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SOU Commencement 2018

Recognitions to lead off SOU commencement event

NEWS RELEASE
(Ashland, Ore.) — Seven alumni of Southern Oregon University will be honored – two with special posthumous recognitions and five with annual awards – as part of Saturday’s 2018 commencement activities. All of the awards will be presented at the Pre-Commencement Alumni Breakfast on Saturday morning.

Steven Nelson, who passed away this spring, will be posthumously recognized when a President’s Medal is presented to his family. Nelson, a financial advisor and former banker, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SOU, and served nearly 20 years as a volunteer leader at Jefferson Public Radio and the JPR Foundation. His work contributed to JPR’s growth and expansion, restoration projects at the Cascade Theatre in Redding and the Holly Theatre in Medford, and the development of the radio station’s new home in the SOU Theater Building.

Edrik Gomez, who was a high-achieving SOU student when he died in a helicopter crash while on a firefighting crew at northern California’s Iron 44 blaze in 2008, will be honored posthumously when a Certificate of Achievement is presented to his mother. He was majoring in communication and political science, had a 3.72 grade point average and had been admitted into the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program at the time of the accident that claimed nine firefighters’ lives. Gomez, who was from Coquille, was involved in SOU’s Multicultural Center, the Latino Student Union, and the Ecology and Sustainability Center.

Recipients of this year’s annual alumni awards are Jeff Brady, for Distinguished Alumni; Amanda MacGurn, for Young Alumni; Malcus Williams and Tim Williams, for the Stan Smith Alumni Service Award; and Betsy Bishop, for Excellence in Education.

Brady, who earned his SOU bachelor’s degree in communication in 1995, is a national desk correspondent in Philadelphia, focusing on energy issues for National Public Radio. He is credited with helping to demystify an industry that can seem complicated to many listeners and to establish NPR’s Environment and Energy Collaborative for reporters at NPR member stations around the country.

MacGurn, a 2006 French language and culture graduate at SOU, taught English in Costa Rica and Chile before joining the Peace Corps and ultimately earning her master’s degree in public health from Emory University. An internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention led her to a full-time position in the health agency’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine. MacGurn was deployed to West Africa four times during the Ebola outbreak, and continues to work in the region where her French skills are critical.

Malcus Williams, who died while on a call for the Ashland Police Department in March, played football and met his wife, Ona, while a student at SOU. He became a reserve officer and then was sworn in as a full-time Ashland Police officer during the 1996 flood. He completed his degree in criminology and criminal justice in 2008, while serving as a full-time officer, and served on the department as a school resource officer, firearms instructor, patrol officer, sergeant and Citizen’s Academy diversity instructor. He also served in the community as a youth sports coach.

Tim Williams was a forward on the nationally ranked SOU basketball team of the late 1990s before earning his bachelor’s degree in criminology in 1999, then moving on to earn his law degree at the University of Oregon School of Law in 2003. He is a partner in the firm of Dwyer Williams Dretke Attorneys, has been recognized as one of the best trial lawyers in the country, has held a variety of posts in the Oregon State Bar and has advocated justice for the economically disadvantaged. He has also served on the board of directors of the Ronald McDonald House of Central Oregon, the Sparrow Clubs of Central Oregon and other nonprofit organizations.

Bishop received her undergraduate degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., before earning her master’s degree in teaching at SOU in 1977. She taught 10 years at Monrovia High School in California, and has taught English and theatre at Ashland High School since moving back to Ashland in 1988. She has maintained a 25-year school and business partnership with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has been recognized with four statewide teaching awards and earned two national awards in 2016.

-SOU-

More than 1,100 graduates to receive degrees at SOU commencement


NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/G6f0HY)
(Ashland, Ore.) — Saturday’s Southern Oregon University commencement ceremony will mark both an end and a beginning for more than 1,100 students – the conclusion of a degree program and the start of whatever adventure their education has prepared them to take on.
The event at Mountain Arena (Raider Stadium) will begin with a processional at 8:45 a.m., and ceremonies at 9 a.m. It is expected to conclude at about 11:30 a.m.
This year’s commencement address will be presented by Winona LaDuke, a prominent Native American environmentalist and activist who twice ran for vice president on a Green Party ticket headed by Ralph Nader. LaDuke, who lives on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, was raised in Ashland and her mother – noted Oregon painter Betty LaDuke – was a member of SOU’s art faculty for 32 years.
Other noted speakers include SOU President Linda Schott, SOU Board of Trustees Chair Bill Thorndike, SOU alumna Kacie Ryan (’07) and graduating student Dante Fumagalli.
In keeping with SOU’s commitment to sustainability, the 24-page commencement booklet will be printed on paper from responsible sources. Graduates’ robes will be biodegradable and made of wood fiber from renewable, managed forests. Students will collect robes following the ceremony from graduates who no longer want them, and they will be reused next year by graduates in need.
Water bottles, provided in part by a donation from Asante, will be filled by a crew from the Aviands dining service at SOU and handed out to the first 5,000 graduates and guests.
SOU’s Class of 2017 includes an expected 866 recipients of bachelor’s degrees, plus another 61 from the Oregon Health & Science University nursing program at SOU. Another 184 students will receive graduate degrees.
The university’s Social Sciences Division will lead the way with a combined 273 bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded; the Business, Communication & Environment Division will account for 247 graduates; the Education, Health & Leadership Division will have 245; the Oregon Center for the Arts will have 143; the Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Division will have 94; the Humanities & Culture Division will have 30; and the Undergraduate Studies Division will have 13.
The Dankook Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Students will be presented to new graduates Rebekah Ratcliff, an honors graduate in sociology and anthropology who has been recognized for her work on local and Latin American projects; and William Babishoff, a former radio and television personality who will receive his degree in communication with an emphasis on film, television and convergent media. The award, given to SOU’s outstanding female and male graduates, commemorates more than 30 years of friendship between SOU and Dankook University in Seoul, South Korea.
The Universidad de Guanajuato Award for Outstanding Graduate Student will be presented to Jared Brown, who will receive his master’s degree in music performance with a 4.0 grade point average. Brown served as a graduate teaching assistant in music theory/aural skills and percussion, and worked with students at Crater High School in Central Point.
This year’s Distinguished Teaching Awards will be presented to music Professor Vicki Purslow; Lisa Ciasullo, an associate professor of math; Kylan De Vries, an associate professor of sociology and gender, sexuality and women’s studies; English and writing Professor Bill Gholson; and communication Professor Alena Ruggerio.
Raider Stadium will open at 7 a.m. and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. No tickets will be required. Free parking will be available in all SOU lots throughout the day, and a free shuttle service will run to the stadium from the Mountain Avenue lot about every 15 minutes.
Saturday’s ceremony will be broadcast live on RVTV and archived for later viewing. More information about SOU’s commencement is available at www.sou.edu/commencement.
-SOU-
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and 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. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.