Rating system give SOU gold

SOU achieves “Gold” in prestigious sustainability rating

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has jumped from a “Silver” to a “Gold” rating for campus-wide sustainability achievements, as measured by an evaluation system developed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and used to grade colleges and universities worldwide.

Gold rating from AASHE“It is an honor for SOU to be recognized for its contributions to heal and preserve our environment,” SOU President Rick Bailey said. “Achieving the ‘Gold’ level is a huge accomplishment that reflects our commitment to sustainability.

“We still have several projects in the works or in development that I am convinced will make our university even more of a national model – and will lift us to this rating system’s very highest level,” Bailey said. “We are very grateful to Becs Walker and all of the staff members and students who lead us in these important efforts.”

Participants in AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) can be recognized simply for reporting their sustainability achievements, or for rating at the organization’s bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels. STARS is used by more than 900 participating institutions in 40 countries, rating their sustainability efforts in five categories: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

SOU first achieved the system’s silver level in 2017, and that rating was reaffirmed in 2019. The new gold rating takes into account the university’s ongoing efforts to attain its sustainability goals. STARS assesses environmental factors, along with social and economic considerations. SOU has demonstrated progress in many areas related to sustainability in achieving the gold rating, including governance of sustainability, health and wellbeing, protecting the environment, equity, social justice and community engagement.

SOU has completed eight new green building projects over the past three years, for instance, with four of them including new solar arrays. Three buildings on campus currently fall under the “net-zero” category, meaning they create more energy than they spend. President Bailey and the SOU team are also working to secure funding for solar projects that would eventually enable SOU to produce all of its own electricity, and potentially to sell excess power production.

“SOU’s gold STARS rating demonstrates leadership in sustainability across the SOU community,” said Becs Walker, SOU’s sustainability and recycling manager. “Sustainability is not just about doing something that has a positive impact – or negates an adverse impact – on the environment. It is about system change for the economy, society and the environment. We are continuing to challenge ourselves in building a better way of doing things here at SOU.”

The upgraded STARS rating from AASHE is the latest of many recognitions of the university’s sustainability efforts in recent years. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities recognized SOU in 2019 as the organization’s Excellence and Innovation Award recipient for comprehensive sustainability and sustainable development. The university also received an honorable mention that year at the Presidential Climate Leadership Summit.

SOU was the nation’s first certified Bee Campus USA and has maintained that certification, has been named a Tree Campus USA for five consecutive years and has been recognized for the ninth year in a row as one of the nation’s top 30, “Best of the Best” LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities by Campus Pride – a nonprofit that supports and improves campus life for LGBTQ people on campuses nationwide.

AASHE is a nonprofit organization that helps colleges and universities work together to create and lead the way to a sustainable future. Its STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.


Outstanding Staff Award nominations are open

Nominations open for SOU’s Outstanding Staff Award

Have you noticed commendable work by an SOU classified or unclassified staff member? You can nominate them through the end of March for the university’s Outstanding Staff Award, which honors two people each year for their achievements, service, leadership and dedication to the university.

Nominees will be considered by a campus-wide selection committee, and the 2022 recipients of SOU’s top award for staff members will be recognized at the university’s annual, end-of-year celebration breakfast in June. Each will receive a $750 honorarium and glass trophy, and the winners’ names will be added to a perpetual plaque in the first-floor hallway of Churchill Hall.

The Outstanding Staff Award has been presented each year since 2018. All current staff members who have worked at least three continuous years at SOU in a regular, non-faculty position are eligible. Previous winners are not eligible.

The selection committee will determine this year’s winners by considering to what extent each of the nominees meet the award criteria: goes above and beyond to build relationships and enthusiastically assists colleagues and/or customers; is dedicated and loyal to the university; demonstrates expertise in their job; exhibits creativity, resourcefulness and initiative; and consistently demonstrates one or more of SOU’s values.

Nominations for the Outstanding Staff Award may be made online through 5 p.m. on March 31.

Faculty members are ineligible for the staff award, but can instead be recognized through SOU’s Distinguished Teaching, Distinguished Service and Distinguished Scholarship awards.

Distinguished Alumni Award winner Fred Mossler and three others to be honored

SOU Distinguished Alumni Award recipients to be recognized

An entrepreneur and former Zappos executive, a chemist working toward a cure for Duchene muscular dystrophy, a conservation and youth program leader, and the architect of an award-winning band program will be honored Thursday during a Homecoming Weekend luncheon to recognize Southern Oregon University’s annual Distinguished Alumni Award winners.

Fred Mossler, who earned his bachelor’s degree from SOU in 1990 and helped lead upstart online retailer Zappos to prominence, will receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award and Susan Ramos-Hunter, Ph.D., who earned her SOU bachelor’s degree in 2010, will receive the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

This year’s Stan Smith Alumni Service Award will go to Greg Wolley, who received his master’s degree in environmental education at SOU in 1981 before embarking on a career in conservation management with a focus on opportunities for youth and people of color. The Excellence in Education award will be presented to Scott Kneff, who earned his bachelor’s degree in music performance at SOU in 1999; he has nearly tripled band participation in the Southern California community of Santa Paula since 2008 and built the program into a consistent award-winner.

The four award recipients will be honored Thursday at an 11:30 a.m. luncheon at the Ashland Springs Hotel that launches this year’s Homecoming Weekend. The award luncheon is by invitation-only, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Mossler worked his way through SOU at a local shoe store and as a resident advisor in the dorms. He went to work for Nordstrom after graduation, first in Seattle and then San Francisco – which is where he was recruited in 1999 by Nick Swinmurn to lead customer service and day-to-day operations at a newly-launched online shoe retailer – which became Zappos.com. The company had more than $1 billion in sales when it was acquired 10 years later by Amazon. Mossler left the company in 2016 to focus on other entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures – from revitalizing downtown Las Vegas to launching après ski-inspired shoe brand Ross & Snow and Vegas-based restaurant chain Nacho Daddy, which donates a portion of every purchase to children in need.

Ramos-Hunter, originally from northern California, transferred to SOU from Rogue Community College to study psychology and was mentored by faculty member Mark Krause – who recommended the Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program for potential graduate students. She graduated as a McNair Scholar, majoring in psychology with a chemistry minor, then earned her master’s degree and doctorate in chemistry from Vanderbilt University. She is now a senior scientist at Entrada Therapeutics in Boston, and part of a team synthesizing cutting edge bio-therapeutics and working toward a cure for Duchene Muscular Dystrophy.

Wolley came to SOU to earn his master’s degree in environmental education after receiving his undergraduate degree from University of California, Berkeley. The local beauty combined with energetic, thoughtful teaching helped him lay the personal and academic foundation for a career that would include management roles with the Nature Conservancy, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Mt. Hood National Forest, the city of Portland and TriMet. His volunteer service includes co-founding the African American Outdoor Association and membership on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Kneff visited SOU as a senior in high school and fell in love with the university and the Ashland community. He attended community college in California for two years, then found his way back to SOU to complete his bachelor’s degree in the music program, participating in the university’s jazz band, symphonic band, saxophone quartet and the Raider Band. He then returned to Southern California to earn a bachelor’s degree in history, his teaching credentials and an eventual master’s degree. His teaching career began with stints in Los Angeles and Bakersfield, California, before he returned to Ventura County, where he grew up. Isbell School in Santa Paula had just 57 band students spread through three classes when he began in 2007; within 12 years the program had 175 students reached consistent “superior” ratings in regional band and orchestra competitions.

SOU named Tree Campus USA

SOU recognized as Tree Campus USA

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University was recognized this month as a Tree Campus USA for the seventh consecutive year.

Tree Campus USA, an Arbor Day Foundation program started in 2008, honors higher education institutions and their leaders for promoting healthy trees and engaging students and staff in the spirit of conservation. SOU is one of 392 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the most recent recognition and one of seven in Oregon.

“Over the past year, many have been reminded of the importance of nature to our physical and mental health,” Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, wrote in a letter to SOU President Linda Schott.

“Your campus trees provide spaces of refuge and reflection to students, staff, faculty and the community,” Lambe said.

SOU earned the Tree Campus designation by fulfilling the program’s five core standards for effective campus forest management: a regular observance of Arbor Day, sponsorship of student service-learning projects and establishment of a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan and dedicated annual expenditures for the campus tree program.

The Tree Campus program for higher education institutions has spawned two similar programs – Tree Campus K-12 and Tree Campus Healthcare – and the Arbor Day Foundation president called upon recognized colleges and universities to lead by example in their areas.

“We hope your example inspires collaboration,” Lambe said.

SOU’s Arbor Day observance is run by the Landscape Services Department, which organized volunteers to plant 137 large trees and 24,000 plants around campus between 2014 and 2016,.

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 is celebrated each year on the last Friday of April.

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.


SOU gets perfect score from Campus Pride

SOU scores a perfect 5 with Campus Pride

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been recognized for the ninth year in a row as one of the nation’s top 30, “Best of the Best” LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities by Campus Pride, a nonprofit that supports and improves campus life for LGBTQ people on campuses nationwide.

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.

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

“In order to be in the ‘Best of the Best’ listing, an institution had to score the highest percentages in the LGBTQ-friendly benchmarks for policies, programs and practices,” Campus Pride said on the list’s website.

SOU was also ranked 21st among the 50 best colleges for LGBTQ students for the second year in a row by the online publication College Choice, which released its 2021 rankings in July.

The Campus Pride “Best of the Best” list of the top 30 LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities in the U.S. included six in the West region and just two in Oregon – SOU and the University of Oregon.

SOU addresses sexual orientation and gender identity in the university’s non-discrimination policy and offers LGBTQ-themed housing. Advocacy for gender and sexuality justice is available via the Social Justice and Equity Center, and the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program provides LGBTQ-related academic offerings. SOU also participates in LGBTQ-specific college fairs and its counseling and health staff provide queer- and trans-oriented services.


SOU's Chelsea Rose on National Geographic series

SOU archaeologist returns to TV for National Geographic series

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University research archaeologist Chelsea Rose – who was on the cast of a 2013-14 archaeology series on Oregon Public Broadcasting and featured in a 2017 book intended to pique girls’ interest in archaeology – returned to TV screens this summer as host of a show about Wild West history for the National Geographic Channel.

Rose appears on an episode in season four of the series “Drain The Oceans,” an Australian and British documentary series whose previous seasons have focused on underwater archaeology. The current season shifts to terrestrial archaeology, with an emphasis on the West.

Rose’s episode – whose U.S. premiere was Aug. 2 on the National Geographic Channel – features segments on the ghost town of Bodie, California, 19th century steamboat wrecks and the Little Bighorn battleground.

“This show has a good reputation for portraying archaeology in an accurate manner, so when colleagues who had been on previous seasons suggested me as an expert contributor for the Wild West episodes, I was happy to comply,” Rose said. “Plus, Bodie has been on my bucket list since I was a kid!”

Bodie, a 19th century gold-mining town, is now a California State Historic Park and well-known tourist attraction near the Nevada border. The “Drain The Oceans” producers worked with park staff and archaeologists to reveal the site’s hidden stories, including the role of women and the town’s Chinese residents.

“Since so much of the town is preserved, it is an amazing dataset that relates to many of the archaeological projects we work on at the SOU Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA),” Rose said.

“Being able to see the artifacts and buildings associated with 19th century gold mining, as part of a relatively complete landscape, helped me to better understand how these resources would have been experienced by Oregonians.”

Much of Rose’s archaeological work involves using artifacts to reconstruct the lives of Chinese immigrants in the Western gold-mining and railroad-building communities of the 1800s.

Rose’s first stint on an archaeology-based television series was for both seasons of the OPB national series “Time Team America,” which was produced in Oregon but shot on locations throughout the U.S. She was one of six scientists who teamed with the show’s host to uncover historical secrets that had been buried underground.

She was one of three U.S. archaeologists who were featured in the 2017 book, “Archaeology: Cool Women Who Dig,” by California author Anita Yasuda. The book, which is available to order on Amazon.com, was intended to give 9- to 12-year-old girls a peek at work and life in the field of archaeology.


Trustees appointed to SOU board

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.