “Dangerous Crooked Scoundels” by the contentious 2016 presidential campaign. He is the author of several books, including previous Oregon Book Award finalist “Bad Language” and “Sorry about That: The Language of Public Apology.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College and his master’s degree and doctorate in linguistics from the City University of New York. He teaches linguistics and writing at SOU.

Haleigh Wagman will be the first female infantry officer produced by an ROTC program in Oregon

SOU graduate is Oregon’s first female, ROTC-trained infantry officer

Haleigh Wagman knew long before her graduation from SOU last year that she was on track for something special, but she chose to keep it to herself until the accomplishment was in sight. That happened in the fall of 2019, when Wagman – a four-year Army ROTC participant – let others at SOU know she would become the first female infantry officer produced by an ROTC program in Oregon.

“I knew since the beginning of my sophomore year that it was what I was going to do,” she said. “I kept it a secret until the beginning of my senior year, when we had to announce what (field) we were choosing.

“I wanted to be given opportunities based on my own merit and reputation that came from my military knowledge, academic abilities and physical fitness.”

Wagman, now a second lieutenant in the Texas Army National Guard in San Marcos, is assigned to the Infantry Basic Officer course at Fort Benning, Georgia, and will officially become the first Oregon ROTC-trained female infantry officer when she completes the course in May.

She will then return to her 141st Infantry Battalion until she begins post-graduate studies in August. She has received offers from the Medical Science doctoral program at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, and from the Integrated Biomedical Sciences doctoral program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Wagman graduated from SOU last summer with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. She credits the ROTC program for helping her build discipline, and faculty members in SOU’s STEM Division for challenging her academically.

“Dr. (Patrick) Videau is awesome; he always keeps things real with students and is entertaining to learn from,” Wagman said. “He and Dr. (Brie) Paddock both go out of their way in order to get students the help they need, and are both key players in my love for science and reasons for pursuing graduate school.”

Despite her love for science, it was athletics that initially attracted Wagman to SOU. Raiders volleyball coach Josh Rohlfing is a family friend who was in her parents’ wedding, and she came to Ashland to play volleyball after graduating from North Valley High School in Grants Pass.

“My dad actually was an assistant coach (at SOU) for a couple years while I was in middle school,” Wagman said. “So with that and growing up in the Rogue Valley, I felt pretty familiar with the school coming into it.”

She needed to pay for college, so planned ahead and finished high school early, joined the Oregon Army National Guard and attended Basic Combat Training before starting at SOU. The National Guard awarded a four-year scholarship that paid for full tuition and fees, and by joining the ROTC program she became eligible for its no-cost housing plan, which at the time was in Susanne Homes Hall.

“I think the thing I enjoyed most about SOU was living in the ROTC dorms,” she said. “It allowed for us to have our own culture and space that was quieter for waking up early in the mornings and building friendships through shared experiences.”

She found that the biggest challenge of her undergraduate experience at SOU was compensating for the fact that she came out of high school without any college credits and had a full schedule of required coursework in both military science for ROTC and biology for her major. She also needed to graduate in four years.

“I was at 20 to 22 credits a term, and oddly enough I actually got the best grades those terms,” Wagman said. “I think it’s because I have poor time management when left to my own devices, but when I was that busy it forced me to manage my time well and get things done.

“The ROTC program has helped with my time management and leadership skills,” she said. “Both (the ROTC and Army National Guard) scholarships required that I stayed physically fit, morally qualified and academically qualified. Those things helped push me in school and keep me on track to graduate and receive my commission as a second lieutenant in the Army.”

niche.com cites SOU's conversion to remote learning

SOU recognized by niche.com for doing well in conversion to remote coursework

SOU was recognized Monday by the rankings website niche.com 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.

Niche.com 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,” niche.com 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 www.agb.org/award.


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 Intelligent.com 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.”

Intelligent.com 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.

Intelligent.com 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.