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geriatrician to speak at SOU

Leading geriatrician to address SOU audience

(Ashland, Ore.) — Dr. Louise Aronson – a leading geriatrician, writer and educator – will lecture on “Aging, Ageism and the Future of Elderhood” in a Jan. 10 event presented via Zoom by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Southern Oregon University in partnership with SOU’s Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Aronson is the author of the New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist “Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine and Reimagining Life.” Her SOU lecture will begin at 3 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 10, and will be available at https://sou.zoom.us/j/81261161853. A question-and-answer session will follow.

The presentation is intended to challenge how people think about aging and will include suggestions for how both individuals and organizations can improve aging and the lives of older people. Aronson says that aging and old age have changed dramatically in recent decades, but that not all changes have been for the better. For example, she points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the resilience of older people and the importance of social connections, but also has demonstrated the ageism that is built into key social structures.

Aronson is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco. She has received the Gold Professorship in Humanism in Medicine, the California Homecare Physician of the Year award and the American Geriatrics Society Clinician-Teacher of the Year award. She currently leads the AGE SELF CARE program and serves as an advisor to the state of California on COVID-19 in elders and eldercare settings, in addition to her clinical practice and teaching.

Her website points out that Aronson was born at the same medical center where she now works – “a fact that sometimes leads her to comment that she hasn’t gone very far in life, just down 15 floors and over a building or two.”

She has written for the New York Times, Atlantic, Washington Post, JAMA, Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, and has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, TODAY, CBS This Morning, NBC News and the New Yorker.

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Toya Cooper is SOU's first-ever Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

SOU hires its first vice president for equity, diversity and inclusion

(Ashland, Ore.) — Toya Cooper, an attorney who has spent almost 20 years addressing diversity in higher education, has accepted an offer to become Southern Oregon University’s first vice president for equity, diversity and inclusion. She will start work with the university Nov. 15

“I think SOU is ready to engage the questions of equity, diversity and inclusion that this moment in our nation’s history brings to bear, and to model for students what it means to respond effectively to them,” Cooper said.

“I’m excited to learn more about the good EDI-related work already underway at SOU, the OSF, city council and chamber of commerce, and eager to discover what partnerships are to be had among us for the greatest positive impact.”

SOU has a long history of providing a welcoming atmosphere for all students and employees, and has had an equity, diversity and inclusion professional on its leadership team for many years. A decision was made to elevate the position to the vice president level after the most recent person in that role resigned a year and a half ago. A three-person group of SOU administrators has served as the university’s EDI Leadership Team during the interim.

“Our candidates for this new position at SOU were exceptional, and Toya rose to the top,” SOU President Linda Schott said. “She brings a wealth of experience to the job, along with a remarkable ability to collaborate and build teams. I am confident that all members of our campus community will be well-served by her efforts.”

Cooper most recently served for a year as director of equity, inclusion and compliance at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She previously worked for 18 years at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California – as special assistant to the president for legal affairs and associate director of multicultural programs during her first year, and then as college counsel and special assistant to the provost for diversity initiatives. She has authored and presented a variety of diversity trainings and talks.

She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Westmont College and her law degree from the Willamette University College of Law in Salem. She worked as a law clerk for the Marion County District Attorney’s office while in law school, and said she welcomes the opportunity for a return to Oregon.

“I called Salem home for three years,” Cooper said. “I was drawn by and fell in love with its natural beauty, which Ashland certainly does not lack.

“In addition to SOU’s mission, values and vision, that beauty certainly serves as a draw for me.”

SOU’s vice president for equity, diversity and inclusion will oversee fairness and equal opportunity efforts at all levels of campus, and will serve as the university’s point person on those matters throughout the region and the state. It is a key leadership position that works closely with the university president and serves on the president’s cabinet.

The interim Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Team is made up of Kylan de Vries, an associate professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; Jonathan Chavez-Baez, Assistant Director for Latino/a/x Programs & Outreach; and Patricia Syquia McCarthy, a contracts administrative officer and risk manager in the SOU Service Center.

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