Danny Santos' career of service

Danny Santos: In the name of service

Danny Santos, who earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology at SOU in 1975, always had a passion for service. But he credits SOU – Southern Oregon College at that time – with providing him the tools and opportunities to chart and navigate a career path that focused on helping others.

“Southern Oregon College was a wonderful place to grow up and mature,” Santos said. “It gave me so many academic and employment opportunities.”

Santos is currently serving his second four-year term on the SOU Board of Trustees.

He was raised in California’s Imperial Valley, where his father was his hometown’s first Latino police officer, and his parents instilled in him the value of hard work and education.

“We would spend our summer vacations working in the fields. We would work the Imperial Valley and move north to the San Joaquin as it got hotter, but we would always get back home in time for school,” he said. “Education was the priority.”

Santos said he chose SOC because he had a friend who was attending, and the school was so welcoming. While surprised by the lack of diversity at the college, he was also heartened by the support he received from instructors and administrators.

“Going to SOC was one of the best decisions of my life,” he said. “The instructors were supportive and encouraged me to try so many new things. It is really nice to have someone say, ‘You can do more.’”

Encouraging others and championing the underserved is something Santos has modeled throughout his career. After graduating, he became interested in education and working with migrant students. He returned to SOU to pursue a teaching certificate and eventually helped launch a migrant education program in southern Oregon. Later, while working in Salem as director of the Oregon Migrant Education Service Center, Santos served as a citizen lobbyist, meeting lawyers and government employees. That work inspired him to study law.

Always advocating for diversity and inclusion, he focused his legal career on social justice and public interest issues. He was eventually appointed associate dean for student affairs at his law school alma mater, Willamette University College of Law, and retired from that position in 2019.

Santos has compiled a long and accomplished resume with a very consistent theme: service to the state of Oregon and to the people with the most need. He was a senior policy advisor for Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, and also worked in the administrations of Governors John Kitzhaber, Barbara Roberts and Neil Goldschmidt, clocking more than 24 years of distinguished public service along the way.

The recipient of numerous awards for his work and generosity, Santos is a founding member of Scholarships for Oregon Latinos. He has supervised the Oregon Migrant Education Service Center and directed the Jackson County Migrant Education Program. He also currently serves on the SOU Board of Trustees and on the boards of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Mid-Valley Literacy Council.

Santos urges prospective college students to get involved in activities both in and out of school, and to find opportunities to be of service. “Young people have so much potential to bring a new vision to things,” he said. “I tell students, don’t just do well, do good.”

While at SOC, Santos took his instructors’ advice to get involved in a variety of activities and he dove into all that southern Oregon had to offer, joining community organizations, taking classes outside his major and working as a residence assistant (RA) and head resident (HR) in housing. “Being an RA and HR taught me a lot,” he said. “I learned how to deal with difficulties, and I learned how to listen.”

Santos said he still marvels at how every step in his career can be traced to the support and connections he had at SOU.

“So much education is outside of the classroom, the people you meet and the community you live in,” he said. “I still think of that. You never know where an experience will take you.”

Shared and updated from the spring 2019 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine

tuition rates approved

SOU board approves lowest tuition increase in recent history

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees agreed today with a recommendation from the university’s Tuition Advisory Council and President Linda Schott for tuition rates in the 2021-22 academic year to increase by the lowest margin in recent memory. Tuition for resident undergraduate students will increase by just $5 per credit hour.

Undergraduates from Oregon will pay $201 per credit hour, up from $196 this year – an increase of 2.55 percent. Residents of 16 Western states and territories that are part of the Western University Exchange will pay $301.50, up from $294; and other non-resident undergraduates will pay $597, up from $580. Tuition rates for graduate students from Oregon will increase to $505 per credit hour, up from $491; non-resident graduate students will pay $610, up from $593.

“Determining the cost of tuition and fees is a key responsibility that every SOU trustee takes very seriously,” said Paul Nicholson, chair of the SOU Board of Trustees. “Thanks to the great, collaborative work of our Tuition Advisory Council, the board readily approved a recommendation from the council and the president that seeks to balance the cost of a high-quality education with access and affordability for our valued students.”

The rates approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees are based on a recommendation from SOU’s Tuition Advisory Council, which met numerous times and is made up of students, faculty and administrators. President Schott agreed with the council’s recommendations and forwarded them to the trustees for approval.

SOU remains committed to keeping higher education within the reach of all students and prospective students, and will offset the tuition increase with additional institutional aid for those who are least able to afford the additional cost. The university has also addressed student expenses for textbooks, and the room-and-board costs of those who live in residence halls.

“We are absolutely committed to making an education at SOU as affordable as possible, while preparing our graduates for the regional job market and giving them tools to achieve fulfilling lives of purpose,” President Schott said. “These tuition rates will keep our university among the most affordable in Oregon.”

State legislators are not expected to make final decisions on the state budget until early July, but universities must prepare their budgets during the spring. SOU will continue to make its case for additional state funding, but must use current information to plan for the coming academic year.

The state paid for two-thirds of its universities’ operating budgets 30 years ago and tuition covered the remaining third. The ratio is now exactly opposite.


Danny Santos-SOU Board of Trustees

Santos reappointed to SOU Board of Trustees

(Ashland, Ore.) — Daniel Santos – a Southern Oregon University alumnus and member of the university’s Board of Trustees – was notified today by Gov. Kate Brown today that he has been reappointed for a second four-year term on the SOU board.

Santos was appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate.

He is a retired associate dean for the Willamette University College of Law, where he oversaw student affairs and administration. He previously served in various capacities for four Oregon governors – Neil Goldschmidt, Barbara Roberts, John Kitzhaber and Ted Kulongoski. His roles included service as Roberts’ legal counsel and Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision chair, and as a senior policy advisor for Kulongoski.

Santos earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology at SOU in 1975, then received his law degree from the Willamette University College of Law. He has remained involved in education throughout his career, serving as a founding member of Scholarships for Oregon Latinos, and in guiding roles with Willamette University’s Willamette Academy for students from underserved communities and the Leadership Council for Oregon Mentors.

He also currently serves on the boards of directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Mid-Valley Literacy Council.

SOU was granted authority by the state to form its own independent Board of Trustees beginning July 1, 2015, following the legislature’s dissolution of the Oregon University System and State Board of Higher Education. SOU’s board is responsible for governance and oversight of the university.

Eleven at-large trustees serve four-year terms, and one voting position each are reserved for an SOU student, a faculty and a non-faculty staff member – each of whom serve two-year terms.

Trustees are limited to serving two consecutive full terms. The university president serves in a non-voting, ex officio capacity on the board, bringing total membership to 15.


Bill Thorndike SOU Trustees

SOU trustees endorse national initiative to boost higher ed perception

(Ashland, Ore.) — The Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to pass a resolution to support and participate in a project with college and university trustees nationwide to revive the public’s trust in higher education.

The Guardians Initiative – developed by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) – is intended to increase support for higher education. It aims to strengthen financial backing from state legislatures across the country, prompt a rebound in college and university attendance and improve the public perception of higher education.

The SOU board is among the first in the country to endorse the Guardians Initiative.

“The enduring personal and societal value of higher education is well-supported,” said Bill Thorndike, chairman of the SOU Board of Trustees. “The lifetime earnings gap between those with college educations and those without has never been greater. Moreover, the economic and cultural benefits that colleges and universities bring to their communities are invaluable.

“We need to restore the luster to higher education. As public perception improves, we want higher education to become a greater legislative priority and for universities such as SOU to be recognized as keys to the growth and sustainability for individuals and communities.”

The traditional role of trustees might focus narrowly on the issues of the colleges and universities they serve. The Guardians Initiative encourages trustees to also advocate for higher education in general, to lobby at the state and federal levels for improved support, and to help improve the public’s perception of the value of higher education.
The initiative is meant to galvanize the support of about 50,000 college and university trustees nationwide.

“SOU’s trustees are recognized leaders and creative thinkers from the public and private sectors,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “I am tremendously excited to see how they will influence our national conversation about higher education.”


SOU student joins university’s Board of Trustees

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University student Shanztyn Nihipali has been appointed by Gov. Kate Brown and confirmed today by the Oregon Senate to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees.
Shantzyn NihipaliNihipali’s two-year appointment is effective immediately. He succeeds Jeremy Nootenboom as the board’s student trustee – a voting position and full member of the panel. Nootenboom’s term ended when he graduated in June.
“It is an honor to have been recommended by the students and ultimately appointed to serve my university as a member of the SOU Board of Trustees,” Nihipali said. “These are exciting times for SOU, and I look forward to continuing to support the university’s advancements as an institution for the future.”
He expects to earn his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a certificate in nonprofit administration in 2019.
“The Board of Trustees enthusiastically welcomes Shanztyn to his new role,” said Bill Thorndike, SOU’s board chair. “We value the student trustee’s full participation on the board and look forward to working together.”
Nihipali serves as a student representative to the University Planning Board and SOU’s Strategic Planning Committee. He is the founder and chair of the university’s Polynesian Education Conference and has served as chair of SOU’s Hoʻopaʻa Hawaiʻi Club. He received a Building Bridges Award for 2015-16 academic year and an Outstanding Community Building Award for 2016-17.
He has served as a Raider Ambassador since January 2015, leading as many as 35 campus tours for prospective students and their families. He also worked for one year as a front desk assistant in SOU’s Office of Business Services.
Nihipali’s family has been involved in the real estate and construction industry of Hawai’i for almost 40 years, which provided the foundation for his interest in business. He is focusing his studies on hospitality and tourism management.
In addition to his campus leadership roles, he enjoys participating in autism awareness and cultural revitalization activities in his spare time.

Hospital CEO to join SOU Board of Trustees

NEWS RELEASE (available online at
(Ashland, Ore.) — Sheila Clough, the chief executive officer of Asante Ashland Community Hospital, has been appointed by Gov. Kate Brown to fill the 15th seat on the Southern Oregon University Board of Trustees and was confirmed today by the Oregon Senate.
Clough has served as CEO of the Ashland hospital for the past 3 ½ years and has held management positions in health care for 25 years. In seeking appointment to the SOU board, she cited the academic and economic benefits that the university provides.
“As a resident of Ashland and the CEO of a critical community service provider and prominent employer in the area, I have a vested interest in the long-term sustainability of SOU,” Clough said. “I am honored by my appointment to this volunteer board and look forward to supporting the strategies and vision that will ensure the university’s continued success.”
Clough joined Asante in September 2013 as CEO of Asante Ashland Community Hospital and led the hospital’s integration into the Asante system and its financial turnaround. The recovery plan she implemented resulted in an $8 million turnaround for the hospital from 2013 through 2016. Patient satisfaction at the hospital improved from the 50th percentile in 2013 to better than the 80th percentile in 2016, and the hospital’s employee engagement ranking went from the 7th percentile to the 91st percentile over the same period.
“The board welcomes Sheila Clough, whose accomplishments at Asante and leadership role in the community, we believe, are indicative of what she will bring to the table,” said Bill Thorndike, chair of the SOU Board of Trustees. “Sheila understands the complementary roles of a governing board and the executive team that operate an institution such as SOU. Her expertise in health care will broaden the board’s perspective and her business knowledge will be invaluable.”
Prior to joining Asante, Clough served in a progression of leadership roles from 1998 through 2013 with Ministry Howard Young Health Care in Woodruff, Wisconsin, eventually rising to the role of president and chief operating officer. Howard Young operated an acute care hospital, a critical access hospital and an assisted living facility.
Clough earned a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from the University of Minnesota and an MBA for health care executives from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a member of the American College of Health Care Executives and in 2014 passed the organization’s board examination to be named a fellow of the college.
She is an active member of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Lithia Springs Rotary Club, and she has developed a new partnership with Ashland High School to focus students’ attention on the possibility of careers in health care.
About Southern Oregon University
As a public liberal arts university, SOU focuses on student learning, accessibility and civic engagement that enriches both the community and bioregion. The university is recognized for fostering intellectual creativity, for quality and innovation in its connected learning programs, and for the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power, and it is the first university in the nation to balance 100% of its water consumption. Visit