SOU's Stevenson Union, which will host a Pub Night

Upcoming “Pub Night” a test run for potential campus pub

SOU’s Stevenson Union will host a “Pub Night” in the Diversions Room from 5 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday (Feb 25) – and depending on the outcome, it could be a precursor to an ongoing event.

The Stevenson Union, Campus Dining, and EPIC Events are collaborating to create a fun night of sipping, eating and community building for all members of the SOU community who are 21 and over.

Food options such as fries, pulled pork nachos and burgers will be made-to-order alongside a selection of beer, wine and soda. All menu items can be purchased with cash, debit or credit cards, or the university’s own Raider Cash.

“Student programmers in the past have asked why we can’t have a pub in the Union,” said Danielle Mancuso, the associate director of student life and organizer of the Pub Nights.

“Last year during the Stevenson Union surveys, many students mentioned a desire for a pub,” she said. “These Pub Nights will demonstrate if there really is a desire from students to have a pub on campus.”

This week’s initial Pub Night will include a performance by Antics Improv, along with Disney trivia hosted by EPIC Events. A second Pub Night will be held March 3, also from 5 to 9 p.m. in the Diversions Room.

“It is my hope that Pub Nights create community on campus,” Mancuso said. “The partnership between the Stevenson Union, Campus Dining and EPIC creates more opportunities for students, staff and faculty to have opportunities for informal gatherings and connections.

“Maybe class ends early and the conversation continues at The Pub? This is a great outlet for student clubs and organizations that perform to do so in a laid back environment.”

The idea for an SOU pub was first floated in 2013 by then-Chief Information Officer Brad Christ, and it received general support from students and faculty. Christ advocated for a permanent pub on campus, but the current iteration of Pub Night was built off of his survey.

“Come support Pub Night,” Mancuso said. “Bring a friend and be sure to have your ID.”

A full menu can be found on Inside SOU.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

SOU is designated as military friendly

SOU added to Military Friendly School list by VIQTORY

SOU has been designated a Military Friendly School by Viqtory, a veteran-ownd marketing company that connects the military community to civilian employers, and educational and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Viqtory’s Military Friendly awards are given to schools, nonprofits and companies that meet their data-driven assessments and take their proprietary survey. The difficulty of the survey increases each year due to improved methodology, criteria and weightings. This year’s list includes 695 colleges, universities and trade schools that exhibit leading practices in the recruitment and retention of students with military experience or spouses.

“This designation places SOU on the lists that our transitioning service members will see as they leave service,” said Kevin Stevens, director of the university’s Veterans Resource Center. “It reflects positively on the university community as well as our greater community, as places that veterans, military and their families can achieve academic and personal success.”

More than 200 SOU students each year are considered military-affiliated. Most of them are veterans or dependents, while many others serve as cadets in the Army ROTC program. SOU also offers a Military Science Program that serves nearly 150 students per term, and various campus organizations are dedicated to helping veterans – including the Veteran’s Resource Center, the Student Veterans Association and the Veterans’ Student Union.

SOU was also the first Oregon university to adopt the Military Order of the Purple Heart proclamation on Nov. 27, 2019. President Linda Schott pledged the university’s support to military veterans and placed SOU on the Purple Heart Trail, a symbolic system of roads, highways, monuments and cities that give tribute to those awarded the Purple Heart.

“(The military-friendly designation) is a great step forward for the university,” Stevens said. “This shows that we meet the minimum standards for the military-friendly designation, however, my plan is for SOU to continue to rise in the rankings as one of the top military-friendly universities for students in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest and the country.” 

Higher ranking designations include Bronze, Silver, Gold and the coveted Top Ten awards.

SOU’s Military Friendly Rating breakdown rates the university in six areas: academic policies and compliance, admissions and orientation, culture and commitment, financial aid and assistance, graduation and career, and military student support and retention.

The 2020-­2021 Military Friendly Schools list will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Dylann Loverro to join SOU Board of Trustees

SOU Honors College student joins university’s Board of Trustees

(Ashland, Ore.) — Dylann Loverro, a Southern Oregon University Honors College student who has held various positions on campus, has been appointed by Gov. Kate Brown and confirmed today by the Oregon Senate to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees.

Loverro succeeds Shanztyn Nihipali, who graduated in June, as the university’s student member for the 15-person board. Her two-year appointment is a voting position.

“I am excited and honored to be a part of my university’s governing board,” Loverro said. “I look forward to supporting the strategies and vision that will increase student success and the great work happening at SOU.”

Loverro, who is working toward a 2021 bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies, is currently chief justice of the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University (ASSOU) and student representative on the Faculty Senate’s University Assessment Committee. She has also served as the international senator and vice speaker of the Student Senate.

She completed the Leadership Fellows Program during her freshman year at SOU, has participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Colorado and next spring will lead a Raider Alternative Weekend trip.

“We are pleased to welcome Dylann to SOU’s Board of Trustees,” said Lyn Hennion, the board’s chair. “She is a very involved and high-achieving student, and her voice will be a welcomed addition to the board.

“The board also thanks its retiring trustee, Shanztyn Nihipali, for his years of dedicated service to the board and his alma mater – SOU. We wish Shanztyn the best in all of his future endeavors.”

Loverro is from Ellensburg, Washington, where her mother is an associate professor of psychology and her father is chair of the Department of Curriculum, Supervision and Educational Leadership at Central Washington University.

She is fluent in French, and studied abroad in Lyon, France, during the 2017-18 academic year. During her senior year of high school, she served on the bipartisan Youth Advisory Board to former U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington’s 8th Congressional District.

Loverro intends to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees after completing her undergraduate studies at SOU. She hopes for a career with the U.S. State Department, the United Nations or another international organization.


SOU inventors will participate in InventOR competition

SOU joining Oregon inventors’ competition

SOU is participating for the first time in the annual Invent Oregon Collegiate Challenge, aka InventOR, a statewide competition designed for student inventors and entrepreneurs to find funding and make their prototypes marketable realities.

Teams interested in participating in InventOR should attend the informational meeting on Oct. 17, at 12:30 p.m. in Central Hall, Room 106. Alternatively, teams can contact Rebecca Williams, an assistant professor of business at SOU.

According to its website, InventOR defines an invention as, “a new, innovative, and tangible product, process or service that affects the communities and environment in a positive way.” While there must be a physical element to the project, the invention can be in any field and teams are even allowed to compete with only an idea in hand.

The competition will start with a preliminary, school-level round. Once the two best and brightest teams of inventors at SOU are picked, they’ll move onto a semifinal competition, where they’ll be given $500 to develop their prototype as they go head-to-head against 18 other participating schools. One team from each school will then move on to the finals, where teams will be given $1,500 to improve their prototype. A total of $30,000 in prizes is up for grabs for the finalists.

Prototypes will be judged based on four criteria: the quality of the prototype, the clarity of the pitch, the environmental and/or social impact, and accomplishment of a team’s goals.

Invent Oregon is sponsored through the Lemelson Foundation, Business Oregon, The Oregon Community Foundation, the Oregon Lottery and the PSU Center for Entrepreneurship.

Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Paul Kirby in "Lodestar," which has a busy film festival schedule

SOU student’s documentary on recreational therapy hits the film festival circuit

“Lodestar,” a short documentary film by SOU graduate student and Army Ranger veteran Paul Kirby, has a busy schedule on the film festival circuit.

It has been selected for the St. Lawrence International Film Festival, the Miami Independent Film Festival, the 2019 Impact DOCS Awards, the First Time Film-Makers Review and the Digital Monthly Online Film Festival.

Kirby wrote, produced, directed and acted in the documentary during spring term, as part of faculty member Chris Lucas’ Advanced Documentary Production class at the SOU’s Digital Media Center. Two other SOU students – Evan Johnson (editor) and Dustin Saigo (cinematographer) – assisted with the production.

The film focuses on coastal access and nature experiences as an under-used intervention for mental health issues, and describes the role of then-Gov. Tom McCall in ensuring public access to all Oregon beaches in 1967.  McCall described Oregon as a lodestar – a star used in shipping navigation to point the way.

“Oregon is unique, in that it is the only state other than Hawaii that has unrestricted public access to the entire length of its coastline,” Kirby said. “Oregon leads the way in terms of public coastal access, but I felt strongly that we need to celebrate our state’s unique status in order to reinforce the existing legislation.”

“Lodestar” touches on a suicide epidemic among veterans and the restrictive coastal access laws of states such as Florida and California. It invokes images of Kirby’s own experiences with PTSD and depression, juxtaposed against his experiences sea kayaking along the Oregon Coast.

The film tackles a topical issue – the federal “Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act” (HR-2435) is under consideration during the current session of Congress. The bill, currently awaiting a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Health, would require an interagency task force to identify opportunities for recreational therapy by veterans on public lands and other outdoor spaces.

Kirby has also been selected as a guest presenter at the Arctic Futures 2050 Conference at the National Academy of Sciences this September in Washington, D.C. The research focus of his presentation is Inuit self-determination.

“One of the great things about the interdisciplinary grad program is it provides the skills and flexibility to make a documentary about the suicide rate among veterans and also conduct research on other marginalized groups with similar issues – like the suicide epidemic among Inuit youth,” Kirby said. “I wouldn’t be able to do that without synthesizing Native American Studies with Documentary Production.”

SOU's Jessica Pistole, NAIA Softball Coach of the Year

Pistole honored as NAIA Coach of the Year

Southern Oregon University softball coach Jessica Pistole, who guided her team last month to SOU’s first-ever national championship in a women’s sport, was the NAIA Softball Coach of the Year on Wednesday.

The fifth-year head coach has led the Raiders to three consecutive NAIA World Series appearances. This year’s team made it through the winners bracket of the double-elimination tournament unbeaten, then had two chances to beat longtime powerhouse Oklahoma City, which came out of the loser’s bracket needing a two-game sweep.

Oklahoma City won the first game before the Raiders won the World Series with an 8-3 win in an elimination game for both teams.

SOU went 15-23 the season before Pistole became head coach and has gone 219-82 in the five seasons since, including a 149-38 mark over the last three years.

Pistole and her assistant coaches – Duane PardueCheyenne Bricker, Mike Mayben and Harlee Donovan – last week were named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s NAIA National Coaching Staff of the Year.

The program has also won three consecutive Cascade Conference regular-season titles and three consecutive conference tournament titles, and has set program records for wins in each of the last three seasons.

The Raiders have earned NAIA Scholar Team honors each season under Pistole.

The coach, originally from Loomis, California, was named the CCC Coach of the Year for the third time this season.

Her team finished this season with a 52-8 record and its first-ever No. 1 ranking in the final NAIA Top 25 poll.

The Raiders ranked sixth nationally in hits per game (10.3), seventh in team batting average (.360) and runs (7.0), and 16th in earned-run average (2.08).They also committed fewer than half as many fielding errors (58) as their opponents (118).

This story is based on an earlier version at

SOU's World Series champions raise their trophies

Parade to celebrate SOU’s NAIA World Series champions

SOU students and employees are encouraged to build time into their schedules, if practical, to attend today’s parade and celebration of the university’s national champion softball team. The Raiders won the NAIA World Series title last Wednesday in Springfield, Missouri.

Today’s parade will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Mountain Street near the SOU Plunkett Center. It will proceed along Siskiyou Boulevard and down Wightman Street to the Lithia Motors Pavilion for a trophy presentation and celebration of the team’s accomplishments.

Students, employees, alumni and other fans are asked to view the parade from the lawn and sidewalk along Siskiyou Boulevard between the Stevenson Union and Churchill Hall. Softball team members, SOU President Linda Schott, the university’s Raider Band and others are expected to participate.

Employees who are interested in attending the festivities should coordinate with their supervisors to confirm attendance on work time.

The softball team’s victory in Wednesday night’s winner-take-all game against Oklahoma City in Springfield, Missouri, resulted in SOU’s first-ever national title in a women’s sport.

The Raiders made it through the World Series winner’s bracket unbeaten, then had two chances to defeat Oklahoma City – which emerged from the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament. Oklahoma City won the first game of the two-game set with SOU on Wednesday morning.

SOU is just the second Cascade Conference member to win the NAIA World Series since it began in 1981. The team finished 52-8, setting an SOU wins record for the third consecutive season under fifth-year head coach Jessica Pistole.

SOU celebrates World Series championship

Raiders softball team returns to SOU as World Series champs

The SOU Raiders softball team, united all year in its focus on a national title, was returning to Ashland today in four separate groups after winning the university’s first championship Wednesday night in the NAIA World Series.

SOU President Linda Schott, who was traveling in Mexico as part of the Ashland-Guanajuato Sister City delegation, said she followed the championship series closely and is thrilled with the result.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team and our university,” the president said. “These young women are textbook examples of student-athletes. They demonstrated their talent, toughness and determination on a national stage – and the team has a combined grade point average of 3.5. They are ideal representatives of SOU and the state of Oregon. I look forward to congratulating them when we’re all back on campus.”

Plans are in the works for a parade next week to celebrate the team’s championship. Details will be posted on SOU News when the date, time and route are finalized.

The SOU team was led on Wednesday by a complete-game effort from pitcher Gabby Sandoval and a first-inning grand slam by shortstop Paige Leeper as they defeated NAIA powerhouse Oklahoma City, 8-3, in an elimination game for both teams.

The Raiders made it through the World Series winner’s bracket unbeaten, then had two opportunities to defeat Oklahoma City – which emerged from the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament. Oklahoma City won the first game of the two-game set with SOU on Wednesday morning.

SOU is just the second Cascade Conference member to win the NAIA World Series since it began in 1981, and the team set a school record for wins for the third consecutive season under fifth-year head coach Jessica Pistole.

Wednesday night’s game was Sandoval’s 33rd complete game of the season, giving her a 36-4 record – the 10th-most single-season wins in NAIA history and the most for any pitcher since 2013.

Maria Ruiz, awarded U.S. citizenship

SOU student overcomes immigration obstacles, succeeds academically

Maria Belen Ruiz Gonzalez was 5 when she arrived in the United States on the Fourth of July 18 years ago, and she thought the fireworks over Portland were a celebration of her arrival. The SOU business major will observe Independence Day as a newly-minted U.S. citizen this year, nearly closing the loop on a long cycle of immigration roadblocks and limited opportunities for her family and herself.

“There is nothing more frustrating to me than people who have a mindset that if you just come into the country legally, you should be fine,” Ruiz says. “My own family came to the states on a plane, with proper documentation.”

Her mother came first, to check out the possibilities, and Ruiz followed with her father and brother. All had visitor visas that allowed them to enter the U.S. from Paraguay, where her mother was a businesswoman and her father an accountant. They escaped a pervasive climate of violence in their hometown of Asuncion, Paraguay.

Maria Ruiz (center) in citizenship class

“On two separate occasions, armed men showed up at my home to attempt to kidnap my brother and I so they could hold us for ransom,” Ruiz says. “It’s a thing in Paraguay. On more than a few occasions, my mom was attacked in her own office by burglars demanding money.

“My parents were nice people – they didn’t have people who hated them or anything, but this is how people survive and get by in Paraguay.”

Her parents took what work they could find in the Portland area, settling in Tualatin and holding two or three under-the-table jobs each. They were overworked and underpaid, Ruiz says, because they didn’t have U.S. Social Security numbers.

Their visitor visas soon expired, driving the family deeper into the shadows of society. They couldn’t apply for Social Security cards, couldn’t file tax returns and, as immigration laws tightened, were unable to hold drivers licenses. They couldn’t leave and then re-enter the U.S., and because they had overstayed their visas it eventually became more difficult for their relatives to visit. Ruiz’s mother and aunt haven’t been able to see each other for more than 18 years.

“I refused to talk about my legal status for years due to fear instilled in me from a young age,” Ruiz says. “However, I’m here, I’m proud and I’m fearless.”

She turned a corner in her personal journey in October 2013, when she gained permanent resident status in the U.S. – a process that she describes as far more difficult and convoluted than her recent citizenship interview and test. As a permanent resident, she became eligible for a Social Security card and a driver’s license, and was able to work above-board.

She took another huge step – or a leap of faith – the following fall, when she enrolled at Portland Community College.

“I had no clue what I was doing, or what the collegiate system was like here,” Ruiz says. “Nobody in my family had ever attended college in the U.S. My dad was a CPA in Paraguay, but my mom was a self-made entrepreneur and she hadn’t even finished high school.

“So for me, my first full two years of college were guessing games.”

She initially applied for and was granted financial aid, but that was revoked when her grades plummeted during her freshman year. She paid for the entire second year out-of-pocket, working full-time at Nordstrom in Portland while attending classes and resuscitating her GPA.

Her boyfriend – defensive lineman James Aso’au Porter – was recruited to play football at SOU beginning in 2016, and a year later Ruiz decided to transfer and join him on the Ashland campus.

“I struggled a lot to fit in here,” she says. “I’m a very outgoing person, but I felt like I was out of my league at a university.

“What helped a lot was the football team – especially the defensive linemen. My boyfriend would take me to all the things they would do. I went to all the games. If I talked to other students within my classes, it was almost always the football players. They have been my go-to, my protectors, my friends here at SOU.”

Ruiz is on course to earn her bachelor’s degree next spring in business administration, with a concentration in marketing and a minor in communication. She plans to move back to Portland after graduation and would love to land a job with either Nike or Adidas – and to “wake up just as excited to learn and grow every day as I do from my classes.”

But her immigration history continues to raise obstacles for her, even though she’s been a permanent U.S. resident for five years and became a citizen in April.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process requires her to list at least one parent as a source of financial support. She can’t list her mother, who still has no reportable income and no Social Security number, and Ruiz had a falling out with her father when she was in high school and no longer communicates with him.

She got by while at PCC by using the college’s payment plan and saving money from her job. She now works at Dutch Bros. in Medford, but doesn’t earn enough to cover all school and living expenses, and has hasn’t applied for scholarships or other aid.

“I’m a barista and the tips are good, but aren’t that great,” Ruiz says. “I was granted subsidized and unsubsidized (college) loans. I now have almost $10,000 in school loans for the entire year and summer that’s coming up.”

But she has developed a sense of belonging at SOU, and credits small class sizes and caring professors for her academic success and growing confidence – specifically calling out business faculty members Dennis Slattery, Mark Siders and Jeremy Carlton.

“I’m a firm believer of fate,” she says. “I think we’re all where we’re supposed to be in this point in time. SOU is that for me.”

The admiration of her professors runs in both directions, with Slattery describing his student as “sweet and intelligent, and terribly hard-working.”

“Her story is one of courage and hard work, all in this wonderful personality and bright light of a person,” he says.

A high point in Ruiz’s journey was the U.S. citizenship process. She applied last Halloween – just a few days after she became eligible, following five years as a legal permanent resident. It meant a trip to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration office in Portland, a $725 application fee and a “biometric screening” – fingerprints, photograph and signature. She received a study packet of 100 U.S. civics questions, and was told she’d need to correctly answer six out of 10 randomly selected questions during her oral exam for citizenship six months later – in April.

“I got the first six questions correct, so I didn’t need to answer any more,” Ruiz says.

As proud as she is of her accomplishment, she is most excited about what it will mean for her mother. Because Ruiz is over 21 and now a citizen, her mother is eligible for a change in her own legal status. “All that has to be done is file paperwork and pay the fees,” she says.

That’s the catch – legal fees and application expenses will amount to almost $6,000. And because she received no financial aid this year, most of Ruiz’s earnings have gone toward her own expenses. She had been putting some money aside to buy her mother a round-trip airline ticket to Paraguay for Mothers Day, to be reunited with family members for the first time since 2001. But Ruiz and her mother have agreed those savings should instead go into their immigration fund.

“I will still buy her a round trip ticket, but after all the legalities are dealt with,” Ruiz says. “For me, I won’t consider this (citizenship process) successful until my mom is 100 percent protected from deportation.”

SOU men's track team, which won a Cascade Conference championship

SOU wins 4th consecutive Cascade Conference All-Sports Championship

Southern Oregon University will hang a Cascade Conference All-Sports Championship banner for the fourth year in a row, after landing at No. 1 in the final 2018-19 standings announced Thursday by the league office.

The Raiders won conference titles in four sports – in men’s soccer and volleyball in the fall, and men’s track and field and women’s softball in the spring. The university also got important points from its men’s and women’s cross country teams, which each finished second at their championship meets, and from its third-place women’s track and field team.

SOU totaled 203.1 points and Oregon Tech – which was deadlocked with the Raiders heading into the spring season – finished in second place for the second year in a row with 191.7. Eastern Oregon (187.3), College of Idaho (181.9) and Corban (162.6) were next in the standings.

Points for the All-Sports Championship standings are awarded based on participating institutions’ top eight finishes in CCC regular-season standings – except in the cases of cross country, golf, track and field, and men’s wrestling, whose scores are based on finishes in conference championship contests. The scoring formula also takes into consideration the number of schools competing for championships in each sport.

The conference All-Sports Championship trophy was awarded for the first time in 2006-07, and the Raiders won it for the first time in 2015-16.

Eleven colleges and universities are regular members of the Cascade Conference and nine more are associate members that participate in a limited number of sports.

This story is based on an earlier version at