MONDAY 04-08-2013

Apr 08, 2013 -- 9:29am

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6:35 Kyle Olson - founder of  Education Action Group Foundation, Inc., a national organization headquartered in Michigan. EAG is a non-partisan non-profit organization with the goal of promoting sensible education reform and exposing those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. We delve into an amazing case of "Cultural Sensitivity" being taught in Wisconsin schools.

7:10 City Councilmen John Michaels discusses the proposed Emergency Manager position, re-design of Hawthorne Park.

7:35 Manufacturing expert Andrew O. Smith, author of Sand in the Gears: How Public Policy Has Crippled American Manufacturing. Smith proves the gutting of American manufacturing -- and with it, millions of high-paying, stable jobs the U.S. economy so desperately needs – is the direct result, not just of cheap overseas labor, but of woefully misguided government policies on taxes, healthcare -- both before and after Obamacare -- workers’ compensation, bureaucratic regulations, the legal system, and organized labor.

8:10 Dr. Dennis Powers "Visiting Past and Present". Today's talk on the history of Southern Oregon University.

The Cyclical Life of SOU

By Dennis Powers

Southern Oregon University dates back to 1869 when a cadre of locals met to create a college or academy. Calling themselves the Rogue River Valley Educational Society, the group raised money and began constructing a building in Ashland. However, the money ran out. The Reverend Joseph Skidmore of Oregon's Methodist Episcopal Church took over, raised more money, completed the construction, and in 1872, the Ashland Academy opened that November. Six years later, the Methodist Episcopal Church took over the academy, again owing to financial difficulties.

One year after the academy graduated its first three students, the Oregon legislature in 1882 authorized the creation of state normal schools to train future teachers and prepare students to enter a university: Ashland Academy then became the Ashland College and Normal School. Since the legislature didn’t authorize funding, different groups operated the school over the next several years, including the Methodist Episcopal Church and different individuals or groups that included Ashland citizens. 

In 1899 the State of Oregon bought the school when the legislature approved funding, and in four years, the Ashland Academy became Oregon’s largest normal school with 270 students. But the legislature stopped funding in 1909, so it closed after local citizens donated enough money to enable students to finish the year. After fifteen years of lobbying, the legislature finally reauthorized the normal school--renamed the Southern Oregon State Normal School (“SONS”)--with funds to construct a new building on a site donated by the town. With 22 faculty and 273 students, it reopened in the fall of 1926 to train teachers and was headquartered in Churchill Hall (now an administrative building).

The legislature in 1939 eliminated the normal schools in Oregon, but with accreditation from the American Association of Teachers Colleges, its name was changed to the Southern Oregon College of Education, the fifth name change with two closures and re-openings to that time. World War II’s demands brought another crisis and exacerbated enrollment declines to where a mere 45 students were studying there in 1945-46.

A new president, Elmo Stevenson, was hired in 1946 to close the campus (now named Oregon State College) if he couldn’t increase enrollment. After arriving, he believed it to be a unique college; instead of closing it, Dr. Stevenson traveled throughout the region and Oregon, speaking to service and other clubs to promote its importance, rekindle interest, and build enrollment. He was successful.

Three more name changes then occurred: to Southern Oregon College (SOC) to reflect its different degree options (1956); from SOC to Southern Oregon State College (SOSC) in 1975; and finally in 1997, SOSC became Southern Oregon University (SOU) after it successfully withstood a drive to change it to the University of Oregon--Ashland campus. 

SOU is now a regional university with 6,000 students, 300 faculty members, over 30 majors, and well in excess of 100 programs, all spread over 175 acres with numerous buildings. After its expansion, SOU’s Hannon Library itself is near 125,000 square feet; the student union building, Stevenson Union--named after Elmo Stevenson--contains over 100,000 square feet of usable space.

Joining different renovations or constructions since 2000 (i.e., the Center for Visual Arts, library expansion, student union renovation, Madrone dorm building, Medford Campus, and more), two residence halls totaling 200,000 square feet and a separate 28,000 square-foot dining hall are under construction to replace the Cascade Complex, one of the largest construction projects in Ashland's history, and to be ready for fall term, 2013. This $40 million project is financed under a lending arrangement where dorm fees and dining revenues will go to the lender until the loan is repaid. 

Montgomery, Teresa. “The Oregon Encyclopedia: Southern Oregon University” at SOU History; see “U.S. News Ranking--SOU” at SOU Ranking; also, “SOU: Brief History of Hannon Library” at Hannon Library. And Darling, John, “SOU Construction: From the Ground Up,” Ashland Daily Tidings, August 22, 2012, at New Student Housing.


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