Cutting the Ribbon

October 21st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

We had an inspiring ceremony last Tuesday (October 15) to officially open Raider Village, our new housing and dining complex. I was delighted that representatives of the Shasta Nation as well as the mayor of Ashland and our partners in the project were there to celebrate. It was a gorgeous fall day, windy but bright—a beautiful day for an uplifting event.

Nearly 700 students moved in to Raider Village at the start of Fall term—and the Hawk dining facility is buzzing with activity night and day.

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Celebrating the Inaugural Class

October 11th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Over a hundred folks came together on Wednesday evening (October 9) to meet the 28 students who have joined our inaugural Honors College class from all over Oregon and around the country. We also honored the donors and other supporters on and off campus who helped make the College a reality.

A short program included introductions from four awesome Honors College students. But mostly we mingled and enjoyed good food and excellent conversation.

The Honors College is a transformative initiative for SOU. It was a joy to bring people together in celebration as we launch the new academic year.


Happy New Year

October 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Last week was a blur of events welcoming students, faculty, and staff to the new academic year.

With help from Senate chair Dave Carter and student body president Tommy Letchworth, I spoke to the campus at our opening breakfast on Monday.

On Wednesday, the Rogue River Room was packed with House students, faculty, and staff as well as community partners coming together for a wonderful celebratory banquet.

On the beautiful autumn Friday, we formally welcomed students at Convocation in the stadium, followed by lunch for all in the Hawk, our newly opened dining facility. That evening, students gathered for the annual Raider Pride dinner and reception.

My summary here touches on only a few of the many events, gatherings, meetings, and celebratory meals that jump-started Fall Term. The week highlighted the strong community spirit of SOU: people connecting, engaging, launching a new year of learning and working together.

Breakfast is served!

Awesome breakfast at Elmo’s.

Tommy Letchworth speaking

ASSOU President speaking.

Many people attended the Opening Breakfast.

Big turn-out for the Opening Breakfast at the Rogue River Room.

Many boxes, much excitement.

Moving into the new residence halls.

Move in!

Move in!

Convocation 2013

Convocation 2013

Raider spirit high at Convocation

Raider spirit high at Convocation.

Perfect day for Convocation

Perfect day for Convocation

Fred Meyer fun.

Fred Meyer fun.

Housewarming festivities.

Housewarming festivities.


The Flying Days of Summer

September 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The president’s blog took a vacation after July 4, but the summer was unusually busy as it flew by us. Student government got organized; various committees and groups continued to meet intermittently; and Academia Latina, Raider Registrations, and other events regularly brought students and families to campus.

While many of us went away briefly for vacation and conferences, folks all across campus spent time planning, organizing, and putting offices in order.

Work continued all summer as the North Campus Village prepared to open in fall. Work continued also on the exterior of Taylor Hall. And planning continued for the Science Building project.

Football, cross country, and volleyball games got underway in August. We signed an agreement with Ryutsu Keizai University, a private university in Japan that enrolls 6,000 students, and the Institute of New Writing/ Ashland (INWA) brought students together for intensive writing and collaborations.

So the summer hasn’t been quiet, but it has been productive. And now it’s September! Get ready—classes start September 30.

Academia Latina Dinner

SOU Raiders in Grants Pass


Visitors from Japan


Celebrating Independence Day

July 5th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

SOU Banner

SOU had a terrific presence in the July 4 activities last week. With banners, signs, music, and volleyballs, our students, staff, and faculty conveyed the tremendous energy and talents of our university. Our float and marchers were loudly applauded all the way along the parade route. We also hosted a great booth in Lithia Park, which attracted lots of interested parade-goers, many of them new to Ashland.

I particularly want to thank Butler Ford for lending us the truck featured in our parade entry. And many, many thanks to the faculty, staff, students, and alumni who planned, marched, played music, and hosted the booth. Everyone did a great job of showcasing our wonderful university.

sou music SOU Float

Our own Dr. Jeff Richmond and his trumpet.

Our own Dr. Jeff Richmond and his trumpet.

First Week of Summer

June 25th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

photo shows us with Senator Bill Hansell

Summer has started, but the legislative session continues. Last week (June 18-21) I spent time in Salem and Portland. In Salem, I joined EOU President Bob Davies and OIT President Chris Maples, visiting legislators as discussions continued regarding the funding and governance of the Oregon University System (this photo shows us with Senator Bill Hansell). With many issues still in play, the session may extend past the end of June.

Last week, too, I attended the June meeting of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education in Portland. Agenda items included a proposal to arm the campus police at UO, university achievement compacts, and issues surrounding student retention. The most challenging issue focused on tuition increases, which were approved only after emotional testimony and discussion.

Difficult decisions about tuition are directly connected to difficult conversations occurring in Salem. I am hopeful that decisions in these last days of the legislative session will help diminish the burdens on our students.

Another Year!

June 17th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

On Saturday (June 15), SOU awarded 1,356 degrees. The stadium was packed, the morning bright and sunny. Oregon State Board of Higher Education representative Kirk Schueler spoke inspiringly, as did Chancellor Emeritus George Pernsteiner and graduating student Shane Boyd. JPR’s Geoffrey Riley and Charlotte Duren read all the names as students in their robes stepped up to shake hands and receive their diploma covers.

It was a glorious day. Many kudos to everyone who made it happen so smoothly.

Celebrating, Celebrating

June 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

With Commencement only two weeks away, the campus is in a frenzy of celebrating. Award ceremonies, festive picnics and dinners, concerts, and departmental graduations: preparing for finals is interspersed with an array of joyful events.

Last week (May 30), we held our annual Retirement and Recognition event at which we honor five-year milestones for faculty and staff and celebrate retirees and emeriti faculty. Ed Battistella emceed the event in his inimitable style.

We celebrated two employees with 30 years of service, Katherine Hoxmeier and John Laughlin, and two with 35 years, Barbara Breneiser and Hassan Pirasteh. The emeriti we honored included Andy Dungan, Lani Fujitsubo, Charles Jaeger, Jean Maxwell, Chris Sackett, and Josie Wilson. Retiring folks included Barbara Breneiser, Catherine Council, Belinda Melendez, Mike Rice, and Glenda Wood.

Many thanks to Jeremy Speer, Treasa Sprague, Mary White, and the HR office for their help with everything that goes into this very special event.

Celebrations Galore

May 24th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

presidential scholars

Presidential Scholars at Plunkett

At SOU, every year ends with celebrations. As we enjoy all the excitement of SOAR, we also highlight many other groups on and off campus.

On Wednesday, May 15, we inducted new student members into the honor society Phi Kappa Phi. Membership to PKP is highly selective, based on academic merits. While PKP is open to any academic major, only the top 10 percent of seniors, 7.5 percent of juniors and, 10 percent of graduate students are extended membership.

On Saturday, May 18, we celebrated Latino Family Day, with middle school students and their families. SOU faculty, staff, and students did a great job hosting the students and planning a great set of activities. Many students who came to our event are participating in our Pirates-to-Raiders program with the Phoenix-Talent school district. Later that morning, we also hosted SOU’s Presidential Scholars at a lovely brunch at Plunkett.

porch brunch

Presidential Scholars brunch at Plunkett

The following week, on May 21, we held a lively event in the Rogue River Room to thank SOU faculty and staff who have donated to SOU. Our SOU Food Service donated the food (thank you, A’viands!), while John and Anna Stevenson provided a dynamic menu of oldies. And, on May 22, we celebrated donors to the SOU President’s Circle in the Schneider Museum.

president's circle event 2013-sma

SOU President’s Circle in the Schneider Museum

Celebrations continue through May. A big one occurs on Tuesday, May 28, when we honor student leaders with the Raider Academy Awards. And on May 30, we come together for our annual Employee Retirement and Recognition Event.

It’s always an exciting time of year as we speed toward Commencement. Enjoy!


May 20th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The SOU Jazz Collective

The SOU Jazz Collective performs in front of the Hannon Library.

We had a spectacular SOAR week. With hundreds of posters, performances, presentations, and panels, our students, faculty, and staff created a magical celebration of SOU’s academic life. My head was spinning from all that I learned: about music therapy, farm to school programs and weight gain in college freshmen to reading programs, identity in video games, and learning styles of very young digital “natives.” And much more.

SOAR Poster Session

One of the many poster sessions in the Rogue River Room.


An experimental hexacopter, built by CS students, flies during the opening ceremonies of SOAR.

One of our visitors from the local community wrote the following: “Today I encountered a line-up of presentable, enthusiastic, engaged, and motivated young people and my heart thrills.” Yes!

Many thanks again to Deb Hofer and Paul Adalian and to the many, many faculty, staff, and students who made this happen. Many hearts were thrilled.

SOAR 2013

Springtime . . . and Salem Again

May 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

the statehouse in salem

This is the amazing time of year when the campus is packed with activities but the legislature is also very busy. On Friday (May 10), Liz Shelby and I were in the Capitol with three students—Cory Jewell, Jeffrey Hayes, and Daniel Breaux—who testified on behalf of SOU’s capital projects: the Theatre Arts renovation and expansion and the McNeal renovation/Student Recreation Center.

Salem Trip with students

It was a long trip for just a few minutes before the Ways and Means Committee reviewing Oregon University System capital projects. Our students did an impressive job and made a wonderfully positive impression on our legislators.

Last week, also, we surprised our campus locksmith Doug Litwiller with a t-shirt and celebration honoring his excellent work for SOU.

doug and craig

And this week we experience our sixth annual SOAR. It will be a fabulous celebration of the great work we do at SOU. Please join us!


From Ashland to the Arctic

April 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Geoff Mills with poster

Yesterday (April 18), we celebrated our Spring 2013 Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Geoff Mills. Geoff, who came to SOU in 1988 and has served as Dean and also Professor of Education, has worked over the years with students at the University of Greenland.

Geoff Mills SpeakingSpeaking to a crowd in the Meese Room, Geoff focused on aspects of teaching, learning, and research in the isolated world of Greenland. We learned about students who speak English as a third language, about teachers struggling to keep students in school when they live in thinly populated areas accessible only by sea or by air. We learned a little about a diet that still relies on fish, seal, and reindeer and a culture that still struggles with its history of being a Danish colony. We saw beautiful photos of glaciers and ice floes.

We all learned a lot. And maybe some of us now have a trip to Greenland on our “bucket list.”

All photos RBalzer.

Geoff Mills

Dr. Geoff Mills with Dr. Frank Darnell, Emeritus Professor, University of Alaska (Fairbanks)

A Watershed Moment

April 9th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Shawn Franks, Mary Cullinan, Todd, Chrysten Lambert

Shaun Franks, Mary Cullinan, Todd Reve of Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Chrysten Lambert of Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust

At a small but enthusiastic gathering in front of the Stevenson Union this morning (April 9), we celebrated a significant initiative developed in partnership with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

Supported by student “green fees”, the initiative will restore the equivalent of all water used on campus to a creek in the Klamath River Basin that has been critically damaged by years of irrigation. It will restore approximately 80 million gallons to the creek for five years.

I spoke briefly to the crowd, as did Todd Reeve, CEO of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and Shaun Franks, one of the student leaders who helped spearhead the project.

Water offset rally with Bonneville Energy Foundation

Water offset rally with Bonneville Energy Foundation

Todd Reve from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation

Water offset rally with Bonneville Energy Foundation

Shaun Franks speaking with TV reporter at the event.

This initiative is the first of its kind on any campus in the U.S. It aligns with our commitment to sustainable practices and projects, which include our Higher Education Center in Medford, the first LEED platinum building in the Rogue Valley and numerous green projects from recycling to our maintenance practices.

Because of our students’ powerful commitment and the university strong environmental values, the EPA regularly lists SOU as a top green campus.

Spring in Salem

March 25th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Salem crew

I spent much of last week (March 19-22) in Salem and return there again this week (so much for Spring Break!). The time last week was well spent. I was particularly happy to see the tuition equity bill pass in the Senate; it will now move on to the governor’s desk.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the presidents of OIT, EOU, and WOU and I met with several legislators, as did Provost Klein. Jim Klein and I also participated in southern Oregon’s Chamber of Commerce day at the Capitol with representatives from Medford, Grants Pass, and Klamath Falls.

On Thursday, I testified on the value of a liberal arts education (and the value of SOU) before the Ways and Means Education subcommittee. On Friday, I testified briefly on academic program approval processes before the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.

This week, the Ways and Means Education subcommittee has asked for public testimony regarding support for higher education. We have arranged for three highly successful SOU alumni to testify: Gene Pelham from Rogue Federal Credit Union, Steve Vincent from Avista, and Mike Beagle from our own Alumni office.

On another note: I was delighted recently to join my cabinet in providing surprise thank you’s and t-shirts to Gary Miller and Colin Bunnell for their hard work and contributions to SOU.

Gary Miller was caught...

Gary Miller was caught…

As was Colin Bunnell.

As was Colin Bunnell.


¡Si, Se Puede!

March 18th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Cesar Chavez

On Friday (March 15) we hosted the second annual César E. Chávez Leadership Conference on campus. Nearly two hundred Latino/Latina students attended from high schools all over the Rogue Valley.

The day on campus opened with breakfast and welcomes. A nationally acclaimed keynote speaker, Fabian Ramirez from Dallas, Texas, captured the students’ attention with humor and a serious message about ways to prevent bullying and create healthy environments on school and college campuses.

chavezWith the help of SOU student leaders, the visiting students broke into groups to attend sessions on a wide range of topics—from charting a future educational and career path to balancing school and life skills.

Many SOU students, faculty, and staff, as well as to volunteers from off campus, helped to make this an exciting and powerful day for students. Special thanks to the many SOU folks who planned and organized the extraordinary event, including Jon Chavez Baez, Alma Rosa Alvarez, Marvin Woodard, Marjorie Trueblood-Gamble, Connie Lynn, and Carol Jensen.